The Making Of The Mob: New York (2015) s01e05 Episode Script

Exit Strategy

Previously on "The Making of the Mob: New York" Charles "Lucky" Luciano and his crew, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and Vito Genovese, have risen from the chaotic streets of New York City to build a nationwide criminal empire.
All right, drink up.
Alla salute! Salute! God bless.
And, at the height of his power, Luciano expands his operation into the dangerous business of prostitution.
It's a dirty business.
- It's a business.
- It's trouble.
But when Luciano gets too invested, special prosecutor Thomas Dewey What do you have on Luciano? seizes the opportunity to take down the kingpin of the New York underworld.
We are entirely prepared to prosecute Lucky Luciano.
The only problem is that he has fled to Arkansas.
After months on the run, Luciano is finally arrested and forced to face Thomas Dewey in court.
Court will come to order.
After days of damning testimony from over 50 prostitutes Let the record show that the witness is pointing at Charles "Lucky" Luciano.
Luciano makes the unprecedented move to take the stand in his own defense, a decision that could destroy the Mafia Mr.
Luciano forever.
After years of building a case against the New York Mafia, prosecutor Thomas Dewey is finally face to face with the most powerful Mob boss in America, Charles "Lucky" Luciano.
With the fate of the underworld hanging in the balance, Luciano makes an unprecedented move and takes the stand in his own defense.
From a lawyer's point of view, it's a terrible mistake to put a Mafia member on the witness stand.
Because they think they're very smart, and they're not as smart as the lawyer.
They think they can get away with what they usually get away with in life, which is to charm.
And when you have the judge telling you, "No, you've gotta answer that question," it's a little different than being able to talk your way out of something.
Luciano you've denied any acquaintance at all with any of the young women who've testified as to your involvement in the prostitution racket.
Is that correct? Yes.
Luciano Your tax records indicate that you made $22,000 over the last four years, and yet you live in a massive suite in the Waldorf Astoria, New York's most expensive hotel.
How is that possible? I got a good deal.
Yes, I suppose it would have to be.
You've denied any acquaintance at all with any of the individuals that I have mentioned, including Al Capone.
And how do you explain phone records from your residence at the Waldorf showing calls to all of these individuals, including Mr.
Capone in Chicago? Someone else must have been using my phone.
Honestly, Mr.
Luciano do you really expect this jury to believe, given your history, that you have never made the acquaintance of notorious mobster Al Capone?! They believe what they're led to believe! So every one of the nearly 70 witnesses who have testified against you is a liar? And only you, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, are telling the truth? I have no reason to lie to anyone in this courtroom.
Gentlemen of the jury, what you see before you is a simple display of sanctimonious perjury.
At the end of which I'm sure not one of you has any doubt that before you sits not a gambler, not a bookmaker, not just one of the most powerful gangsters in America, but a common pimp guilty of forcing women into prostitution.
I've nothing further, Your Honor.
The worst witnesses in their own defense are very often, they say, Mafia members and politicians, 'cause they lie so much.
When you get away with lying so much, you don't realize that when there's a really smart, tough guy on the other end of it, you can get absolutely destroyed on the witness stand.
With time running out, Luciano knows that if he wants to sway the jury, he'll need to exercise his power outside the courtroom.
Lucky's defense team took an unorthodox route and tried to bribe a juror.
I think it's very difficult for people in our time really to understand how widespread the corruption in New York City at that time was.
They had substantial segments of law enforcement and the courts in their pocket.
And that is the way they did business.
Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict? Yes, we have.
How say you, gentlemen of the jury? Do you find the defendant Luciano guilty or not guilty? We find the defendant guilty as charged, Your Honor.
Tom Dewey put together this case using prostitutes and was able to successfully prosecute Luciano, which people thought was impossible.
And he, in fact, had prosecuted the most significant member of the Mafia.
Luciano's attempt to buy members of the jury fails and the notorious gangster is found guilty of 62 counts of compulsory prostitution.
Tom Dewey was looking to make himself a major figure, and he did.
After his victory over Luciano, Dewey's name makes national headlines, and his crime fighting exploits inspire a popular radio show called "Gang Busters.
