Does anyone believe that there are individuals who are born without a conscience? There was one individual who was so ruthless and feared that he would earn the reputation as the most notorious mobster in United States history.
This individual was Albert Anastasia, the founder of the Italian American Mafia, or sometimes referred to as Cosa Nostra. He ran Murder, Inc. during the prewar era and during most of the 1950s.
On March 17, 1921, Albert was convicted of murdering a fellow worker. Although sentenced to death and sent to Sing Sing State Prison to await execution, he won a retrial in 1922 because four of the original prosecution witnesses had disappeared. Consequently, Albert was released from prison.
By the late 1920s, Anastasia had become the leader of the International Longshoremen’s Association controlling six union local chapters in Brooklyn. Anastasia associated himself with such unsavory characters as Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Vito Genovese, and Frank Costello.
By 1930 Anastasia had taken over the other organized crime rackets in New York by destroying competing Mafia heads. Anastasia aligned himself with Luciano and together gained control of all of New York. With Luciano as the leader, he reorganized all of New York’s mafia into its current Five Families.
Anastasia was appointed underboss of the crime family.
To reward Anastasia’s loyalty, Luciano placed him in control of the Syndicate’s enforcement arm, Murder, Inc. It is estimated that Murder, Inc. was responsible for between 400 and 1000 murders, many of which were never solved.
Anastasia was never prosecuted for any of these murders. It is believed by many that he “delegated” many of these murders since as the underboss of a family, he had his own killers to use if needed.
On June 7, 1936, Luciano was convicted on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution. He received a sentence of between 30 to 50 years.
During World War II, Anastasia is reported to have won a pardon for Luciano by helping the war effort. By controlling the docks of New York, there was no sabotage. In addition, Luciano assisted in the Allies' invasion of Sicily by using Italian spies to infiltrate both Italian and German army units.
A power struggle ensued, with a gangster by the name of Genovese seeking to take power over all of the Mafia families. The power struggle was settled with Gambino taking control.
Anastasia was slowly losing his influence under Mafia head Gambino’s leadership, and on the morning of October 25, 1957, he was assassinated in a barbershop in Manhattan. No one was ever charged in the case.