Waxey Gordon

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Waxey Gordon
Irving Wexler

January 19, 1888
Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
DiedJune 24, 1952(1952-06-24) (aged 64)
Alcatraz Island, California, United States
Occupation Bootlegger, racketeer
Conviction(s) Tax evasion, Narcotics trafficking
Criminal penalty10 years, 25 years

Waxey Gordon (born Irving Wexler; January 19, 1888 June 24, 1952) was an American gangster who specialized in bootlegging and illegal gambling. An associate of Arnold Rothstein during prohibition, he was caught up in a power struggle following Rothstein's death. Fellow Rothstein associates Charles Luciano and Meyer Lansky provided authorities with evidence that led to his imprisonment for ten years.

Rum-running illegal business of smuggling alcoholic beverages

Rum-running, or bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting (smuggling) alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law. Smuggling usually takes place to circumvent taxation or prohibition laws within a particular jurisdiction. The term rum-running is more commonly applied to smuggling over water; bootlegging is applied to smuggling over land.

Arnold Rothstein Jewish American mobster

Arnold Rothstein nicknamed "the Brain", was an American racketeer, businessman and gambler who became a kingpin of the Jewish mob in New York City. Rothstein was widely reputed to have organized corruption in professional athletics, including conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series. He was also a mentor of future mafia boss Lucky Luciano.

Prohibition in the United States constitutional ban on alcoholic beverages

Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.


Youth and early career

He was born Irving Wexler to Polish Jewish immigrant parents in New York's Lower East Side on January 19, 1888. 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 lined with wax. In 1914, he participated in a gang fight that resulted in the death of a court clerk named Samuel Straus. Wexler was put on trial for the crime but acquitted by a jury in February 1917. [1]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Lower East Side Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Lower East Side, sometimes abbreviated as LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan, roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street. Traditionally an immigrant, working class neighborhood, it began rapid gentrification in the mid-2000s, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America's Most Endangered Places.

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.

Prohibition and decline

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 whisky over the Canada–United States 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 in prominent Manhattan hotel suites, as well as owning mansions built for him in New York and Philadelphia.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its biggest city being Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

Canada–United States border international border between Canada and the USA

The Canada–United States border, officially known as the International Boundary, is the longest international border in the world between two countries. It is shared between Canada and the United States, the second- and fourth/third largest countries by area, respectively. The terrestrial boundary is 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi) long, of which 2,475 kilometres (1,538 mi) is Canada's border with Alaska. Eight Canadian provinces and territories, and thirteen U.S. states are located along the border.

Rothstein died in 1928 and Gordon's position began to decline. [2] 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 interim United States Attorney Thomas E. Dewey with information leading to Gordon's conviction on charges of tax evasion in 1933. [3]

The National Crime Syndicate was the name given by the press to the multi-ethnic, loosely connected American confederation of several criminal organizations, a confederation that mostly consisted of the closely interconnected Italian-American Mafia and Jewish mob but also included to various lesser extents Irish-American criminal organizations and other ethnic crime groups. The name's origins are uncertain.

Lucky Luciano Italian-American mobster

Charles "Lucky" Luciano was an influential Italian-born mobster, criminal mastermind, and crime lord who operated mainly in the United States. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States for the establishment of the first Commission. He was also the first official boss of the modern Genovese crime family. He was, along with his associates, instrumental in the development of the National Crime Syndicate.

Louis Buchalter 20th-century American mobster

Louis Buchalter was an American mobster and head of the Mafia hit squad Murder, Inc. during the 1930s. Buchalter was one of the premier labor racketeers in New York City during that era.

Gordon had a large million-dollar operation that included many trucks, buildings, processing plants, and associated employees and his business front could not account for this ownership and cash flow and he paid no taxes on it. Gordon was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. At this time he was married to a rabbi's daughter and their son was in medical school. This son died in a weather-related automobile accident while traveling from an out-of-town college planning to plead with the judge for leniency with his father's sentence. Gordon had tried to insulate his otherwise respectable family from his organized crime career and incident greatly shocked their relations, and great stress was put on the deteriorating marriage.

An income tax is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) that varies with respective income or profits. Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times taxable income. Taxation rates may vary by type or characteristics of the taxpayer.

In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. The basic form of the rabbi developed in the Pharisaic and Talmudic era, when learned teachers assembled to codify Judaism's written and oral laws. The first sage for whom the Mishnah uses the title of rabbi was Yohanan ben Zakkai, active in the early-to-mid first century CE. In more recent centuries, the duties of a rabbi became increasingly influenced by the duties of the Protestant Christian minister, hence the title "pulpit rabbis", and in 19th-century Germany and the United States rabbinic activities including sermons, pastoral counseling, and representing the community to the outside, all increased in importance.

A medical school is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians and surgeons. Such medical degrees include the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Doctor of Medicine (MD), or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Many medical schools offer additional degrees, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), Master's degree (M.Sc), a physician assistant program, or other post-secondary education.

Later career

Upon Gordon's release from prison, 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." He moved to California, a single man, and during World War II he was able to obtain 10,000 lbs of scarce, coupon-rationed sugar to sell on the black market. FBI investigations revealed he had high-level international narcotics connections, and was given the U.S. West Coast as a protected territory for distribution of imported illegal drugs since he lost his bootlegging business on the East Coast.

In 1951, Gordon was arrested for selling heroin to an undercover police officer. [4] The 62-year-old gangster reportedly offered the detective all his money in exchange for his release. When the detective refused, Gordon jokingly pleaded with the detective to kill him instead of arresting him for "peddling junk." Gordon was later convicted, and due to his long criminal record was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment in Alcatraz, where he died of a heart attack on June 24, 1952.

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  1. "'Waxy' Gordon goes free" (PDF). New York Times. February 17, 1917. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  2. "Gangsters Shoot Arnold Rothstein. Notorious Gambler in Serious Condition After Attack on New York Street". The Atlanta Constitution. Associated Press. November 5, 1928. Retrieved 2012-08-16. Arnold Rothstein, millionaire gambler and race track man, was seriously wounded by a shot fired from a passing automobile tonight as he was walking up Seventh avenue near Fifty-fifth street.(subscription required)
  3. "Waxey Gordon Says He Paid Income Tax. Racketeer Is Nervous in Court as He Pleads Not Guilty. Says 'Sir' to Police. Heard Two Aides Shot. Tells of Noise in Jersey Hotel at Time of Murders. Fails to Get $100,000 Bail". The New York Times . May 23, 1933. p. 11. Retrieved 2012-08-16. Irving Wexler, better known as Waxey Gordon, wealthy beer distributer and all-round racketeer, pleaded not guilty to income-tax evasion yesterday. He appeared before Judge Goddard in Federal Court and was held in $100,000 bail until June 5, when a trial date may be set. ...(subscription required)
  4. "Narcotics Agents Nab Waxey Gordon. Racketeer, 3 Other Men Held After 8-Month Investigation. Had Heroin in His Hand". The New York Times . August 3, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 2012-08-16. Waxey Gordon, beer baron of prohibition days, was arrested last night with three other men as a narcotics law violator.(subscription required)

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