||Detroit| Abe Bernstein
Death: March 7, 1968
Early life & the Purple Gang
Born in New York, Abe Bernstein and his brothers joined the then juvenile Purple Gang during their teenage years and, by the beginning of Prohibition they had emerged as leading members of the gang. Bernstein and his brothers quickly gained a ruthless and violent reputation as hijackers along the Detroit waterfront, attracting little attention from police as their victims were usually either rumrunners or rivals such as the Little Jewish Navy.
Bernstein and the others soon formed an association with longtime mobsters Charles Leiter and Henry Shorr who were working exclusively as enforcer for the two by the early 1920s. Bernstein and several other members were later arrested three days after the murder of Detroit policeman Vivian Welsh. Although the Chevrolet coupe used in his murder was traced to his brother Raymond, Abe was released to due to lack of evidence (possibly due to the negative campaign by the press charging Welsh with extorting money from independent bootleggers and speakeasy operators). Abe and other members were continually subject to harassment, however, until his brothers eventual conviction on an unrelated charge of first degree murder several years later.
In March 1928, he along with nine others of the Purple Gang including Raymond Bernstein, Irving Milberg, Eddie Fletcher, Joe Miller, Irving Shapiro, Abe Kaminsty, and brothers Abe and Simon Axler as well as Charles C. Jacoby, vice-president of Jacoby's French Cleaner's & Dyers, Inc. were arrested and charged with conspiracy to extort money from the city's wholesale dry cleaners industry. Although police were initially unable to locate Bernstein, who had been in attendance at the Atlantic City Conference with Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano, he surrendered to authorities after retuning several days later and posted a $500 bail. Beginning on June 4, forty-two witnesses testified over a three month period before Judge Charles Bowles and, despite the case being adjourned due to Bowles in poor health, all defendants were acquitted of all charges.
Involvement in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre
Bernstein, a chief supplier of Canadian whiskey to Al Capone, is also suspected to have been involved in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (The murder of 7 Nort-Side mobsters in a Chicago garage who were against Capone) supposedly setting up North Side Gang leader George "Bugs" Moran after informing him of a recently hijacked liquor shipment on February 13, 1929.
Bernstein, who had begun branching out to other major cities in the country during the mid-1920s, eventually became an associate of New York mobsters Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky, later became a partner in several syndicate gambling casinos in Miami until his death on March 7, 1968.
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