Frank Shaw of Los Angeles is often cited as the first mayor of a major U.S. city to be recalled, as Shaw was in 1938, but Seattle’s Mayor Hiram C. Gill beat him to it. He was booted out in 1911 after less than a year in office, when the public learned that he and his Chief of Police Charles “Wappy” Wapperstein were collecting a large percentage of the receipts from the Northern Club, a saloon-gambling hall-brothel run by a syndicate that included Charles Crawford.
Leo Parnell Bergin was not a gangster or a bootlegger, nor a professional gambler, but a chance encounter with all of the above led to his untimely death in 1931 and exposed the fact that the city had become, in the words of the city’s leading newspaper, a “mecca for gangsters and gamblers from the East.” Continue reading
The LAPD’s survey, Gangland Killings 1900-1951, documents five local gang-related murders for the year 1931. Chicago would call that a slow Tuesday. For Los Angeles it was a “bootlegger’s war.” Twenty year-old Paul Crank was its third victim. Continue reading
E. L. “Zeke” Caress is perhaps best remembered today as the victim of a bungled kidnapping in 1930 but he was also a master odds-maker with close ties to the Spring Street Gang. Continue reading
The LAPD’s survey, Gangland Killings 1900-1951, list just three gang-related murders for 1928, although newspapers at the time of August Palumbo’s shooting death of July 18 refer to him as the seventh such victim in a “bootlegger’s war” that had been going on for six weeks prior. The 1951 survey also notes that there was “no prosecution to date” in the Palumbo case. In fact, there were plenty of prosecutions, just no convictions. Continue reading