Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1

Meeting His Maker

Birns divorced his wife and married Allene Leonards. Perhaps married life mellowed him. He did little that made the papers for the next few years.

There was a good reason in the period from 1968 and 1971. His old antagonist, the Internal Revenue Service, had him sent to federal prison for lying about his assets.

The Birns who emerged from prison was a less flamboyant Shondor. He told his parole officer, "Kid, I don't break any provision of parole. I'll tell you why. If I go back to jail, I'll die there."

Still, he kept his hand in. When longtime Mafia capo John Scalish died, Birns teamed up with the faction backing James Licavoli, known in Mafia circles as Jack White, as the new don.

He was suspected in several bombings, including the one that destroyed the home of an ambitious rival named Danny Greene. Greene said of the bomb: "I'm going to send this back to the old bastard who sent it to me."

Thus, Greene was an immediate suspect when Shondor was blown to Kingdom Come on Easter Saturday, 1975.

But, as in so many cases when Birns was the suspect, police failed to find evidence to tie him to it.

Next: Danny Greene, Champion of Labor

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