Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities

'Shondor' and 'Danny'

Both were brutal, cold-blooded murderers.

Both were also publicity hounds who courted reporters. 

The violence they started claimed both their lives. But, in the end, it also destroyed not only the Cleveland Mafia but Mafia families across the nation. Mafioso after Mafioso forsook his blood oath of omerta and — from the safety of the federal Witness Protection Program — "ratted" on his colleagues.

Shondor Birns and Danny Greene fascinated Clevelanders for four decades. They were first-name celebrities — "Shondor" and "Danny."

Shondor Birns
Shondor Birns

If you crossed him, Shondor would kill you. If you didn't, he would charm you.

Everyone agreed he could have been a successful restaurateur if he had stayed legitimate. Cops and reporters were among those who frequented his popular Alhambra Tavern. Lawyers and legitimate businessmen clamored for a chance to shake the hand of the famous killer.

Danny Greene
Danny Greene

Swaggering Danny Greene reveled in his Irish ancestry. He devoured books about Ireland and passed out green pens that wrote in green ink. To his poor neighbors, he was Robin Hood, helping those in trouble and sending around turkeys at Thanksgiving.

But he too had a second career, of a sort. To the FBI, he was "Mr. Patrick," a top-level confidential source.

In the end, Danny got Shondor, blowing him up on Holy Saturday, the eve of Easter.

The Cleveland Mob tried time after time to get Danny. Other Mafia families laughed at it as "the gang that couldn't shoot straight."

Greene defied them, calling its members "maggots" on television and daring them to come after him. .

Finally they succeeded. Greene, who had lived by the bomb, died by the bomb.

What the Mob didn't know was that it had destroyed the Cleveland Mafia.

Within a few years, many of its top leaders were either in prison or the witness protection program. The FBI used them to send Mafia leaders toppling like dominoes from coast to coast.

Next: Going Out with a Bang.

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