Umberto "Albert" Anastasia (/ˌænəˈsteɪʒə/; Italian: [umˈbɛrto anasˈtaːzja]; né Anastasio; Italian: [anasˈtaːzjo]; September 26, 1902 – October 25, 1957) was an Italian-American mobster, hitman and crime lord. One of the founders of the modern American Mafia and the founder and boss of Murder, Inc., Anastasia was boss of what became the modern Gambino crime family. He was also in control of the New York waterfront for most of his criminal career, including the dockworker unions. He was murdered on October 25, 1957, on the orders of Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino; Gambino subsequently became boss of the family.
Anastasia was one of the most ruthless and feared organized crime figures in American history; his reputation earned him the nicknames "The One-Man Army", "Mad Hatter" and "Lord High Executioner".
Early years in America
Albert Anastasia was born in Tropea, Calabria, Italy. His father died when Albert was only 10 and lived with 12 other family members. Shortly after his fathers' death he left school and worked on building large ships. In 1917, he illegally moved away from Italy and came into New York aged 15. Anastasia came to America poor and attended school but couldn't read or write. He later looked for work at a waterfront looking for a job as a longshoreman. Later he got a job but was owned by mob bosses and had to pay tribute, so gave them half of his salary. Anastasia lost his temper over a man on the waterfront over cargo business, pulled a knife out and stabbed him several times, eventually killing him. He was sentenced to death at Sing Sing prison.
In prison he had to fight his way through and got the attention of a barber at Sing Sing, Jimmy "The Shiv" DeStefano, who was very connected to The American Mafia and to Lucky Luciano. The Barber told Luciano that he needed someone like Albert Anastasia. Luciano managed to have a re-trial for Anastasia and killed many witnesses for Anastasia and a judge set Anastasia free.
Anastasia married a 19 year old Canadian woman in 1937. In 1938, Albert Anastasia Jr. was born. Anastasia covered his crime life and told his wife that he owned a mattress shop and a suit factory in Philadelphia. Albert Jr. had an illegitimate son, Carl, in Harlem by his black housekeeper in 1959.
Albert Anastasia soon worked with Meyer Lansky, Louis Buchalter and Frank Costello. He became a hit man and enforcer for Luciano and his associates and soon earned his nickname "Lord High Executioner." After Salvatore Maranzano and Giuseppe Masseria were killed, Lucky Luciano formed The Commission and appointed Vincent Mangano as boss of the Gambino crime family. Mangano made Anastasia underboss in 1931 and head of his Brooklyn rackets. He soon became Leader of Murder, Inc. and Abe Reles became an enforcer.
Charles Luciano used Murder Inc for murder and to enforce his authority. Joe Santora worked in laundry and when he didn't pay his tribute to Anastasia, he shot and killed Santora on August 2, 1933 and was suspected of murder. The witness changed his story in court and denied Anastasia killed him because he was frightened of his reputation. Thomas Dewey, who closed down on organized crime and convicted Charles Luciano of prostitution, tried to convict Louis Buchalter of Racketeering. Anastasia helped Buchalter hide in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Anastasia helped his friend and murdered around 14 key witnesses and 1 secretary to Dewey.
Louis Buchalter was convicted of racketeering and drugs by J. Edgar Hoover and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Thomas Dewey convicted him of murder on November 30, 1941 and was sentenced to death by electric chair. Facing the death penalty, Reles became an informant and was scheduled to testify, but was found murdered on the roof of a hotel where he was staying.
Gambino crime family
By 1951, Anastasia turned the New York Harbor into whole Crime. He had been serving Vincent Mangano for 20 years as underboss. Anastasia soon invested in legitimate business in real estate and bought a mansion above the Hudson River in New Jersey. Philip Mangano (Vincent's brother) was found shot in Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn river. He had been shot twice in the face and once in the neck. Vincent Mangano was never found.
Albert Anastasia became boss and broke Lucky Luciano's rule against killing a boss. Anastasia claimed Mangano had attacked him and he had killed him in self defense. Vito Genovese then marked Anastasia as a dead man because he killed his own boss. But in 1954 the FBI attempted to convict him of tax evasion as they did with Al Capone. Anastasia soon got involved in gambling in Cuba. Meyer Lansky warned him against it but Anastasia refused. Lansky went to The Commission, and Vito Genovese and the other bosses agreed to get rid of Anastasia.
Vito Genovese asked Carlo Gambino to set it up. On October 25, 1957 at about 10 a.m., Anastasia walked into a barber Shop in Manhattan and sat at chair No. 4. After his bodyguard went outside for a walk, two men walked into the shop and shot him. Anastasia mistakenly lunged toward the shooters reflections in a mirror but collapsed and died. It is alleged Joey Gallo and Richard Kuklinski led the hit team.