Solving the Century-Old Mafia Murder of a New York Cop

American Mafia

By Nate Hendley

Police in Italy claimed to have solved the decades-old murder of New York City police officer Joseph Petrosino in Sicily.

Petrosino was one of the bravest law officers ever to walk a beat. He’s also the man I dedicated my book, The Mafia: A Guide to an American Subculture, to.

Here’s what I wrote about Petrosino:

“At the turn of the twentieth century, Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino headed up an “Italian squad” that dealt with issues in that community. One of the biggest issues facing Sicilian and Italian American immigrants was the presence of “The Black Hand.” A forerunner of the Mafia, the latter was a loose band of Italian Americans who used the (largely fictitious) specter of an underworld gang called “The Black Hand” to extort money from their countrymen. The fearless Petrosino made hundreds of Black Hand arrests and wasn’t above beating up suspects in the street for added humiliation.

In March, 1909, Petrosino traveled to Palermo, Sicily, to investigate Black Hand links with the Sicilian Mafia. On March 12, 1909, he was murdered, almost certainly by Mafia assassins. He remains the only New York City police officer killed while on assignment in another country. When his body was returned to the United States, an estimated 250,000 people viewed his coffin as it passed by on the streets of New York, mourning a brave cop.”

And now, over a century later, Italian police claimed that the long-standing mystery of who killed Joseph Petrosino has been resolved at last.

For further reading, my book The Mafia: A Guide to an American Subculture, is available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon or directly from the publisher, ABC-CLIO.

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based freelance writer and true-crime author. His website is located at www.natehendley.com)

Crime Author Meet and Greet in Guelph, ON July 5

Truscottcover

By Nate Hendley

I will be taking part in a “meet the crime author” event at Chapter’s in Guelph, Ontario on Saturday, July 5 from 11 am – 3 pm.

I will be signing copies of my true-crime book, Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice, about a notorious case of wrongful conviction in Canada.

I will be one of four awesome crime/mystery authors at this event.

All four of us are members of the Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization representing fiction and non-fiction mystery and crime writers.

This meet and greet is free and open to the public.

Chapter’s Guelph is located at 435 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario.

Contact me for more information: nhendley@sympatico.ca

Mystery Authors Read at Annette Library, Toronto June 24

The Crime Writers of Canada presents Steve Burrows (author of A Siege of Bitterns)

Siege of Bitterns Cover (4)

and Elizabeth J. Duncan, author of the Penny Brannigan series

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In a reading at the Annette branch of Toronto Public Library (145 Annette Street, Toronto)

on Tuesday, June 24 from 7 – 8:15 pm.

The event will be hosted by Sharon A. Crawford (author of Beyond the Tripping Point)

Sharonacrawfordbook

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Sharon A. Crawford: words@samcraw.com

http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/

(Parking available on street)

Gangster Boss Profile: Dutch Schultz, Beer Baron and Numbers King

Dutch Schultz shot

By Nate Hendley

Dutch Schultz (real-name Arthur Flegenheimer) was a highly eccentric, highly successful Jewish-American gangster. He rose to prominence peddling awful bootleg beer during Prohibition in the 1920s. His product was lousy but his sales methods were persuasive (when faced with a stubborn speakeasy manager, Schultz had the man kidnapped, hung by his thumbs from a meat-hook and tortured).

If beer made Schultz rich and powerful, it was ‘numbers’ that pushed him into the criminal stratosphere. The numbers racket was simply an illegal lottery. People bet on a three-digit combination, from 000 to 999. The gangsters who ran the racket selected winning digits on the basis of objective statistics, such as sports scores. Anyone who had bet on the winning numbers received a small cash payment.

The numbers racket was hugely popular in New York City, particularly with African-Americans. It was cheap (most bets were for pennies), easy to play and offered a low-risk way to gamble.

In the early 1930s, the highly profitable Harlem numbers racket was controlled by African-American mobsters. Established Italian and Jewish gangs of the era turned their noses up at numbers, treating the racket with racist contempt.

Schultz had better business sense. Through intimidation and violence, he soon took control of the Harlem numbers scene. To the astonishment of his peers, Schultz was soon pulling down millions of dollars in profit on numbers.

Schultz was not popular with his fellow gangsters. He dressed like a slob (which offended more sartorial-minded mobsters) and wasn’t much of a team-player.

Despite this, Schultz maintained an incredible winning streak—for a while. He managed to beat two income tax raps, of the variety that had brought down mighty Al Capone in Chicago. His luck ran out, however, when Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey set his sights on the Dutchman (as he was called, colloquially).

Unnerved by Dewey’s aggressive investigation into his business affairs, Schultz announced that the Special Prosecutor had to be killed. This alarmed his gangster peers, who had no compunctions about murder but avoided killing cops, judges and prosecutors for fear of massive retaliation.

A “hit” was ordered on Schultz, to stop him from assassinating Dewey. On October 23, 1935, a pair of professional killers burst into a New Jersey restaurant where Schultz was meeting with some cronies. The killers shot each man in Schultz’s party, including the Dutchman. A photographer who arrived on the scene captured the classic picture shown above, of Schultz splayed over a table.

Schultz survived the shooting–for a time. He lingered in hospital in a high-fever delirium, babbling insanely.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Dutch Schultz: The Brazen Beer Baron of New York, available at Amazon.ca (for Canadians) Amazon.com (for Americans), Chapter’s and Barnes and Noble:

October 24, 1935 The Dutchman was dying. The bullet in his gut had caused massive internal injuries and sent his temperature soaring. Staring fixedly at the ceiling from his hospital bed, Arthur Flegenheimer – aka Dutch Schultz – cried and babbled. In his delirium, he began weaving a weird tapestry of unconnected phrases, names, and oaths. A police stenographer sat by the gangster’s side, taking down every word. The authorities hoped Schultz might reveal Mob secrets in his final monologue. But Dutch proved as elusive in his dying hours as he had been in life. “No, no. There are only 10 of us and there are 10 million fighting somewhere in front of you, so get your onions up and we will throw up the truce flag,” he raved. “Oh, please let me up. Please shift me. Police are here. Communistic … strike … baloney … honestly, this is a habit I get; sometimes I give it and sometimes I don’t. Oh, I am all in. That settles it. Are you sure? Please let me get in and eat. Let him harass himself to you and then bother you.” None of it made any sense to the police. They kept listening, however, as Schultz rambled on, his mind journeying back and forth over the course of his brief, but spectacular, criminal life.

Dutch Schultz new

(Nate Hendley is a crime writer based in Toronto, Ontario. You can find out more about his books and background at www.natehendley.com)

 

 

Writer’s Group Launches Fundraising ‘Service Auction’

I am proud to say I am taking part in this fine, fundraising event. I am offering “a date with Nate (so to speak)” — lunch or dinner with a chatty crime writer (me). I pay.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PWAC Announces Launch of its Online Service Auction

Toronto, ON (May 26, 2014)—The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) announces the launch of its online service auction. Bidders from across Canada and around the world are invited to join in the fun and frenzy by bidding on the high quality auction items, from May 26, 2014, to June 5, 2014.

Auction items include an introduction to tracing your family history, a backpack trip in the Canadian Rockies, dinner with a crime writer, a personalized wedding ceremony and of course a selection of writing services for individuals and organizations in Canada and beyond.

The online auction is being held as a fundraiser for PWAC, with all proceeds from the auction items going directly to the organization. The online auction can be found at http://www.32auctions.com/pwac2014. All items can be viewed immediately, with bidding starting May 26, 2014 at 12:00 PM EDT and ending June 5, 2014, at 10:00 PM EDT.

The winning bids will be announced at the PWAC awards dinner at MagNet on June 5, 2014.

The Professional Writers Association of Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights and professional interests of Canadian non-fiction writers. The organization also offers resources and professional development to support writers in their careers. For more information about PWAC,

please visit http://www.pwac.ca.

Contact Information
Nathalie Kleinschmit
nathalie.kleinschmit@global-ease.com

nate website photo 2

Dark Secrets to be Revealed at Crime Writers ‘Round Table’ in Toronto, May 27

Gun man

Ever wondered what kind of murderous thoughts go on in the mind of a mystery writer?

Here’s your chance to find out.

A ‘round table’ of authors from the Crime Writers of Canada will read original works and answer questions about the crime/mystery genre and the writing process.

Crime/mystery authors appearing at this fiendish event include Steve Shrott, Caro Soles, Madeleine Harris-Callway, Sharon A. Crawford and Maggy Downey.

The round table takes place Tuesday, May 27 from 6:30 – 8 pm at the Kennedy-Eglinton branch of Toronto Public Library (2380 Eglinton Avenue East)

True-crime author Nate Hendley will host.

(The closest major intersection near the library is Kennedy Road and Eglinton Ave. East. The branch is located on northwest corner of Eglinton Ave. East in Liberty Square, which has ample parking space)

The event is free and open to the public.

There will be door prizes and other surprises.

Come, if you dare.

For more information, contact Nate Hendley: nhendley@sympatico.ca

Medical Mystery Writer at Dundas Library, April 26

Mystery writer Ross Pennie will read at the Dundas, Ontario library (18 Ogilvie Street) on Saturday, April 26 @ 11 am.

Ross Pennie

 

Ross will be reading from Up in Smoke, a gripping medical murder mystery featuring Dr. Zol Szabo.

Ross Pennie book

The reading is free and open to the public.

This event has been organized by the Crime Writers of Canada.

