Albert Anastasia

Albert Anastasia

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Albert Anastasia was born in Tropea, Italy, on 26th February, 1902. Anastasia moved to the United States in 1919 and settled in New York. He joined the gang led by Joe Masseria. However, in 1931, agreed to join Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel, in the killing of Masseria at a Coney Island restaurant.

In 1933 Anastasia became a member of group that later obtained the name, Murder Incorporated. Anastasia, and gunmen such as Louis Lepke Buchalter and Abe Reles carried out executions for money.

After the arrest and execution of Louis Lepke Buchalter in 1944, Anastasia became the leader of Murder Incorporated.

On 25th October, 1957, Albert Anastasia was murdered as he sat in a barber's chair in a New York hotel.

Albert Anastasia is best known as a Criminal. Italian mobster known for founding the American Mafia and running Murder, Inc.. Albert Anastasia was born on September 26, 1902 in Italy. He illegally entered the United States on a freighter in 1919. Albert Anastasia is one of the most successful Criminal. He has ranked on the list of famous people who were born on September 26, 1902.

He also has a position among the list of Most popular Criminal.

Family: Parents, Children & Relatives

His parents were Raffaelo Anastasio and Louisa Nomina de Filippi. He has not shared enough information about family details. However, our team currently working, we will update Family, Sibling, Spouse and Childrens information.

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Umberto Anastasio was born on 26 September 1902 in Parghelia, Calabria, Italy, and Anastasia and his brothers came to New York City on a freighter in 1919. They worked as longshoremen on the Brooklyn waterfront, and Anastasia rose to control six chapters of the International Longshoremen's Association in Brooklyn. Anastasia allied himself with Joe Masseria and his Masseria crime family during the Castellammarese War, and he joined Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel during their crusade to wipe out the old Mafia Anastasia was one of the gunmen who murdered Masseria at a Coney Island restaurant. Anastasia and Louis Buchalter both created Murder, Inc. during the 1930s, and he was responsible for between 400 and 1,000 murders, earning him the nickname "the Mad Hatter". He was the most feared American Mafia hitman of the 1930s and 1940s, and he joined the US Army during World War II he never saw combat. In 1951, he became boss of the Gambino crime family after his murder of Vincent Mangano, and Anastasia allied with Frank Costello to prevent Vito Genovese from taking over Costello's family (the future Genovese crime family).


On 25 October 1957, two Genovese hitmen entered the Park Sheraton Hotel barbershop, where Anastasia was having a haircut. The gunmen shot at Anastasia on his chair, and Anastasia got up and attempted to lunge at his killers. However, he crashed into the mirror instead, and he was shot several times on the floor. Anastasia's death led to Carlo Gambino taking over the family, and Genovese would fail in his attempts to kill Costello.

Mafia Executioner Albert Anastasia's 1920s Home

Red Hook’s Little Italy on Pioneer Street was a dense, flavorful stretch of tenements, produce markets, and taverns. It was also where the up-and-coming mobster Albert Anastasia found a home in the 1920s.

Along with three of his brothers, in 1919 Anastasia illegally disembarked from a freight ship from Italy on which he was working. At the age of 17 he settled into the longshoreman life, worked manual labor, and relaxed by drinking and gambling, all within five blocks of the docks.

By 1921, at the age of 19, Anastasia had already made a name for himself on the docks and soon got involved in the local union. Working his way up the union ranks through back-door deals and well-chosen allies, Anastasia became a top leader in the notoriously corrupt International Longshoreman’s Association by the late 1920s.

The longshoreman’s union was largely controlled by the Mafia, and Anastasia’s talents were put to a variety of uses. He eventually founded one of the most ferocious killing businesses in America, the Mafia’s enforcement arm nicknamed “Murder, Inc.,” earning Anastasia himself such nicknames as “The Mad Hatter” and “The Lord High Executioner.”

The Five Families

It was during this phase that Maranzano would then reorganize the mafia into five families. Anastasia was appointed the underboss of Vincent Mangano’s family, which today is known as the Gambino Crime Family.

Not long after the departure of Joe Masseria was the murder of Salvatore Maranzano who was a completely different character to Joe The Boss. Joe The Boss was a slob, Maranzano was respectable and well dressed.

In September 1931 Luciano’s men entered the offices of Maranzano and disposed of his bodyguards who weren’t armed at the time due to a new policy that Maranzano had enforced so that they wouldn’t be found packing nay firearms if searched by the law.

With the bodyguards out the way, Luciano’s men shot and stabbed Maranzano in his own office.

It was that Luciano founded the National Crime Syndicate which consisted of major family bosses from around the country as well as the Five Families of New York, with the aim to regulate lucrative illegal activities such as racketeering, gambling, and bootlegging.

Albert Anastasia

Umberto "Albert" Anastasia (September 26, 1902 – October 25, 1957) was an Italian-American mobster, hitman, and crime boss. One of the founders of the modern American Mafia and the founder and boss of Murder, Inc., Anastasia was boss of what became the modern Gambino crime family. He was also in control of the New York waterfront for most of his criminal career, including the dockworker unions. He was murdered on October 25, 1957, on the orders of Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino Gambino subsequently became boss of the family.

Anastasia was one of the most ruthless and feared organized crime figures in American history his reputation earned him the nicknames "The One-Man Army", "Mad Hatter" and "Lord High Executioner".

Albert Anastasia (born Umberto Anastasio, September 26, 1902 – October 25, 1957) was one of the most ruthless and feared Cosa Nostra mobsters in United States history. A founder of the American Mafia, Anastasia ran Murder, Inc. during the prewar era and during most of the 1950s was boss of what would become the modern Gambino crime family. He is perhaps the most feared hit-man of the American Mafia's golden era, earning the infamous nicknames "the Mad Hatter" and "Lord High Executioner."

Contents [show] Biography[edit] Early years[edit] Albert Anastasia was born on September 26, 1902, in Tropea, Calabria, Italy. His parents were Raffaelo Anastasio and Louisa Nomina de Filippi. The family name was "Anastasio", but Albert started using "Anastasia" in 1921.

Raffaelo Anastasio was a railway worker who died after World War I, leaving behind nine sons and three daughters. Albert's brothers included Salvatore, Frank, Joseph, Gerardo, and Anthony Anastasio.[1] Anastasia was married to Elsa Barnesi they had one son, Anthony Anastasia, Jr.[2] They would have another son and two daughters.

In 1919, Anastasia and three of his brothers arrived in New York City, working on a freighter. Deserting the ship, the brothers illegally entered the United States. The boys soon started working as longshoremen on the Brooklyn waterfront.[1]

On March 17, 1921, Anastasia was convicted of murdering longshoreman George Turino as the result of a quarrel. Anastasia was sentenced to death and sent to Sing Sing State Prison in Ossining, New York to await execution. Due to a legal technicality, however, Anastasia won a retrial in 1922. Because four of the original prosecution witnesses had disappeared in the meantime, Anastasia was released from custody in 1922.[1]

On June 6, 1923, Anastasia was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm and sentenced to two years in city prison.[1]

Rise to power[edit] By the late 1920s, Anastasia had become a top leader of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), controlling six union local chapters in Brooklyn. Anastasia allied himself with Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria, a powerful gang leader in Brooklyn. Anastasia soon became close associates with future Cosa Nostra bosses Joe Adonis, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Vito Genovese, and Frank Costello.[2]

In 1928, Anastasia was charged with a murder in Brooklyn, but the witnesses either disappeared or refused to testify in court.[2]

Castellammarese War[edit] In 1930, Luciano finalized his plans to take over the organized crime rackets in New York by destroying the two old-line Mafia factions headed by Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. Luciano outlined his plot to Anastasia, who joined him and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in the plot. Anastasia assured Luciano that he would kill everyone for Luciano to reach the top. Anastasia knew that if Luciano ran the National Crime Syndicate, he would eventually get a "piece of the action." By this point, Luciano had secretly given his support to Maranzano.

On April 15, 1931, Anastasia allegedly participated in Masseria's murder. Luciano had lured Masseria to a meeting at a Coney Island, Brooklyn restaurant. During their meal, Luciano excused himself to go to the restroom. As soon as Luciano was gone, Anastasia, Vito Genovese, Joe Adonis, and Bugsy Siegel rushed into the dining room and shot Masseria to death. The war ended and Maranzano was the winner.[3] No one was ever indicted in the Masseria murder. In Luciano's subsequent reorganization of New York's mafia into its current Five Families, Anastasia was appointed underboss of the crime family of Vincent Mangano, the modern Gambino crime family.[4]

In September 1931, Maranzano was himself murdered and Luciano became the preeminent mobster in America.[5] To avoid the power struggles and turf disputes that led to the Castellammarese War, Luciano established the National Crime Syndicate, consisting of the major family bosses from around the country and the so-called "five families" of New York. The Syndicate was meant to serve as a deliberative body to solve disputes, carve up and distribute territories, and regulate lucrative illegal activities such as racketeering, gambling, and bootlegging (which came to a close with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933). The Italian-American Mafia had their own body, known as the Commission.[6]

In 1932, Anastasia was indicted on charges of murdering another man with an ice pick, but the case was dropped due to lack of witnesses.

In 1933, Anastasia was charged with killing a man who worked in a laundry again, there were no witnesses willing to testify.[2]

Murder, Incorporated[edit] To reward Anastasia's loyalty, Luciano placed him and Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, the nation's leading labor racketeer, in control of the Syndicate's enforcement arm, Murder, Inc. The troop, also known as "The Brownsville Boys", was a group of Jewish and Italian killers that operated out of the back room of Midnight Rose's, a candy store owned by mobster Louis Capone in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. During its ten years of operation, it is estimated that Murder Inc. committed between 400 and 1000 murders, many of which were never solved. For his leadership in Murder, Inc., Anastasia was nicknamed the "Mad Hatter" and the "Lord High Executioner".[7] Unlike Lepke and many other members of Murder, Inc., Anastasia was never prosecuted for any of these murders. It is doubted by some that he even was involved, since as the underboss of a family, he had his own killers to use if needed. During this period, Anastasia's business card claimed that he was a "sales representative" for the Convertible Mattress Corporation in Brooklyn.

On June 7, 1936, Luciano was convicted on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution.[8] On July 18, 1936, Luciano received a 30 to 50-year sentence in state prison. [9] Genovese became acting boss, but he was forced to flee to Italy in 1937 after being indicted on a 1934 murder. Frank Costello now became acting boss of the Luciano crime family.

In May 1939, Anastasia allegedly ordered the murder of Morris Diamond, an official of a trucking union in Brooklyn. Diamond was a Teamsters Union official who had opposed mobster Louis Buchalter's attempts to maintain control of the Garment District in Manhattan.[10][11] In the summer of 1939, Anastasia allegedly organized the murder of Peter Panto, an ILA activist. Panto had been leading a movement for democratic reforms in the ILA locals, and refused to be intimidated by ILA officials. On July 14, 1939, Panto disappeared his body was later recovered on a farm in New Jersey.[12][13]

With the 1941 arrest of Abe Reles on murder charges, law enforcement finally dismantled Murder, Inc. Reles was a gang leader from Brownsville, Brooklyn who had been supplying Anastasia and Murder, Inc. with hitmen for the past 10 years. Reles decided to testify for the government to save himself from the death penalty. His testimony convicted seven members of Murder Inc. Reles also had information that could implicate Anastasia in the 1939 Diamond and Panto murders. Fearful of prosecution, Anastasia offered a $100,000 reward for Reles' murder.[14]

