Its been a minute since we paid the Underworld a visit, and our latest entry is on legendary Mobster, Meyer Lansky , one of the most important figures in the development of organized crime in the 20th century.
Lansky was often viewed as the behind-the-scenes Mob financier who avoided the limelight and the publicity that came with open violence, but his early career was associated with the violent bootlegging Bugs and Meyer Gang, which he formed with Bugsy Siegel, and with Luciano’s violent takeover of the New York Mafia with the murders of Joe “The Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano in 1931.
It was Lansky’s close association with Luciano that propelled him to the top of Mob leadership in the United States during the days of Prohibition.
After Prohibition ended in 1933, Lansky successfully re-invested his fortune in gambling. In the 1940s, Lansky also began investing in Las Vegas casinos, and assigned his friend Bugsy Siegel to oversee construction of the Flamingo Hotel.
That project did not go well, at least initially. Cost overruns ballooned the budget from $1.2 million to $6 million, and some of Lansky’s fellow Mob investors were unhappy.
Several chroniclers claim that Lansky, at a Havana meeting of leading organized crime figures from across the United States, approved of Siegel’s assassination, which occurred on June 20, 1947.
Lansky himself never openly admitted to approving the hit on his closest friend.
Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution also had consequences for Lansky when his gambling operations ran into a multimillion-dollar disaster with the Cuban Revolution of 1959 as Rebel leader Fidel Castro nationalized all of Lansky’s casino interests on the island.
In addition, Lansky also suffered from continuing crackdowns on illegal gambling in the United States, including casinos in Florida.
Despite his efforts to conceal income, in 1970 Lansky was indicted on federal tax evasion charges. He and his family fled to Israel under the Jewish nation’s “right of return,” but that right did not extend to criminals.
Lansky returned to the United States and was arrested in the Miami International Airport. He was ultimately acquitted and lived in Miami until his death of lung cancer in 1983…Sadly despite being regarded as a Mob Financial Wizard, he suffered too many losses in Cuba, and at the time of his death, he had less than $35,000 in his bank account.
In Pop Culture, Meyer Lansky inspired the character of Hyman Roth in The Godfather, Part II…Peep the fan favourite Hyman Roth Scene below as well as the featured Homepage Meyer Lansky Biography Documentary.
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