Albert Anastasia, who was slain in a barber’s chair yester-day, barely escaped death in the electric chair in 1921. In the thirty-six years be-tween, he blasted his way to wealth, power and pre-eminence among hoodlums in the United States. Albert was the oldest of four Anastasia brothers identified with extortion, usury, pilfering, wildcat strikes, assault and murder on the New York water-front. He was also believed con-nected to strong-arm rackets in the shipping, trucking, laundry and garment industries, as well as in gambling and politics. His most fearsome reputation was as chief of Murder, Inc., as prosecutors referred to .the Brooklyn execution squad they accused of sixty-three killings for racketeers from 1934 to 1941. Albert Anastasia was born on Sept. 26, 1902, in Tropea, a fish-ing village on the tiptoe of Italy. The family name was spelled Anastasio, and Albert actually was christened Umberto. He adopted the name Albert Anas-tasia on his first arrest, in 1921, to “save the family from dis-grace,” his brother Anthony said recently. His father, a railroad worker, died before World War•I. There were nine sons and three daugh-ters. One boy and two girls died at a young age; another son went to work on the rail-road, and a third emigrated to Australia. Six Came To America The six other sons eventually came to America, One, Salva-tore, became a priest. The youngest, Frank, is a longshore-man in Brooklyn. The four others, working as deckhands on freighters from childhood, jumped ship in the United States as young men and merged into the longshore gangs.

Besides Albert, these were Joseph, who became a pier boss for the International Longshore-men’s Asociation and who died of illness in Brooklyn ifs 1956 at the age of 51; Anthony (Tough Tony), now 50 and Brooklyn boss of the I. L. A., and Gerardo, or Jerry, 45, busi-ness agent for a Brooklyn long-shore local. Albert was of average height, thickset, with dark complexion and black wavy hair. He talked infrequently, and then in a hoarSe voice. His Italian was hardly better than his English, since his schooling had ended at the age of 11. He came here illegally in 1919, although he later re-entered legally. He became involved early with the Mafia, criminal society of Sicilians and Cala-brians here. Between 1921 and 1954, he was arrested ten times—five for murder. His total .penalties were four and a half years in prison.

Usually he went free after opposing witnesses had disappeared or had given weak testimony. His first arrest, in 1921, was the most serious. Anastasia and a compatriot were con-victed of murdering a fellow longshoreman. For eighteen months they sat in the death cell at Sing Sing, until their lawyers won a retrial on a tech-nicality. By that time, four key prosecution witnesses were missing. The defendants were freed in April, 1922.

He went to jail on two other occasions, In 1923 he was sent to a penitentiary Or two years for carrying a gun, and in June, 1955; he began serving one year in Federal_prison after admit-ting evading income taxes of $12,000 in 1947. The most sensational case in-volved Murder, Inc., in 1940. Abe. Reles, a gunman for the syndicate, told the police to save his own life that Anastasia was the chief executioner in at least thirty-one of the gang’s sixty-three murders. Three other gunmen for the mob eventually died in the electric chair. . But Reles mysteriously fell to his death in 19411 from an eighth-story window of the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island. William O’Dwyer, then the Brooklyn District Attorney, said hi., “perfect” case against Ana-stasia collapsed. The Kings County Grand Jury in 1945 se-verely censured him for not prosecuting Anastasia neverthe-less.

However, Mr. O’Dwyer was elected Mayor in 1945 on the strength of his job against Murder, Inc. Offered Plot on Dewey Anastasia did not lack for ideas on how to do a job. Reles once told authorities that An-astasia was a little disturbed in 1935 when Lepke Buchalter turned down a plot he had worked out for the killing of Thomas E. Dewey, then Special Prosecutor in Manhattan stamp-ing out the rackets. Anastasia’s plan was this: “Hire one of the mob who might look the part, to borrow a baby and a baby ‘carriage, to pass up and down the street where Dewey lives. Then, one morning, when the streets are empty, let there be a submachine gun in the carriage with the baby, and have a silencer on it. First chance you get; turn the gun on him.”

But the racket bosses under investigation, particularly Lepke, would have no part of the plot. It was too frightening, even for them. From 1942 to 1944 Anastasia was in the Army as a technical sergeant training G. I. long-shoremen in Pennsylvania. Be-fore his discharge he obtained citizenship under a wartime law favoring service men. After the war he bought into a dress factory and purchased a’ $75,000 yellow stucco house of Spanish style overlooking the Hudson at Fort Lee, N. J. There he lived, behind a chain fence and guarded by a “chauf-feur” and watchdogs, with his wife and a son. The boy, Albert Jr., attended Fordham University. The family. had sev-eral large cars, and Albert Sr. bought a house in Italy for his aged mother and sister. He refused on the ground of self-incrimination to tell either the Senate Crime Investigating Subcommittee in 1951 or the State Crime Commission in 1952 how he made a living. He re-fused to tell them virtually anything else, either. The Federal Government be-, gan deportation proceedings against him in 1952, but the courts ruled against the Gov-ernment and the case was dropped in 1956.

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