Lamare, Cesare (1884-1931)

Born Italy, Nov. 7, 1884

Killed Detroit, MI, Feb. 7, 1931.

Cesare "Chester" Lamare led the Detroit Mafia for a brief period in 1930 at the start of the open fighting of the Castellammarese War. He became a casualty in that conflict early in 1931.

Lamare was born in Italy and traveled to the United States as a child in 1897. Lamare involved himself in bootlegging and other rackets in the Italian colonies of Wyandotte and Hamtramck in the Detroit, Michigan, area. Police arrested him often between 1915 and 1921. Lamare was believed to control gambling and narcotics rackets in the area. He was arrested and charged with a bootlegging violation in 1927. He was convicted but let off with a fine.
At about that time, he went to work for the Ford Motor Company, ensuring peace with Italian laborers at the auto plants. He was given control of an automobile dealership and organized produce sellers in the region.

In the late 1920s, Lamare became a strong ally of New York Mafia boss Giuseppe Masseria. Masseria became boss of bosses of the American Mafia by 1928 and urged Lamare to expand his underworld interests into areas controlled by those less loyal to Masseria, including Angelo Meli's Mafia and an affiliated group commanded by Castellammarese Mafioso Gaspar Milazzo.

Lamare ordered the assassination of Milazzo on May 31, 1930, at a Detroit fish market, 2739 Vernor Highway. It appears that he planned to eliminate Meli at the same time and place, but Meli did not appear. Milazzo and his companion Sam Parrino were shot to death by Lamare gunmen. Many believed that Masseria personally approved the murders, and used the incident to rally Mafiosi around the country to a growing anti-Masseria faction.

Lamare proclaimed himself leader of the Sicilian underworld in the area. Meli and his organization did not oppose Lamare at first but quietly worked against him.

Lamare eventually found himself hunted by gangsters and the police. He went into hiding, traveling as far as New York City and Louisville, Kentucky.

In February, he moved into a fortified home on Detroit's Grandville Avenue. Lamare's rivals tracked him down and had him shot him to death in that home just after midnight on Feb. 7, 1931. The assassin was probably someone known and trusted by Lamare, as the gang boss appears to have allowed him into the house.

Police, summoned to the location by Lamare's wife, found the gang leader with a bullet holes in his head. They also found a small arsenal in the place, including six revolvers, a tear gas gun, two rifles, 4,000 rounds of ammunition and some hand grenades.

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Kastel, Philip (1893-1962)

Born New York, NY, April 2, 1893.

Died New Orleans, LA, Aug. 16, 1962.

"Dandy Phil" Kastel was a mob bigshot in New Orleans following World War II. He was a close friend and business associate of New York crime boss Frank Costello and possibly had earlier connections with underworld financier Arnold Rothstein.

Born in New York City, Kastel became a stockbroker and involved himself in fraudulent stock sales through "bucket shop" rackets. In 1921, he led the brokerage firm of Dillon & Company into bankruptcy while writing numerous large checks from drained company accounts. When the company failed, it had about $3,000 in assets and debts to customers in excess of half a million dollars. An investigation followed in 1922, and Kastel disappeared. He turned up in San Francisco and was brought east to stand trial. After delays and two unsuccessful trials, Kastel was convicted April 17, 1926, of fraudulent use of the mails. He was sentenced to serve three years in federal prison but was released on $20,000 bail pending appeals.

Half a year later, he was convicted of first degree grand larceny, in connection with the stock frauds. A sentence of between three and a half and eight years in state prison was imposed for that offense. He was freed on $40,000 bail while he appealed that verdict. Kastel's federal appeal was lost in December 1927.

At the end of the Prohibition Era, Kastel reportedly served as president of a liquor distributing business. He and Frank Costello imported the King's Ransom brand of Scotch whiskey. By 1934, he also was linked with Costello in the operation of slot machines in and around New York City.

When New York City's LaGuardia administration seized slot machines from around the city and destroyed them, Kastel and Costello decided to move their gambling rackets south to Louisiana. Kastel became the point man for Costello-run casino and slot machine gambling.

In 1946, local New Orleans officials duplicated New York's anti-gambling campaign of the previous decade, forcing the Costello-Kastel operations outside the city limits.
Kastel and Costello created and ran the Beverly Club casino in Jefferson Parish, just beyond the New Orleans line. In the 1950s, the Kastel-Costello partnership also opened the Tropicana in Las Vegas (other partners in that venture reportedly included New Orleans crime boss Carlos Marcello and entertainer Jimmy Durante). Nevada officials delayed the 1957 opening of the Tropicana until Kastel severed his official ties with the casino.

Aging and in poor health, Kastel reportedly took his own life in 1962. Reports indicated that he had been ailing for several months and was losing his eyesight. He required the attention of a private nurse at the Claiborn Towers Apartments on Canal Street. On August 16, 1962, the nurse heard a gunshot and then found Kastel dead.