On November 12, 1941, Reles was found dead on a restaurant roof outside the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island. Reles was being guarded at a sixth floor room during an ongoing trial. In 1951, a grand jury ruled that Reles accidentally died while climbing down to the fifth floor using sheets tied to a heating radiator. However, many officials still suspected that Reles had been murdered.[11]

In the spring of 1942, Anastasia allegedly ordered the murder of an associate, Anthony Romeo. Romeo had been arrested and questioned in the Panto killing. However at the end of June, Romeo's body was discovered near Guyencourt, Delaware. Romeo had been beaten and shot multiple times.[15]

World War II[edit] During World War II, Anastasia reportedly originated the plan to win a pardon for Luciano by helping the war effort. With America needing allies in Sicily to advance the invasion of Italy, and the desire of the Navy to dedicate its resources to the war, Anastasia orchestrated a deal to obtain lighter treatment for Luciano while he was in prison, and after the war, a parole in exchange for the Mafia protecting the waterfront and Luciano's assistance with his associates in Sicily.[16]

In 1942, Anastasia joined the U.S. Army. He may have been motivated by a desire to escape the criminal investigations that were dismantling Murder Inc. Attaining the rank of technical sergeant, Anastasia trained soldiers to be longshoremen at Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania. In 1943, as a reward for his military service, Anastasia received U.S. citizenship.[1] In 1944, Anastasia was honorably discharged from the Army and he moved his family to a mansion in Fort Lee, New Jersey.[2] In 1958, less than a year after Anastasia's death, comedian Buddy Hackett and his wife purchased the mansion,[17] and after renovations they moved in and lived there through most of the 1960s.[18]

In 1945, U.S. military authorities in Sicily returned Genovese to the United States to be tried for the 1934 Boccia murder. However, after the death of the main prosecution witness, all charges were dropped against Genovese. In 1946, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey commuted Luciano's sentence and the federal government immediately deported him to Italy.[19]

In 1948, Anastasia bought a dress making factory in Hazleton, Pennsylvania and left his waterfront activities in the control of his brother Anthony.[2]

Boss[edit] In 1951, the U.S. Senate summoned Anastasia to answer questions about organized crime at the Kefauver Hearings. Anastasia refused to answer any questions.[1]

Despite being a mob power in his own right, Anastasia was nominally the underboss of the Mangano crime family under boss Vincent Mangano. During his 20-year rule, Mangano had resented Anastasia's close ties to Luciano and Costello. Mangano was particularly irked that Luciano and Costello obtained Anastasia's services without first seeking Mangano's permission. This and other business disputes led to heated, almost physical fights between the two mobsters.[20] In early 1951, Vincent Mangano went missing and his body was never found. On April 19, 1951, the body of Philip Mangano, shot three times, was discovered in a wetland in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn.[21] No one was ever arrested in the Mangano murders, but it was widely assumed that Anastasia had them killed.[22]

After the deaths of the Mangano brothers, Anastasia, who had been serving as acting boss of the Mangano family, met with the Commission. Anastasia claimed that the Manganos wanted to kill him, but did not admit to killing them.[23] With Costello's prodding, the Commission confirmed Anastasia's ascension as boss of the renamed Anastasia family. Costello wanted Anastasia as an ally against the ambitious and resentful Genovese. Anastasia was also supported by Joseph Bonanno, who simply wanted to avoid a gang war.[20][23]

In March 1952, Anastasia allegedly ordered the murder of Arnold Schuster. Schuster was a young New York man who successfully identified fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton, resulting in Sutton's arrest. When Anastasia saw Schuster being interviewed on television, he allegedly said: "I can't stand squealers! Hit that guy!" On March 8, 1952, a gunman shot Schuster to death on a street in Borough Park, Brooklyn. This public accusation against Anastasia was made in 1963 by government witness Joseph Valachi, but many people in law enforcement were skeptical of it. No one was ever arrested in the Schuster murder.[24][25]

On December 9, 1952, the Federal Government filed suit to denaturalize Anastasia and deport him because he lied on his citizenship application.[26]

Conspiracy[edit] To take control of the Luciano family, Genovese needed to kill Frank Costello. However, Genovese could not kill Costello without also eliminating Anastasia. To do that, Genovese needed allies.

Vito Genovese used Anastasia's brutal behavior against him in an effort to woo away his supporters, portraying Anastasia as an unstable killer who threatened to bring law enforcement pressure on the Cosa Nostra. In addition, Genovese pointed out that Anastasia had been selling memberships to his crime family for $50,000, a clear violation of Commission rules that infuriated many high level mobsters. According to Valachi, Anastasia had been losing large amounts of money betting on horse races, making him even more surly and unpredictable.[22]

Over the next few years, Genovese secretly won the support of Anastasia capo Carlo Gambino, offering him the leadership of Anastasia's family in return for his cooperation.[27] Genovese also received tacit approval from Meyer Lansky. One of Luciano's earliest associates, Lansky handled most of Luciano's U.S. business interests. Lansky and Genovese were also business associates from the 1920s. Genovese could not kill Anastasia and Costello without Lansky's support.

Anastasia's greed soon drove Lansky to help Genovese. During the 1950s, Lansky controlled all the casino gambling in Cuba, offering the Cosa Nostra bosses lesser shares of his profits. When Anastasia demanded a larger share, Lansky refused. Anastasia then started his own casino racket in Cuba. While Lansky had preferred watching Anastasia and Genovese battle each other from the sidelines, Lansky now threw his active support to Genovese.

