Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Enoch L. Johnson

Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson (January 20, 1883 – December 9, 1968) was an Atlantic City, New Jersey political boss and racketeer.

From the 1910s until his imprisonment in 1941, he was the undisputed “boss” of Atlantic City and the Atlantic County government.
Atlantic City was a tourist destination, and its success depended on providing visitors with what they wanted. What many tourists wanted was the ability to drink, gamble and have sex.

The organization inherited by Nucky Johnson permitted the service of alcohol, gambling and prostitution, in exchange for the payment of protection money by operators. Support of the vice industry was to continue and expand under Nucky Johnson’s rule. He also continued other corruption, including kickbacks on government contracts.
Prohibition, which was enacted nationally in 1919 and lasted until 1933, was effectively unenforced in Atlantic City, and, as a result, the resort's popularity grew. The city dubbed itself as "The World's Playground". Most of Johnson’s income came from the percentage he took on every gallon of illegal liquor sold, and on gambling and prostitution operations.

Johnson once said:
“We have whisky, wine, women, song and slot machines. I won't deny it and I won't apologize for it. If the majority of the people didn't want them they wouldn't be profitable and they would not exist. The fact that they do exist proves to me that the people want them.”

Investigators charged that Johnson's income from vice exceeded $500,000 a year.
On May 10, 1939 Johnson was indicted for evading taxes on about $125,000 in income from numbers operators during 1935, 1936 and 1937. A two week trial concluded in July 1941, and Johnson was convicted. He was sentenced to ten years in federal prison and fined $20,000.
After his release from prison in 1945 Johnson lived in Atlantic City until his death on December 9, 1968.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Baby Face" Nelson

Lester Joseph Gillis (December 6, 1908 – November 27, 1934), known under the pseudonym George Nelson, was a bank robber and murderer in the 1930s. Gillis was known as Baby Face Nelson, a name given to him due to his youthful appearance and small stature.

Nelson was responsible for several murders, and has the dubious distinction of having killed more FBI agents in the line of duty than any other single American citizen.
On April 21, 1930, Nelson robbed his first bank, making off with $4,000. Nelson and his crew were linked to a botched roadhouse robbery in Summit, Illinois on November 23, 1930 that resulted in gunplay that left three people dead and three others wounded. Three nights later, the Tape Bandits hit a Waukegan Road tavern and Nelson ended up committing his first murder of note, when he killed stockbroker Edwin R. Thompson.
Nelson hooked up with the Dillinger gang and soon became nationally notorious and was made a high-priority target of the FBI.

After the death of Dillinger, Nelson was made public enemy number one. A running gun battle between FBI agents and Nelson took place on November 27, 1934 outside Chicago, in the town of Barrington resulting in the deaths of Nelson and FBI Special Agents Herman "Ed" Hollis and Samuel P. Cowley.

Nelson had been shot a total of seventeen times; seven submachine gun slugs had struck his torso and ten shotgun pellets had torn into his legs. After telling his wife "I'm done for", Nelson gave directions as Chase drove them to a safe house on Walnut Street in Wilmette. Nelson died in bed here, with his wife at his side, at 7:35 that evening.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Machine Gun" Kelley

George Kelley Barnes (July 18, 1895 – July 18, 1954), better known as "Machine Gun Kelly", was an American gangster during
the prohibition era.

His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun.
Barnes was a bootlegger and armed robber whose most famous crime was the kidnapping of oil tycoon Charles Urschel in July 1933 for which he, and his gang, earned $200,000 ransom.

Unfortunately for Kelley the money was traced and on the morning of September 26, 1933, Memphis police, along with FBI Agents, surrounded and raided his hideout. It was said at that moment, that Kelley coined the phrase: "G-Men, please don't shoot".

Kelley received a life sentence and was moved to the federal prison at Alcatraz.

He was a model prisoner. In 1951 he was returned to Leavenworth where he died of a heart attack on July 18, 1954.