"I never did anything to deserve that reputation (Public Enemy No. 1), unless it was to supply good beer to people who wanted it."
Dutch Schultz, born Arthur Flegenheimer, tended bar in a speakeasy in the Bronx in the mid-Twenties. By 1928 he had taken over the wholesale trade in needle beer. Come repeal, he moved into the multi-million-dollar Harlem policy game under Jimmy Hines' beneficent wing (the Tammany leader went to jail later for protecting the Schultz troop) and developed amicable trade relations with the downtown racket dignitaries.
The Beer Baron's wars with Legs Diamond and Vincent Coll spilled much blood as the Lawless Decade turned. Coll, an ex-employee with flaming ambitions and a terrible temper, took to dangerous diversions when he fell out with Schultz. He conducted wholesale raids on Schultz beer drops and kidnapped Owney Madden's partner, Big Frenchy DeMange, for $35,000 ransom.
Vincent Coll, alternately called the Mad Dog and the Mad Mick, owed his fall from grace to a $10,000 oversight. Dutch Schultz put up the ten "big ones" to get him out into the fresh air when he was being held on a Sullivan Law charge. Coll jumped bail, so Schultz had his brother Peter killed, evidently as a moral lesson. Vincent in turn declared war on the Beer Baron. In a side engagement, gunning for another enemy, the Coll mob raked a Harlem street with bullets one summer day in 1931, killing five-year-old Michael Vengalli and wounding three other children. While a vast cry of indignation arose, Samuel Leibowitz, the Mad Dog's lawyer, easily won Coll an acquittal. Later the underworld itself put a $50,000 price tag on the trigger-happy youth. Dutch's torpedoes
collected itor at least qualified for itwhen they lured Coll into a Manhattan phone booth in 1932 and machine-gunned him to death.
Jack (Legs) Diamond, was the New York underworld's favorite clay pigeon in the Lawless Decade. In four separate attempts on his life, he shook off machine-gun and bullet fire like so many bad colds. A cruel and senseless killer, he served as bodyguard for such racket generals as Arnold Rothstein and Jacob (Little Augie) Orgen and led a charmed life with the police as well as with the murder-bent gangland enemies who dogged him. Twenty-five witnesses in his Hotsy Totsy Club saw Diamond and his partner, Charles Entratta, kill two rival gunmen and wound a third, yet there was no prosecution.
One of the assaults on the handsome gunman cut short a romantic interlude in the Hotel Monticello with his sweetheart, Follies girl Kiki Roberts, formerly Marion Strasmick. Diamond absorbed five bullets but was soon well enough to muscle in on the rackets in the Catskills while serving out an exile imposed on him by the Manhattan mobs. In 1931 he beat a trial upstate for kidnapping an uncooperative cider hauler but that night his luck ran out. Assassins caught up with Legs in Albany
and blew his brains out while he was sleeping off the heavy effects of the celebration that followed his acquittal. The deed was generally attributed to the Dutch Schultz Gang. Diamond's wife, Alice, the lone mourner at his funeral, was mysteriously shot to death in a Brooklyn rooming house two years later.
Schultz, plagued by then by Uncle Sam's tax collectors and on the lam, went on the spot with three bodyguards in a Newark bar. Cut down at the Palace Chop House and Tavern in 1935 by two sure-handed assassins who dropped in on a Murder, Inc. contract.
Schultz actually was shot in the tavern's urinal. At the table the killers put a whole assortment of slugs into the Dutchman's favorite bodyguards, Lulu Rosenkrantz and Abe Landau, as well as Otto (Abbadabba)
Berman, a mathematical wizard who had rigged policy game payoffs for the mob. All four men died. Charley (The Bug) Workman went to prison in the Schultz killing six years later when Murder, Inc. songbirds Abe Reles and Allie Tannenbaum began to tell all. The story was that the mobs wanted the Dutchman killed because he was threatening to put Tom Dewey on the spot and they didn't want that kind of heat. The gunman with Workman that night, Emanuel (Mendy) Weiss, went to the chair with Louis Buchalter of Lepke & Gurrah in another murder case in 1944.
The mortally wounded Schultz's deathbed ravings covered a wide rangeall the way from mysterious million-dollar deals to assorted pals and double-XX guys to Communists, of all things. One sentence confounded everybody, even the poets: "A boy has never wept, nor dashed a thousand kim." What did the dying bad man mean? All shot up, the dying gangster bequeathed the nation at least one high moral injunction in his bedside ravings:
"Mother is the best bet," he said, "and don't let Satan draw you too fast." His mother, a German-Jewish immigrant, had scrubbed floors so he could go to school. Schultz turned to the Catholic faith before he died.
In 1938 when District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey built a case against him in the policy racket, Dixie Davis, Schultz's mouthpiece, revealed to the Seabury investigation the links between Schultz and Jimmy Hines and blew the lid off the marriage between crime and politics in New York.