On May 23, 1955, Anastasia pleaded guilty to tax evasion for underreporting his income during the late 1940s.[28] On June 3, 1955, Anastasia was sentenced to one year in federal prison and a $20,000 fine.[29] After his conviction, the federal government successfully petitioned a federal court to revoke Anastasia's citizenship so he could be deported. However, on September 19, 1955, a higher court overturned this ruling.[30]

In early 1957, Genovese decided to move on Costello. On May 2, 1957, gunman Vincent Gigante shot and wounded Costello outside his apartment building.[31] Although the wound was superficial, it persuaded Costello to relinquish power to Genovese and retire. Genovese now controlled what is now called the Genovese crime family. Joseph Bonanno would later credit himself with arranging a sitdown where he kept Anastasia from immediately taking Genovese to war in response.[32]

On June 17 of that year Frank Scalice, Anastasia's underboss and the man identified as directly responsible for selling Gambino memberships, was also assassinated. According to Joseph Valachi, Anastasia approved the hit, and the subsequent murder of Scalice's brother Joseph after offering to forgive his threats to avenge Frank.[33]

Assassination[edit] On the morning of October 25, 1957, Anastasia entered the barber shop of the Park Sheraton Hotel, at 56th Street and 7th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.[34] Anastasia's driver parked the car in an underground garage and then took a walk outside, leaving Anastasia unprotected. As Anastasia relaxed in the barber chair, two men—scarves covering their faces—rushed in, shoved the barber out of the way, and fired at Anastasia. After the first volley of bullets, Anastasia allegedly lunged at his killers. However, the stunned Anastasia had actually attacked the gunmen's reflections in the wall mirror of the barber shop. The gunmen continued firing and Albert Anastasia finally fell to the floor, dead.[35]

The Anastasia murder generated a tremendous amount of public interest and sparked a high profile police investigation. Per New York Times journalist and Five Families author Selwyn Raab, "The vivid image of a helpless victim swathed in white towels was stamped in the public memory."[36] However, no one was charged in this case.[37] Over time, speculation on who killed Anastasia has centered on Profaci crime family mobster Joe Gallo, the Patriarca crime family of Providence, Rhode Island, and certain drug dealers with the Gambino family.

Initially, the NYPD concluded that the Anastasia hit had been arranged by Genovese and Gambino, and it was carried out by a crew led by "Crazy Joe" Gallo of the Profaci family.[36] At one point, Gallo boasted to an associate of his part in the hit:

"You can just call the five of us the barbershop quintet."[38]

However, detractors say that it was illogical for Profaci to kill Anastasia.[who?] Profaci was allied with Bonanno and Anastasia on the Commission against Genovese, Costello, and Thomas Lucchese. By killing Anastasia, Profaci was eliminating an ally and gaining a potential enemy in Gambino.

The Patriarca theory is that Anastasia's killers came from the Patriarca Family in Providence/Boston. Genovese had traditionally strong ties to Patriarca boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca. In addition, it made sense to use out-of-town hitmen. The Patriarca hit team was allegedly led by mobster John (Jackie) "Mad Dog" Nazarian.

The drug dealers theory is that Gambino used some Gambino drug dealers from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to kill Anastasia, including Stephen Armone, Stephen Grammauta, and Arnold Wittenberg.[37][39]

Aftermath[edit] Carlo Gambino was expected to be proclaimed boss of Anastasia's family at the November 14, 1957 Apalachin Meeting, called by Genovese to discuss the future of Cosa Nostra in light of his takeover.[40] When the meeting was raided by police, to the detriment of Genovese's reputation, Gambino's appointment was postponed to a later meeting in New York City.[41] Under Gambino, Anthony Anastasio saw his power curtailed, and in frustration he began passing information to the FBI shortly before his 1963 death.[42][43]

Genovese enjoyed a short reign as family boss. In 1957, after Genovese's disastrous Apalachian Meeting, Lansky, Luciano, Costello, and Gambino conspired to entrap Genovese with a narcotics conviction, bribing a drug dealer to testify he had personally worked with Genovese.[44] On July 7, 1958, Genovese was indicted on narcotics trafficking charges.[45] On April 17, 1959, Genovese was sentenced to 15 years in state prison.[46]

Anastasia's funeral service was conducted at a Brooklyn funeral home the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn had refused to sanction a church burial. Anastasia was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, attended by a handful of friends and relatives.[47]

Popular culture[edit] After the Anastasia assassination, the barber chairs at the Park Sheraton Hotel were repositioned to face away from the mirror. The Anastasia chair was later auctioned off for $7,000. In February 2012, the chair became an exhibit at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.[48] The 1959 film Inside the Mafia opens with the scene of Anastasia's assassination. Anastasia's murder, as well as the 1957 Apalachin Meeting, were referenced in the 1999 film Analyze This, starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.[49] The fictional character Johnny Friendly (played by Lee J. Cobb) in the classic 1954 American film On the Waterfront was partially based on Anastasia.[50] Mayra Montero's novel Son de Almendra (English Title: Dancing to "Almendra") is based on Anastasia's murder.[51] In The Day of The Jackal, a 1973 novel by Frederick Forsyth, a detective considers Marco Vitellino, a fictitious bodyguard who was absent during Anastasia's assassination as one of several suspects who could be an assassin contracted to kill French President Charles de Gaulle. The bodyguard is ruled out because he doesn't fit the description of the assassin. The TV series M*A*S*H made at least two references to Anastasia's death, anachronistically, as the Korean War had already been over for four years when Anastasia was killed. Season 4, Episode 12 "Soldier of the Month," Hawkeye Pierce sarcastically refers to a sleeping soldier as "Albert Anastasia's doorman." Season 5, Episode 3 "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," Hawkeye Pierce, temporarily blinded, bumps into an object, and discovers that it is an empty chair, and says, "Ah, Albert Anastasia's bodyguard." In the Mafia game series, Don Alberto Clemente was partially based on Anastasia, particularly his known violations of Mafia code by trying to "sell" made men. Clemente's death was based on a combination of Anastasia's assassination as well as the attempted murder of Adolf Hitler at the Wolf's Den. In the TV series The West Wing Season 4, Episode 11 "Holy Night", Jules Ziegler, the estranged father of White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler, visits Toby at the White House. Following a query from the Justice Department, Toby asks his father, a former member of Murder, Inc. when Albert Anastasia was killed. Jules answers, "October 1957", and later tells his son, "You should know when Anastasia was killed." Toby, still angry at his father for having been involved in organized crime, retorts, "I know when Anastasia was killed!" In an episode of The Sopranos, mob boss Junior Soprano tells his nephew Tony Soprano that he wishes problems were settled amicably like they were in the 1950s when it was peaceful. Tony replies he remembered seeing the picture of Anastasia "all amicably" in a pool of blood on the barbershop floor. Italian movie of 1973 with Alberto Sordi: My Brother Anastasia. Anastasia was portrayed by Gianni Russo in the 1975 film Lepke, starring Tony Curtis. A fictional payback hit for Anastasia's murder is described in "Before the Play", the prologue of The Shining. In the post-war era the fictional Overlook Hotel was a popular meeting place and neutral ground for organized crime figures. The target was a powerful mobster who was guarded by two gunmen he had loaned from New York City. Three hit-men with shotguns took out the bodyguards. They then shot down the target in his room and then castrated his corpse as proof they had killed him.[52] Anastasia's murder is mentioned in Harold Robbins book, The Raiders (1995). Although in the book the hit is carried out by an obfuscated assassin known only by the pseudonym Malditesta (Italian for a greatly painful headache). MMG rapper Rick Ross entitled his 2010 mixtape, "The Albert Anastasia EP"


