Drinking Makes You Nigh-Invulnerable

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I couldn’t decide to use this for RBM or the Mishka blog, so it’s posted on both. I hope they don’t mind.

Thanksgiving Eve, one of the most popular nights of the year for excessive drinking, has just passed and it got me to thinking about an alcoholic I had once read about, Michael Malloy, the victim of one of the most unusual murders in NYC history (I originally heard about him through the Primus song “You Can’t Kill Michael Malloy”). Malloy was an Irish immigrant who came over to NYC sometime in the early 1900s and quickly became an infamous drunk, but a cheerful one; besides his liver, he never hurt a soul. His watering-hole of choice was a speakeasy (Prohibition would not be repealed until December of 1933) at E. 177th St. in the Bronx, owned by a man named Anthony Marino. In 1932, Marino and three of Malloy’s speakeasy friends (Dan Kreisberg, Joseph Murphy, Frank Pasqua) were generous enough to insure him for nearly $2,000. Getting him to sign the policies was simple, they just waited until he was drunk and told him it was a petition that would help elect Marino for local office. The policies featured a double indemnity clause, so if Malloy just happened to have an accidental death, then double the value would be paid. Now, the “Murder Trust” (as the four men called themselves) just had to figure out how to bump off the 50 year old drunk.

It seemed simple enough; Malloy was known all over as a severe alcoholic, so any way he died could be framed to look like an accident. Marino began lining up free drink after drink in front of Malloy, day after day. Malloy would then stagger out of the bar and the boys would check the papers the next day, hoping to read about how Malloy had walked into traffic or choked on his own vomit. After a few weeks of this, they realized they had to take matters into their own hands. Marino began dosing Malloy’s drinks with antifreeze, horse liniment, rat poison, and turpentine. But Malloy would just comment on how odd it tasted, pass out, and come back the next day for more. For their next attempt, the Trust got Malloy soused, brought him to Claremont Park in the middle of winter (reports say it was 14 below), disrobed his top half, poured water all over him, and left him to freeze to death. Malloy stumbled into Marino’s the next day complaining of a cold.

The Trust then hired a professional, hitman Anthony “Tough Tony” Bastone. Bastone was going for the accident angle and hired taxi-driver Harry Green to take Malloy out to a deserted intersection. Green accelerated to 45 mph as Marino and Bastone held Malloy up. It was a direct hit and the boys sped off, leaving Malloy a bloody mess in the street. After a brief stay in the hospital, the ever-optimistic Malloy limped back into Marino’s, eager to hang out with his pals.

February 22, 1933 – Enough was enough. The Trust began serving Malloy drinks of pure wood alcohol. Malloy quickly fell unconscious and they carried him up to Murphy’s apartment. Pasqua inserted a rubber hose down the throat of Malloy. The other end was hooked up to a wall gas jet. During the trial of the Murder Trust, Kreisberg stated that he “could hear the sizzling sound” of escaping vapors. Malloy was finally dead.

It didn’t take long for the insurance companies to figure out they were being duped. Green the taxi-driver went to jail. Pasqua, Marino, and Kreisberg were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison on June 7, 1934. Murphy also went to the chair on July 5, 1934. And I need a drink.

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