What happened on this week in crime history, June 16 – June 22; SLA member Kathleen Ann Soliah was arrested after 20 years on the run (June 16, 1999); Watergate burglars were arrested (June 17, 1972); O.J. Simpson was arrested after his infamous slow speed Bronco chase (June 17, 1994); radio talk show host Alan Berg was shot to death (June 18, 1984); convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed (June 19, 1953); mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was shot to death (June 20, 1947); John Hinckley, Jr. was found not guilty by reason insanity in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan (June 21, 1982); Boston mobster Whitey Bulger was arrested (June 22, 2011).
Highlighted crime of the week -
On June 20, 1947, mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was shot and killed at his mistress Virginia Hill's home in Beverly Hills, California. Siegel had been talking to his associate Allen Smiley when three bullets were fired through the window and killed 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 the okay to set up in Los Angeles. He threw himself into the Hollywood scene, making friends with some of the biggest names of the time. He also started up a successful gambling and narcotics operation to keep his partners back east happy. 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 murdered in Beverly Hills, Luciano's men walked into the Flamingo and announced that they were now in charge. No one was ever charged in Siegel’s murder.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author's website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: