Bugsy Siegel Was America's Most Dangerous And Cruel Gangster Ever

May 02, 2018 - 93 views

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was a Jewish American mobster. Siegel was known as one of the most "infamous and feared gangsters of his day". Described as handsome and charismatic, he became one of the first front-page celebrity gangsters. He was also a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip. Siegel was not only influential within the Jewish mob but, like his friend and fellow gangster Meyer Lansky, he also held significant influence within the American Mafia and the largely Italian-Jewish National Crime Syndicate.

Siegel was one of the founders and leaders of Murder, Inc. and became a bootlegger during the Prohibition. After the amendment prohibiting the production, transport, and sale of alcohol was repealed in 1933, he turned to gambling. In 1936, he left New York and moved to California. His time as a mobster (although he eventually ran his own operations) was mainly as a hitman and muscle, as he was noted for his prowess with guns and violence. In 1939, Siegel was tried for the murder of fellow mobster Harry Greenberg. He was acquitted in 1942.

Siegel traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he handled and financed some of the original casinos. He assisted developer William R. Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel after Wilkerson ran out of funds. Siegel took over the project and managed the final stages of construction. The Flamingo opened on December 26, 1946, to poor reception and soon closed. It reopened in March 1947 with a finished hotel. Three months later, on June 20, 1947, Siegel was shot dead at the home of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, in Beverly Hills, California.

Born in Brooklyn on February 28, 1906, Bugsy Siegel built a criminal empire through bootlegging, gambling and ruthless assassinations before setting up shop in Las Vegas. He opened the famous Flamingo Hotel and Casino, the start of his notorious gambling operation in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. In 1947 he was gunned down at his girlfriend Virginia Hill's home at the age of 41.

During the 1920s, Mafia kingpin Charles "Lucky" Luciano and a number of other Italian gangsters organized themselves into a national syndicate. Nicknamed Bugsy for his volatile nature, Siegel became a prominent player in this newly established group of criminals. With a goal of killing off many of New York's veteran gangsters, Siegel was one of four hit men hired to execute Sicilian mobster Joe "the Boss" Masseria in 1931.

In 1937 Siegel relocated his bootlegging and gambling rackets to the West Coast. Settling in California, he set up gambling dens and offshore gambling ships, while also consolidating the already existing prostitution, narcotics and bookmaking rackets. Moving his wife and children out with him, Siegel maintained an extravagant lifestyle in Beverly Hills, where he bought a palatial estate, frequented parties and rubbed elbows with Hollywood moguls and starlets.

In the late 1930s, Siegel began dating actress Virginia Hill. They were a striking couple known as much for their violent natures as for their glamorous looks. In 1945, the two moved to Las Vegas, where Siegel began working toward his dream of building a gambling mecca in the Nevada desert. With funding from the Eastern crime syndicate, construction of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino began under Siegel's supervision.

Originally budgeted at $1.5 million, the building project soon proved to be a problem as construction costs soared to more than $6 million. When it was discovered that many of the overruns were attributable to Siegel's theft and mismanagement, Lansky (now a prominent member of the Eastern syndicate) became enraged by his betrayal.

On the evening of June 20, 1947, Siegel was brutally killed, when a fusillade of bullets crashed through Virginia Hill's living room window in Beverly Hills where he was visiting. Simultaneously, three of Lansky's cohorts entered the Flamingo Hotel and declared a takeover. Although Lansky denied involvement in the hit, there is little doubt that Siegel was murdered on syndicate orders.