By Mike Mayo
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Extra resources for American Murder: Criminals, Crimes and the Media
Anastasia copped a plea and served one year. The capper came when he tried to muscle in on Meyer Lansky’s Cuban gambling operation. Meyer, Luciano’s right-hand man, had a rock solid agreement with Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Meyer ran all of the gambling on the island and split the proceeds fifty-fifty. There was no room for Anastasia, but he wouldn’t take “screw off ” for an answer. Finally, Anastasia went too far. First, he ordered a hit on a tailor’s assistant who recognized bank robber Willie Sutton and told the cops.
Their trial opened in the Bronx on June 29, 1949 in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave. Oops! Martha and Raymond typed the letters and Janet’s family knew she couldn’t type. They called the police. Raymond tried to deny his confession but it didn’t wash. For her part, Martha settled on a defense that would become much more popular decades later. She claimed she had been the victim of sexual abuse as a child. The real highlights of the trial, though, were the intimately detailed descriptions both Martha and Raymond provided about their various sexual acts.
In the end, though, it’s impossible to say exactly how many people he killed. We do know Ball was born in 1896 and grew up the son of a wealthy family in Elmendorf, Texas, just south of San Antonio. As a young man, he was considered something of a gun nut. He enlisted in the Army and served in World War I, returned home, and became a bootlegger. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, he opened a roadhouse, the 16 Sociable Inn, out on Highway 181. Two bedrooms for whatever and a bar big enough to accommodate the occasional cockfight.