(photo credit: code poet)
Kid drops out of school at the age of 14. Hangs out with unsavory characters and learns how to be a thug. He turns 18 and moves out of the family house on the West Bank–parents, six brothers and two sisters–to a cheap slum apartment across the river. He meets some other up-and-coming criminals and begins his criminal career in earnest. A year later he pulls off a bank robbery in Algiers with three teenage accomplices, pocketing $7K. He buries the cash in the family’s back yard, but only after charging his accomplices a fee for the service (this kid’s not dumb, even if he can’t read or count too well). One of the kid’s younger brothers, though, gets nervous about the whole deal and squeals to the police. The police come by and confiscate the money, detain the kid and a couple of his brothers, but even though the story makes the front page of the Times-Picayune, the charges are later dropped for no clear reason. Unfazed (emboldened, probably), the kid gets a couple 13-year-olds to help him knock off a grocery store to raise enough money to buy pistols and a sawed-off shotgun to rob the same bank the kid had robbed just a few months earlier. So the kid “rents” a gun from a friend, steals a getaway car, and hits the grocery store, scoring enough money to finance the bank heist. But before the bank robbery can happen, one of the 13-year-olds gets fingered by a clerk at the grocery store and the whole plan unravels, and the kid gets arrested and charged with assault, robbery, and grand larceny. It’s all over the Times-Picayune. The kid is sentenced to 9-12 years at Angola, where he serves only four years.
This, of course, would be New Orleans of 1930. The “kid” was Carlos Marcello, who later became a leading mob figure who some think arranged the assassination of JFK.