The Gentleman Gangster: Meyer Lansky

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The Gentleman Gangster: Meyer Lansky

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:18 pm

http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_331.html

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Re: The Gentleman Gangster: Meyer Lansky

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:19 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/01/16/obituaries/meyer-lansky-is-dead-at-81-financial-wizard-of-organized-crime.html?pagewanted=2

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Re: The Gentleman Gangster: Meyer Lansky

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:30 pm

Rashmun wrote:http://www.nytimes.com/1983/01/16/obituaries/meyer-lansky-is-dead-at-81-financial-wizard-of-organized-crime.html?pagewanted=2

MIAMI BEACH, Jan. 15— Meyer Lansky, the reputed financial genius of the underworld, died today of cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital here. He was 81 years old.

Mr. Lansky was admitted to the hospital Dec. 31 suffering from dehydration, according to Joyce Clark, a spokesman for the hospital. Mr. Lansky lived in the Imperial House, a high-rise waterfront condominium in Miami Beach. ---- Kingpin of Crime Syndicate By ROBERT D. McFADDEN

''He would have been chairman of the board of General Motors if he'd gone into legitimate business,'' an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation once said of Meyer Lansky with grudging admiration. And in a moment of triumph, Mr. Lansky once boasted to an underworld associate: ''We're bigger than U.S. Steel.''

Maier Suchowljansky, the Russian-born immigrant better known as Meyer Lansky, always called himself a lucky gambler. But, according to law-enforcement officials, he was for decades a kingpin of organized crime in the United States, a ruthless onetime ''director'' of Murder Inc. and a man who bet only on a sure thing.

While he was said to have had some experience as a hired gunman in the 1920's, he had not, by most accounts, personally done anything violent for 50 years.

The authorities described him as a genius of finance who applied his Midas touch to bootlegging in the Prohibition era, to gambling in Cuba, the Bahamas and the United States and to loan-sharking, stock manipulation and underworld penetration of legitimate businesses throughout the United States.

From an impoverished childhood on New York City's Lower East Side, Mr. Lansky maneuvered his way up through the ranks of organized crime, as investigators told it, parlaying Prohibition profits into hundreds of illicit and legitimate ventures.

He was said to have been a key figure in the 1934 creation of a national crime syndicate, which brought fragmented gangland empires into a loosely organized national federation. Later he was said to have devised schemes to infiltrate legitimate business and to have set up sophisticated means to skim receipts and evade taxes.

Perhaps no one but Mr. Lansky himself knew the extent of his success, but one biographer said a few years ago that Mr. Lansky had amassed a personal fortune of $300 million, most of it tucked away in Swiss bank accounts, real estate and hidden investments. Went to Jail Only Once

Over the years Mr. Lansky was accused of many crimes, ranging from assault to contempt of court and tax evasion. But, aside from a few minor run-ins with the law as a teen-ager, he went to jail only once. That was for two months in 1953, on a gambling conviction in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

His record included a conviction on only one other charge - a contempt citation in 1973 that was overturned on appeal. Repeated prosecutions ended in acquittals or were thwarted by trial delays arranged by his attorneys or prompted by his frequent bouts of assertedly poor health.

Mr. Lansky's interests were apparently unhindered by any of the prosecutions, or by changes of government in the United States or the Bahamas. It took the Castro revolution in Cuba to put him out of business in Havana.

Mr. Lansky became an international cause celebre in the early 1970's, when he retired to Israel and refused to return to the United States to face two Federal indictments. He sought to remain in Israel under that country's Law of the Return, which says every Jew has the right to immigrate to Israel, and a two-and-a-half-year legal battle ensued.

The episode posed a dilemma for the Israeli Government. Had it allowed him to stay, it would have been criticized for harboring a reputed criminal. And when it asked him to leave, it was criticized for turning away a Jew who had asked for refuge.

Mr. Lansky was born in 1902 to Yetta and Max Suchowljansky in Grodno, Byelorussia, and was brought to the United States with a sister and a brother in 1911. His parents could not remember his birth date, so an immigration officer listed it as July 4.

Meyer Lansky, as he soon began calling himself, was physically small - at maturity he was only 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 136 pounds - but his classmates and teachers at Public School 34 on the Lower East Side regarded him as clever and remarkably self-possessed. He was graduated from the eighth grade in 1917 and got a job with a tool and die maker.

To supplement his small income, he organized a floating dice game. It was at about this time that he met and became friends with Charles (Lucky Luciano) Luciana and Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel, who, according to investigators, were to be his partners in later years. In 1921 he switched jobs, became an auto mechanic and soon found himself servicing and camouflaging stolen cars for bootleggers.