" He became a national figure for having become a crime buster of epic proportions.
This was built upon the name that he made for himself during Lucky's trial in 1936.
While Dewey enjoys the spotlight in New York City 350 miles away, in a remote town on the border of Canada No, no.
No, no! No.
No! Aah! No, sir, please don't Lucky Luciano has been sentenced to 50 years in a maximum security prison.
I think my grandfather was somewhat surprised at the severity of the sentence that Luciano got on the prostitution charges.
But I don't think the idea of having him in prison even for that length of time caused him to lose any sleep.
Luciano got, what, 50-, 60-year sentence for For being a pimp.
Certainly wasn't sentenced simply as a pimp.
He was sentenced because he was a major organized crime figure in the United States.
Hey, it's Lucky Luciano.
When Luciano went to prison, and they sent him to Dannemora, which is the last place he wanted to be, this is not living in the Waldorf Towers.
This is not going to nightclubs every night.
This is not the world he wanted.
The most powerful mobster in America must now figure out how to run his empire from an eight- by-ten-foot cell.
Lucky Luciano has begun serving a 50-year sentence in upstate New York.
But he knows his crew in the city is working tirelessly on a plan to set him free.
No! No! Nobody thought at that point that Luciano was gonna be in prison for 40 years.
Everybody was convinced that he would win on an appeal and he would be out.
As his lawyers fight for an appeal, Luciano's crew funnels him enough money to put the prison guards on his payroll.
Luciano practically ran the prison he was in.
Wine? What do you have? People took care of him.
He might be behind bars, but he certainly wasn't in solitary confinement.
Pepper? Sure.
Luciano would get the best steaks and the b The best chopped meat.
Like in the scene in "Goodfellas" where Pauly Sorvino cutting the The garlic with a razor blade.
And and it is like I think it's like a little vacation.
Not that I wanna go on that kind of a vacation.
With the prison guards paid off, Luciano enjoys the luxuries of the outside world, including better clothing, top-notch booze, and furniture from home.
I was in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in 1974.
The Italian Mob ran the prison.
Whatever we wanted, we could have.
Whatever food we wanted, whatever booze we wanted.
Even the warden knew that the Italians ran the prison.
With direct phone access to New York, the Mob boss can also run his business from his cell, and his associates can come and go as they please.
What's going on with my appeal, Meyer? I gotta get the hell out of here.
I'm starting to go stir-crazy.
Charlie, we're working on it.
You're "working on it.
" I'd like to see if one of you guys were in here and I tell you I'm "working on it.
" What would you say, Frank, huh? Charlie, what do you want us to do? It's gonna take some time.
We need to throw some money at it, but we can't press too hard.
Just sit tight, we're gonna get you out of here.
Back in New York, all major rulings are made by the Mafia's governing board, known as the Commission run by the heads of the five New York families.
Why is this not gonna be an issue? Why does he not care? But, in Luciano's absence, the four remaining bosses still meet in New York and must run their decisions by the criminal kingpin 350 miles upstate.
Luciano knows he needs stronger representation at the Commission, and until he can find his way out of prison, he'll have to name an acting boss of his family.
It's not easy being a person who's an organized crime figure because, if they're at the top, there's always somebody out there looking to knock them off their perch.
Other families of these figures who Who want to take your family's place.
There's an awful lot of pressure on you to keep your position.
Faced with the biggest decision of his life, he turns to his closest adviser, Meyer Lansky.
How's the family? They're doing good.
If you ask me, Frank's got a lot more even hand than Vito.
What set the Italians apart from the Irish and Jewish gangs was the Irish and Jewish gangs had no framework.
And Lucky said, "We've gotta have a structure.
" The organization is supreme, that even the boss can be replaced.
But the family must function forever.
With the Mafia's strict Sicilian code still in place, Luciano knows the Jewish gangster can't be his acting boss.
Instead, he'll have to pick between the two Italian higher-ups in his inner circle: Frank Costello and Vito Genovese.
Frank Costello was a gentleman gangster.
Between Vito and him, Frank was the more intelligent, the more gentlemanly, the more urbane.
