Abe Wagner was a lower east thug / smuggler who presented himself as the quintessential Jewish prick, the new “Kid Dropper,” he told people; Dropper is a tough New York City Jewish gang leader who bought the ranch himself in 1923. Wagner thought he was such a tough guy that he once beat up the son of Italian mob boss Joe “The Boss” Masseria. , and then he told the boy to go home and show his father what Abe Wagner had done. Fortunately for Wagner, Masseria was shot and killed before he could avenge his son’s indignity.
Wagner and his brother Allie made their living in the smuggling business on the Lower East Side when the upstart Mazza gang decided to move out and take over their operations. On February 20, 1932, Wagner was traveling down Suffolk Street in his new car. As Wagner walked slowly past the numerous carts on the street, half a dozen shooters appeared out of nowhere and opened fire. While his car was being turned into Swiss cheese, Wagner was somehow able to roll out the passenger door and then run off down the busy street.
Not being the bravest of souls as he claimed, Wagner decided to make peace with his enemies. He sent his partner Harry Brown and his brother Albie to the Mazza gang headquarters at the Hatfield Hotel on the Upper East Side. “See if you can pay them,” Wagner said. The two men arrived at the Hatfield Hotel with a large sum of money. The Mazzas accepted the cash, but then killed Albie Wagner, leaving Harry Brown alive, so he could deliver the message to Abe Wagner, that no peace could be made until old Abe was dead too.
Wagner’s mother, Paulie, was mortified that her youngest son, Albie, was killed and did not want Abe to suffer the same fate. “Take Goldie (Abe’s wife) and go somewhere for a while,” Mama Wagner told her son. “Go now so I don’t worry. Hurry.”
Wagner did as his mother told him and quickly left town. A month later, the baby Lindberg was abducted in Hopewell, NJ, and Wagner was immediately a suspect. “We have a tip that Wagner was seen in the vicinity of Hopewell about a month before the kidnapping,” said Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Chief of the New Jersey State Police.
Police could not find Wagner, but the Mazza Gang, now aligned with Lucky Luciano, had dozens of eyes and eyes and feet on the ground across the country, and they set this apparatus in motion. After Wagner chilled out with his wife at various locations outside of town, he decided to sneak back to New York City to see his mother. He was at his mother’s apartment for a few hours, when Mama Wagner learned that her son had been seen. “Go quickly,” he said. “Do not wait.”
Wagner picked up his wife and headed west, stopping in St. Paul, Minnesota. He changed his identity to Abe Loeb and decided to venture into the fruit business. Within weeks, the Mazza Gang had located Wagner, and Luciano got in touch with his old friends Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, who, along with Louie “Lepke” Buchalter, had formed a neat business called Murder Incorporated, which was made up of a group nasty hit man. To rent. They sent two of their best men, Joseph Shaefer and George Young, to St. Paul to push the Wagner button. Both men were already on the run, for killing federal agent John J. Finiello, during a raid two years earlier at an illegal brewery in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Both men also knew St. Paul intimately, as it was one of their hiding places during their two years on the run.
On July 25, 1932, Wagner and his new partner Al Gordon left a pharmacy on University Avenue after filling a prescription. They were followed by Schaefer and Young, who were riding in a dark green Packard. Suddenly, the hitmen jumped out of the car and started shooting. Gordon died instantly, but Wagner was only injured. He ran for his life down University Avenue and then turned onto Snelling Avenue. The gunmen caught up with Wagner as he ran toward the Green Dragon Restaurant. There, in front of witnesses, they shot him six times and then hit him on the head with the butts of their guns just in case. Wagner died hours later at Ancker Hospital and the gunmen were arrested by a patrol car passing minutes later on Roy Street. They were tried and found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, despite attempts by Lansky and Siegel, who spent thousands of dollars to help them avoid the death penalty.
St. Paul police did not identify the dead “Loeb” as the fugitive Wagner. As a result, the following Thursday, Mama Wagner held a “press conference” at her Rutgers Street apartment. She told reporters, “My son Alie was killed in St. Paul last Monday. The same killers killed him as they killed my Allie here. I knew they would. But why? Why? My son always he was so good to me. “
As proof of his son’s murder, he showed a telegram from Wagner’s wife, Goldie, asking him to send her twenty-five dollars so she could transport Wagner back to New York for a proper burial. “That was all the money he had,” said Mama Wagner. “If it wasn’t my son, why would he receive the telegram?”