Allan May's book MOB STORIES
IN THIS ISSUE|
· Alphonse "Little Al" D’Arco –Revisited(End)
· Re-Writing History
Editor’s Note: After serious considerations and a discussion with Rick Porrello, my co-author, I have decided to put the Current Mob Report on hiatus until sometime next year in an effort to focus on completing our book on the history of organized crime in the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania.
This was a sad and difficult decision for me because I know so many of the readers out there enjoy the column for its wide coverage of organized crime reports throughout the United States. Despite the long hours I put in, the rewards were the many kind e-mails I received and the positive comments on the different Forums. I apologize for letting any reader down, but the column was a time consuming task and I feel it is more important to focus on the book at this time.
I thank all of you who have supported the Current Mob Report and I look forward to resuming it some time in the future. Be well.
Alphonse "Little Al" D’Arco – Revisited (End)
In early October 1991 the New York City newspapers were reporting that Alphonse D’Arco was on the run from the mob. An October 3 story by Selwyn Raab of the New York Times stated:
"Mr. D’Arco, who is 59 years old, has been missing at least since Sept. 22, when FBI agents raided his Little Italy apartment. The agents found the lights and radio on but no one home in the apartment…"
"FBI agents had warned Mr. D’Arco on Sept. 19 that informants had told them his life was in danger. ‘When we told him there was a contract out on him, all he said was ‘O.K.’…"
What reason the FBI had to raid the apartment was never explained as it has been reported that D’Arco went to the FBI office in New Rochelle to turn himself over to the government.
The day following the Times article Murray Weiss of the New York Post reported, "federal officials confirmed the mob’s suspicion: Alfonso [sic] D’Arco, the acting boss of the Lucchese crime family, had become the highest-ranking gangster ever to turn government snitch." Apparently Weiss hadn’t received a copy of the memo announcing that D’Arco had been demoted back to capo status within the family.
Before the month was over, a federal jury returned a verdict in the "windows" case. On October 18 both sides were claiming victory in the long trial, as three of eight defendants were found guilty on only two charges. Venero "Benny Eggs" Mangano, underboss of the Genovese Family; Benedetto "Benny" Aloi, consigliere of the Colombo Family; and Dennis DeLucia, a Colombo soldier, were convicted.
The jury had rejected most of the government’s case. During an interview one of the jurors claimed the "government’s witnesses were liars." When asked about Peter Savino the juror responded, "Forget it – I don’t even want to discuss that man."
Three days later, in another article by Selwyn Raab, the New York Times announced that the city’s five Mafia families "have deteriorated to the point that three are virtually out of business and two are crumbling…"
United States Attorney Andrew J. Maloney was interviewed for the article. He claimed the defections of Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo and D’Arco might produce a wave of new indictments against Lucchese members. "It could be the death knell for the family," he said.
Just before Christmas 1991 Jerry Capeci, reporting for the New York Daily News, announced that D’Arco was "singing" to the feds. Capeci stated that D’Arco’s information would be used to take down both "his predecessor [Vic Amuso] – and his successor [Anthony "Bowat" Baratta.]"
On January 28, 1992 the feds began acting on information supplied by D’Arco. Five men – three alleged Lucchese members and two associates – were charged with the March 1988 robbery of $1.2 million from an armored car outside a Brooklyn diner.
The following month, after receiving information supplied by D’Arco and Chiodo, the government re-indicted Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and Anthony "Gas Pipe" Casso on racketeering charges, which now included nine murders. Amuso, who had been in jail since his capture in July, was represented by Gerald L. Shargel; Casso was still in hiding.
On May 18 the trial for Amuso got underway. The indictment was the same one that had been issued for the Lucchese boss two years ago in the "windows" case, but had been superseded to include the murder charges. Amuso was charged with 54 counts including loansharking, extortion, racketeering, drug dealing and the nine murders. Assistant US Attorney Charles E. Rose told the jury in his opening statement that Amuso ruled the Lucchese Family "with an iron fist" and had ordered nine murders to be carried out.
Shargel, who in July 1991 was disqualified from representing Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano in the pending trial that would send John Gotti packing for life, claimed the charges were "completely unsubstantiated" and that the government’s key witnesses were "two psychopathic killers." The late federal judge Eugene H. Nickerson, who oversaw the trial, granted the prosecution’s request for an anonymous and sequestered jury.