He was working at an IQ level several rungs above Vito.
Costello was total opposite of Vito Genovese.
And Vito Genovese was almost a classical hoodlum.
Tough guy.
Killed at At the merest whim.
Frank Costello is one of Luciano's closest advisors, the man who gave Luciano his first break in the Mob while Vito Genovese has been a ruthless but loyal ally for over a decade.
Luciano's choice will determine the success of his crime family and future of the American Mob.
You both know why you're here.
Now, I respect both of you equally.
Thank you.
But I'm naming Vito head of the Luciano family.
Thank you, Charlie.
You won't regret this.
Congratulations, Vito.
Thanks, Frank.
Vito, give me a second to talk with Frank, all right? You got it.
Let's have a drink.
You don't have to explain.
Yes, I do.
I want you to run the business, Frank.
I named Vito head of the family.
'Cause if I put you in charge, you'd have a big target on your back.
I want you to stay alive, you understand? Let Vito have all the headaches, make all the decisions.
I understand.
And thank you, Charlie.
Costello was his friend.
Frank Costello was a gentleman.
Genovese, he was a strong-arm.
He was a bad, bad guy.
But he was good at what he did.
With his promotion to acting boss, Vito Genovese finally has the power he's been waiting for, and he's prepared to rule the Mob with an iron fist.
Lucky Luciano has come up with a plan to keep his empire running while he's in prison.
He's named Vito Genovese as his acting boss and Frank Costello as Vito's underboss.
Luciano's still calling the shots but Costello and Genovese carry out his orders, working together to make sure the business runs smoothly.
But from the beginning, Genovese lets the power go straight to his head.
I don't care who it is, but just get someone good on it.
Genovese starts living like a king, flaunting his power in the city's most expensive restaurants and nightclubs.
Being a Mob boss, it's like being a rock and roll star.
I mean, this is what attracts groupies.
This is what attracts women.
Genovese is on top of the world and is convinced he can have any woman he wants.
But the one who catches his eye is his cousin, Anna Petillo.
So what do you want? After courting Anna for months, Genovese and his cousin fall in love.
But to be together, Genovese will have to take care of the one man who stands in his way: Anna's husband.
Two weeks after ordering the murder of her husband, Vito Genovese marries Anna Petillo.
His wife, whom I met, 'cause he used to own the 82 Club and I used to go there, he, uh, whacked her husband in order to marry her.
She was supposed to have been a great beauty, otherwise, why would he have, you know, uh, heh, you know.
Did your old husband give you champagne in bed? What do you think? Ahh.
I don't think he did.
He never gave me anything in bed.
Hmm, dumb bastard.
Under Genovese reign, the structure of Luciano's crime family begins to collapse as Genovese starts playing by his own rules Look at these.
wasting money I love them.
abusing his authority Uhh! I killed the bear myself for you, heh.
and eliminating anyone who disagrees with him.
All without the approval of the Commission.
Where's the money coming in? He said it was gonna be one million, now it's six million.
At the rate that he's going, forget it.
Names all over the place.
This looks makes us look bad.
But in his quest to assert his power Genovese is getting sloppy.
This thing of ours, this is a private thing.
It ain't no good if we're in the public.
Knowing Genovese's behavior is affecting all the crime families, Costello realizes he has to get his own family's boss under control.
I think a lot of wise guys have an impulsive disorder.
And, uh, if they don't get what they want, they get angry.
And sometimes, they make a bad name for the families because they're so impulsive.
Vito, your work's getting sloppy lately.
You know? Can't have bodies in the street like that.
Don't talk about my work being sloppy.
All right? You know what? You're too soft, Frank.
All right? I'm soft? You're soft! Vito, you're stupid, okay? I'm stupid? You're stupid.
Who are you calling stupid, Frank? Listen to me.
I'll put two in your head, you understand me? We'll see who's stupid, Frank.
Get your finger out of my face.
We'll see who's stupid, Frank! Get your finger out of my face! All right, I'm scared.
Get out of here.
I'm shakin'! The more Costello tries to rein in Genovese, the more out of control the gangster becomes.
