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" Final Resting Place of Louis Buchalter"
Louis "Lepke" Buchalter
6th February 1897 - 4th March 1944
Only mafia head to be given the electric chair. held a stranglehold on New York as he controlled the Unions. Used the mafia's own killing department, Murder Inc. to murder anyone who stood in his way. Brought to justice ironically by District Attorney Thomas Dewey, with the aid of testimony from Abe Reles - Lepke's former associate. It was Dewey who Dutch Shultz was going to kill, until he was murdered by Murder Inc. Lepke was portrayed by Tony Curtis in the Film "Lepke". Lepke was electrocuted in Sing Sing prison.
Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing. New York.
Louis "Lepke" Buchalter (6 February 1897 - 4 March 1944) was a major Jewish American mobster of the 1930s. He is the only major mob boss to ever have been executed by state or federal authorities for his crimes.
Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Buchalter became involved in pushcart shoplifting and by 1919 had served two prison terms. Together with friend Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, he ultimately gained control of the garment industry unions on the Lower East Side. He used the unions to threaten strikes and demand weekly payments from factory owners while simultaneously dipping into union bank accounts. His control of the unions later evolved into a general protection racket, extending into such areas as bakery trucking. The unions were an extremely profitable venture for him, and he kept an iron grip on them even after becoming a big-time player in the mob.
In the early 1930s, Luciano, Buchalter (who had taken on the nickname Lepke, meaning "Little Louis" in Yiddish), and Johnny Torrio (the former Chicago boss and mentor of Al Capone) formed a loose alliance. To take care of "problems," Luciano's associates Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky formed Murder, Inc. Originally a band of Brooklyn killers of mostly Jewish origin, they were highly effective and eventually used to fulfill most murder "contracts." Control of the group soon passed to Buchalter and Albert Anastasia, as Siegel and Lansky had larger concerns to deal with. Murder, Inc., the name given to it by the media in the 1940s, was credited with carrying out numerous contract killings throughout the country, including the slaying of Dutch Schultz.
The bloodiest one of all
Buchalter was probably the bloodiest Jewish gangster of all time. He constantly wore wool suits, but they couldn't warm up his eyes, which were, with some hyperbole, said to be like blocks of ice. He was adept at commanding others to murder for him, ordering assassinations on the phone from his grandmother's house without so much as batting an eye. As many as a hundred corpses have been attributed to Buchalter himself; those under his control may have slain a thousand more nationwide. Some of the more famous hitmen at Buchalter's disposal included Abe Reles, Seymour Magoon, Frank Abbandando, Harry Maione, Albert Tannenbaum, and the infamous Harry Strauss. The rubout of Dutch Schultz on 23 October 1935 was a major killing for the group, as was the murder of Louis Amberg the same day. Buchalter naturally attracted a lot of attention from the FBI during the early 1930s, but thanks to bribed federal judges and other friends in high places, Buchalter got off scot-free every time
Buchalter's downfall began in the mid-1930s when he went on the run from both the FBI, who wanted to nail him on a narcotics charge, and New York City special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, who wanted him put away for his Syndicate activities. He was tricked by a childhood friend into surrendering to the Feds in exchange for not getting turned over to Dewey, and he ended up incarcerated at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas on a 14-year term for narcotics. The sentence was later extended to 30 years on account of Buchalter's involvement in union racketeering.
On 13 September 1936, Buchalter's men murdered Brooklyn candy store owner Joseph Rosen, a former garment industry trucker who was told to shut up and get out of town, but didn't. The order for the hit had been overheard by Abe Reles, who turned informant for New York State in 1940 and fingered Buchalter for four murders. Brought from Kansas to New York City to stand trial for the Rosen slaying, Buchalter's position was worsened by the testimony of another turncoat, Albert Tannenbaum. A mere four hours after they were handed the case, the jury arrived at a verdict at 2 a.m. Buchalter was guilty of murder in the first degree, and the penalty at the time for such a crime in the state of New York was death by electrocution.
Buchalter's conviction took place in December 1941, and the New York State Court of Appeals, upon review of his case, upheld his conviction and death sentence in October 1942. At the time, Buchalter was serving out his racketeering sentence at Leavenworth, and New York demanded that he be turned over to them for execution. The gangster put up a valiant fight, calling in favors from friends in the Department of Justice and the courts, and managed to remain in Kansas and out of New York's hands until January 1944.
Once turned over, his execution was originally stated to take place on 2 March, but the state's highest court decided to give the case one final review, forcing Dewey (who was now the governor of New York state) to grant Buchalter, Emanuel Weiss, and Louis Capone (no relation to Al) a 48-hour reprieve.
Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, arguably one of the most powerful figures in organized crime history, was executed in Sing Sing's electric chair on 4 March 1944
In popular culture
The 1975 film Lepke, starring Tony Curtis, was based on his life story. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he would also be portrayed by David J. Stewart in the 1960 film Murder Inc., Gene Roth and Joseph Ruskin in The Untouchables as well as John Vivyan and Shepherd Sanders in The Lawless Years TV series. Other portrayals include the 1981 film Gangster Wars by Ron Max.