On May 26 D’Arco took the stand for the first time as a government witness. He described his relationship with Amuso, which began in the late 1950s, and discussed his rise in the Lucchese Family that eventually led to him being named acting boss of the crime empire.
D’Arco talked about murders ordered by Amuso; murders that included D’Arco’s participation. One of the killings he described was that of Michael Pappadio in the late 1980s after an internal family dispute could not be reconciled. Pappadio’s body was then cremated.
Amuso, according to D’Arco, gave the orders to have John Petrucelli murdered after he refused a directive to kill Costabile "Gus" Farace, whom he was harboring following the slaying of DEA Agent Everett Hatcher. Lucchese capo Michael Salerno, who saw that the Petrucelli killing was carried out, was himself murdered on orders from Amuso after the mob boss believed he had become an informant.
D’Arco’s second day of testimony proved to be as captivating as his first. He told the jury that killing "fellow crime family members, even graying ones who spent a lifetime being loyal to the organization, was commonplace in the underworld he inhabited most of his life. In one case, a canary was stuffed into a murder victim’s mouth as a warning to potential informers."
In describing the Lucchese Family as a criminal organization, D’Arco said it was "a murky world of dirty money, fraying alliances and fear, whose boardrooms were basement apartments and neighborhood restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan."
D’Arco’s third day on the stand was devoted to money and how the Lucchese Family collected it through extortion, gambling, loansharking, kickbacks and shakedowns. When Amuso and Casso became fugitives, Casso "became a pain in the neck" in requesting detailed explanations for all of the transactions. During the time D’Arco was acting boss he funneled more than $1.0 million to the two fugitives.
Michel Marriott of the New York Times wrote:
"After almost 18 hours of Mr. D’Arco’s testimony, the addiction to meticulous minutiae he described did not seem improbable. For the most part, he portrayed himself as someone who for many years was a middle manager in organized crime, someone who protected his criminal career, his very life, by slavishly following orders."
On the fourth day of testimony the defense had their turn at cross-examining the government’s top witness. Shargel was intense in his questioning, getting D’Arco to admit to a life of lies and deceit to advance and maintain his position in the mob. When D’Arco admitted he lied to keep a government-subsidized apartment in Little Italy, Shargel went on attack. "It’s true now, in May 1992, the government is still subsidizing you now? The government is still giving you money to help you live?"
After some 30-plus hours on the stand D’Arco’s testimony came to an end. The immediate result of his revelations was a review of New York City contracts with companies he named in testimony as making payoffs to the Lucchese Family to insure labor peace.
On June 15, after deliberating for seven hours over two days following four weeks of trial testimony, the anonymous and sequestered jury found Vittorio Amuso guilty on all 54 charges. Amuso went before Judge Nickerson for sentencing on October 9. The 57 year-old was sentenced to life in prison and fined $250,000.
Before the year was out, D’Arco was testifying at the trial of former Colombo Family acting boss Victor Orena. The New York Times reported Orena was charged with "operating the Colombo crime family in a pattern of racketeering that included the [Thomas] Ocera murder, conspiracy to murder members of the Persico faction, extensive loansharking and possession of fire arms."
D’Arco testified that he was part of a peace committee, which included members of the Gambino and Genovese Families, that met several times with Orena and other Colombo Family members in order to avert an internecine war. The "committee" was unsuccessful and the war cost the lives of ten Colombo Family members in the early 1990s. Orena was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In May 1993 Selwyn Raab of the Times wrote an article entitled: "Mafia Tale: Looting the Steel of the West Side Highway." Raab outlined the intricate plot, which was revealed by Gambino Family turncoat Sammy Gravano and D’Arco. Gravano’s information was filed in a court affidavit, while D’Arco made a statement to the FBI. Raab wrote:
"Now, two high-ranking Mafia defectors have come forward to tell the tale of how the carpenters were hired in an intricate mob scheme to reap a windfall from the highway’s demise. The plot involved the cooperation of three organized-crime families, each trading favors and pulling strings with contractors and unions. In the end, the defectors said, the mobsters manipulated a $12 million state contract to walk off with 11,000 tons of salvageable steel and at least $800,000 in payoffs."
D’Arco claimed that the $800,000 the Lucchese Family received all went to Amuso and Casso.
The feds were keeping D’Arco busy. In the summer of 1993 he testified at the trial of five Lucchese soldiers who were charged with the murder of Vincent "Jimmy Sinatra" Craparotta. The Lucchese associate was murdered "so they could extort money" from his nephew’s business in New Jersey.