What exactly happened with Vito? He's greedy.
He's reckless, he's careless.
I told you Vito wasn't gonna be a good boss.
He dug his grave.
What are we gonna do? It's time for something to happen.
Luciano knows Vito Genovese has become a major liability.
And he needs to find a way to keep him in check.
But before Luciano can get to Genovese, a mobster looking to reduce his jail time comes forward with information on a murder that has the potential to destroy Luciano's crime family.
I have some information.
I saw the hit.
And I know who ordered it.
I was there.
He's someone you wanna take down.
But I need a deal.
And I need protection.
By all means, continue.
The man who ordered the hit is Vito Genovese.
Thomas Dewey has already taken down Lucky Luciano.
Now he has a witness who is willing to testify against the new boss of the Luciano crime family Vito Genovese.
Genovese took over the family, but Genovese got into trouble over another murder Of many That there was suddenly A witness was found who could implicate him.
Dewey files murder charges against Vito Genovese.
The acting boss of the Luciano crime family is now in Dewey's cross hairs.
It isn't long before Luciano's second in command, Frank Costello, is tipped off about the warrant.
Hello? Genovese must make a crucial decision.
He could either fight the charges and try to keep his power as boss, or he can go on the run.
Take care of yourself, Vito.
You promise.
Less than a year after becoming acting boss, Vito Genovese is forced to return to his homeland to escape Thomas Dewey.
So Vito's in Italy.
That stupid prick.
What the hell's the matter with this guy? Frank You know what this means? Can you handle it? I can handle it.
Frank Costello is a very interesting Mafia figure.
Maybe one of the most interesting.
As opposed to Vito, Costello was considered by Luciano and by Meyer Lansky to be very intelligent and very gentlemanly.
With Genovese out of the picture, Frank Costello becomes the new acting boss of the Luciano crime family.
A mobster who becomes a leader has to have a presence and he has to have a type of charisma so that most of these minions will follow him.
And they work on it.
It's just almost like an actor developing skills.
With Frank Costello as the newly-appointed boss, business is once again running smoothly.
With everything under control, Luciano decides it's time to expand.
90 miles off the coast of Florida, in Cuba, Luciano sees a huge opportunity to expand his family's gambling empire.
He sends Meyer Lansky to convince the new Cuban leader, who's just risen to power after a violent coup to let the Mob build a casino in downtown Havana.
Generale Batista.
Fulgencio Batista will go on to dominate Cuban politics for 20 years as a corrupt and violent dictator.
My grandfather was planning with Batista to put in multi casinos.
Not just the Havana Riviera.
Once time I asked him personally, I said, "What was Batista like, in one word?" And he said, "Greedy.
" He said, "You could not pay that man enough.
" While Lansky works the Cuban leader Luciano has sent Bugsy Siegel to Los Angeles to set up a stronghold for the New York Mob.
A lot of people think Bugsy went to Hollywood from New York because he wanted to be in movies.
But his real reason for going out to L.
was part of a Mob plan.
The plan is for Bugsy Siegel to take control of the Hollywood labor unions.
Bugsy focused on the projectionists' union.
That's like a a choke point.
If you shut off the projectionists, you shut down the whole industry.
Then you have incredible leverage about getting what you want.
Costello has effectively grown the Luciano family's businesses and profits.
But he's about to face a serious test as one of the founders of Murder, Inc.
is arrested and has information that could bring down the entire American Mafia.
Lucky Luciano has named Frank Costello the new acting boss of the Luciano crime family, and business is better than ever.
Costello is overseeing Luciano's plans to expand the crime family's empire to Cuba and California.
But the biggest threat they'll face is about to come from within.
Abe Reles is a founding member of Murder, Inc.
, the Mob's squad of notorious hitmen comprised of Jewish gangsters like Bugsy Siegel and Louie Lepke.
Over the past ten years, Murder, Inc.
Has killed more than 1,000 men and built a reputation for meticulously covering their tracks.
But when Abe Reles retaliates after his girlfriend is raped by a rival gangster he gets sloppy in the heat of the moment and leaves a trail of incriminating evidence.
