Boston Underworld

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 11, 2018

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Submitted: November 11, 2018



Harry J. "Doc" Sagansky was one of Boston's most connected underworld figures, even though he had no gunmen. He was a major figure in gambling circles. Every so often, usually just before elections, police would raid his gambling joints and pictures such as the one below of this lineup would appear in the newspaper.

A trained dentist, Doc became incredibly wealthy. During one police raid in Charlestown in 1943, cops discovered a life-insurance policy on once-and-future mayor James Michael Curley. Between political offices, Curley had apparently gone to Doc Jasper for a loan, and for collateral, Sagansky had insisted on being named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.

In those days, Doc Jasper owned nightclubs as well as three racetracks. According to reports, he employed as many as 3000 people. After his organized-crime hearings in 1950, Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver concluded that Sagansky in the 1940's was "perhaps the principal gambling racketeers" in New England.

After the fall of the Angiulos in the late 1980's, Doc Jasper, now in his late 80's was brought in by the new Mafia bosses to their bakery in the Prudential Center, which the FBI had bugged. He was accompanied by Moe Weinstein, his associate, who was in his 70s.

The new, younger, dumber hoods told Sagansky he was going to have to pay more for "protection". He pointed out to them that his numbers business had basically been destroyed by the Mass. State Lottery, and offered to turn everything over to the Mafia, free of charge.

No, they said, we want $75,000, and we're keeping Moe until you come up with the dough. The Mafioso then put Doc and Moe in the back room, also bugged by the FBI, where they could decide what to do. Doc Sagansky asked Moe what he thought.

" I guess you're going to have to pay it," Moe Weinstein said.

The next morning, Sagansky delivered a bag with $75,000 in cash to the Parker House. Later, he was called before a federal grand jury but refused to reveal what had happened. At the age of 90, he was slapped with an 18- month sentence for contempt, which he served, and then returned to Boston. He died in 1998 at the age of 101.

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