A year later, in May 1994, Murray Weiss broke a New York Post exclusive story where D’Arco had told investigators that a city-managed concrete plant, established to break the mob’s hold on the concrete industry, "poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of America’s top hoodlums." When a city spokesman was informed of D’Arco’s remarks he told the newspaper, "The plant stopped operating – yesterday!"
While establishing himself as an excellent government witness, who remained cool and calm under blistering assaults from defense attorneys, D’Arco could get ruffled. On March 13, 1996 at a preliminary hearing on the competency of Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, D’Arco butted heads with Michael Shapiro, counsel for the Genovese boss. Shapiro hammered away at D’Arco’s credibility until it reached a heated level.
D’Arco jumped to his feet, pointed a finger in the now terrified lawyer’s face, and hollered, "Don’t break my chops!…I’ll break yours too!"
Retreating, Shapiro quietly responded, "I’m sure you would."
D’Arco turned to Judge Nickerson and apologized, "I’m sorry, your honor. This is the first time I ever blew up. This is the first time I ever had anybody like this ballbreaker! He disrespected me."
Shapiro was visibly shaken, but like a sly lawyer milked the situation for all its worth. "It’s a pretty frightening thing to be threatened by D’Arco, who has admitted to at least a dozen murders," he whined. Shapiro claimed he would now have to surround himself with bodyguards.
In early March 1997 D’Arco testified at the trial of Genovese Family consigliere James Ida. The aging mobster was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Perhaps D’Arco’s most significant contribution to law enforcement came when he testified at Gigante’s trial in July 1997. During his first day of testimony, on July 14, D’Arco told the jury that before becoming a made-member of the Lucchese Family he "had been considered for induction into the Genovese Family and had been invited to Gigante’s club, the Triangle Social Club in Greenwich Village. In front of a poster that read "The enemy is listening," D’Arco saw Gigante in "whispered conversations" with family members.
The next day D’Arco talked about the murder plot to kill Gambino boss John Gotti. When the plot was revealed to D’Arco by Vic Amuso he was told by the Lucchese boss, "The Robe knows about it." D’Arco then explained that when "a Mafia boss knew of a plot to kill another boss and did nothing to stop it, it meant he sanctioned the murder plan."
D’Arco got into another confrontation with a Gigante attorney. This time it was Michael Marinaccio. The New York Times reported the lawyer "sought to portray Mr. D’Arco as a remorseless killer and a longtime liar whose testimony could not be trusted…"
"I’ll answer any question you want all day long, but I’m not here to be abused by you," said D’Arco.
"I’m not abusing you," Marinaccio snapped back.
"You are trying," D’Arco replied.
Throughout the trial Gigante sat impassively in a wheelchair muttering to himself, carrying on a charade that he had begun more than a decade ago to try to convince law enforcement that he was mentally incompetent. At the completion of the month long trial, the jury deliberated for sixteen hours over three days before arriving at a verdict on July 25. While jurors acquitted the 69 year-old mob boss of seven murder charges, they found him guilty of racketeering and two counts of murder conspiracy.
Gigante was immediately ushered off to a federal medical facility for evaluation before a sentence could be handed down. On December 18 Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein sentenced Gigante to 12 years in prison and fined him $1.25 million.
The FBI had captured Anthony Casso on January 19, 1993. The fugitive had become the Lucchese boss in absentia. While in hiding Casso had already contrived a plan to avoid a long prison sentence. He was going to "cut and roll." He signed an agreement with the government, but following the Gigante trial his plans went awry.
For some reason, never fully explained, Casso accused D’Arco and Gravano of lying at the Gigante trial. Due to this, and some other infractions of Casso’s agreement, the government backed out of their deal. Casso had screwed himself. He couldn’t hope to beat the government’s original charges against him – he had already pled guilty to them. In 1998 he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in jail.
In early 1998 D’Arco was scheduled to testify at the Detroit mob trial of Jack W. Tocco and other leaders of the Motor City Mafia. However, US District Judge John Corbett O’Meara would not allow D’Arco to take the stand because his testimony would "be profoundly prejudicial." Assistant US Attorney Keith Corbett claimed the decision got "our legs cut out from under us." Corbett, in his opening statement on February 9, told jurors that D’Arco would "describe Mafia initiation rites, explain how crime families are organized and outline rules that ‘made members’ must follow." In addition, the jury was told that D’Arco would "detail how mob bosses like Jack W. Tocco are isolated from Mafia foot-soldiers to protect them from criminal charges." It was not the only questionable ruling O’Meara would make regarding the defendants in this long drawn-out prosecution.
