Abe Bernstein (c. 1892 – March 7, 1968) was a Detroit, Michigan gangster and a leader of the infamous Prohibition-era Purple Gang with his brothers Joseph Bernstein, Raymond Bernstein, and Isadore Bernstein. Born in New York, Abe Bernstein and his brothers moved to Detroit in their youth. During their teenage years, they joined a juvenile street gang that was the precursor to the adult Purple Gang. By the beginning of Prohibition, Bernstein and his brothers had emerged as leading members of the gang.
As the Purple Gang members grew older, they quickly gained a reputation along the Detroit waterfront as ruthless and violent hijackers. However, they normally attracted little attention from police as their victims were usually either rumrunners or rival gangs such as the Little Jewish Navy.
Bernstein and the others soon formed an association with longtime mobsters Charles Leiter and Henry Shorr who were working exclusively as enforcer for the two by the early 1920s.
Bernstein and several other members were later arrested three days after the murder of Detroit policeman Vivian Welsh. Although the Chevrolet coupe used in his murder was traced to Bernstein's brother Raymond, Abe was released to due to lack of evidence. This decision may have resulted from press reports that alleged the deceased Welsh had extorted money from independent bootleggers and speakeasy operator. Abe and other gang members were under continual police surveillance. Several years later, Raymond was convicted of first degree murder in a different case.
In March 1928, Bernstein was arrested and charged with conspiracy to extort money from the city's wholesale dry cleaners industry. Arrested and charged with Bernstein were Purple Gang members Raymond Bernstein, Irving Milberg, Eddie Fletcher, Joe Miller, Irving Shapiro, Abe Kaminsky, and brothers Abe and Simon Axler. Police were initially unable to locate Bernstein; he had been attending the mobster Atlantic City Conference with Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Returning several days later, Bernstein surrendered to authorities and posted a $500 bail bond. Beginning June 4, 1928, forty-two witnesses testified over a three month period before Judge Charles Bowles. All the defendants were acquitted of all charges.
Involvement in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre
Bernstein, a chief supplier of Canadian whiskey to Chicago Outfit leader Al Capone, is also suspected to have been involved in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Bernstein supposedly set up North Side Gang leader George "Bugs" Moran for a murder attempt by Capone by selling him a recently hijacked liquor shipment and delivering it to a North Side warehouse. On February 13, 1929, seven North Side gunmen waiting for the liquor shipment were instead killed by Capone gunmen at that warehouse. However, the real target, Bugs Moran, never arrived.
Bernstein, who had begun branching out to other major cities in the country during the mid-1920s, eventually became an associate of New York mobsters Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky, later became a partner in several syndicate gambling casinos in Miami until his death on March 7, 1968.
Siegel was active during the 1910s until the 1940s. New York mobster associated with Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello and Charles Lucky Luciano during Prohibition. Credited for the creation of syndicate casinos in Las Vegas during the 1940s.
Zwerbach was active during the 1890s-1900s. New York gangster and head of the Eastman Gang after the arrest of Monk Eastman in 1904. Engaging in a feud with the Five Points Gang, he and his bodyguard were gunned down by Louie the Lump at Coney Island in 1908.
Abe Reles, known as Kid Twist, was active from 1921-1940. He was one of the most feared hitmen of Murder Incorporated during the 1930s, he later became a government witness and was responsible for sending many of his former partners to the electric chair. Relse died under suspicious circumstances while in protective custody in 1941.
Active during the 1920s-1930s. New York mobster and enforcer for labor racketeer Nathan Kaplan, and later Louis Buchalter and Jacob Shapiro during the 1920s and 30s.
Tannenbaum was an active gangster during the 1920s until the 1950s. He was the enforcer and hitman for Lepke Buchalter during the 1920s and 30s. As member of Murder Inc., he was responsible for the 1939 murder of Harry Greenberg.
Lepke was an active mobster during the 1910s until the1940s. New York labor racketeer who dominated the Lower East Side with Jacob Shapiro during the 1920s and 30s. Later headed Murder Inc. and was eventually sent to the electric chair at Sing Sing for his role in the organization. He is the only major mobster to be executed by the state.
Bernstein was an active gangster during the 1910s to the 1960s. He was a Detroit mobster and leader of The Purple Gang. After the end of Prohibition, he ran syndicate gambling operations in Miami up until his death in 1968.
NY multi-millionaire who made his money on parking garages. In 1999, Hirschfeld stood trial for tax evasion and hiring a hitman to kill his partner. Juries deadlocked. New charges have been filed. This has not stoppped Abe from running for Senate from NY--stating "Hillary Clinton couldnt please one man; how can she please the State?". Puts a whole new spin on the phrase "pressing the flesh".
Active during the 1920s-1930s. Lieutenant of New York mobster Dutch Schultz.
Active during the 1910s-1950s. Prohibition gangster. Popularly known as the "Al Capone of New Jersey", he was a founding member of the "Big Seven" Ruling Commission. He was also associated with Murder Inc.