Fifty years ago today, Albert Anastasia, the most ruthless killer in Mafia history, was dispatched to that great Sitdown in the Sky by two button men as he sat in a barber’s chair in a Midtown hotel.

Anastasia, 53, was the “Lord High Executioner” of Murder Inc., the mob’s enforcement arm. He employed a motley crew of contract killers to shoot, stab, strangle, ice-pick or garrote dozens who ran afoul of the underworld.

Murder Inc. was linked to 63 slayings, and Anastasia – a hands-on mob executive – is believed to have personally carried out 30 of those.

He held the Big Apple in fear.

He met his cold end on the morning of Oct. 25, 1957, on a chair in the lobby barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel, now the Park Central, on Seventh Avenue between West 55th and 56th streets.

Two gunmen walked into the barbershop – which now is a Starbucks – and began firing. Anastasia collapsed in a heap. He was dead.

Tony Karasis, 80, who has worked as a waiter at the hotel since July 1947, recalled hearing “a big commotion” and “people started screaming.”

“We were all scared,” he said.

“The cops asked me questions and I said, ‘I don’t speak English,’ ” he added with a chuckle.

Karasis was then working in the former Mermaid Room, located behind what is now the hotel’s front desk. Lots of mobsters frequented the joint.

“I used to serve those guys. They were big tippers,” he said.

The customers also included Jackie Gleason, who maintained a suite at the hotel, and Gleason’s drinking buddy, Tom Carvel. He also served stars like Frank Sinatra.

Anastasia, also known as the “Mad Hatter,” was born Umberto Anastasio on Sept. 26, 1902, in the Italian fishing village of Tropea.

As a teen, he worked on tramp steamers, jumping ship about 1920 to earn his living on the Brooklyn docks.

Starting as a stevedore, he combined ambition, greed and a stunning capacity for violence to seize control of the longshoremen’s union, getting big payoffs from businessmen seeking labor peace.

Witnesses to his misdeeds turned up missing, dead or with their memories severely impaired.

In November 1941, as he was about to testify against Anastasia, Murder Inc. assassin Abe “Kid Twist” Reles – whose loose lips had already sent many men to a date with death at Sing Sing – mysteriously plummeted to his demise from Coney Island’s Half Moon Hotel.

And in March 1951, Arnold Schuster, a 24-year-old Brooklyn clothing salesman who helped cops capture bank robber Willie Sutton, was shot dead.

“I hate squealers! Hit that guy!” Anastasia reportedly told an underling.

On the morning of his death, Anastasia left his home in Fort Lee, N.J., then strode into Arthur Grasso’s barber shop for a shave and haircut.

With his bodyguard-chauffeur, Anthony Coppola, 49, conspicuous by his absence, Anastasia was chatting with Grasso in chair No. 4 as barber Joseph Bocchino cut his hair.

That was when the two hoods began firing.

One bullet lodged in the left side of his brain, while another penetrated his kidney, lung and spleen.

The man who had avoided the electric chair died in the barber’s chair.

At his funeral, he was mourned most noticeably by his heartbroken widow, Elsa, who sobbed convulsively before nearly collapsing. He was buried in a $900 casket at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

There are myriad theories about why he was hit.

They range from him becoming a possible FBI informant, to having lobbied for a larger share of the mob’s gambling empire in Cuba, to becoming a target in a power grab by mob rivals Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino or both.

This Week in Crime History

Umberto Anastasio was born on February 26, 1902 in Tropea, Calabria, Italy. He later changed his name to Albert Anastasia. He was often referred to as "Mad Hatter" and "Lord High Executioner." Around the age of 15, Anastasia illegally entered the United States. He became a naturalized citizen in 1943 while serving in the United States Army. In 1920, Anastasia was working as a longshoreman in New York and got into an argument over ship assignments with a fellow longshoreman named Joe Torino. Anastasia stabbed and strangled Torino to death. Anastasia was convicted and sentenced to death but after spending only 18 months at Sing Sing prison, his conviction was overturned. The four most important witnesses against him for his re-trial all ended up missing, while other witnesses changed their testimony. Albert Anastasia allegedly controlled racket businesses and ran strong arm activities on the New York City waterfront and was a strike buster. He rose to a position of power in the International Longshoremen's Association.