For more information contact Nate Hendley – nhendley@sympatico.ca

Two Great Mystery Authors Read in Toronto May 6

The Crime Writers of Canada presents an evening with two great mystery authors:

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh pic

Sylvia Warsh was born in Germany to Holocaust survivors and immigrated to Canada as a child. She writes the Dr. Rebecca Temple series set in 1979 Toronto. The first book was nominated for an Arthur, the second, Find Me Again, won an Edgar award; the third was shortlisted for a ReLit Award. Her fourth book, The Queen of Unforgetting, is an historical novel that was chosen for a plaque by Project Bookmark Canada. Her most recent book is Best Girl, a rapids reads mystery novella. Sylvia also teaches writing to seniors.

and Alvin Abram

Alvin Abram

Alvin Abram is a storyteller, writer and graphic designer of books. Since 1997, at the age of 61 when he wrote his first manuscript, he has had over 100 speaking engagements, has been reviewed on radio, television and in the newspapers in Canada and the U.S. His latest mystery, The Dead Don’t Weep (2008), features Detective Gabe Garshowitz chasing a killer on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Sylvia and Alvin will read from original works and answer questions about their books and the mystery genre posed by host Nate Hendley (author of several true-crime books books)

Nate Hendley

nate website photo 2

Where: May 6 at Toronto’s Annette Library (145 Annette Street)

When:  From 7: 00 – 8:30 pm

Who:   Open to the public

Cost:   Free

For more information, contact Nate Hendley: nhendley@sympatico.ca

Details about Annette library: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=LIB022

Crime Writers Read at April 24 Event in Toronto

police tape

Interested in crime and mystery writing?

Then check out the event the Crime Writers of Canada is hosting April 24 @ the Indigo Manulife Centre in Toronto.

A panel of distinguished crime/mystery authors will read from original works and answer questions about their chosen genre and writing habits.

The shortlist for the prestigious Arthur Ellis Awards (which recognize the best in Canadian crime writing) will be announced as well.

The panel of crime authors includes Rick Blechta, Steve Burrows, Melodie Campbell, Jen J. Danna, Mike Walton, Rosemary Aubert, Gina K. Buonaguro, Lisa de Nikolitis, Catherine Astolfo, Madeleine Callway-Harris, Rosemary McCracken and Joan O’Callaghan

Master of Ceremonies for the reading is Nate Hendley.

The event takes place April 24, from 7 – 9 pm at the Indigo Manulife Centre, located at 55 Bloor St. West in Toronto.

The reading is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Nate Hendley: nhendley@sympatico.ca

 

Truth Really is Stranger than Fiction

Guest Post by Jill Edmondson, author of the PI Sasha Jackson Mysteries

As I plug away with my Sasha Jackson Mystery series, I find myself looking for interesting angles on crime, some kind of inspiration for my next plot.  Naturally, I want (always) to do something fresh and new, something different.  One topic I haven’t looked at yet is drugs.  Digging around online, I came across a great deal of fodder for stories involving drugs.  The only problem is that these true tales sound like utter bullshit: No one could be that stupid.  Alas, yes they can be…

It’s no surprise that a number of drug “mules” have been caught trying to smuggle drugs through customs by hiding the contraband in their underwear, bras, or girdles, and hearing of drugs being hidden in the rectum or swallowed in plastic baggies is not terribly surprising these days.  A few wannabe smugglers have come up with more creative, albeit unsuccessful, methods of sneaking drugs past the eyes of officials.  A Chilean man’s creative attempt at smuggling no doubt played upon a bid for sympathy: He wore a cast on his leg.  The cast, however, was made of cocaine.  Another aspiring drug runner, this one from Panama, hid drugs in her breast implants.  Yes, breast implants.  I wonder if she also wore a bullet-proof bra?

And then there’s the use of our friends in the Animal Kingdom.  Smugglers have frequently used animals – both living and dead  – to transport narcotics.  Some loathsome dirtbags from Colombia surgically implanted liquid heroin in puppies and in Mexico, Navy officials found cocaine hidden in the carcasses of dead sharks.  I’d like to think of myself as fairly imaginative, but there’s no way I’d ever dream up something like this.  I also suspect that publishers would politely pass on a manuscript that had such a plot.

Drug smuggling isn’t only just across borders, though.  Occasionally, dimwits have tried to smuggle drug into jails.  Yes, prison.  Undoubtedly, one of the more inspired attempts at bringing contraband into the bighouse was to dissolve the drugs into a paste and then use the paste as “paint” to fill in a colouring book.  Apparently, the colouring book was inscribed “To Daddy” which makes me think that Child Protective Services ought to pay a visit to that home.

Smuggling doesn’t only about drugs, though.  It can involve restricted items, like ivory or exotic pets, and various no-no’s like weapons or cash with questionable origins.  A clever attempt at money laundering involved baking banknotes into pastries.  There’s got to be a pun in there about “dough”.  And even things as innocent and innocuous as stuffed animals have provided cover in an attempt to smuggle guns.  Imagine finding a pistol inside a Mickey Mouse plush toy?

A look at today’s headlines or a cursory search online reveals any number of mind-boggling scams and cons, any of which could be used as inspiration for a mystery novel.  The only problem is that mystery fans would have a hard time accepting this stuff because crime fiction isn’t usually as strange as the real stories.

DEENAcover

Jill Edmondson is the author of the four mystery novels.  Frisky Business is the latest novel featuring PI Sasha Jackson.

For more info in Jill, check out her:

Website www.jilledmondson.com

Blog www.jilledmondson.blogspot.ca

Books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Jill-Edmondson/e/B006Y0YWUO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sashajacksonmysteries

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/JillEdmondson

Follow her on Twitter @JillEdmondson