It started out as a simple dockworker, aimed to start on a large scale and was known as the "King of Rum Runners". Big Bill Dwyer made so much money, he was a partner with known gangsters in several swanky nightclubs in New York. Dwyer also owned two professional hockey teams, including the Americans in New York, and was the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers football team. However, in the end, when Big Bill Dwyer died, he died from the spotlight and broke flat.
William Vincent Dwyer was born in 1883 in the Hells Kitchen area of western New York City. Two bands, Hudson Dusters and Gophers, led Hell's Kitchen at the time, but Dwyer avoided joining both bands and instead took a job on the docks as a steward for International Longshoremen's Union (ILU).
While working on the docks, Dwyer started his own house-building operation. After the Volstead Act was adopted in 1919, banning the distribution of alcohol, with the money he made from the bookmaker, Dwyer branched out into the boot business. Dwyer purchased a fleet of steel-plated speedboats, each with a mounted machine gun, in case scammers tried to hijack a shipment. Dwyer also purchased several large running vessels that were needed to unload the illegal storm from any boat they supplied.
Dwyer traveled to Canada, England and the Caribbean to liaise with those who sold him the liquor he needed to smuggle in the United States. Then, Dwyer set up a system whereby his ships would meet ships, which supplied his liquor, many miles offshore. There, the humidifier was transferred to Dwyer's ships, then quickly transported to Dwyer's speedboats, which were closer to the shore of New York City.
The speedboats were unloaded at docks, which were protected by ILU Local 791, of which Dwyer was a charter member. From the docks, the liquor was moved to several warehouses in the New York area. When the time came, trucks dumped alcohol and protected by the convoy of team members, hauling hotspots across the country: heavy transportation to Florida, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati and as far as New. Orleans.
Dwyer managed to smuggle large amounts of smugglers into New York because he knew one simple fact: you had to bribe the police and the Coast Guard if you wanted to be successful in the boot business. And that's what Dwyer did, handing out thousands of dollars to those who needed to be anointed.
New York cops' pay was easy. The cops who did not have their hands out for graft money were very few among them. However, Dwyer was particularly adept at recruiting Coast Guard members to look the other way when his speedboats entered New York's waters.
Dwyer's first contact was Coast Guard Officer Olsen. Through Olsen, Dwyer met thousands of coast guards, the "Guards" he called, who might be willing to take bribes. Dwyer would bring these guards in the bright lights of New York, where he would feed them sumptuous meals, take them to Broadway shows, and even get them a cramped hotel room occupied by the lady of choice. , which Dwyer would also pay. Once a Guardian took a bribe from Dwyer, he was told he could earn hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars more if he could enlist other Guardsmen to help protect Dwyer's shipments.
Soon, Dwyer made so much money by bootlegging, he is considered the largest distributor of illegal alcohol in the entire United States. However, Dwyer had a huge problem, which he needed help solving. Whenever one of his trucks left New York to distribute smugglers to other parts of the country, they were vulnerable to being confiscated by the hundreds of hijackers operating throughout the country. Dwyer knew how to stop this from happening to partners – members of the Italian mafia and Jewish mafia. Because he made millions in profits, Dwyer didn't bother and could certainly afford to share his wealth. The problem was that Dwyer was no more than a businessman and not a gangster himself. Dwyer needed someone from the underworld who could make the contacts Dwyer needed to keep working, without fear of being hijacked.
Almost by accident, that person fell right into Dwyer's lap. In 1924, two of Dwyer's transports were diverted to New York State. Dwyer leaned on the police officers on his payroll to find out who was responsible for the kidnapping. Soon, Word returned to Dwyer that the perpetrator, who was arrested for kidnapping, was none other than Owney Madden, an Irishman himself, who grew up in Liverpool, England, before emigrating to New York as a teenager. Madden was a vicious spouse nicknamed the "Killer" and had once ruled Gopher's criminal gang in Hell's Kitchen.
Dwyer paid who needed to be paid for the expenses to be reduced against Madden, with the command: "Get me Owney Madden. I want to talk to him. I have a business proposal that we need to discuss. "
Madden gave his word on who his benefactor was and that a meeting with Dwyer was expected instead. The two men met at Dwyer's office in Loew & # 39; s State Building in Times Square. There is no record or transcript of this meeting, but T.J. The Englishman, in his masterpiece about Irish gangsters, called Paddy Whacked, said the conversation between Madden and Dwyer could have happened something like this:
– You have a problem, Madden would have told Dwyer. "Gangsters got you off the truck like sitting ducks and what are you going to do about it?"
"That's why I called you here."
"You have to organize the shooters and the cherries, not to mention bulls (policemen) and policemen (politicians)."
"You're right. I need the diversion to stop me. I need a place to make my own drink right here in the city. Protected by the Tiger and the cops. And I need outlets – speakeasies, clubs by night, you call him. "
"You need a lot, my friend.
"You're with me?"
"Give me a reason why."
"I can make you rich."
"Pal, you and I are two peas in a pod."
And this was the beginning of the Irish New York City mob, which would then join Italian and Jewish mobsters to control the booting activity throughout the United States. The grouping of the three ethnic groups was known as "Combine".
With Dwyer's millions, Madden oversaw the creation of the Phoenix cereal beverage company, located at 26th and 10th Avenue, right in the heart of Hell's Kitchen, where both Madden and Dwyer had grown up. This red brick building, which encompassed the entire block, was originally the Clausen & Flanagan Brewery, which was created to produce and sell close-range beer, which no real beer drinker would let pass their lips. The beer brewed in Phoenix was called Madden's No. 1.
