Albert Anastasia: "The Lord High Executioner'
The Man Who Escaped a Death Sentence Not Once, But Several Times
Born in Calabria, Italy in the year 1902 as Umberto Anastasio, but later renamed himself as Albert Anastasia, was responsible for operation of the ruthless gang conglomerate of contract mobsters collectively referred to by journalists of the time period as Murder Incorporated (Murder Inc.). Encompassing seven east coast gangs, hence the name "The Big Seven Group" and "The Combination," Murder Inc. provided the muscle for the later established National Crime Syndicate in the early 1930s.
Anastasia, considered to be one of the most violent of mobsters and given the name "Lord High Executioner" by his peers, managed to avoid the death sentence on several occasions, even while many of those associated with Murder Inc. met this inevitable fate.
The First Instance
Making his way to America as a young teen of about 16 years of age, Anastasia along with several brothers, were able to secure work as longshoremen on the docks of Brooklyn. It was a regular practice of the longshoremen to steal some of the cargo which they handled and the bosses would turn a blind-eye. However, in the year 1920 whilst in full view of onlookers, Anastasia strangled and stabbed Joe Torrio to death behind an argument over handling valuable freight. Being tried and convicted of murder, Albert Anastasia was sentenced to die in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison, but mysteriously the principle witnesses began to change their testimonies which lead to an opportunity for a new trial, and Anastasia's subsequent release from the death house after serving only 18 months. However, the new trial never took place as some of the primary witnesses were never seen again.
Escaping Death Again: Kid Twist Flips
Leader of the Brownsville Boys Gang, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles found himself confronting a death sentence for murder and turned rat as he was about to be sentenced to death. He gave the Feds an enormous amount of evidence including witnesses who could account for the information he gave. In exchange for the evidence he provided, Kid Twist would be placed in protective custody and given a free pass on all of his involvement in Murder Inc. as well as the current murder conviction and subsequent death penalty. Meanwhile, the heat comes down on several members such as Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Albert Anastasia, Frank Abbandondo, Louis Capone, Harry Maione, Mendy Weiss and several others, most of whom met "Old Sparky" in the end, except, Albert of course. Although Kid Twist had testified that over 60 murders committed at the behest of Murder Inc. were done at Albert's command, Anastasia still was never prosecuted.
Even while in protective custody, Kid Twist was found dead on a hotel roof, although the manner of death, whether homicide or suicide was questionable. Also, another Murder Inc. associate Anthony Romeo, had flipped and was about to implicate Anastasia in several murders, but he too was killed.
Five Murder Charges, No Convictions
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albert Anastasia faced murder convictions (1921 twice, 1922, 1923 and 1941) a total of five times and was never convicted. Either witnesses changed their stories, were found dead, or just simply vanished without a trace. The only conviction that ever stuck to Anastasia was for gun possession in 1923, for which he served two years.
After the dismantling of Murder Incorporated, Anastasia became boss of the infamous Gambino Crime Family. In 1957, his death was swift and completely unexpected in broad daylight in a barbershop as he sat receiving what was to be his last shave. It was considered to be one of the most sensational of mob hits ever.
Sources Used For This Article:
Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI Files
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