In October 1998 information furnished by D’Arco forced Lucchese Family member Ralph Cuomo to plead guilty to conducting a heroin business at his pizzeria. Cuomo received a four-year sentence.
After a decade-plus as a government witness Alphonse D’Arco was ready to hang it up. On October 11, 2002, after having spent a total of one night in jail, D’Arco was sentenced to time served.
In an exclusive "Gang Land" article Jerry Capeci announced, "The Little Al Show Ends After 11 Seasons." Capeci writes, "In deference to his age, 70, various ailments and security requirements, the former Lucchese family acting boss was sentenced in his new home town via a remote television backup…"
Federal Judge Charles Brieant, of the White Plains Courthouse, agreed to the setup telling Capeci that D’Arco "has serious medical problems, his life is at risk when he travels, and there was no reason for him to have come to White Plains."
During the brief session D’Arco thanked a number of people for helping him to stay on the "straight and narrow" after his September 1991 decision to defect. "They helped me tremendously to achieve this and to turn my life around. I’ll never let their confidence down," he promised.
And, speaking of confidence…The confidence that law enforcement had in D’Arco can be summed up in a seven-word statement by a former federal prosecutor: "If Al said it happened, it happened."
A few weeks ago my good friend Nelson at NYM.com mailed me the New York daily newspapers from the days following the death of former Gambino Family boss John Gotti in June. While I had read most of the stories regarding his death and elaborate funeral, I didn’t take the time to look at the so-called "re-cap" articles on the "Dapper Don’s" life.
Last week, while leafing through these articles, I came across an interesting one in the New York Daily News from June 11, the day after Gotti’s death. The article, entitled "Dapper Don’s hit parade," was written by Nicole Bode and Owen Morris. Hmm… The New York Daily News! Isn’t that the newspaper Jerry Capeci used to write for? Do would think one of these writers might have picked up one of Jerry’s THREE books on Gotti to perhaps get their facts straight.
In an incredible piece of what Capeci, I’m sure, would label drivel, the reporters wrote the following:
"Gotti’s biggest score was Paul (Big Paul) Castellano. The boss of the Gambino family and his driver, Thomas Bilotti, were gunned down in front of Sparks Steak House in midtown Manhattan on Dec. 16, 1985.
"Big Paul had just finished a dinner of porterhouse steak and wine, while his Lincoln was parked in a towaway zone."
The writers obviously didn’t know if "Big Paul" was coming or going. That being the case, they could have just simply stated that Castellano was murdered outside the restaurant. That’s perfectly acceptable, that’s exactly where he was killed.
But the writers didn’t do their research and they ASSUMED "Big Paul" was leaving the restaurant, not arriving as was the case, when he was murdered. Then to embellish their story they had "Big Paul" devouring a send off meal of steak and wine.
One day some kid, who has read this article and believes it to be true, is going to try to impress his friends by asking, "What did ‘Big Paul’ have for his last supper?" And guess what? He’ll be able to backup his answer!
The Gambino mob boss, and his underboss, are mowed down in a sensational gangland execution during rush hour in the middle of the Christmas shopping season in America’s largest city. Does this story need to be embellished with a bullshit tale about a porter house steak dinner?
Why do writers feel the need to embellish historical events like this?
One of the greatest travesties I have come across involving this type of embellishment was a story about the Harvard Club raid in Cleveland that appeared in the Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine in February 2001. Having researched the raid for classes I teach on the history of organized crime in Cleveland I was left wondering if this writer, Thomas Kelly, had written about the same raid.
Titled "The Great Harvard Club Raid," in the article’s sub-title it called Cleveland "The Vice Capital of America." When was Cleveland EVER the vice capital of this country?
Even in the first paragraph the writer couldn’t get his facts straight as he stated that the raid, "covered the front pages of all three daily newspapers for days." Let’s look into what kind of research Kelly did for this statement. The raid took place on the night of Friday, January 10, 1936. The Plain Dealer, the city’s morning newspaper, had a big front-page splash Saturday describing the raid. Sunday morning there was a small front page follow up article and on Monday morning an even smaller one. The Cleveland Press and the Cleveland News were both afternoon dailies. Each of them had front-page articles on Saturday, but neither newspaper released a Sunday edition and by Monday the story was already relegated to the inside pages of these newspapers.
