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|New York|  Jacob - Gurah - Shapiro

Birth: May 5, 1897 - Russia

Death: June 9, 1947 - Sing Sing prison












Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro and Louis "Lepke" Buchalter controlled industrial labor racketeering in New York for more than two decades. His nickname "Gurrah", according to underworld lore, apparently came from his tendency to slur his words with his habit of shouting "Get out of here !" as "Gurrah da' here!" to his underlings. Born in 1899, Shapiro grew up in Manhattan's Lower East Side and began committing petty theft in his early teens, eventually first encountering his future partner Louis Buchalter as a teenager while inadvertently attempting to rob the same pushcart. The two agreed on a partnership, an alliance which would last for decades with Buchalter as the brains and Shapiro acting as the muscle. Both Shapiro and Buchalter would soon become acquainted with future mobsters Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano as protégés of Arnold Rothstein. Encouraged by Rothstein, Shapiro and Buchalter would enter into labor racketeering, then dominated by Jacob "Little Augie" Orgen since deposing Nathan Kaplan during the decade long labor slugger wars, as the two began to infiltrate labor unions in the garment district. Quickly bringing local unions under their control though murder and assault of union leadership, a system of kickbacks and skimming from union dues while extorting from garment manufacturers with the threat of strikes.

Initially working with Orgen, Shapiro and Buchalter soon became disenchanted with Orgen and began plans to take over his operations. Orgen soon broke away from them and instead allied with brothers Eddie and Jack "Legs" Diamond as muscle to counter Shapiro and Buchalter. On October 15, 1927, Orgen and Jack Diamond were walking through the Lower East Side and, as they stood at the corner of Delancey and Norfolk Street, two gunmen (thought to be Shapiro and Buchalter) drove up. With one gunman getting out of the car while the driver began shooting from the inside, Orgen and Diamond were gunned down leaving Orgen dead and Diamond severely wounded. With Orgen's death, Shapiro and Buchalter were free to take over Orgen's former criminal operations and began massive extortions of both labor unions and businesses as they would hold a virtual monopoly over the garment district. With the formation of the alleged "National Crime Syndicate" under Charles Luciano and Meyer Lansky following the end of Prohibition, Shapiro became the right hand man of Buchalter's Murder, Inc. along with Albert Anastasia. One of its most dedicated members, Shapiro would personally oversee many of the organizations contract murders as well as recruiting promising and talented gunman for future membership.

In 1935, when Dutch Schultz appeared before the National Crime Syndicate to propose government prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey be eliminated, only Shapiro and Anastasia agreed despite the other members insistence (including Buchalter) that Dewey's murder would only cause increased attention towards the federal investigation into organized crime, possibly leading to exposing the National Crime Syndicate. Shortly after Schutlz's death, Shapiro and Buchalter's criminal activities would come under investigation by Dewey with Shapiro and Buchalter being convicted of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and sentenced to two years in October 1936. Going on the run, Shaprio evaded authorities for almost a year before turning himself in to the FBI agents on April 14, 1938 and was eventually found guilty of conspiracy and extortion and sentenced to 15 years to life on May 5, 1944. Months earlier, when Buchalter was himself on trial for his activities with Murder Inc., a note from Shapiro was supposedly smuggled to Buchalter stating simply, "I told you so." Until his death in prison from natural causes in 1947, Shapiro remained convinced that had Dewey been killed he and others would be free.


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