In 1928, conflicts between mob leaders led to the Castellammarese War. In 1930, Lucky Luciano went to Anastasia with a plan that would put Luciano on top of the east coast crime world. Luciano would kill mob bosses Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. On April 15, 1931, Luciano invited Masseria to a sit-down at Nuova Villa Tammaro, a Coney Island restaurant. After Luciano excused himself to the bathroom, Anastasia, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel entered the restaurant and killed Masseria. A few months later, men disguised as Treasury Department agents entered Salvatore Maranzano's office, disarmed his body guards and killed Maranzano.

At the end of the Castellammarese War, a more peaceful existence between the crime bosses was sought. Luciano co-founded a crime cooperative that became known as the National Crime Syndicate, or the "Commission," made up of major crime bosses from across the country and the Five Families of New York. The Syndicate divided and regulated the illicit markets. Each gang in the syndicate had its own franchise, such as gambling, drugs, or prostitution. One section of the Syndicate enforced the Syndicate's business and performed murders for hire and was known as "Murder, Inc." For decades the FBI denied the existence of such an organization as the "Syndicate." Anastasia was a leading figure in the Brooklyn, New York based "Murder, Incorporated". Luciano gave this authority to Anastasia as a reward for his assistance during the Castellammarese War. Murder, Incorporated also featured the talents of labor racketeer Louis "Lepke" Buchalter. Murder, Incorporated operated out of a candy store called Midnight Rose's, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. At the time, Anastasia carried a business card saying he was a "sales representative" for the Convertible Mattress Corporation in Brooklyn. Crime researchers believe Murder Inc. was responsible for between 400 and 800 murders.

Murder Inc. dissolved in the 1940's, after hit man Abe Reles was arrested. Reles cooperated with the legal authorities to receive immunity instead of the electric hair. The information he gave facilitated the conviction of several Murder Incorporated's hit men, including Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, who died in Sing Sing's electric chair. It is believed that Anastasia put out a $100,000 contract on Reles. On November 12, 1941, while in the protection of six police officers, Reles mysteriously fell to his death from a window of the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island.

After Luciano went to prison on a pandering conviction, it is believed that Anastasia carried out a plan to get him released from prison, seeking to win him a pardon for assistance in the war effort. Anastasia sought to create havoc on the New York waterfront to disrupt the U.S. Navy's activities. Anastasia convinced the Navy that Luciano could see that things would be in order on the Waterfront. Anastasia lobbied that Luciano's contacts in Sicily could help with advance work for an anticipated U.S. invasion of Italy. A deal was worked-out that in exchange for his cooperation, Luciano would receive favored treatment while in prison and would receive parole after the war. After the war, Luciano was deported to Italy.

Vincent Mangano, the boss of the Mangano crime family, later known as the Gambino family, had a long running feud with Anastasia. In 1951, after Vincent Mangano went missing, and his brother Phil Mangano was murdered, Anastasia claimed control of the Mangano Family. At a meeting of the "Commission," Frank Costello backed Anastasia's claim that Mangano was out to kill him, and that Anastasia was acting in self-defense. The Commission bosses accepted Anastasia's claim to the role of boss.

Albert Anastasia detractors were concerned about whether he was killing too many people. In 1952, a 24-year-old Brooklyn clothes store salesman, Arnold Schuster, saw fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton on a subway car. He contacted the police and Sutton was apprehended. Schuster was interviewed on TV. After seeing this, Anastasia is believed to have ordered Schuster's death. One month later Schuster was found shot to death. Over the next ten years the crime was one of the most investigated murders in the history of the New York Police Department. However, the case was never solved. The murder of an outsider on non-mob business increased opposition to Anastasia from mob leaders such as Vito Genovese. Genovese sought to move support away from Anastasia. Genovese would eventually successfully move Anastasia's underboss, Carlo Gambino, to his side.

Albert Anastasia faced a deportation hearing in 1953 due to his criminal activity. In the mid 1950's Anastasia was facing an income tax evasion prosecution. The first trial ended in a hung jury. There was to be a second trial in 1955. Anastasia associate, Vincent Macri, was found shot to death, his body in the trunk of a car in the Bronx. A few days later, Macri's brother went missing and was never again seen. The key witness in the case was a Fort Lee, New Jersey, plumber named Charles Ferri. A month before the trail, Ferri and his wife went missing, leaving behind a blood splattered retirement house in Miami, Florida. At trial, Anastasia took a pleas bargain and was sentenced to one year in prison.

Meyer Lansky supported Anastasia because he did not want to see Genovese gain more power. When Anastasia put heat on Lansky for a larger contribution from Lansky's gambling operations, Lansky gave his support to Genovese. On October 25, 1957, Albert Anastasia was killed by masked gunmen while sitting in a barber's chair at the Hotel Park Sheraton located at 7th Avenue and 55th Street in New York City. It is ironic that 35 years earlier he escaped the electric chair, and his life would end when he was fatally wounded in a barber's chair. The murder of Albert Anastasia was the inspiration for the scene in the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola movie "The Godfather," adapted from the Mario Puzo novel, where Moe Green, a Las Vegas casino proprietor, is gunned down on a massage table by two masked hit men.

Albert Anastasia – The Original Murder Inc. Part II

Spring 1942 Anastasia, who was under constant scrutiny from the FBI and local law enforcement secretly ordered the murder of associate Anthony Romeo. Like Reles, Romeo had been arrested and was talking to authorities to implicate Anastasia in several murders. By the end of June, Romeo’s body was found beaten and shot multiple times near Guyencourt Delaware.