By 1928, when he became a naturalized citizen, Mr. Lansky had attracted a gang of his own, forming what was known as the Bugs and Meyer Mob with Bugsy Siegel, and was at the helm of a burgeoning rumrunning operation. In addition, the gang hired out gunmen as ''enforcers'' for other bootleggers.

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Mr. Lansky and Frank Costello opened illegal gambling casinos in upstate New York, New Orleans and Florida.

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Re: The Gentleman Gangster: Meyer Lansky

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:32 pm

(Page 2 of 2)

In 1935, after the slaying of the top New York crime figure, Arthur (Dutch Schultz) Flegenheimer, Mr. Lansky and five others were identified by the authorities as the heirs of all rackets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Newark.

Later in the 1930's Mr. Lansky went to Cuba and, after getting Fulgencio Batista, the dictator, to legalize gambling, set up several casinos there.

In World War II Mr. Lansky registered for the draft, but was not called. A never-confirmed story had it that he and Lucky Luciano were enlisted by the Office of Naval Intelligence to get underworld cooperation in ferreting out German and Italian secret agents in New York and preventing sabotage on the docks. It was rumored that charges against both men, and a deportation proceeding against Mr. Lansky, were quietly dropped later because of their wartime services. The Kefauver Investigation

The expansion of organized crime in the United States after World War II was huge, and Mr. Lansky was among its top investors. The authorities said he acquired major interests in the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, as well as choice Miami Beach real estate.

While he had long been identified as a crime figure, Mr. Lansky's name became virtually a household word after hearings by the Senate Crime Investigating Committee in 1950 and 1951. The committee, headed by Senator Estes C. Kefauver of Tennessee, conducted the most farreaching study of organized crime ever undertaken. Mr. Lansky, named as a major boss, was called to testify, but he provided little helpful information.

Twelve years later Joseph M. Valachi, an informer testifying before a Senate subcommittee headed by Senator John L. McClellan of Arkansas also named Mr. Lansky.

In 1953, after his brief jail term for running a gambling operation at the Arrowhead Inn in Saratoga Springs, Mr. Lansky moved to Florida and concentrated on his investments there, in Nevada and in Cuba. Mr. Lansky also reportedly became involved at that time in gambling operations in the Bahamas.

In 1957 he was said to have been one of the participants at the Apalachin, N.Y., meeting of gangland's top leadership. Profit in Other Ventures

Two years later, when the Cuban revolution brought Fidel Castro to power, his troops smashed hundreds of slot machines, dice and roulette tables and other gaming devices in the Havana tourist hotels and ended a multimillion-dollar industry and Mr. Lansky's substantial interests in it.

But the 1960's proved highly profitable for Mr. Lansky's other ventures that, according to law-enforcement officials, included loansharking and policy and numbers rackets, as well as legitimate businesses backed by underworld money. The profits were so great that Mr. Lansky was said to have kept a former bootlegging associate in Switzerland as his full-time money manager.

Mr. Lansky's intended retirement in Israel in 1970 touched off a 26-month legal fight. The case went to Israel's highest court, which ruled that he was not entited to citizenship because he was a ''danger to public safety.''

Although denied permission to stay, he was given Israeli travel papers because his United States passport had been invalidated for any destination except the United States. The papers were of no avail, however, as seven countries - Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Panama - rejected his offer of $1 million for sanctuary, and he was arrested when he landed in Miami on Nov. 7, 1972, after a widely publicized three-day air trip.

''That's life,'' a haggard Mr. Lansky said at the time. ''At my age, it's too late to worry. What will be will be. A Jew has a slim chance in the world.''

He posted $250,000 cash bail within an hour and was ultimately cleared of, or was adjudged too ill to stand trial on, all the tax evasion, conspiracy and skimming charges against him. His own doctors and court-appointed physicians found he was suffering from heart trouble, chronic bronchitis, ulcers, bursitis and arthritis.

In recent years, while living in seclusion in Miami, Mr. Lansky was mentioned repeatedly in hearings relating to casino licenses in Atlantic City and in connection with loans from teamster union pension funds. His name also figured in the Pennsylvania Crime Commission's investigation of the financing of Pocono resorts.

A 286-page biography, ''Lansky,'' by Hank Messick, was published in 1971 by Putnam's. Mr. Lansky was married twice. His first marriage, in 1929 to the former Anna Citron, ended in divorce in 1946. The couple had two sons, Bernard and Paul, and a daughter, Sandra. In 1948 he married Thelma Schwarz, a manicurist at a midtown Manhattan hotel. She survives him.


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