Living Large

Life in the 1930s was tough for the average American. The Depression left numerous people homeless and without jobs. This wasn't the case for Lucky Luciano and his cohorts. Luciano knew that people were the same regardless of social status, when it came to gambling, drinking and prostitution—the more the merrier. This insight enabled Lucky to reap enormous profits from these vices for himself, and others in the Syndicate. Prostitution was Luciano’s forte, and he mastered the art of pimping. But just like a drug dealer shouldn’t sample his product, Luciano shouldn’t have sampled his girls.

He was a celebrity now. Everywhere he went, he enjoyed himself hugely, gambling at the racetracks, preening in the glory of golden girls from Hollywood, and watching Joe Dimaggio slam a baseball at Yankee Stadium.

Sexually transmitted diseases spared no one, as Luciano can testify. Seven times a gonorrhea victim, and once a syphilitic. He was also concerned about the humiliation of being a pimp. He expressed doubts in particular about his prostitution business. Luciano felt that more money could be extracted out of the business if he would Syndicate every whorehouse in New York and put all the madams on salary. "We’ll run them like chain stores," Lucky blurted to one of his men.

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Thomas Dewey
The madams who did not fall into line ended up in the hospital, and in the words of one of the girls: "They worked us six days a week, the Syndicate did. They worked us like dogs and then they kicked us out." When Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey and his team of twenty racket busters went after a conspiracy in the prostitution racket, they secretly set up a massive raid on approximately eighty brothels. Forty of the raids were successful. Almost a hundred madams and girls were brought in.

Then Luciano got caught, and it was an astonishing story. Lucky had worried most about his prostitution business for good reason. Under Dewey’s pounding, it began to fall apart. The prostitutes were talking. The madams were talking. Soon the bookers of the women were talking. As the weeks passed, Dewey, who at first had not wanted to venture into prostitution, a social matter, realized he had an unassailable case against Luciano in just this one field.

A warrant was issued for Luciano’s arrest, and, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he was taken in. Soon Lucky’s greatest fear came to pass, he was put on trial. Dewey’s witnesses were convincing. They corroborated with ease the fact that Luciano had, if nothing else, been running an illegal vice combine. He denied all charges and still felt that even he was convicted, the sentence would not be very much to worry about. Oh, how wrong he was. In Dewey’s masterfull summation to the jury, he translated his points of evidence into a general onslaught against Luciano. The jury was convinced and found him guilty of all charges. The judge handed the thirty-eight-year-old

Luciano a staggering sentence of thirty to fifty years imprisonment.

Within a handful of hours, his empire left to his associates, Luciano was interviewed by Dr. L. E. Kienholz, assistant psychiatrist in the classification clinic at Sing Sing Prison, just like all other humiliated new inmates. Kienholz found Luciano a man of "borderline intelligence." "He should attend school and learn a trade while here," Keinholz recommended in his diagnostic report. Keinholz later wrote, "Due to his drug addiction, he should be transferred to Dannemora Prison." It looks like Lucky’s luck had finally run out.

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Charles "Lucky" Luciano

1. Cosa Nostra

2. A Gangster is Born

3. The Long Ride

4. Castellammarese War

5. My Friend Meyer

6. Murder, Inc

7. Living Large

8. Not So Lucky

9. Lucky Factor

10. Bibliography

11. The Author
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