With Dwyer, practically the money man behind the scenes, Madden became the architect who created and nurtured their empire. Madden brought in a former taxi business owner, named Larry Fay, as the main man for several high-class units that were needed to sell Madden no. 1, plus all the scotch, rum, vodka, cognac and champagne that Combina was smuggled into the city. One of those places was El Fay at 107 West 54th Street.
The main attraction at El Fay was Texas Guinan, a talkative singer / comedian, who was later copied by May West. To encourage Guinan to work in El Fay, Madden and Dwyer made Guinan a partner. Guinan was famous for her seams, which she escaped from the claws of a clapper or crunch from a piercing whistle, as she sat on a high stool in the main room. Guinan's signature was saying "Hello Sucker," as he greeted all well-heeled clients at El Fay.
When a singer or dancer finished his show at El Fey, Guinan would urge the crowd to "Give your little one a great big hand!"
One day, a banning agent, who couldn't be bought by Madden or Dwyer, attacked El Fey. He turned to Guinan, put his hand on his shoulder and said to his agent colleague, "Give your little one a big handcuff.
Dwyer did what he did best, Guinan was released from prison, and El Fey soon jumped in again, making everyone involved really rich.
Madden and Dwyer also teamed up with former fashion designer Sherman Billingsley at the very fashionable Stork Club on East 53rd Street. The two Irish gangsters spread their wings in northern Manhattan when they bought Club De Luxe from former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. They introduced Big Frenchy De Mange as operating partner and changed the name to Cotton Club. At the Cotton Club, De Mange instituted an "Only White" admission policy, despite the fact that waiters, dancers and entertainers such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Nicholas Brothers, they were black.
However, the Cotton Club was wildly successful with the big spenders downtown, putting tons of money into Dwyer and Madden's pockets.
In 1925, Dwyer was arrested for trying to bribe Coast Guard members during a sting operation conducted by the Prohibition Bureau. Dwyer was sentenced to two years in prison, but was released after 13 months for good behavior. With Dwyer in the can, Frank Costello took over Dwyer's boot business.
While in prison, a hopeless Dwyer told one of his cellmates. "I wish I had never seen a case of whiskey. I spent years in the daily fear of my life, always waiting to be arrested, always dealing with crooks and double-crosses and now looking at me. My wife. mine is scary and I am worse than it was broken ”.
As we shall see, this was not the truth.
When Dwyer hit the streets again, he pulled away from the boot business, leaving running operations to Costello and Madden. In order to pass the time, Dwyer started investing in legitimate business, especially in sports teams.
In 1926, boxing promoter Tex Rickard connected Dwyer to the acquisition of the Hamilton Tigers of the National Hockey League. Dwyer did this and moved his team to Madison Square Garden in New York and renamed the Americans in New York. As smart as Dwyer is to run the bootlegging business, he was just as dumb as running a hockey team. His pockets bursting with money to load, Dwyer's strategy to win was to practically pay everyone on his team. With the regular hockey player making between $ 1500 and $ 2000 a year, Dwyer awarded Billy Burch a 3-year $ 25,000 contract. Shorty Green also got a huge raise when Dwyer awarded him a $ 5,000 contract a year.
An old scammer, Dwyer took an active part in leading his team, even going as far as trying to play games. Dwyer paid the judges to rule their team if they scored a goal if the puck only reached the goal line, instead of completely crossing the goal line, which was the rule.
At a 1927 game in Madison Square Garden, Dwyer's goalkeeping judge, for some unknown reason, began attacking Ottawa goalkeeper Alex Connell. Connell responded by closing his hockey stick in the nose of the gate judge. Dwyer was upset about the actions of the Ottawa goalkeeper (You don't handle one of Dwyer's employees), and Connell was told to leave town quickly after the game. A police detail took Connell to the train station and protected him until the train left the city safely. After the train left the station, a man asked Connell if it was Ottawa goalkeeper Alex Connell. Connell is afraid of his life, he told the stranger no. And as a result, he lived to lead other hockey games.
Dutch with a league rule that one person cannot own two hockey teams, in 1929, Dwyer, using former boxing champion Benny Leonard as his man, acquired the NHL Pirates from Pittsburgh. In 1930, Dwyer inserted his sunken fingers into the new formation of the National Football League, buying the Dayton Triangles for $ 2,500. Dwyer moved the team to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and renamed it the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In three years, Dwyer, who has paid off all his players again, began to lose so much money, sold the Brooklyn Dodgers two former New York Giant Football players: Chris Cagle and John Simms, for $ 25,000. Even though he sold the team 10 times more than he paid, Dwyer estimated he lost another $ 30,000 in the three years he owned the team.
In 1934, with sports teams from America (still owned by Americans in New York, but bleeding money), Dwyer bought the famous tropical horse racing track in Miami, Florida.
However, the roof fell on Dwyer, when in 1935, he was indicted on gambling charges. Dwyer beat that case, but then the government did what they did to Al Capone: they hit him with charges of tax evasion. The charges were blocked, and Dwyer was removed from all his property, except the Americans in New York, and a home in Belle Harbor, Queens. Almost without money, Dwyer no longer had the money to keep New York Americans on the line.
In 1937, the National Hockey League temporarily took control of the Americans in New York. To show the NHL he was a financial solvent, Dwyer borrowed $ 20,000 from Red Dutton. However, instead of paying his team's wages, Dwyer decided to try to multiply his money in a craps game. That didn't go well, when Dwyer got out of his chest and lost all twenty of his ancestors. Unable to pay his team, and failed to raise more capital, the NHL permanently knocked out Dwyer and took final control of the Americans in New York. Froggy and hopeless, Dwyer retreated to his home in Belle Harbor.
On December 10, 1943, Big Bill Dwyer, the "King of Romanian Runners" died at the age of 63. Dwyer was unpleasant at the time of his death, his only asset being the roof above his head.