Lot 1106

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1106. THE HUNT FOR LOUIS "LEPKE" BUCHALTER, HEAD OF MURDER INC. An important, large archive of material from the personal files of Capt. Barnard W. Dowd, head investigator for District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey's Racket Squad and chief investigator of Murder, Inc. We are pleased to offer the intact archive of the three year quest to apprehend one of the most ruthless killers in the history of organized crime: Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter, head of Murder, Inc. Captain Dowd was appointed a patrolman in 1907 and rose through the ranks of the New York City Police Department to head all investigations into organized crime under D.A. (and future presidential candidate) Thomas E. Dewey. One of the highlights of this important archive is a series of exceedingly rare wanted posters including a 13 1/2" x 8" Scotland Yard D.S., Dec., 1937 with original mug shot affixed, outlining Buchalter's extensive criminal record and outstanding warrants for conspiracy and extortion. An additional D.S., Dec. 8, 1937 by Inspector Connolly of the Metropolitan Police includes a photographic set of "Lepke's" fingerprints. As the manhunt broadened, wanted posters were issued in both Poland and Czechoslovakia...but the rarest was issued by the New York City Police Department, on Aug. 8, 1939, measuring 15" x 8", offering a $25,000 reward..."Dead or Alive", for he "is wealthy; has connections with all important mobs in the United States. involved in racketeering in unions and in the fur industry, uses strong-arm methods. Influential...". Printed within is his mug shot, fingerprints and full length photograph. The bulk of the material consists of about 70 letters, police reports, memorandums, official communications, and indictments, encompassing over 114 pages, which read in part: "...In March 1936, an eight state alarm was transmitted over the teletype for the subject and his co-conspirators...". By August 23, 1936, the manhunt had begun in earnest when commanding officer of the grand jury squad informed Captain Dowd that defendant Louis Buchalter (a.k.a. Louis Lepke)...and Jacob Shapiro were released on $10,000 bond upon being convicted under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Later that month, the Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Shapiro's conviction and reversed that of Buchalter. On July 6, 1937, they were called to trial in federal court - both failed to appear. On August 9, 1937, members of the grand jury squad were informed that the district attorney had secured additional indictments pertaining to the garment district rackets against Buchalter and Shapiro. Buchalter remained a fugitive until August 24, 1939 according to documents in the archive. He surrendered to the F.B.I. under the mistaken assumption that he could prevent local prosecution. For the federal charges, he was sentenced to fourteen months at Leavenworth. His plan backfired when Dewey secured an indictment against Buchalter for the contract murder of candy story owner Joseph Rosen, who had been ruined in the garment industry when Murder, Inc. put him out of business. Interestingly, it was Albert Anastasia, Lepke's top enforcer, who convinced him to surrender to the Feds promising Lepke that he had secured a sweetheart deal and could be expect to be paroled in just a few months. In truth, Anastasia decided that Buchalter running from Justice, was bringing to much heat on the rest of Murder, Inc.'s rackets and had to be incarcerated...or murdered. On October 15, 1941, the New York Police Department issued a memorandum to Captain Dowd advising him that the "persons listed below, under federal indictment, for harboring 'Lepke' were called before Judge Campbell...were unable to appear in court, because of the following reasons: Emmanuel 'Manny' Weiss - Currently on trial with 'Lepke', in County Court, Brooklyn, Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel - having been indicted for murder in California together with Frankie Carbo, at present, both Siegel and Carbo are in jail and Albert Anastasia, fugitive from justice...". Ironically, Anastasia himself would meet his demise as head of the Luchese crime family at the hands of the Gallo Brothers! Far too much to describe here, this collection provides an insightful glimpse into the mind one of the most devious criminals of the twentieth century. Certainly worthy of further research. $2,000 - 3,000

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April 30, 2008 11:00 AM EDT
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