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Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel
On June 20, 1947, mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel is murdered at the home of his mistress Virginia Hill in Beverly Hills, California. Siegel had been talking to his associate Allen Smiley when three bullets were fired through a side window, killing him instantly.
Siegel's childhood had been pretty similar to that of other organized crime leaders: Growing up with little money in Brooklyn, he managed to establish himself as a teenage thug. With his pal Meyer Lansky, Siegel terrorized local peddlers and collected protection money. Before long, they had a business that included bootlegging and gambling all over New York City. By the late 1930s, Siegel had become one of the major players of a highly powerful crime syndicate, which gave him $500,000 to set up a Los Angeles franchise. Bugsy threw himself into the Hollywood scene, making friends with some of the biggest film names of the time. His all-night parties at his Beverly Hills mansion became the hot spot in town. In 1945, Siegel had a brilliant idea. Just hours away from Los Angeles sat the sleepy desert town of Las Vegas, Nevada. It had nothing going for it except for a compliant local government and legal gambling. Siegel decided to build the Flamingo Hotel in the middle of the desert with $6,000,000, a chunk of which came from the New York syndicate. The Flamingo wasn't immediately profitable and Siegel ended up in an argument with Lucky Luciano over paying back the money used to build it. Around the same time that Siegel was killed in Beverly Hills, Luciano's men walked into the Flamingo and announced that they were now in charge.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: