The Making Of The Mob: New York (2015) s01e06 Episode Script

The Mob At War

1 (narrator) Previously on "The Making of the Mob: New York" (man screaming) After rising in the ranks of the New York underworld for two decades, Charles "Lucky" Luciano makes a decision that could bring down the Mafia (Thomas Dewey) Mr.
(narrator) when he takes the stand in his own defense against special prosecutor Thomas Dewey.
Do you really expect this jury to believe that you are telling the truth? They believe what they're led to believe! (narrator) After Dewey puts him away for 50 years I gotta get the hell out of here.
Luciano must run his crime family from behind bars.
I'm naming Vito head of the Luciano Family.
(narrator) And he picks Vito Genovese as his acting boss.
You won't regret this.
(narrator) But Genovese lets the power go to his head.
He's greedy, he's reckless, he's careless.
(narrator) And Luciano's empire starts to fall apart.
Unh! Who are you calling stupid, Frank? I'll put two in your head, you understand me? (gunshots) (narrator) When Genovese flees the country on murder charges That stupid prick.
Frank Costello is named acting boss of the family.
But a snitch emerges from within Reles is talking, Charlie.
(Luciano) What are you waiting for, Frank? Get it done, now.
(narrator) forcing Luciano to order a hit Reles, come check out the view.
(narrator) that keeps his empire intact.
But brings him no closer to freedom.
(man) This ain't no time To feel sorry for myself I can't help it 'Cause there's nobody else And I walk these streets With your name on my tongue But I dare not speak Only there it belongs There's got to be a better way Better way (gunshot echoes) (narrator) Charles "Lucky" Luciano, the most powerful mob boss in America, remains locked up in a maximum security prison in upstate New York.
And while he's managing to keep his operation under control, Luciano fears the other New York families will try to grab hold of his power if he doesn't get out soon.
A mob boss in prison probably could maintain his position and his power for a while.
But, it was always so competitive, it was always so vicious that eventually, there's always somebody hungry to move up.
I been in here too long.
It's time for something to happen.
Charlie, what do you want us to do? What about these whores? Can we get to them? The problem is finding them.
No one knows where they're at, Charlie.
They're in protection, can't get to them.
But we're working on it.
We got every cop and politician paid on the street except for Dewey.
We can't find three hookers? Is that what you're telling me? (narrator) On orders from Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and MeyeLansky orchestrate a nationwide search for the prostitutes whose testimony put Luciano in jail.
It's only a matter of time before their efforts pay off.
Hello? Good job.
(Ellen Poulsen) After the trial, three of the prostitutes escaped to California where they thought they were going to live free and clear.
Florence Newman? Cokey! (footsteps approaching) (Ellen Poulsen) Unfortunately, Lucky's men more or less kidnapped the prostitutes.
They were taken to a law office and told to sign a paper that stated they had lied during the trial.
(narrator) Thomas Dewey isn't about to let his case against Luciano fall apart.
So he takes matters into his own hands.
(Thomas Dewey III) There were allegations that there'd been some sort of improper conduct in securing some of the testimony.
Clearly, what had happened is that the mob had gotten to some of the witnesses and gotten them to flip their stories.
It is difficult to imagine the paralyzing fear expressed by nearly every witness in this case at the prospect of testifying against a man as ruthless and as violent as Lucky Luciano.
Lucky Luciano is the ruler of the most powerful criminal organization this city, this country, has ever known.
These witnesses were abused and exploited young women who were coerced into selling their bodies to satisfy the lusts of depraved men, while Lucky Luciano and his gang got rich off of it.
My office acted only to protect these women so that they could tell the truth and escape the horrific life Lucky Luciano had subjected them to.
(narrator) Dewey convinces the judge to dismiss the allegations, and Lucky Luciano's appeal is denied.
Lucky Luciano has bribed judges and juries, intimidated witnesses and attempted to play the legal system in his favor.
But all of his efforts have failed.
He's now faced with the realization that he might spend the rest of his life behind bars.
(indistinct officer chatter) See, this one, these dates are not matching up.
Make sure you get the dates to match, please.
(narrator) After ensuring Luciano remains locked up Thomas Dewey sets his sights on his next target in organized crime, one of the founding members of Murder, Inc.
