My parents were married on 20 December 1952, so I decided for this week’s Trove Tuesday to see what was in the news that day. The article that grabbed my attention was:
MURDER INCORPORATED NAMED
Inquiry Reopened Into 1939 Murder
NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (A.A.P.).-
The New York Crime Commission has reopened the case of Peter Panto, a wharf laborer whose body was found in a quicklime pit after he tried to rid the Brooklyn waterfront of union racketerring in 1939.
Abe Reies, a member of the notorious Murder Incorporated mob, became a key witness in the case after he turned informer.
Reies mysteriously plunged to his death from a Brooklyn Hotel while he was being held under guard by eight policemen.
Mr. William O’Dwyer, former mayor of New York and until recently Ambassador to Mexico, was Brooklyn district attorney, in 1940 and said that he had a “perfect murder case” against waterfront boss Albert Anastasia for ordering Panto’s killing.
Later, Mr. O’Dwyer said that he could not prosecute because of Reies’s death.
Today, Vincent Mannino, who was a lawyer for six Brooklyn branches of the International Longshoremen’s Association in 1939, told the commission an officer of the associate had warned Panto to call off his insurgent movement, which had then gathered the active support of 1000 wharf laborers.
A picture of mob domination with political overtones of the six Brooklyn branches of the association was sketched by Mannino.
He said he had been supplanted as lawyer to the association’s branches by Paul O’Dwyer. At the time his brother, William O’Dwyer, and a separate investigating group began inquiring into the Brooklyn waterfront situation.
Marey Protter, another Brooklyn lawyer, said Panto had told him of the extortion which took 40 to 50 per cent, of a wharf laborer’s wages at the price of his job.
Mr. Edward Heffernan, who was Assistant District Attorney to Mr. William O’Dwyer, testified about a statement he had taken from a racketeer named “Tick Tock” Tannenbaum.
In the statement Tannenbaum related a conversation he had with Mandy Weiss, a member of Murder Inc. Weiss described taking part in the assault immediately preceding the killing of Peter Panto.
Tells of Killing
Tannenbaum’s statement told of asking Weiss how he got the scratches on his hands and of Weiss replying, “We had a close one the other night.”
“I said, ‘Year,’ so he goes on to tell me that Ferraco, Anastasia and himself (Weiss) were in a house waiting for somebody to bring some Wop out there that they were supposed to kill and bury.”
The commissioners asked Heffernan what he had done with the Tannenbaum statement. He said he merely took the statement and put in in the Murder Inc. file in the District Attorney’s office.
“Did not you consider this absolute evidence of murder?” exclaimed the chairman of the commission, Judge Joseph Proskaeuer.
Heffernan did not give a direct answer.