Atlantic City Mafia
Mobsters and their Molls on Vacation
During the heady days of the 1920’s when Atlantic City was the holiday destination for the rich and famous, organised crime flourished. The back bays of Absecon Island with its maze of inlets, marshes and tributaries were just about perfect for the growing number of illicit distilleries popping up all over due to prohibition. It was also the easiest place to smuggle large caches of Scottish Whiskey, and the booming city was the perfect dumping ground.
Not only did the Mob control the speakeasies and illegal gambling dens, but they used Atlantic City as a neutral zone where the top figures of the shadowy organisation could come for r & r without fear. The notorious Meyer Lansky honeymooned in the Presidential Suite of the Ritz Carlton, and in 1929 the top gangsters gathered at the Ambassador Hotel for a National Convention.
Mafia’s National Convention
Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Dutch Schultz and the brutal Al Capone all gathered in Atlantic City in an effort to suppress the gory turf war which threatened to topple the Mafia empire. Capone was courting disaster – he had recently murdered his bootlegging rivals in Chicago in the famed St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and days before arriving in Atlantic City had battered three disloyal soldiers to death with a baseball bat in a packed conference room in Indiana.
He was clearly out of control and had to be dealt with. He was, and he left the convention stripped of most of his powers, and in an effort to avoid the dozens of hit men who were lining up to execute him, he caught the train from Atlantic City to Philadelphia and handed himself over to the cops on a minor gun possession charge – he felt relatively safe in jail.
When Atlantic City lost its glamour in the 1960’s, it almost became the forgotten territory of the Mafia, and gangsters who embarrassed the organisation were often exiled to the City to rule over the slums, derelict hotels and near deserted boardwalk.
The Insidious Occupation of AC
In 1976 with the legalisation of gambling, top mobster Aniello Dellacroce, moved his aides and muscle to Atlantic City. He was aiming for the number one position of ‘capo di tutti capi’ (boss of bosses), and realised the huge potential of the New Jersey domain.
They invested in bars and pizza joints and scouted out hotels for sale in the city and soon took over some of the service industries including the supply of linen to the growing number of casino-hotels and the distribution of liquor. The crime czars were again deeply entrenched in Atlantic City.
In the 1980’s the Christian Science Monitor said that “Atlantic City had become a magnet for organised crime members” and after gleaning information from court documents they identified 11 different organised crime families that had illegally skimmed profits from labour unions and casinos in Atlantic City.
In the 1990’s Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Ligambi and Peter Cosoleto of New York were permanently banned from all Atlantic City casinos by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission when they promoted the use of the casinos for their mob meetings.
The Mafia in the New Millennium
In 2007 members of the Philadelphia/South Jersey mob brazenly set up an illegal sports betting operation right inside the high-stakes poker room of the hottest casino on the Boardwalk, the Borgata. They literally operated right under the nose of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission and it is estimated that over $22 million was siphoned off.
Said to be the biggest mob infiltration of a casino since legalised gambling, ringleader Andrew Micali was charged with money laundering and criminal usury. Over 20 casino employees were also charged
So, if you think that organised crime in Atlantic City is a figment of a very fertile imagination, think again! The hit show ‘The Sopranos’ bears a remarkable resemblance to what really goes on behind the scenes in virtually every city in the United States.
Not only does the ruthless Tony Soprano live in Atlantic City, but his antics on screen are a very realistic portrayal of how the Philadelphia Mafia operates today – they are deeply entrenched in Atlantic City and have been since the fashionable 1920’s.