Lucky Luciano

In 1936, legendary New York gangster Lucky Luciano, dubbed "the czar of organized crime" by special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, was convicted on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution and sentenced to a term of 30 to 50 years in prison.

"It took Hitler to win Lucky his freedom. After Pearl Harbor, German U-boats off the U.S. coast were sinking merchant ships regularly. U.S. intelligence suspected they were aided by spies or Nazi sympathizers. Then the Normandie, a French liner being retrofitted into a troop ship, sank in the Hudson River, sparking fears of sabotage. Stymied intelligence agents turned to the underworld for help. Lansky, known in the '30s for breaking heads at pro-Nazi meetings, acted as liaison and was allowed to visit Luciano. Lucky put the word out to cooperate, and formerly mute dockworkers, fishermen and hoodlums became the eyes and ears of naval intelligence. Soon eight German spies, who had landed by U-boat, were arrested, and explosives, maps and blueprints for sabotage were seized."

[On V-E day in 1945, Luciano's lawyer petitioned for clemency, citing his contributions to the war effort. Luciano (who also provided the Allies with intelligence prior to the invasion of Italy) was freed (and deported) in February 1946.]

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