With the start of World War II, Anastasia reportedly became the mastermind behind a plan to win Luciano freedom from prison in exchange for supplying the United States government with inside information from his contacts in Sicily. He also suggested he could protect the eastern waterfront from German attack. As a part of the effort, Anastasia joined the United States Army although many speculate he did this to escape criminal investigations, he maintained he was doing his part to secure the borders by training longshoremen on the coast in Pennsylvania. As a reward for his efforts Anastasia was granted citizenship in the United States. He was no longer illegal, and after his honorable discharge from the Army in 1944 moved his family to a mansion in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Despite working closely with Luciano and Costello, Anastasia was the underboss of the Mangano family. Boss of the family Vincent Mangano resented the relationship Anastasia had with the two men and was particularly upset Luciano and Costello didn’t ask for his permission before requesting Anastasia’s services. This and several other small disputes led to Mangano and Anastasia almost coming to blows several times. In early 1951 Vincent Mangano went missing. He was never heard from again. On April 19, 1951 the body of Phillip Mangano, Vincent’s brother was found shot three times floating in a wetland outside of Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. It is widely assumed Anastasia had enough and disposed of the Mangano brothers but no charges were ever filed.

As underboss, and with Mangano out of the picture, Anastasia became the new boss of the Mangano family renaming it the Anastasia family (the future Gambino family). He was a ruthless boss having once killed an informer who had nothing to do with his family just because he “didn’t like stool pigeons”. In a similar situation in March 1952 Anastasia was watching television where a young man from New York Arnold Schuster identified a fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton, resulting in Sutton’s arrest. When Anastasia saw this, he allegedly said: “I can’t stand squealers! Hit that guy!” Days later, gunmen shot Schuster to death on a street in Borough Park, Brooklyn. No one was ever arrested for the slaying.

Around the same time Vito Genovese, a powerful mobster in his own right was vying for the top spot of the Costello family after Luciano was deported. His power was limited as Costello and Anastasia had control of the commission, but after hearing of the slaying of Schuster, Genovese felt he had an opening. To kill Costello, he would need to eliminate Anastasia so he began to paint a picture of Anastasia being unstable, and unpredictable. He spoke about Anastasia bringing about unnecessary attraction to the mafia during a time where the FBI was looking for anything to bring about indictments. He soon had the ear of Anastasia capo Carlo Gambino, and Luciano friend Meyer Lansky who was growing more upset with Anastasia for muscling in on his Cuba casino operations.

Soon after gaining support from other top mobsters, Genovese went to the commission and accused Anastasia of selling memberships to his family. This was a huge accusation that the commission took seriously. In an effort to drive a wedge between Costello and Anastasia, Genovese also claimed Anastasia was plotting against Costello. With their relationship in question, Genovese felt comfortable moving against Costello. On May 2, 1957 gunmen, later identified as Vincent ‘The Chin” Gigante shot and wounded Costello outside his apartment building. The near death experience convinced Costello life was more important. He stepped in front of the commission and retired giving Genovese control of the family.

Genovese wasn’t finished with his rise to the top of the commission. To make Anastasia appear more unstable, Genovese spread the word that Anastasia hired The Chin to shoot and miss Costello. Of course it was Genovese who hired Gigante, Costello believed the ruse and gave his approval for Genovese to move against Anastasia.

In the end, Anastasia’s own routine gave Genovese gunmen the opportunity to end his reign. On the morning of October 25, 1957 Anastasia entered the Park Sheraton Hotel barber. Joe Bocchino, who had been shaving and cutting Anastasia’s hair for years, draped a candy striped barber’s cloth over Anastasia and began cutting his hair. A manicurists sat next to the chair and worked on the bosses fingernails. A shoeshine boy began polishing Anastasia’s brown shoes. It was the same time and same service Anastasia had every other day for years.

Shortly after 10:15 a.m. with Anastasia dozing in the chair, his eyesclosed, two men quietly walked into the barber shop. They drew their .38 caliber pistols and waved the men and boy away from Anastasia’s chair. As they scattered Anastasia opened his eyes and lifted his hand in a defense as both men open fired. According to reports Anastasia let out a roar and leaped from the chair reaching for the two gunmen. He spun around after being hit in the hand, wrist, and hip. A bullet then ripped into his back causing him to fall to the floor at the base of the barbers chair. One of the gunmen is said to have calmly walked up to Anastasia, and fired the fatal round to the back of his head. Both gunmen disappeared as quickly as they appeared and although they were never apprehended, the gangland consensus is it was brothers Larry and Joe Gallo who committed the murder after being contracted by Don Vito Genovese. With Anastasia dead, capo, Carlo Gambino was awarded the Anastasia family from the commission with Genovese sitting firmly in control.

The Death of Albert Anastasia

Everyone remembers the frightening mafia boss Albert Anastasia. His name is synonymous with murder itself. He was the most trigger happy man to ever become a major crime family boss. In his case, he’d killed his way to the top, literally.. He also co-ran a virtual 24/7 killing unit named Murder Incorporated.

Albert “The Lord High Executioner” or if you prefer “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia was by far the most feared gangster of the 1920’s – 1950’s.
His death scene in that barber shop gave us one of the most iconic mafia pictures ever taken. He had run afoul of the commission for the last time. The major reason for his assassination was because they all feared he would kill them too.

It was Carlo Gambino and Vito Genovese that were the two main conspirators. It was with the support of those two men that the other members found the courage to get behind such a dangerous task. Even Meyer Lansky was involved. To get the job done, they gave the contract to two young Colombo soldiers, “Crazy Joe” Gallo and Carmine Persico.

Mangano and Schuster Infractions

Long after Anastasia escaped the wreckage of Murder Incs’ downfall, he was still ascending in his position in the New York mafia. He was the underboss of the Mangano Crime Family and remained one of the most powerful and feared members of the commission throughout the 1940’s. It was in 1951 that Albert decided he didn’t want to be second in charge anymore.

Vincent Mangano

That year, his boss Vincent Mangano went missing never to be found again. His brother and family consigliere Phillip Mangano’s dead body was found shortly after Vincent went missing, he had three bullets in his head.

