Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president in November 1932, defeating the 1-term incumbent Herbert Hoover, who four years earlier had won in a landslide partly on a platform of retaining the Volstead Act. Since then his failed economic policies had sent the stock market into a tailspin and plunged the country into an economic depression. Millions of Americans were out of work and couldn’t even legally drown their sorrows. After his inauguration March 3, 1933, Roosevelt wasted no time in making good on his campaign promise to repeal national prohibition. Continue reading
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
It was a woman scorned who first called Tony Cornero the King of the Bootleggers. The press ran with it. His rum-running operation was remarkably successful, if marred at times by drama, bootlegger wars and run-ins with police. Continue reading
In his 1975 memoir, Mickey Cohen describes Jimmy Fox as “a very notorious gangster in Los Angeles…a bad little guy- an Irishman. He shot three guys in a bootleg war in the Ritz Hotel downtown- in those days it was a real nice classy hotel and had just been built” (1). Cohen got the details mixed up, but Fox was involved in a shooting affray at a downtown hotel, the fallout of a bootleg war.