Though primarily remembered as a deputy sheriff, George Contreras (in white hat, above, center) began his law enforcement career in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office during the administration of DA Thomas Woolwine. Continue reading
Gambling ships began operating off the Southern California coast regularly in the late 1920s. Local, county, state, and federal authorities tried various means to get them shut down, even dredging up 18th century piracy laws, without any real lasting effect. Earl Warren, as California A.G., successfully raided and closed the last four ships in 1939 and World War II put a damper on any new such ventures starting up. But there was still no state or federal statute outlawing them. Everyone may have thought the era of gambling ships had passed. Everyone except Tony Cornero.
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
For all the energy expelled in expunging from Los Angeles that most dreaded of species, the gangsterous easternicus, one of the most invasive specimens of all of them was a hometown boy. Milton Bernard Page, known as “Farmer,” was born in the city in 1887. Though the gambling den was his natural habitat, he also dealt in liquor and prostitution. Continue reading
In June 1925, 23-year old LAPD officer “Eddie” Edwards went to see a man about a dog. It changed his life forever. The man was Frank Cornero, brother and chief lieutenant of “Bootlegger King” Tony Cornero and Edwards was there to arrest him. 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.