Dewey Defeats Lucky
Lucky Luciano was a high-profile gangster. Unlike the low-key Meyer Lan-sky, Mr. Lucky was often seen at the trendiest nightclubs hobnobbing with the glitterati of the day. The high life took its toll. Prostitution was one of his many rackets, and his familiarity with the prostitutes gave him multiple bouts of gonorrhea and syphilis. When the Mafia ventured into the drug business, Lucky Luciano made sure that he got as many of the prostitutes hooked on heroin as he could, to better control them. This also made them turn their profits right back to him to feed their addiction. But the law was growing impatient with the mob run amok. The government went after Lucky Luci-ano in the form of Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey.
Thomas Dewey aggressively went after the prostitution racket in New York. And while his attention to the vice was admirable, he also had certain political aspirations that a well-publicized campaign could help bring about. During the early part of his campaign, forty brothels were raided and 100 or so women were arrested. Many of them told sad tales of their lives and their many abuses at the hands of the syndicate. Soon Luciano had a large group of women spilling the beans to the law. Dewey saw this as an opportunity to take down the biggest mobster in town, but more importantly, get him the publicity he was craving. He started compiling an airtight indictment.
Feeling the heat, Luciano decided to take in the waters at Hot Springs, Arkansas. Just before Lucky went there, famed English gangster Owney “the Killer” Madden left New York and opened up a hotel. Over the years it became a de facto hideout for gangsters on the lam, as well as those looking to get some relaxation at one of the many spas. Not soon after Luciano arrived, he was arrested. They shipped him back to New York and he was put on trial. The sensational news media covered it all breathlessly, eagerly awaiting each day's testimony. In the end, he was convicted and sentenced to thirty to fifty years in prison.
Dewey's political career soared after his prosecution of Luciano. He was elected as governor of New York State three times and ran for president three times, albeit unsuccessfully. After his last term as governor, he started a private law practice. He died in 1971.
In the Big House
Luciano was sent to the Clinton State Prison in upstate New York. The prison is also referred to as Dannemora, and was not considered to be as “comfortable” as Ossining, known in the vernacular as “Sing-Sing,” just a few miles north of Manhattan. Lucky was assigned number 92169 and put to work in the laundry room. In short order he went from laundering ill-gotten booty to washing other convict's clothes.
Dannemora was not a model modern rehabilitation facility. It was positively medieval, with none of the amenities to which Mr. Big had grown accustomed. However, his influential pals on the outside saw to it that he had certain privileges.