You wanted to see me? I wanna walk.
Tall order.
I'll give you 50 guys.
Albert Anastasia.
Bugsy Siegel.
You got him.
Reles begins naming names giving Thomas Dewey the evidence he needs to take down all of Murder, Inc.
Abe Reles becomes a rat, and he went in and he cut a deal, testifying against Albert Anastasia, the Lord High Executioner.
And who is the next guy Reles was gonna testify against? It was Bugsy Siegel.
Siegel's been sent to California to set up their rackets on the west coast.
And while he should be gaining control of the labor unions He's becoming more and more interested in rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's elite.
Siegel begins frequenting movie premieres and parties, the kind attended by stars like Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, and Cary Grant.
Bugsy Siegel knew celebrities.
He loved celebrities.
They kind of loved the idea of hanging out with him.
This is a gangster.
He's glamorous, he's different.
But his real reason for going out to L.
was not to party.
They wanted to get in on the stagehands' unions, because if you controlled the stagehands, you control the movie industry.
But when word gets out that Reles has been ratting on Murder, Inc.
, Costello orders Siegel to go into hiding.
Reles is talking, Charlie.
He knows about the rackets the brothels, the unions.
He knows about Bugsy's hit in L.
He knows everything.
So what are you waiting for, Frank? Get it done, now.
In the fall of 1941, the fate of the five families rests in the hands of Frank Costello.
While Costello's been a smart and diplomatic boss, some members of the Commission begin to doubt he's tough enough for the job.
The real, true bosses were very, very ruthless.
You have to be ruthless.
You can't be afraid you can't be afraid to hurt people.
Costello knows if doesn't take out his own hitman, Abe Reles's testimony could dismantle the American Mafia.
Abe Reles wound up being one of the biggest rats in underworld history.
And he did incredible damage.
He gutted Murder, Incorporated.
He put many guys in the electric chair.
So, obviously, if you're a mobster, and you wanna live, what you gotta do is kill Abe Reles.
But before Costello could order the hit on Reles he has to find him.
In the fall of 1941, with Abe Reles spilling the Mob's secrets, acting boss Frank Costello knows he has to track down Reles and order the hit.
Guys, I I need a favor.
I need a big favor, all right? I got a After years of making inroads with New York City's politicians, judges, and policemen, Frank Costello was finally in a position to collect.
I understand.
In an effort to track down Reles, Costello puts the heat on his sources around the city.
Finally, he gets the break he's been waiting for.
Costello learns that law enforcement is hiding its most valuable informant in a heavily-guarded hotel room in Coney Island.
There is an incredible incentive to kill him.
The police knew that.
So they put him in this hotel called the Half Moon Hotel, and they had 16 police officers guarding Reles.
He was never alone.
When he'd sleep, a guy was supposed to be sitting in the room When he was in the bathroom, there was a guy right outside the door.
And when he would testify, they'd bring him to and from court in an armored car.
Getting to Reles will be next to impossible.
But Costello knows he has to find a way.
Reles come check out the view.
Hey, fellas what gives? Call it in.
Prisoner died trying to escape.
Frank Costello knew he had this political influence.
He had tentacles, not only into the police department, but into the political system.
Even when he made these pretenses, at being so sophisticated, he was ordering hits.
I mean, he might not do the dirty work, but someone did the dirty work for him.
The death of Abe Reles makes headlines around the country as the man willing to snitch on the New York underworld is silenced.
Abe Reles was an informant, and he was gonna testify against Murder, Incorporated.
This is stuff that we grew up with.
And the Mob guys made sure these legends continued.
They wanted us to know what the penalties were.
What's so funny? Nothin'.
What are you smiling about? It's just a funny story in the paper.
About what? Some guy tried to climb out a window.
He fell and died.
Oh, that's funny? Yeah, it's pretty funny.
That's nice, Frank.
Very nice.
In a single move, Frank Costello has solidified his authority as the head of the Luciano family.
Now, Luciano is certain the system he's built works.
But as he faces the remainder of his 50-year sentence, Luciano is determined to find a way to get out of prison.
And his opportunity may come from a battle soon to be waged halfway around the world.