Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1

Bombs Away

Returning to his roots, Greene left his wife and moved back to Collinwood, to a storefront with an apartment above it. The storefront became headquarters for Greene's "consulting" business and a hangout for Greene and a group of young Danny wannabees.

He also became the Robin Hood of Collinwood. In a Cleveland Magazine story called "How Danny Greene's Murder Exploded the Godfather Myth," Ned Whelan wrote:

"Imagining himself as a feudal baron, he supported a number of destitute Collinwood families, paid tuition to Catholic schools for various children and, like the gangsters of the Twenties, actually had turkeys delivered to needy households on Thanksgiving."

His neighbors, in turn, kept an eye out and warned him if they saw suspicious cars cruising past his apartment.

Greene also did something that nobody else would have dared to do. He stiffed Shondor Birns out of $75,000.

Greene wanted the money to set up a "cheat spot," a speakeasy and gambling house. Shondor arranged a loan through the Gambino "family" the New York Mafia.

Somehow the money wound up in the hands of Billy Cox, a numbers operator, who used it to make a narcotics buy. Police raided his home, arrested him and seized the narcotics and what was left of the $75,000.

Shondor Birns
Shondor Birns

The Gambinos "leaned on" Shondor for their money. Shondor leaned on Greene, but he refused to come through with the money. He said it wasn't his fault that it was lost.

Not long after, Greene found a bomb under his car. He took it to Kovacic, the homicide squad leader who was also his neighbor.

Kovacic offered him police protection, but he refused. He also refused to hand over the bomb.

"I'm going to send this back to the old bastard that sent it to me," he said.

He did.

On Holy Saturday.

In the parking lot of Christy's Lounge.

Shondor Birns, Cleveland's most infamous/famous hood, was dead.

But there was a new claimant to the throne.

Next: Revenge from the Grave?

 

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