Kelly makes the statement, "Chicago hogged the front pages with photos of bullet-riddled bodies as mob wars raged. There was little of that in Cleveland."
"Little of that in Cleveland?" In the 1920s and 1930s Cleveland’s ranked as the nation’s 5th and 6th largest city. After Chicago and New York, Cleveland was said to have ranked third in the number of mob related deaths for this period.
Most aggravating to me about the whole tone of Kelly’s piece is that he would have you believe that the raiders there that night were in fear for their lives that they were about to be cut to pieces with Tommy-gun fire from a bunch of angry and deranged gangsters. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The real story in a nutshell was this. Two groups of raiders set out that night to close two notorious gambling dens – the Thomas Club and the Harvard Club. The Thomas Club raid was led by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Frank Cullitan. The raid went off without a hitch. At the Harvard Club the raiders were met at the front door and greeted with, "You can’t get in here without getting your heads bashed in." Typical of the gambler bravado of the day. As more threats followed, Cullitan arrived and after sizing up the situation called the county sheriff for help. When the sheriff refused to come to his aid, Cullitan called recently sworn in Cleveland Safety Director Eliot Ness for assistance.
Cullitan’s raiding force consisted of approximately 20 "special constables," not police or sheriff’s deputies. Kelly would have you believe from his rendition that these men were all about to be killed.
When in the history of gambling raids in this country were raiders ever murdered in such wholesale fashion? Or in any fashion for that matter? Can he really expect us to believe that instead of being hauled off to jail to be given a fine and most likely a suspended jail sentence that these gamblers would slay 20 law enforcement people? To believe Kelly you have to realize that the slaughter that he claims was about to take place would be triple the amount of deaths that occurred in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the grand-daddy of all mob murders.
Here are some of the ludicrous statements made by Kelly as he tries to re-write the history of this famous raid.
At the Thomas Club, "Well dressed men and women ran from the gaming tables, screaming and shouting at the sight of a dozen armed men"…"dozens of slot machines" were seized and "an arsenal of weapons" was confiscated. The Plain Dealer reported that the "Thomas Club yielded without resistance. One-third of the 500 in the place were women and half of these were well past middle age. Many were grayed-haired." Cullitan allowed the crowd to cash-out and leave the club in orderly fashion. The Cleveland Press reported a total of just 13 slot machines were seized and that the "arsenal" consisted of a sawed-off shot gun, a revolver and a tear gas gun.
Outside the Harvard Club, Kelly tells us, "a burly man known only as ‘Joey,’ half-drunk with whiskey and rage, was placing a gun to the head of Assistant County Prosecutor Frank Celebrezze." Despite having reporters there, all three newspapers missed this little bit of drama. However, the Plain Dealer did report that "…a man known only as ‘Joe,’ who had been attempting to act as a sort of peacemaker between Patton [the club manager] and the law enforcement officers, came from the club. ‘We’ll let you in,’ he said, ‘as soon as we get our money counted.’"
Kelly states, "The patrons that night included an ample sampling of Who’s Who in Cleveland: Civic leaders, corporate moguls and their wives, high rollers and high steppers." Who were these elite of Cleveland? We’ll never know. Kelly never bothered to provide us with any names. Neither did the newspapers. Did Kelly know who they were, or did this just sound good for his story?
To add some conspiracy to the story, Kelly claims that Cullitan and Ness had pre-planned the raids together and that "Eliot Ness was at Cleveland Police headquarters on Payne Avenue, sitting at a desk, waiting impatiently [for a phone call]." All three Cleveland newspapers wrote that Ness was attending a city council meeting at City Hall and was summoned from it to come to Cullitan’s aid.
While Kelly makes it sound like the raiders were standing outside terrified and trembling in their shoes while waiting for Ness to save them, the newspapers reported that they had actually retreated to a gas station where they eating sandwiches and drinking sodas.
Ness went to the police station where a shift change was occurring and asked for volunteers to accompany him to the Harvard Club. By the time Ness arrived and entered the club all of the movable gambling equipment and money had been taken out. This caused some to claim that the raid was a bust. But it was Cullitan’s position to close the club and that was what he accomplished. It never reopened.
The last incredible part of the article, which cannot be attributed solely to Kelly’s imagination, was that Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, a kidnapper, bank robber and member of the Barker Gang, was at the club that night and slipped through Ness’s hands. No one is sure when this rumor actually started. It certainly was not mentioned in any of the articles of that day. My research indicates that the story began years later following the famous hold-up of the Mounds Club, located outside of Cleveland, in September 1947. On the front page of the Cleveland Press was an editorial about other infamous gambling clubs in Cleveland. It mentioned the Harvard Club and that "Karpis mob members found a hideout there…" From that point on I think some writer misconstrued this to mean that he was there on the night of the raid.
