NEW YORK: Nine Hundred & Forty Thieves

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Albert Anastasia, a murderous slob in clubman's clothes, dropped in at the New York State Crime Commission hearings on waterfront corruption one afternoon last week. It was a most dramatic moment. As "Lord High Executioner" of Brooklyn's old Murder, Inc., Anastasia superintended the assassinations of 63 of his fellowmen; as a tycoon of crime, today he is the very epitome of these violent, callous and imperious criminals whose word is the only law on Greater New York's 770 miles of piers.

Crowds lined the corridors of New York County Courthouse and murmured as Anastasia strode through. He stared at them with hard contempt—and at the attendants who held them back and at the glare of flashbulbs touched off by his entrance. As a witness he was relaxed and polite. With pudgy fingers he smoothed his suit, touched his conservative black necktie. He was, he said in the hoarse voice of illiteracy and command, a dress manufacturer. Then, save for a few innocuous questions, he quit answering. He departed as imperiously as he had entered.

But his silence only dramatized the investigations being conducted simultaneously by the commission and a Brooklyn grand jury; all week long, the two groups pitchforked up vast, reeking chunks of long-buried evidence on the rackets which bleed a third of a billion dollars a year from the world's greatest port. Amid this sensational expose of crooked politicos, corrupt cops, grafting labor leaders and swaggering gangsters in New Jersey and. New York, Anastasia emerged as a star performer despite himself. The ghost of Peter Panto, an insurgent longshoreman whose body was found in a New Jersey lime pit eleven years ago, came to haunt him—and to haunt New York's ex-Mayor Bill O'Dwyer.

How Panto Died. It was O'Dwyer, as a politically ambitious prosecutor in Brooklyn, who publicly promised justice in the case of Panto. It was O'Dwyer who finally let Anastasia, the killer, go free for lack of evidence after Star Witness Abe ("Kid Twist") Reles "jumped or fell" from a Coney Island hotel room in which six New York cops stood guard. But last week the commission exhumed a report, buried by O'Dwyer, on the exact circumstances of Panto's death.

On Feb. 7, 1941, it developed, one of Murder, Inc.'s "soldiers" named Albert ("Tick-Tock") Tannenbaum told Edward Heffernan. an assistant D.A., about meeting a fellow hoodlum, Emanuel ("Mendy") Weiss, in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Tannenbaum noticed scratches on Weiss's hands and asked him how he had come by them. Weiss's story as told by Tannenbaum:

"He said, 'We had a close one the other night.' I said, 'Yeah?' So he goes on to tell me that [Jimmy] Ferraco and [Albert] Anastasia and himself were in a house waiting for somebody to bring some wop out there that they were supposed to kill and bury.

"He said, 'The guy just stepped into the door and must have realized what it was about and he tried to get out. He almost got out.' He said, 'It's a lucky thing I was there. If I wasn't there, he would have got away. I grabbed him and mugged him . . . and he started to fight and he tried to break the mug, and that's when he scratched me. But he didn't get away.'

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