Monday, August 6, 2012

Dutch Schultz

Dutch Schultz (born Arthur Flegenheimer; August 6, 1902 – October 24, 1935) was a New York City-area Jewish American mobster of the 1920s and 1930s who made his fortune in organized crime-related activities such as bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket. Weakened by two tax evasions trials led by prosecutor Thomas Dewey, Schultz's rackets were threatened by fellow mobster Lucky Luciano. In an effort to avert his conviction, Schultz asked the Commission for permission to kill Dewey, which they declined. After Schultz disobeyed the Commission and attempted to carry out the hit, they ordered his assassination in 1935.
At 10:15 p.m. on October 23, 1935, Schultz was shot at the Palace Chophouse at 12 East Park Street in Newark, New Jersey, which he was using as his new headquarters. Two bodyguards and Schultz's accountant were also killed.
Schultz was in the men's room when Charles Workman and Emanuel "Mendy" Weiss, two hitmen working for Buchalter's Murder, Inc., entered the establishment. Accounts vary as to what happened next, specifically regarding the order in which the two men killed Schultz and his crew. Workman's later account of entering the bathroom to find Schultz either urinating or washing his hands suggested that he managed to slip past the crew and that Schultz was either the first to be shot or that he and Weiss opened fire simultaneously.
Workman fired two rounds at Schultz; only one struck him, slightly below his heart, and it ricocheted around his abdomen before exiting from the small of his back. Schultz collapsed onto the men's room floor, and Workman joined Weiss in the back room of the restaurant. Both men fired several rounds at Schultz's crew: Otto Berman, Schultz's accountant; Abe Landau, Schultz's chief henchman; and Schultz's bodyguard, Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz. Berman collapsed onto the floor immediately after being shot. Despite being mortally wounded (Landau's carotid artery was severed by a bullet passing through his neck, whereas Rosencrantz was struck repeatedly at point blank range with 00 lead buckshot), both men rose to their feet and returned fire against Workman and Weiss, driving them out of the restaurant. Weiss entered the getaway car and instructed the driver to abandon Workman; Landau chased Workman out of the bar and fired the remaining bullets in his gun at him but was unable to strike him. Workman fled the scene on foot and Landau collapsed onto a nearby trash can.
Shortly after Workman fled, Schultz, not wanting to die on a bathroom floor, staggered out of the bathroom, clutching his side, and sat down at his table; he called out for anyone who could hear him to get an ambulance. Rosencrantz, who had collapsed while chasing Workman from the Palace Chophouse, rose to his feet and demanded that the barman (who had hidden beneath the bar during the shootout) give him five nickels in exchange for his quarter. Rosencrantz then placed a call for an ambulance before losing consciousness in the telephone booth.
When the ambulance arrived, medics determined that Landau (who had all but bled to death) and Rosencrantz (who was unconscious in the phone booth) were the most seriously wounded of the four men and had them transported to the hospital first; a call was placed to send a second ambulance for Schultz and Berman. Although Berman was unconscious, Schultz was drifting in and out of lucidity, and while he waited for medical attention police attempted to comfort him and get information about his assailants. Because the medics lacked pain-relieving medication, Schultz was given brandy in an attempt to relieve his suffering. When the second ambulance arrived, Schultz gave one of the responding medics $10,000 in cash to ensure that he received the best possible treatment. After surgery, when it looked as if Schultz would live, the medic was so worried that he would be indebted to the mobster for keeping the money that he shoved the money back in bed with Schultz.
Otto Berman, the oldest and least physically fit of the four men, was the first to die, at 2:20 that morning. At the hospital, Landau and Rosencrantz waited for surgery and refused to say anything to the police until Schultz arrived and gave them permission; even then, they provided the police with only minimal information. Abe Landau died of exsanguination eight hours after the shooting. Meanwhile, Rosencrantz was taken into surgery; the doctors, incredulous that Rosencrantz was still alive despite voluminous blood loss and ballistic trauma, were unsure of how to treat him. He survived for 29 hours after the shooting before succumbing to his injuries.
Before Schultz went to surgery, he received the last rites from a Catholic priest at his request. During his second trial, Schultz decided to convert to Catholicism and had been studying its teachings ever since, convinced that Jesus had spared him prison time. Doctors performed surgery but were unaware of the extent of damage done to his abdominal organs by the ricocheting bullet. They were also unaware that Workman had intentionally used rust-coated bullets in an attempt to give Schultz a fatal bloodstream infection (septicemia) should he survive the gunshot. Schultz lingered for 22 hours, speaking in various states of lucidity with his wife, mother, a priest, police, and hospital staff, before dying of peritonitis.

“I helped Will thrash wheat this forenoon.  Cut oats this afternoon.  Frank came over and helped set them up.  Has been a very fine day.”

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