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Inc. Trials Murder: 1941

"we Only Kill Each Other"

The organization also prided itself on its businesslike outlook: Killers were provided insurance, health, and pension benefits and were kept on salary between hits. They knew that, if they were caught, the best lawyers would defend them and, if they were convicted, their families would find the take-home pay still coming in while they did time in jail. Furthermore, organization philosophy was summed up in the words of "Bugsy" Siegel to a nervous building contractor hired to make alterations in his home: "We only kill each other." Hitting police or prosecutors was strictly forbidden lest it produce intensive crackdowns by law enforcement people.

By 1935, a New York grand jury, alarmed by the path of blood left by the operations of the national crime syndicate, asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor to supersede the district attorney in investigating vice and racketeering. Governor Herbert H. Lehman appointed Thomas E. Dewey, who earlier had earned prominence as chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Within two years, Dewey had gained 72 convictions and suffered only one acquittal and had been elected district attorney of New York County (i.e., Manhattan). Meantime, the New York newspapers had invented the corporate title "Murder, Inc." to identify the hit squad that was Dewey's target. The crime syndicate began to worry.

"Dutch" Schultz told the syndicate board it was time to break the "we only kill each other" rule: A contract on Dewey should be put out, he insisted. The board tried to make the irrepressible Schultz understand what a disastrous avalanche of police pressure he was inviting. Schultz marched angrily out of the meeting, shouting, "If you guys are too yellow to go after Dewey, I'll get him myself and I'll get him in a week."

As the door slammed behind Schultz, the board consulted. Anastasia, who was commandant of the killer troop, said, "Okay, I guess the Dutchman goes." That evening, Schultz was cornered in a restaurant washroom by Charles "The Bug" Workman and Mendy Weiss and riddled with bullets.

Word reached Buchalter in 1937 that Dewey was building a case against him. His buddy Anastasia, who had himself proposed killing Dewey soon after Schultz was eliminated, visited Lucky Luciano in Dannemora Prison (where the syndicate boss had languished since Dewey convicted him on charges of compulsory prostitution in 1936) and got permission to hide Buchalter. For two years, while Dewey offered a $25,000 reward and J. Edgar Hoover promised $5,000 to the FBI agent who turned Buchalter in, he could not be found. Meantime, from his hiding place in Brooklyn, Buchalter became more and more belligerent, dispatching killers to eliminate every potential witness against him.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Inc. Trials Murder: 1941 - "we Only Kill Each Other", Surrender To J. Edgar Hoover And Walter Winchell, Suggestions For Further Reading