Mobsters – Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia

He was a violent killer, and along with Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the head of Murder Inc’ The way he lived his life, Albert Anastasia must have thought he was bulletproof: until he made one too many trips to his barbershop’


Albert Anastasia was born Umberto Anastasio on September 26, 1902 in Calabria, located in the southern part of Italy’ When he was 15, Albert and his brother Tony hopped on an Italian ship and snuck off illegally on the docks of Brooklyn, New York’ It was said that Albert was so poor, he arrived in America with no shoes’ Albert lived with a relative in Brooklyn until he finally found work on the Brooklyn docks as a longshoreman, alongside his brother Tony  barber carrying case for clippers


Albert Anastasia had a violent temper, and it was manifested in 1920, when he was arrested for killing fellow longshoreman Joe Torino’ Anastasia strangled and stabbed Torino, over who had the right to unload ships with the most precious cargo’ Anastasia was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death’ It was at this time he changed his last name from Anastasio to Anastasia, he said, “not to sully his family’s name’” His brother “Tough Tony,” who later ruled the Brooklyn docks, kept the last name of Anastasio’


Anastasia had spent eighteen months waiting to be executed in Sing Sing Prison, when his lawyer was somehow able to obtain a new trial’ At the second trial, several witnesses to Torino’s murder changed their statements as to who the killer was, and four more witnesses disappeared from the face of the earth, never to surface again’ With no evidence against Anastasia, the prosecutors had no choice but to drop their case, and Anastasia became a free man’ Anastasia would use this tactic of “eliminating witnesses” several more times throughout the years to avoid prosecution for murder’


Upon his release from prison, Anastasia joined the gang of Joe “The Boss” Masseria, considered the top Mafioso in America’ During this time, Anastasia became tight with fellow mobsters Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Frank Costello, and it became clear that Anastasia was more of a follower than a leader’


In 1930, Luciano formed a plan to get rid of his boss – Masseria – then get rid of Masseria’s successor – Salvatore Maranzano’ Luciano’s ultimate goal was to unite all the crime families in America: Italian Mafia members, Irish gangsters like Owney Maddon, and Jewish gangsters like Meyer Lansky, into one National Crime Commission’


When Luciano told Anastasia about his plans, Anastasia was ecstatic’ He told Luciano, “Charlie, I’ve been waiting for this day for at least eight years’ You’re going to be on top, if I have to kill everyone for you’ With you up there, that’s the only way we can have any peace and make real money’”


With Anastasia’s help, Luciano did what he set out to do’ Anastasia, along with Bugsy Siegel, was one of the four gunman, who in 1931, shot Masseria to death in a Coney Island restaurant’ With Masseria out of the way, Luciano formed the remaining made bandit men into five separate crime families’ As a reward for his good work, Luciano made Anastasia the underboss in the family of Vincent Mangano’


After Luciano’s takeover, things ran smoothly for the Nation Crime Commission’ The Commission made money in bushels, from running illegal liquor during prohibition, and from the old mob standards like bookmaking, gambling, hijacking, and the distribution of drugs’ Of course, in order to keep the cash flowing in, sometimes people had to be killed’ As a result of Anastasia’s loyalty, Luciano, along with Meyer Lansky, put Anastasia and Louie “Lepke” Buchalter in charge of what the press called “Murder Incorporated’”


This group of killers, which numbered over 100, was also called “The Boys From Brooklyn’” With Anastasia being the exception, Murder Inc’ was comprised of mostly Jewish killers, including Abe “Kid Twist” Reles, Allie Tannenbaum, Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, and Gurrah Shapiro’ It was estimated that under Anastasia and Buchalter’s direction, anywhere from 500-1000 murders were committed throughout the country, and only a handful were ever solved’ While bodies were piling up all over America, Anastasia was ostensibly working a honest job’ The business card he always carried in his breast pocket said he was a “sales representative” for the Convertible Mattress Corporation in Brooklyn’