Gangsters in America: Joe Rosen’s murder put Louie Lepke in the electric chair

Joe Rosen was a legitimate businessman, who never broke the law in his life. But when he was assassinated in 1936, on the orders of Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, he was the first link in the chain that put Lepke in the electric chair.

Joe Rubin, from Brownsville in Brooklyn, had finally hit the jackpot. With sweat and hard work, he had started a small trucking business, serving non-union personalization contact customers in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area. These were solid accounts and they bought Rosen a partnership in the New York & New Jersey Truck Company. But Louie “Lepke” Buchalter, from the same neighborhood as Rosen in Brownsville in Brooklyn, had other ideas. Lepke was a founding partner of the infamous Brooklyn “Murder Incorporated,” but his friend and sometimes partner Max Rubin controlled the Amalgamated Garment Workers Union. In 1932, Rubin and Lepke approached Rosen and demanded that he stop making deliveries to non-union tailors in Pennsylvania.

“But if I lose the Pennsylvania business, I lose everything,” Rosen told them. “I’ve been in the clothing business my whole life and now I’m being kicked out.”

Which was exactly what Rubin and Lepke did. But as a consolation prize, he gave Rosen a job as a truck driver at Garfield Express, a trucking business in which Lepke owned a 50% stake, with his partner Louis Cooper. Eight months later, Cooper fired Rosen and Rosen was out of work for 18 months. He used borrowed funds to open a small candy store in Brownsville, but Rosen was a loud and unhappy camper. Special Counsel Thomas E. Dewey was a fierce investigator who focused on job scams and began making noise about Lepke’s involvement in the Amalgamated Garment Workers’ Union.

“This is bad,” Rubin told Lepke. “Joe (Rosen) complains that he has a family and has nothing to eat. We have a desperate man on our hands.”

Lepke, in a show of sheer generosity, told Rubin to give Rosen a few dollars, but in return, before Dewey caught a shred of what he was saying, Rosen had to part with the city immediately. Rubin met Rosen at his candy store and said, “Here’s two hundred dollars. Lepke wants you to go and relax. You better do what he says.”

Rosen did as he was told and took refuge with his son, who lived and worked as a coal miner in Reading, Pennsylvania. Less than a week later, Rosen’s wife contacted him and told him that his mother was ill. Rosen was sick too; Sick of Reading, Pennsylvania. So he hopped on a bus and rushed back to New York City. He went back to work at his candy store the next day. This did not please Lepke too much. Lepke usually insulated himself from any direct connection to the dozens of murders he ordered. Instead, he had a small group of lieutenants, including Rubin, to whom he gave orders, and these orders were passed on to the would-be assassins. Albie Tannenbaum was one of his assassins, but not one of his confidants. Unfortunately, Tannenbaum was in the next room when Lepke was spoiled by Rosen.

“I’ve seen enough of this shit,” Lepke yelled at Rubin. “That (expletive) Rosen, he’s fucking his mouth off seeing Dewey. He and no one else is going anywhere and talking. I’ll take care of him.”

On September 13, 1936, a gang of Lepke assassins, led by Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, was ambushed when Rosen opened his candy store at 7:30 am. In an extreme example of exaggeration, the shooters rushed into the store and emptied seventeen bullets into Rosen’s body; the last four pumped by Strauss after Rosen was already dead.

Over the next four years, Murder Incorporated committed hundreds of murders, but none of them date back to Lepke. Dewey was on Lepke’s trail for a number of other crimes, so Lepke licked somewhere in New York City, which is the easiest place to hide, with eight million people hanging around, minding their own matters.

In 1940, at the insistence of his associates Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, Lepke tuned in to the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, thinking that the solution was there and that he simply had to spend a few years in the can for his crimes. But he was betrayed by Luciano and Lansky, and also by Albie Tannenbaum and Max Rubin, who had also been pinched and were looking to make a deal. Both rats agreed on the witness stand that Lepke had ordered Rosen’s murder. After Tannenbaum quoted Lepke word for word about Rosen’s care, thus confirming Rubin’s account, Lepke’s chicken was cooked. On November 30, 1941, the jury took a little over four hours to render a guilty verdict on Lepke for murder.

After several appeals were rejected, on March 4, 1944, Lepke was fried in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison, and it was the murder of Joe Rosen, a poor nobody, who just wanted to live a life of dignity and worker. in peace, that put it there.

To this day, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter is the only mob boss to have been executed by the government.