Albert was now the boss of his very own Anastasia Crime Family. He had a powerful young team with guys like Carlo Gambino and new underboss Frank Scalise that could win a war with any other family if need be. Anastasia claimed self defense to his fellow commission members regarding Mangano. He had strong backing from Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and Joe Bonanno.

Despite the disrespect shown toward mafia code, no one was going to dare go after Albert at this time. The murder made all of the bosses wonder just who would be next. In early 1952, Anastasia would order a murder that brought tons of bad publicity for the mafia.

Arnold Schuster was not a mobster, he was a 24 year old clothing salesman from Brooklyn who turned in famous bank robber Willie Sutton. Albert reportedly flew into a rage when he watched Schuster on television being hailed as a hero. Famous mob witness Joe Valachi would implicate Anastasia in the killing years later.

Schuster was shot in both eyes and killed in the street. The other bosses were furious and the public was outraged. Nothing would happen for a few more years, but this was indeed the last straw. Luciano was deported to Italy and slowly losing influence, leaving Albert potentially vulnerable.

Factions Within the Commission

After these two incidents, some other mob bosses finally started expressing an interest in the removal of Albert Anastasia. His most vocal critic and biggest threat was Vito Genovese. Vito was working his way up the ranks of the Luciano Crime Family and planned to one day take the top spot from Albert’s friend Frank Costello. In the early 1950’s, Vito simply didn’t have the clout yet to get backing on the move but he was biding his time.

Another problem for Albert was the other mob bosses who wouldn’t go public but were quietly ready to see his demise. Carlo Gambino was one of these men. Gambino did not approve of the brazen public violence and notoriety. He felt that for the mafia to prosper, they must operate in the shadows. Carlo was incredibly intelligent and coyly ambitious, he also knew that an outright war with Anastasia was not the way to go.

Gambino was underboss at this time and right on the brink of his meteoric rise. Gambino and Genovese soon quietly joined forces and began to plot the demise of Anastasia and Costello. The addition of Meyer Lansky emboldened them. Anastasia had been trying to move in on Lansky’s Cuban rackets and it was a bad move. This now shifted the balance far in Genovese’s favor.

Albert would go to prison for tax evasion in 1955, which put a temporary hold on the plans to kill him. While in prison, the American government tried to deport him, but were not successful. Vito and company were biding their time and had no intentions of abandoning their plan to kill Anastasia.

1957: A Year of Bloodshed

By early 1957, Albert was back on the streets and the two factions were about to finally collide. Vito Genovese decided to move on Costello first, who was shot by a young Vincent “The Chin” Gigante in May. Costello survived the head shot and wisely stepped aside. Vito was now the boss of the family, which would now forever be known as the Genovese Crime Family.

Joe Bonanno, although firmly on the Genovese side, lobbied unsuccessfully for peace. Vito had waited over 20 years to take back the reigns of power. He knew there was no way he could let Anastasia live because the Lord High Executioner would most certainly be coming for revenge soon. In June, Anastasia would make another tactical blunder by having his underboss Frank Scalise killed.

Supposedly Scalise had sold memberships into the family which was a legitimate reason for the hit. Still, the timing was horrible as this removed another layer of protection for Anastasia. He would take it a step further by killing Scalise’s brother as well. It’s possible Anastasia was so wrapped up in this situation that he may not have realized how close Genovese was to making his move.

Anastasia’s choice to replace Scalise as underboss was none other than Carlo Gambino. It’s a real testament to how clever Gambino was that he was able to get the job promotion while secretly conspiring to have his boss killed. Even early on, he was showing some of that brilliance that would eventually make him one of the most successful mobsters of all time.

Surprisingly, during this time Albert was actually moving in on his old friend Meyer Lansky’s gambling empire in Cuba. Meyer, who was the most powerful Jewish mob boss in history and a member of Luciano’s Syndicate got on board with the Genovese/Gambino plot. With the layers of protection peeled back, the former Murder Inc. bosses’ days were numbered.

Who Were the Shooters?

On the morning of October 25,1957, Anastasia was enjoying a shave in a barber shop inside the Park Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. Suddenly two masked man charged in and began firing away. Ever the tough guy, Albert’s last move was lunging at the shooters before crumpling to the floor dead in a hail of bullets. Genovese got his man and Gambino would now be the boss of what would become the Gambino Crime Family.

This classic was written by prosecutor Burton Turkus Murder Inc. The Inside Story Of The Syndicate Killing Machine Available on Amazon

Obviously, Gambino and Genovese were not the actual shooters. The job was contracted out to a couple deadly young Profaci soldiers, “Crazy Joe” Gallo and Carmine “The Snake” Persico. Their boss Joe Profaci had joined the Genovese/Gambino/Lansky alliance and offered up his two killers to take out Anastasia. They jumped at the chance and both men would see this as their golden opportunity to rise in their own positions in the Profaci Crime Family.

Crazy Joe was uncontrollable and went on to form his own renegade faction, going to war with Profaci. He went to prison for extortion for 10 years and in that time Joe Colombo had taken over the family. Gallo and Persico now found themselves in rival factions. Gallo had Colombo shot in 1971. In April 1972, Gallo himself was shot and killed at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy. In a twist of irony, Albert Anastasia’s real first name was Umberto.

Things worked out better for Carmine Persico than Gallo. He had continued rising through what as now the Colombo Crime Family through the 1960’s as a capo. He took over the family entirely after the Colombo shooting. These and other incidents is why Carmine got his well deserved nickname, “The Snake”. It was Persico’s men who killed Joe Gallo in 1972. Persico is still the boss of the Colombo family at 85 years old, even though he’s been in prison for 31 years.

Watch the video: Mob Boss Albert Lord High Executioner Anastasia holed up in NJ home 1951


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