He Died In The Chair After All

"Albert Anastasia, 'Lord High Executioner' of Murder, Inc., was rudely despatched from his throne yesterday when two gunmen walked into the Park Sheraton Hotel, pumped four bullets into him as he sat in a barber chair and left him for dead. Thus did the gangster who beat the chair five times wind up his career of crime."

- Daily News, Saturday, October 26, 1957

Born in southern Italy at the turn of the century, Albert Anastasia took to the sea in his teens and by 15 had sneaked off his ship and into Brooklyn. Once there, his willingness to be brutal leads him to a job as an enforcer for the racket lords of the waterfront.

During his early years on the docks, Anastasia was convicted and sentenced to death on a murder charge. Shortly= before he was to be executed, the witnesses from the trial disappeared. The case was reopened and Anastasia released. No second trial was ever held.

Anastasia was ambitious and he had made friends among the mob, including Frank Costello, Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano. When Prohibition ended, his friends, who had begun a national crime syndicate, had another job for Anastasia. He was offered the position of chief of Murder, Inc., the syndicate's enforcement arm. This was a job he took with gusto from 1934 to 1940, until his lieutenant Abe "Kid Twist" Reles turned informer. Reles claimed Murder, Inc. had been responsible for more than 63 murders on the orders of Anastasia.

But Reles went out a window under mysterious circumstances, while in protective custody. No case was ever brought against Anastasia, who then joined the Army and became a citizen of the United States. After his service, Anastasia moved to New Jersey and assumed control of what later became the Gambino crime family.

Anastasia liked killing people, and as head of his own mob, the killing continued. He even had a witness to a non-mob bank robbery killed because, "I can't stand squealers!"

But it was his attack on Costello (the Prime Minister of Crime) that got Anastasia killed: "Those who should know said it was because Anastasia ordered the shooting of gambling czar Frank Costello last May 2 [1957]. With the bungling of that assassination attempt, these underworld intimates said, Anastasia knew his own life was forfeit."

- Daily News, Saturday, October 26, 1957

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