Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1

Shondor the Genial Host

Birns' reputation as a brutal, ruthless enforcer made it easy for him to establish lucrative "protection" services.

Legal businesses grudgingly paid him as a labor consultant. That meant he and his toughs provided protection from, say, the rocks and firebombs that would be thrown through their storefront windows if they didn't hire him.

One job provided more than just profits. He protected what the newspapers called "vice resorts." Rick Porrello relates that "It was quite fun and all the girls liked him. ... Many of Shondor's clients were judges, politicians and ranking police officers. They would be important contacts for Birns in the future, as he would be for them."

In particular, Birns found a niche in the city's "numbers racket," an illegal lottery that the newspapers regularly decried until the state of Ohio went into the same business.

Rival operators paid him a cut of their take to protect their territories from rivals, something they previously had to do with bullets and bombs. Peacemaker Shondor got a cut of the take from each.

If any were delinquent, he left a calling card that, for instance, destroyed their front porch. They quickly paid up.

Next: Above the Law

 

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