|The Becker-Rosenthal Murder Case
|Arnold Rothstein and Herman "Beansy" Rosenthal were protÃ©gÃ©s of Lower East Side
Tammany Hall boss Big Tim Sullivan. He understated Rothstein's talents; he tragically
overestimated Rosenthal. In 1912 Rosenthal was running a gambling house at 104 W. 45th
Street with Lt. Charles Becker (1873-1915), head of the NYPD vice squadâ€”and overlord
of a widespread system of Police shakedowns. When the two fell out, Becker put Rosenthal
out of business. Rosenthalâ€”despite Rothstein's warningsâ€”threatened to blow the lid off
"The System," finally taking his story to Herbert Bayard Swope (best man at Rothstein's
wedding) at the New York World. In July 1912 the World printed Rosenthal's story.
An enraged Becker ordered Rosenthal's death, and a quartet of killersâ€”Jacob Seidenshner
(aka Whitet Lewis), Frank "Dago Frank" Cirofici, Louis "Lefty Louie" Rosenberg and Harry
"Gyp the Blood" Horowitzâ€”rubbed out Rosenthal as he exited Big Tim Sullivan's Metropole
Hotel at 142 West 43rd Street, just off Times Square, on the evening of July 16, 1912.
The four gunmen were found guilty of Rosenthal's murder on November 19, 1912.
Big Tim Sullivan was adjudged mentally incompetent in January 1913 and died that August.
On October 5, 1913 Lower East Side Gangster Big Jack Zelig was murdered on a Second
Avenue streetcar just days before he was scheduled to testify at Charles Becker's trial. Becker
was convicted, but on February 24, 1914, the New York State Court of Appeals (the state's
highest court) overturned his conviction on the grounds that trial judge John Goff (1848-1924)
had been biased against the defendent and further found that "haste seemed to become the
essence of the trial." It ordered a new trial.
On April 14, 1914 Dago Frank, Whitey Lewis, Gyp the Blood, and Lefty Louie were
executed at Sing Sing.
On May 22, 1914 Becker was again found guilty of ordering Rosenthal's murder.
Becker's prosecution propelled Manhattan District Attorney Charles S. Whitman into the New
York State governorship.
On May 25, 1915 the New York State Court of Appeals confirmed Becker's conviction. On
July 30, 1915 Charles Becker was electrocuted at Sing Sing. He was interred at Woodlawn
Cemetery, Brooklyn, on August 2, 1915.
Becker's son by his first wife, Howard Paul Becker (1899-1960), was later elected President
of the American Sociological Association.
New York State Court of Appeals Decisions in the Becker-Rosenthal Case
People v. Seidenshner (1914)
People v. Becker (February 24, 1914)
People v. Becker (May 1915)