(gunshots) For years, the highly trained group of assassins has worked for the New York Mafia, carrying out hits approved by the Commission without leaving a trace.
But when hit man Abe Reles is tied to a murder in 1940, he starts ratting out members of Murder, Inc.
I'll give you 50 guys.
(narrator) Before the Mafia takes him out, Reles names one of the hit squad's top killers Louis Lepke.
The feared Jewish gangster has a garment industry racket worth the modern-day equivalent of over $17 million per year.
Louis Lepke lived in a big, fancy apartment on the Upper West Side.
He lived in the equivalent of The Dakota.
Lepke, however, had a real bad temper.
And he would do things himself.
(gunshot) (narrator) Thomas Dewey believes if he can gather enough evidence and pin murder charges on Lepke, he'll be able to bring down the rest of Murder, Inc.
(Thomas Dewey) How many witnesses? We have seven witnesses ready to testify.
All right.
- Issue the charges.
- Yes, sir.
(narrator) Dewey orders his men to sweep the city.
But with the mob's connections and hideouts throughout New York, the professional assassin disappears.
While Dewey's men search for Lepke the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also looking to arrest him on a separate narcotics charge.
And the FBI joins in on the international manhunt.
(Rich Cohen) Lepke spent about a year in hiding where there was a search for him all over the world.
People saw him in Australia, Hawaii, South America.
Turned out he was in a basement apartment in Brooklyn the entire time.
(narrator) Before the authorities can find him, Lepke begins to take out anyone who could connect him to a murder.
Lepke had this philosophy, no witness, no case.
- He was killing everybody - (man grunting) and he was psychotic, and he was crazy.
And the feeling was if you hang around long enough, Lepke will kill you, too.
The longer Louis Lepke remains at large, the more of a mockery he's making of this agency.
(narrator) Director of the FBI, J.
Edgar Hoover, knows he could put Lepke away for narcotics charges.
But with the gangster in hiding, he'll need the help of an unlikely ally.
You'll never guess who I got a call from.
Who? The FBI.
They want us to help 'em find Louis Lepke.
- (narrator) By 1939 - Unh! The New York Mafia's most dangerous hit man Louis Lepke is being hunted by the FBI on drug charges and by Thomas Dewey for murder.
Lepke has evaded the law for nearly two years.
So in a last ditch effort to bring him in, the feds have reached out to an unexpected ally Lucky Luciano.
(Joe Mantegna) Luciano was approached by our government, there was that whole thing of some Every once in a while, the two sides try to do something together for the benefit of everyone.
(narrator) Luciano was serving the third year of his 50-year sentence and has tried everything to get out.
Now with the FBI asking for help, he sees the opportunity he's been looking for and meets with his closest advisor, Meyer Lansky.
What do you wanna do about it? Maybe you could talk to Lepke.
You tell him he's gotta take the rap on the heroin.
We give him over to Hoover and he'll pin the murders on him, too.
Then he goes away forever, and we buy favor with Hoover and Dewey.
Notorious killer, Louis Lepke put away by J.
Edgar Hoover.
(narrator) Luciano knows that giving up Lepke would be a huge gamble, as the feared killer could easily snitch on the mob.
But for the criminal kingpin, getting out of prison and reclaiming his place at the head of his family is more important.
In the fall of 1939, Luciano and Lansky set a plan in motion to double-cross Louis Lepke.
(Rich Cohen) After Lucky Luciano went to jail, Meyer Lansky's power had to become more Machiavellian.
He had to work the angles, pit people against people.
And I think that he really wanted to get Luciano out of prison because I think that the best days of his life were when Luciano was on the street and they were together.
(narrator) If they can convince Lepke to turn himself in on lesser drug charges, the feds will hand him over to Dewey for murder, giving Luciano the leverage he thinks he needs to get out of prison.
(dog barking) (knocking at door) (narrator) To carry out the plan, Lansky sends Lepke's trusted associate Murder, Inc.
co-founder, Albert Anastasia.
Well, Albert, it's been a long time.
Listen, Lou, I can help you out but you gotta trust me on this.
I don't trust anybody.
