Johnson, Enoch "Nucky" (1883-1968)

Born Galloway Township, NJ, Jan. 20, 1883

Died Atlantic City, NJ, Dec. 9, 1968.

"Nucky" Johnson was lord of Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition Era. He was involved in rum-running, numbers rackets and other illicit enterprises and simultaneously served in a number of government roles.

Johnson was a big shot in southern Jersey Republican politics. He was local sheriff and Atlantic County treasurer for several terms. He had Atlantic City so under control that it was deemed safe for a peace conference of Chicago's leading gangsters in spring 1929.

The meeting, held from May 13-16 at the President Hotel (one source says it was the Breakers Hotel) is known to have included Al Capone and Frankie Rio of Chicago. Other Chicago crime bosses and Mafia leaders from the major cities of the East likely also attended, but there is no supporting evidence for their presence. (This has not prevented some authors from presenting lists of attendees, the meeting agenda and portions of meeting dialogue.)

Under Nucky Johnson, Atlantic City was one of the leading import centers for illegal booze. Johnson, along with gin merchants up and down the East Coast and in Cleveland, created a bootlegging cartel later known to authorities as the Seven Group. That association included Italian Mafiosi as well as non-Italian elements.

In the early 1940s, federal agents brought tax evasion charges against Johnson. He was convicted of non-payment of taxes owed on $124,000 of numbers racket income in 1936 and 1937. In Camden, NJ, on Aug. 1, 1941, District Court Judge Albert B. Maris sentenced him to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Nucky was unsuccessful in appeals to the Circuit Court in Philadelphia and the U.S. Supreme Court. On the eve of his sentencing, July 31, playboy Johnson got married to former showgirl Florence Osbeck in Atlantic City. The two reportedly had dated for seven years.

Johnson did his time in Lewisburg, Pa., and returned to his Atlantic City home. He died of natural causes on Monday, Dec. 9, 1968. He was 85 years old.