Lucky Luciano, American Hero?
Source: associatedcontent.comHow the Underworld Helped Us Win WWII
Charles "Lucky" Luciano
While Naval Intelligence knew that organized crime had controlled the East Coast docks for years, they needed a way to enter that world and ask for help. Intelligence officers first approached gangster Meyer Lansky and asked him to meet with his close friend, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, the undisputed boss of organized crime in the United States. The object of this liaison was for Lucky and Lansky to help recruit informants on the East Coast docks. At that time, Luciano was serving a long sentence at Dannemora Prison in a remote part of New York State, up to 50 years for promoting prostitution. When Luciano agreed to help, the government's Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA) granted him unrestricted (and unrecorded) visits at Dannemora from friends, family, and business associates. "Operation Underworld" became the name of the OSS alliance with organized crime in its war effort.
After Luciano and Lansky put the word out on the docks, recruiting thousands of informants, the U-Boat attacks on merchant ships soon stopped. After the government was sure that Lucky had made good on his promise, they moved him from Dannemora Prison (then known as "the Siberia of America") to Great Meadow, a "country club" prison near Albany, the New York state capital.
In 1946, the government rewarded Luciano with a commuted sentence on condition that he then be deported to Italy after release. (Lucky had never been a naturalized American citizen.)
Charles "Lucky" Luciano never returned to the United States, except after death. His body was allowed to be buried at St. John's Cemetery in New York City.
"Lucky Luciano", Ron Nichols, Crime Library
"Lucky Luciano", Edna Buchanan, Time
"Bad Guys Done Good", Peter Pavia, New York Post
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