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|New Jersey|  Waxey Gordon

Birth: 1886

Death: June 24, 1952












Waxey Gordon was an American gangster who specialized in bootlegging and illegal gambling. Born Irving Wexler to immigrant parents in New York's Lower East Side around 1889, Gordon became known as a pickpocket and sneak thief as a child, becoming so successful he earned the nickname "Waxey" for supposedly being so skilled in picking pockets it was as if his victims' wallets were waxed. Joining "Dopey" Benny Fein's labor sluggers in the early 1910s Gordon helped organize Fein's operations before being noticed by Arnold Rothstein, who hired him away from Fein and put him to work as a rum-runner during the first years of Prohibition.

Gordon's success later led him to run all of Rothstein's bootlegging on most of the East coast, specifically New York and New Jersey, and importing large amounts of Canadian whiskey over the U.S.–Canadian border. Gordon, now earning an estimated $2 million a year, began buying numerous breweries and distilleries as well as owning several speakeasies. Gordon began to be known to live extravagantly, traveling in limousines and living regularly in prominent Manhattan hotel suites, as well as owning mansions built for him in New York and Philadelphia. With Rothstein's death in 1928, Gordon's position began to decline. He made an alliance with future National Crime Syndicate founders Charles Luciano, Louis Buchalter, and Meyer Lansky. Gordon, however, constantly fought with Lansky over bootlegging and gambling interests and soon a gang war began between the two; several associates on each side were killed. Lansky, with Luciano, supplied New York District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey with information leading to Gordon's conviction on charges of tax evasion in 1933. Gordon was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.

Upon Gordon's release, he found his gang long since disbanded. Ignored by his former political connections, he reportedly remarked to a journalist, "Waxey Gordon is dead. Meet Irving Wexler, salesman." Gordon, however, soon began operating illegal gambling in New Jersey, then moved to selling narcotics. In 1951 Gordon was arrested for selling heroin to an undercover police officer. The 62-year-old gangster reportedly offered the detective all his money in exchange for his release. When the detective refused, Gordon pleaded with the detective to kill him instead of arresting him for "peddling junk." Gordon was later convicted and sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment in Alcatraz, where he died of a heart attack on June 24, 1952.


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