Notorious Dixie Mafia hit man Billy Birt died this spring having spent the past 43 years in a Georgia state penitentiary serving a life prison sentence for murder. Authorities speculate that the 80-year old Birt was responsible for dozens of gangland slayings in the 1960s and first half of the 1970s down in the Dirty South.

The imposing racketeer and strong arm was the Dixie Mafia’s top muscle in Georgia in his heyday. The Peach State’s wing of the Dixie Mafia (a loose-knit conglomerate of criminal groups hugging the nation’s Southeast coastline dating back a half-century) found its way back into the news last week with the death of music legend Gregg Allman. The rock icon and beloved adopted son of the Georgia planes dodged attempts by the Dixie Mafia to bump him off back in the late 1970s.

Allman, 69, passed away from liver cancer. At the peak of his fame in 1976, he angered Macon, Georgia Dixie Mafia boss John (J.C.) Hawkins for cooperating with prosecutors in a large-scale narcotics case against his own road manager John (Scooter) Herring, who once worked as a bodyguard for Hawkins and other Dixie Mafia brass in his younger years before getting into the rock-and-roll industry.

Good thing for Gregg Allman by the time he made his way into the Dixie Mafia’s crosshairs, Birt was already behind bars, found guilty of three first-degree homicides – the 1972 murder of Don Chancey and the 1973 torture-killings of elderly married couple Reed and Lois Fleming – and sentenced to die in the electric chair. The convictions were however tossed on appeal in 1979, but Birt was once again found guilty of the Chancey slaying at a second trial in 1980 and hit with a life term.

Chancey and Birt were longtime partners in bootlegging moonshine and gasoline for the Dixie Mafia. The Flemings were targeted for robbery inside their home by Birt and two accomplices, Bobby Gaddis and Charlie Reed.

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