The murder of bootlegger Dutch Schultz
New Jersey has a rather colorful history of gangsters, and one of the most notorious was Dutch Schultz (real name: Arthur Flegenheimer).
Schultz was known as a ruthless bootlegger who transitioned into numbers, extortion, and other rackets after the end of Prohibition. In one of the most famous incidents, Schultz is believed to have kidnapped and tortured a rival, hanging him by his thumbs and covering his eyes with a gauze bandage that had been contaminated with gonorrhea; the man later went blind.
After two unsuccessful attempts to pin him with tax evasion, Schultz moved his base of operations to Newark, as he was unwelcome in the state of New York. The US Attorney who prosecuted him was Thomas Dewey (who later became governor of New York and an unsuccessful presidential candidate) and Schultz blamed Dewey for his legal trouble.
Schultz wanted to kill Dewey in revenge and sought permission from the “Commission,” the ruling body of organized crime in the region. His fellow gangsters feared that the murder of such a prominent public figure would bring a crackdown of their illegal activities and therefore denied Schultz’s request. Worried that Schultz would ignore their ruling, the Commission instead ordered the murder of Schultz, to be carried out by the notorious Murder, Inc.
On Oct. 23, 1935, Schultz was dining at the Palace Chop House in Newark, which had become his headquarters, with his accountant and two associates. Two hitmen entered the restaurant while Schultz was in the bathroom and opened fire; although he was hit, Schultz managed to stagger out of the bathroom and make it back to his table. He was taken to the hospital where he died the next day.
Charles Workman was convicted of killing Schultz and was sentenced to life in prison which he served at Rahway, until being paroled in 1964. Schultz was rumored to have hidden a safe with over $7 million somewhere in upstate New York, but the stash has never been found.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.