100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Gangsters Found Guilty Of Murder In New York

Herman Rosenthal was a New York gangster who was being extorted by a corrupt police Lieutenant Charles Becker. After he spoke to a journalist about police corruption and was called to testify to a grand jury, Rosenthal was gunned down in the street in front of a hotel.


In July 1912 Becker was arrested by special detectives from the District Attorney’s Office. In August 1912 Becker was indicted by a grand jury for the killing of Herman Rosenthal along with the gunmen and others. Jack Zelig was the head of the Monk Eastman Gang. It was Zelig’s men that committed the murder of Herman Rosenthal at Becker request. Zelig was to testify against Becker and his gang members for leniency but in October 1912 two days before Becker’s trial is to begin Zelig received an anonymous phone call requesting his presence. Zelig jumped on the uptown trolley. While riding the trolley Zelig was shot behind the ear and killed a man with a police revolver.

In October 1912 Becker’s trial opened with Judge John W Goff presiding. Judge Goff had no tolerance for corruption and had earned a reputation for being one of the toughest judges to sit on the New York bench. District Attorney Whitman’s main witness was Bald Jack Rose also called “Cue Ball Rose” due to his bald head.

Becker said to me: “There is only one thing to do with a fellow like Rosenthal—just stop him so that he will not bother anybody any more for all time.” I said: “What do you mean?” He said: “Well, there is a fellow that ought to be put off the earth.” “Why,” I says, “I agree with you. He is no account.” He said: “Well, no use saying he is no account, and all of that, but the idea is now to do something to him.” I says: “What do you mean?” and he said: “There is a fellow I would like to have croaked.” And Becker said: “I don’t want him beat up. I could do that myself. I could have a warrant for any gambling house that he frequents and make a raid on that place and beat him up for resisting arrest or anything else. No beating up will fix that fellow, a dog in the eyes of myself, you, and everybody else. Nothing for that man but taken off this earth. Have him murdered, cut his throat, dynamited, or anything.”

Throughout the trial Becker’s defense attorney John McIntire was hampered by Judge Goff interference refusing to allow Rose to be questioned about his criminal associations and even advising the witness when to plead the Fifth Amendment. Becker was found guilty and sentenced to death in the electric chair. The actual killers of Rosenthal went to trial after Becker.

On November 20, 1912 Becker’s accomplices in the Rosenthal murders – Frank Cirofici, “Whitey” Lewis, Harry “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz, and “Lefty” Louis Rosenberg were found guilty of first degree murder.

“Lefty Louie” Rosenberg and “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz in court

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