Buchalter, Louis

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BUCHALTER, LOUIS ("Lepke "; 1897–1944), U.S. racketeer. At the age of 18 he embarked on a criminal career. After serving three years in Sing Sing prison on two burglary convictions, he turned to racketeering, commanding 200 gangsters, who extorted millions of dollars from his victims. He "protected" manufacturers from strikes and unionization of their shops by intimidating workers and using strong-arm measures. He forced unions to do his bidding by installing his own business agents or by creating his own rival unions. In 1933 Buchalter was arrested for violating an anti-trust law. Found guilty, he was fined and sentenced, but a higher court reversed the decision and he was freed on bail. He went into hiding, but in 1939 he surrendered to fbi Director J. Edgar Hoover at a rendezvous arranged by the radio commentator Walter Winchell. He was tried on a narcotics charge and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, during which he was returned to New York City to be tried on a charge of murder committed in 1936. He was found guilty and executed.


G. Tyler, Organized Crime in America (1962); F. Kennedy, The Enemy Within (1960); D. Whitehead, The fbi Story (1956), 109ff.

[Morton Mayer Berman]