That Karpis had worked at the Harvard Club in the mid-1930s was no secret. He wrote about it in both of his books. Karpis claims he came to Cleveland shortly after the kidnapping of St. Paul banker Edward Bremer in January 1934. Unable to spend the marked money he received as his share of the ransom, Karpis was on the run and needed a place to lie low. He states that James "Shimmy" Patton, owner of the Harvard Club, offered him a job there and a place to live. Karpis boasted that the club was being "harassed by rivals" and he was needed to "keep the opposition in line."
Why they would have needed Karpis for this was probably a creation in "Creepy’s" imagination. Karpis says he fled town before the year was out after the girlfriend of Freddie Barker got drunk and was arrested by Cleveland police and they were afraid she would talk.
Both of Karpis’ books were written well after Eliot Ness has become a household name due to Hollywood’s embellishment of his Chicago activities in the television series "The Untouchables." With Karpis’s penchant for bragging he certainly would not have missed the opportunity to embarrass one of America’s top crime fighters, given the chance, had the incident actually happened.
After reading the Tom Kelly article I wrote to the Plain Dealer, but focused only the Karpis remarks. Kelly responded to my comments in the Sunday Magazine two weeks later. He had the audacity to say his got his Karpis information "from a source."
My concern as a historical writer is this: anyone reading that story is going to have a totally fabricated view of what truly went down that night. What right does a writer have to re-write history just to make a more interesting or more exciting story? I think young readers, especially, will be harmed by this by having a warped view of what really transpired. At the same time Tom Kelly is hurt because anyone knowing the true facts and having read his piece will never take his writing seriously again.
Two humorous side notes to this story. First in the late 1990s, as we were closing in on the new millennium, the Plain Dealer hired a local historian, Fred McGunagle, to write a weekly Sunday feature of news events of the 100 years leading up to 2000. The assignment was a history writer’s dream. The feature occupied a full page each week and had pictures and key stories from each year. McGunagle highlighted the Harvard Club raid in covering the year 1936 and he also made the mistake of mentioning Alvin Karpis. I sent Mr. McGunagle a nice note and explained to him that I didn’t believe Karpis was there that night and gave him my explanation why. I asked him what his source was for writing that Karpis was there.
A couple weeks later, McGunagle wrote back to me and said that he had read about Karpis’ presence at the Harvard Club in an article and he enclosed the article. Sure enough, there it was in black and white, "Alvin Karpis, a fugitive who was at the top of the national ‘public enemy’ list" was at the club that night. I then checked to see who wrote the article. It was written by Fred McGunagle!
The other story involves Thomas Kelly again. When Cleveland was celebrating its bicentennial in 1996, Kelly wrote a neat little book called The Cleveland 200: The Most Noted, Notable and Notorious in the First 200 Years of a Great American City. One of the people Kelly wrote about, under the notorious category, was Leon Cszolgosz, the man who assassinated President William McKinley. Cszolgosz was an anarchist who spent part of his life in Cleveland. Only there was a mistake with the article – not with the writing, but with the picture that was printed with the story.
About two years after the book was published I stopped into a small bookstore on the West Side of Cleveland. At the front counter there was a display of these Cleveland 200 books. I thought this was kind of odd because the book had already been out for a couple of years. The lady who owned the store was behind the counter and I asked, "Has anyone pointed out the mistake in this book to you." She was surprised when I showed it to her.
She picked up the telephone and dialed a number. I heard her say, "There’s someone here that needs to talk to you." I had no idea who the person on the other end of the phone was when she handed it to me. I said "Hello, this is Allan May." The voice on the other end said, "Hi, I’m Tom Kelly. How can I help you"
The lady who owned the store was Kelly’s cousin. What are the chances?
When I told him about the mistake I heard a resounding "NO" coming from the other end. "Hold on," he told me.
I have to admit I was shocked. The book had been out for two years and nobody had caught this?
I could hear someone leafing through pages on the other end of the phone and all of a sudden I heard a loud, "God damn it!"
With this I handed the telephone back to Kelly’s cousin and excused myself.
The photo that was shown with the story of McKinley’s assassin was a picture of the assassination of President James A. Garfield!
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