Mobster Monday: Albert Anastasia

Albert Anastasia Pic Courtesy of Wikipedia

He changed his name so he wouldn’t bring shame to his mother as a criminal, but he didn’t think twice about brutally slaying Joe Turino in front of a dozen people. Witnesses say the fury in his face while he stabbed and strangled Turino was terrifying. With the Mafia’s help and the disappearances of four main witnesses, Albert Anastasia was set free.


Umberto Anastasio was born on September 26, 1902, in Parghelia, Italy. His parents were Raffaelo Anastasio and Louisa Nomina De Filippi. Tragedy struck young Anastasio’s life early on. At the age of ten, Raffaelo died, leaving his wife and a dozen kids behind. Life was tough on the family, and soon, the older boys left home to find work elsewhere.


Umberto and his brother Antonio took jobs working on a ship. When the ship docked in New York, the two brothers jumped to shore and never looked back. The docks may have offered the brothers a place of employment, but it was back-breaking work run by the mob. It wasn’t long before Umberto’s temper overtook him in an argument with a fellow dock worker.


The young Italian brute slew Torino with fury. Witnesses say it was terrifying to watch the slaying. Torino was stabbed repeatedly and strangled in front of a dozen people. Umberto didn’t seem to care. It was almost as if he enjoyed the entire process. He was arrested and sentenced to death.


Unwilling to bring shame to his mother, Umberto changed his name to Albert Anastasia. It’s incredible how someone so vicious and brutal could care about such a thing. While Albert changed his name, his brother Tony did not. Tony would continue to rule the docks for the majority of three decades, although he never gained the notoriety of his psychopathic brother.


This murderous escapade landed the young illegal alien in Sing Sing prison. While there, he grabbed the attention of a fellow inmate with mob connections. Those connections would end up winning Albert a new trial. Unfortunately, by the time the new trial came around, four of the main witnesses had disappeared.

Anastasia now had connections with the likes of Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lanski, and Frank Costello. When Luciano wanted to take out his boss, he called in Anastasia as part of the hit squad. After Luciano re-structures the mob, Anastasia is set up as the head of the Mafia’s hit squad; Murder, Inc.


Anastasia ruled the elite team of assassins alongside Jewish mobster Louis “Lepke” Buchalter. Their headquarters was in the most unlikely of places. Down on the corner of Saratoga and Livonia Ave in Brooklyn sat a 24-hour candy store called Midnight Rose. This place was owned by a pleasant little elderly lady named Rosie Gold. Along the back wall of the shop was a row of payphones.


The team of mafioso killers would hang around the candy store, waiting for the next hit to be called in. Anastasia would take the call, make a plan, and send out a hit team. By the end of this decade of bloodshed, the FBI estimates the body count of this team was well over 1000.
Unlock most mob bosses, Anastasia wouldn’t pass off the dirty work to an underling. Anastasia enjoyed taking part in the actual murder. It wasn’t enough to plan it; he wanted to be involved. If he weren’t a part of the squad, he would witness the event from across the street. His bloodlust was disturbing and seemed to be growing.


1935: Dewey Wages War:
Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey declared an all-out war on organized crime in New York. He took down the powerful Lucky Luciano, and then no one was safe. The next on his list was Louis “Lepke” Buchalter. Anastasia tried to hide his friend from the feds, but his attempts were futile. Dozens of witnesses were killed during this process, and now the mafia commission was wondering if Buchalter was worth the trouble
Finally, Anastasia received word from the commission. It was Buchalter or the Mob. Anastasia chose the mob and played a pivotal role in the double-crossing of Lepke Buchalter. During this time, one of Murder, Inc’s hitmen were arrested.


Abe “Kid Twist” Reles decided to turn state’s evidence in an attempt to save himself from the chair. Reles began telling everything he knew about Murder Incorporated. His testimony would send seven mobsters, including Lepke, to the electric chair. This landed the FBI’s target square on the back of the “Mad Hatter.”


Mad Hatter? Let me explain this nickname. When Lucky Luciano took over the Mafia, he structured it like a giant corporation and put down some basic ground rules. Breaking these rules came with the penalty of death.


The commission was supposed to sanction the hits before anyone was killed, but Anastasia had his own ideas about that. Public figures and civilians were off-limits. If they were killed, they would bring too much publicity. There was one more rule that Albert would break. You weren’t supposed to kill your boss. Anastasia would break all of these rules. His blood lust would give him the name The Mad Hatter, and his complete disregard for mob rule would sign Albert Anastasia’s death warrant.


On October 25, 1957, Anastasia walked in to see his barber at the Park Sheraton Hotel. His driver parked the car and went for a stroll. While the Mad Hatter had his face covered in a warm towel, three gunmen barged into the room. Albert Anastasia was hit with ten bullets and died on the floor next to his barber chair.


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Further Reading:

The Candy Shop

Here are a few books about Albert Anastasia on Amazon.


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