Frank “The Dasher” Abbandando (1910-42). One of the most feared of professional killers, he worked from the later 1020′s and through the 1930′s as a hired killer for Murder, Inc. And, as the chief lieutenant of Harry “Happy” Maione, rackets boss of Ocean Hill, N.Y. He fell early into street crime, and while in his teens he was often arrested for extorting money from small shop owners under the threat of burning down their buildings. Abbandando was sent to many reform schools and while at the Elmira (N.Y.) Reformatory he proved to be a speedy second baseman, so quick on his feet that he was nicknamed “The Dasher”. Hardened and unconscionable by his early twenties, Abbandando worked with Maione in establishing gambling and loan sharking rackets. In 1931, they and fellow gangsters joined forces with Abe “Kid Twist” Reles, in battling the Shapiro Brothers of neighboring Brownsville to take control of the rackets there. To that end Abbandando, Reles, and Maione, and others shot Meyer & Irving Shapiro to death in 1931 and murdered the remaining Shapiro brother, Willie, in 1934. With the rise of this new gang, dubbed Brooklyn, Inc., Manhattan gangsters, overseeing vast empires of gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging, converted this fledgling organization into what later became known as murder, Inc., a troop of ruthless killers who would murder anyone at the orders of the bosses, Louis Capone and his boss, Albert Anastasia, the later acting as a supervisor to their gruesome assignments. Above Anastasia was Louis “Lepke” Buchalter , one of the designers of the US national crime syndicate. Abbandando was given dozens of murder assignments over a 10-year period and he obeyed orders without question, killing as many as 40 or more persons earmarked by mob bosses for eradication. He asked no questions, along with others, and happily pocketed the average $500 fee for each murder. The killer purchased a flashy wardrobe (he was partial to blue suits with broad stripes and red ties) and expensive roadsters. He would drive through the Brownsville and Ocean Hill neighborhoods, selecting young females to rape. When later asked about this at his murder trial, Abbandando grew indignant, denying he had ever raped anyone. A prosecutor pointed out one instance where the killer had all but admitted the sexual attack. Abandando’s reply was typical: “Well that one doesn’t count really-I married the girl later.” In 1940, Reles, the street boss of Murder, Inc., was arrested and charged with an old murder. Fearing that some of his cohorts, also picked up at the same time, may talk, Reles himself offered to turn informer and spewed forth a seemingly endless litany of brutal murder – scores of killing – performed by the legal troops of Murder, Inc., not the least of home were Frank Abbandando and Harry Maione. Both Abbandando and Maione were arrested and charged with slaying George “Whitey” Rudnick in a Brownsville, New York, garage on the night of May 25th, 1937.
As Abbandando and Maione stared daggers at their former boss, Relis related how they and he, along with others, murdered Rudnick, a loan shark whom they suspected of talking to the police. In horrific detail, relish described the killers stabbing the victim 63 times with ice picks, strangling him, and then crushing his head with a meat cleaver. Abbandando and Maione cursed Reles in court but denied having anything to do with any kind of murders when they took the witness stand. Abbandando’s conduct was consistent with his brutal, unrepentant nature. At one point he leaned close to preciding judge Franklin W. Taylor and snarled a whispering threat of death. Judge Taylor was not a man to be intimidated, having announced at the beginning of this sensational trial, the skull and crossbones of the underworld must come down. To Abbandando’s threat, judge Taylor merely ordered an officer to stand between him and the defendant until the killer finished his testimony.
The prosecution confronted Abbandando with his gruesome record, pointing out that he and others had attacked New York police officer Hampton Ferguson in 1928, kicking and beating him senseless before all the officers arrived to arrest them. (This was the offense for which Abbandando was sent to Elmira reformatory, ironically sentence at that time by the very judge Taylor who was now providing over his murder trial.) A series of killings were laid at Abbandando’s door but he denied having anything to do with them. It was pointed out that he, Maione, and Vito Gurino had shot to death one Feliz Esposito on February 9th 1939, simply because Esposito had agreed to testify in a long ago murder case; he had witnessed the killing of Vincenzo Manzi by a gangsta named Anthony Catone in 1922. Abbandando and others was signed to kill this man because mob bosses reasoned that if Esposito had been willing to testify 17 years earlier he might talk again.
Prosecutor Burton Turkus describe how Abbandando, on August 23rd 1939, along with Vito Gurino and Leo Tochi, kidnapped a 17 year old girl from Brownsville bar and gang raped her in a nearby hotel. Turkus outlines how Abbandando and others extorted thousands of dollars each month from the East New York Bakers Association and local 138 of the Teamsters Union. The recitation of rapes, murders, and extortion went on for hours. To all of this Abbandando shrugged ignorance saying he could not hear what the prosecution was saying: “I’m not deaf I just don’t hear so good.”
But the killer heard the names (and for the first time in any court room) of Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and Joe Adonis (Joseph Doto), who were reigning kingpins of the national crime syndicate at the time. Abbandando was particularly upset, outwardly annoyed, when he was linked to the infamous and ruthless killer Albert Anastasia who was Reles’ boss. “I never heard of Albert Anastasia!” he shouted, so loud that he could be heard in the hallway beyond the courtroom, perhaps to assure Anastasia’s eavesdropping goons that he had no intention of informing on the boss as Reles has done. But Abbandando went even further, playing the indignant citizen by adding, “How-how could you couple my name in the same breath?”
When he finished testifying, Abbandando gave the press section and oafish grin, as if to say that he considered the murder trial a waste of his time. In fact, he had predicted that no jury will find him or his friend Maione guilty of anything, so confident was the killer in the influence of his bosses Anastasia, Buchalter, and Adonis to “fix” the decision. At the beginning of the trial the Killer had boasted, “I’m going to be eating spaghetti at home on Sunday.”
The jury had another menu in mind, returning a verdict of first-degree murder against Abbandando, and Maione for killing Rudnick. Though the Court of Appeals later overturned this verdict, both men were retried and found guilty, being sentenced to death. When they were finally shipped to sing sing to await execution in the electric chair, Abbandando was his smug self, telling reporters, “I’m going to miss the first night ball game of the season.” His attitude did not change right up to the time he walked into the chamber housing the electric chair on February 19th 1942. He was grimly silent as the black hood was lowered over his staring coal black eyes and jutting jaw.
Abbandando’s body was returned to Brooklyn for burial, services being held at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. Upon emerging from these services, Rocco Abbandando, the mass killer’s brother, spotted a news photographer taking photos and charged at him, knocking him down and wrecking his equipment. The scene was in keeping with the kind of violent life led by Frank Abbandando.