Early Days of Los Angeles

The Killing of Good Time Charlie: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

Installment 9: The Killing of Good Time Charlie Author’s Note: I’m looking forward to my panel on early Los Angeles mob activity at the soon coming MobWorld Summit happening this Father’s Day Weekend at the Plaza Hotel in the Las Vegas Fremont District. I hope to see you there. For the occasion of my two upcoming Vegas appearances (I will be lecturing at the Las Vegas Mob Museum as well; this September 22nd), I have…


Mayor, Mayor on the Wall: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

Installment 8: Mayor, Mayor on the Wall The level of corruption sanctioned in Los Angeles by way of the mayor’s office throughout the long stretch of prohibition, could easily fuel season after season of award winning television. From real estate scams and rigged elections, bootlegging and gambling houses, to bookmaking, prostitution, and alliances with criminals and shadowy organizations—every Los Angeles mayor who sat behind the desk during “the drought” dabbled in at least some form…


The Senator and the Shield: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

Installment 7: The Senator and the Shield RICO, the infamous Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970, is credited as one of the most effective tools in the fight against the national crime syndicate. It’s aim for the prosecution of top mob members over mere soldiers, is no doubt largely responsible for its level of success. Earlier introduced and lesser known, was another controversial legislative weapon; one which arrived on the law books not…


Prelude to the Kefauver Hearings: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

Installment 6: Prelude to the Kefauver Hearings In April of 1950, the Senate Gambling Investigating Committee gathered in Washington DC. On the table, was a new bill that they expected would put “a ban on interstate transmission of race horse information.” Chairmen McFarland and his men were on a crusade to rid the nation of the racing wire service which “the country’s thousands of bookies” relied on. Though top officials from such major cities as…


The Curious Allegiances of Handsome Johnny: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

Similar to the way movie stars are fawned over and followed, a certain mystique also clings to the criminal element. And in rare instances, the celebrity and the gangster are even balled into one. Dillinger, Capone, and Bugsy are but a few examples of well-dress killers who reached media heights and fame during their lifetimes. And nearing a century later, the luster of the gangster genre hasn’t faded. Decades after the demise of each crime…


He Didn’t “Toot” His Own Horn: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

The initial wave of gambling boats that hit the West during the roaring twenties, kicked off in the summer of 1927. Although Tony Cornero—the good looking racketeer with a reputation for being a straight shooter among thieves—is often crowned King of these floating casinos, he was actually nowhere to be found when the trade first got rolling. A short while after his 1926 bootlegging arrest, Cornero managed to escape custody. A wanted man, he fled…


On This “St Patrick’s” Day, 1934: The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

March of 1934 ushered in the first post-prohibition celebration of St Paddy’s. It had been fourteen years since America’s Irish immigrants celebrated properly. When the drought finally lifted, many a bootlegging entrepreneur made a quick leap into the gambling rackets. And those who’d already been juggling both enterprises thickened what they had in motion. Facilitating the shift, the timeline seemed to offer an almost seamless transition. Early in 1931, in an effort to counter the…


Shady Disney Characters Lurking in Los Angeles? The Early Days of Los Angeles With Dr J. Michael Niotta

Author’s Note – These installments on early LA seek to highlight the lesser known events and relationships pertaining to crime activity in the Southland. They are also intended to clear the conjecture that continues to cloud the true events that transpired. As John Buntin so aptly penned in LA Noir, “Other cities have histories. Los Angeles has legends.” To add to this, in regard to the City of Angels, the early days were exciting enough…