On This Day in 1965 Jack Dragna Died, Aged 64
Jack Dragna was born in Corleone, Sicily on April 18th 1891, he was known to be active in both Italy and the US.
On November 18th 1898, Dragna came to the US, and stayed in New York for ten years before returning to Sicily. As a young man, he joined the Italian Army and then later the Sicilian Mafia.
In 1914, Dragna returned to America and was a suspect in the murder of Jewish poultry dealer Barnett Baff, Dragna fled to California and went under the name Charles Dragna, he was found and returned to New York, but never stood trial. However, the following year he was arrested for Black Hand extortion of a Long Beach man, he served three years in prison. At the time of his extortion arrest, Dragna was using the alias Ignazio Rizzoto.
After his prison stint he worked closely with Joseph Ardizzone, a prominent mobster in Los Angeles. He eventually became boss of the LA Crime family, and it was rumoured that Dragna was involved in Ardizzone’s murder/disappearance.
Dragna’s chief source of income came from extorting local bookmakers for ‘protection’, but also dabbled in gambling ships, heroin smuggling and collection of extortion money.
When Bugsy Siegel relocated to the West Coast in the 1930s, he started his own rackets and formed an uneasy relationship with Dragna. Siegel brought in much more income for the Los Angeles family and generated a great deal of ‘respect’, which Dragna hated, however regardless of many sources saying that the two had a great deal of rivalry, they still worked closely together.
An infuriated Dragna ordered several murder attempts on Cohen, but Cohen managed to survive them all.
On February 14, 1950, the California Commission on Organized Crime singled out Dragna as the head of a crime syndicate that controlled crime in Southern California. Soon after, several Los Angeles family members were arrested for the bombing of Mickey Cohen’s home.
Dragna fled the state to avoid questioning. He later surrendered to authorities, and was questioned but denied all accusations against him.
On February 23, 1956, Dragna died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. His body was interred at Calvary Cemetery in LA.
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