We can make the Dewey murder rap go away.
How? The FBI is how.
Hoover's got you on the high-profile list, he wants a high-profile bust.
Turn yourself in to Hoover on the heroin thing, two, three years in the can, tops.
The FBI? If Dewey's guys find you hiding out here, they're gonna throw you right in the electric chair.
Use your head.
It's a good deal, Lou.
(Rich Cohen) Lepke wanted to surrender himself to the federal government.
He didn't want the New York police to get him and end up in the electric chair.
You got Lepke? (narrator) Because of the high-profile nature of the arrest, FBI Director J.
Edgar Hoover personally wants to bring the most wanted man in America into custody.
Louis Lepke, you're under arrest for murder.
Murder? You didn't say anything about Albert, what is this?! What is this?! - Bastard! - What the Ah! Get your hands off me! Filthy pigs! (narrator) After a two-year search, J.
Edgar Hoover finally has his man thanks to Lucky Luciano.
(Sonny Grosso) Lucky Luciano, he understood that in life if I really help you out, that when you see an opportunity, you'll look out for me.
And aditional to gaining leverage with the FBI.
Luciano's just giving Thomas Dewey a huge victory.
And on December 2, 1941, Louis Lepke is sentenced to death.
(Rich Cohen) Hoover turned him right back to Dewey and Dewey executed him.
Louis Lepke, only mob boss to ever be executed.
(narrator) Dewey has taken down another high-profile gangster, and under a national spotlight, he launches a campaign to become the next governor of New York.
Luciano's certain if Dewey wins, he'll sign a pardon freeing him from prison.
Bu while he waits for word fr Dewey a violent attack almost 5,000 miles away is about to change everything.
(President Franklin Roosevelt) Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.
(narrator) For three years, the violent conflict has been raging throughout Europe.
Brands) During most of the 1930s, Americans had ignored what was going on in Europe as Hitler ramped up and began rampaging around Europe.
Until Pearl Harbor.
(President Roosevelt) A date which will live in infamy.
(narrator) While Lucky Luciano is in prison in upstate New York, the country braces for another attack on American soil, and New York could be the first target.
Brands) It was known that there were German submarines that were prowling along American shores.
And the United States didn't have the naval force yet to counteract that.
So Americans were deeply concerned.
(narrator) Just two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor America's worst fear is realized as a massive fire breaks out on a naval troop ship on the docks along the West Side of Manhattan.
As the "SS Normandie" burns, fear spreads that war has reached New York City.
The government was very worried about sabotage on the waterfront.
And get to the mob guys who really run the waterfront.
Since Probation, organized crime has asserted its power over New York's harbor and now has control over more than 200 ports.
(gulls squawking) Now at war, the federal government is forced to make another unlikely alliance.
The Mafia's control and their affiliations with the Longshoreman's Union meant that they had a hand in everything coming into the country.
And the government had to reach out to the Mafia to prevent sabotage on the waterfront.
And they had to reach out to Lucky Luciano.
Lansky, we need your help.
Well, listen, sir, just because we're, um, businessmen, doesn't mean we're not patriots.
We'll lock down the docks.
Nothing gets in or out of New York harbor without us knowing about it.
Thank you.
Don't thank me.
Thank Lucky Luciano.
(Selwyn Raab) Now this is an example of how powerful by 1941 the American Mafia was.
(narrator) Lansky reports back to Luciano with a deal.
The navy agrees to work to reduce Luciano's prison sentence.
With Luciano calling the shots from prison, Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello orchestrate a citywide plan, paying heavily-armed guards to work around the clock and putting a system in place to keep track of all shipments so that nothing gets in or out of New York without the Mafia's approval.
When you hear that Lucky helped the American government protect the New York harbors from prison, how could you dislike a guy who protected New York City? (Michael Green) Mobsters can be patriots.
They're human beings like the rest of us.
And there are these stories that Lucky and other mobsters helped keep the docks clean.
Well, why not? They're Americans, too.
At the same time, being intelligent businesspeople, there is an element in their thinking, "If I do this for my government, the government might do something for me down the line, too.
" (narrator) While Luciano is doing his part in the American war effort 4,000 miles away Vito Genovese is about to strike a deal with the enemy.
(narrator) After feeling to Italy to escape a murder charge, Vito Genovese has been forced to abandon his dream of ruling the Luciano crime family.
Now, Genovese is determined to exploit a new opportunity.
But before he can lay the groundwork, he'll need to go through one man, fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.
Just a small sample.
(narrator) Over the next few years, Genovese donates the modern-day equivalent of $3.
6 million to Mussolini's fascist party.
There's plenty more where that came from.
(Selwyn Raab) What Genovese did in a very patriotic mode, he became an arch-fascist in support of Mussolini while he was in Italy during the entire war.
In fact, he made major contributions.
So, there was no question.
He had suddenly forgotten all about his American patriotism.
(church bell ringing) (narrator) With the dictator on his side, Genovese has the freedom to set up a lucrative racket in an industry he's known for years.
Vito Genovese was involved in the heroin trade.
You go all the way back to the early days, then he was moving opium around.
(narrator) In the 1940s, heroin is legal in Italy.
And Mussolini allows Genovese to export narcotics freely smuggling drugs out of the country in small packages, disguised in luggage and automobiles.
For almost a year, Genovese builds up his heroin racket throughout Italy.
(plane engine purring) But in July of 1943, in the midst of the global war, the Allies invade Sicily.
(Selwyn Raab) There has been a lot of reports that Luciano was helpful in the invasion of Sicily in 1943, and that's a myth.
Luciano, through his own public relations efforts, tried to create the myth that would help him get the pardon from Dewey.
In fact, Frank Costello tipped off Walter Winchell, a very important columnist, and Winchell reported this, that Luciano helped the invasion of Sicily.
Total fabrication.
(narrator) The Allied invasion of Sicily is a success.
And so is Luciano's play for public goodwill.
As the Allies sweep across Italy, Genovese is suddenly on the losing side.
He quickly switches his allegiance, Guys, what's going on here? These crates have been here for weeks.
(narrator) But true to form, Genovese betrays his new allies.
When the Americans come and take over Sicily, he disavows the fascists and he cuts a deal with the American army.
And then we find out that he's diverting illegal supplies from the American army to sell on the black market.
This was a guy that would cut a deal with anybody, and then betray them.
Come on, let's go! We can move faster.
During World War Two, Genovese just capitalized on food stamps, the rationing stamps, uh, whether it was gasoline.
Many of the mob guys were excitement junkies, uh, addicted to certain types of, you know, behavior, whether it was stealing, power.
(Genovese) We gotta paint them and get 'em out of here, all right? Leave this warehouse clear.
- Freeze! - Freeze! Don't move, don't move, don't move! (soldier) Get up, move! (Chazz Palminteri) The real smart guys, they know not to mess with the government.
This wise guy once told me, he said, "Chazz, one thing you don't do.
"You don't mess with the government.
They got the toughest mob in the world.
" To the right, you understand me? (Chazz Palminteri) They won two world wars and they print their own money.
You don't mess with them.
(narrator) Once Genovese is in army custody, the military learns that he's wanted for murder in the U.
and quickly sends him back to New York to stand trial.
With two of the most powerful gangsters in the Luciano crime family behind bars, the fate of the operation is at stake.
And Lucky Luciano begins to realize that if Genovese turns on the mob, he could once again risk everything Luciano's worked so hard to build.
(narrator) After seven years on the lam in Italy Vito Genovese is in federal custody and on his way back to America facing the murder charge he tried to dodge.
Frank? That murder charge? The D.
's got a witness.
Some guy named Pete LaTempa.
It's true, Vito.
He's gonna testify.
How could you be so stupid? You gotta get to this guy, Frank.
If he talks, I'm done.
(narrator) The man with evidence against Genovese is Peter LaTempa, a low-level gangster willing to exchange his testimony to reduce his sentence.
This is not good.
Doing the best I can.
It's not good enough, Frank.
What are we gonna do? (narrator) To Luciano, Genovese has been a liability for years, failing as a boss and drawing attention to the mob.
Now, if Genovese snitches to the feds, he could destroy everything Luciano has built.
(Richard Hammer) During the war, Genovese was working with Mussolini.
Luciano was a patriot.
And Luciano hated him.
If he could have, he would have had him killed.
(narrator) Despite their differences, Luciano knows he and Genovese have built a criminal empire together, and he refuses to turn his back on one of his inner circle.
(guard) LaTempa, it's time for your daily dose.
(groaning) (coughing) (narrator) On January 15, 1945, Pete LaTempa is found poisoned in his cell.
Lucky Luciano has saved Vito Genovese.
And without a key witness, the feds may no longer have a case.
Just four months later, the Allies declare victory in Europe.
And soon after, victory in Japan.
After six long years of fighting across the globe, World War Two is finally over.
And now, Luciano wants to make sure the valuable help he's given to the war effort doesn't go unrewarded.
(Richard Hammer) Luciano thought of himself as an American patriot.
The United States was getting lots and lots of assistance from Luciano, and he thought that as a reward for his service in World War Two, he would be allowed to resume his power.
(narrator) Luciano drafts a letter pleading his case for parole.
To grant him clemency, New York's newly-elected governor, the man responsible for putting Luciano in prison, Thomas Dewey.
But Dewey has no reason to grant Luciano a pardon and every reason to keep him behind bars.
Five months go by without word from Dewey.
By now, Luciano has been in prison for nearly ten years.
The entire time, he's been scheming to find a way out.
(Michael Green) Lucky wants out of jail.
He wants to go back to making money and running his organized crime syndicate.
Lucky Luciano is willing to do anything to stay in power.
(narrator) In his quest to gain his freedom, Luciano has done favors for the FBI, the United States Navy, and even Thomas Dewey.
But with no response to his quest for parole, it seems it's all been for nothing.
(narrator) In 1945, Lucky Luciano sent a letter requesting parole to New York's governor, Thomas Dewey.
It's been seven months and still no response.
When will we know? Well, that's up to Dewey.
Soon, Charlie, I'll push it, soon.
I've been talking to my guys in the Navy, and they're leaning on him real hard.
That doesn't mean he's gonna sign it.
All we can do is try to push all the right buttons and hope for the best.
(narrator) With Luciano's request for a pardon in hand, Thomas Dewey must make a crucial decision.
He's built his political career on the back of Luciano's conviction.
But now, he's getting pressure to free Luciano from the United States Navy.
Pressure was put on Dewey because of Luciano's war service, which was extensive.
(narrator) But Luciano's work on behalf of the military is classified.
If Dewey does pardon Luciano, he won't be able to reveal the reason.
And for a politician with presidential aspirations, releasing America's most notorious gangster could be a major liability.
The commutation of Luciano's sentence was a politically controversial issue at the time.
And it was a difficult one for him politically.
(narrator) With pressure mounting on all sides, Thomas Dewey comes up with a solution to appease the military, protect his political future, and deal with Luciano once and for all.
(indistinct shouting) I, uh, came as soon as I got word.
Dewey signed the papers.
But, um You can't stay here.
They're deporting you.
To Italy.
I'm an American.
(Thomas Dewey III) Based on the help that Luciano had given to the government during the war, with the additional condition that he'd be deported and not returning to the United States.
I guess I'll go back.
(narrator) After ten years, Luciano has finally won his freedom.
But it's come at a steep price.
(ship's horn blaring) For the first time since his incarceration, Luciano's original crew is together again.
Benny, you came all this way to see me go.
Had to say good-bye.
- Francesco.
- Charlie.
I just got word.
The D.
's gonna drop the charges against Vito.
He's being released.
Just keep an eye on him.
(ship's horn blowing) Meyer.
- I'm gonna miss you.
- I'll miss you, too.
Come visit me sometime, huh? (bell clanging) (narrator) 40 years after he arrived in New York, a penniless immigrant from Sicily, Lucky Luciano is being forced to leave the country he considers home.
Luciano thought of himself as an American.
This is where he had made it.
This is where he wanted to be.
And he thought that he would be allowed to stay here and resume his power.
(narrator) Luciano and his crew have climbed their way to the top of the New York underworld, amassed a fortune most men can only dream of, and built a criminal empire together.
Now, Lucky Luciano must leave it all behind.