Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Allen & Lucky’s “Good Deed” Goes Awry

Tom Dewey is remembered today, if at all, for being the unsuccessful Republican nominee for president in ‘48 and for Truman holding up a headline announcing “Dewey defeats Truman.” What most people don’t remember is that in early 1930s, Dewey was a superlative prosecutor. He caused organized crime in New York so much grief that Bronx gangster “Dutch” Schultz, aka Arthur Flegenheimer, called a meeting of the syndicate heads and demanded that they give him the green light to have Dewey assassinated. The other bosses, led by Charles “Lucky” Luciano, refused on the grounds that the mob did not kill honest lawmen or innocent citizens, as it would be bad for business. Schultz was adamant that he would have Dewey “whacked” with or without the other bosses’ approval and stormed out of the meeting.

Underworld legend has it that Luciano then instructed Al Reles, head of Murder, Inc., to have Schultz whacked before he could bring down any unwanted heat on his mob colleagues. On October 23, 1935, in a scene that has been portrayed many times in cinematic history, Rele’s triggerman caught up with Shcultz in the Palace Chophouse and shot Schultz, 2 of Schultz’s bodyguards, and Shultz’s accountant. Ironically enough, once Schultz was dead, Dewey shifted his main target to Luciano, and in 1936 convicted Luciano on multiple accounts of forced prostitution, which got Lucky 10 years in Sing Sing before he was deported back to his native Italy. Dewey’s staff ultimately convicted Al Reles of murder, and in an event of poetic justice, the head of Murder, Inc. died in the Sing Sing electric chair.

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