Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
I have ceased blogging in real time as I read Donald H. Wolfe’s “The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles.” Wolfe is using the “Laura” format, in which the anonymous, butchered body is found and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.Now I’m taking a few requests before I wrap it up. Yesterday, we looked at Page 131 at the request of Mary Pacios. Today, we’ll look at Page 162 at the request of Regular Anonymous Commenter.
This chapter is titled “A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery…” paraphrasing former Examiner reporter Will Fowler, author of “Reporters.” As stated previously, “Will Fowler remembers” are three of the most frightening words in the English language, as we have caught Will in any number of false statements. I knew Will for years and treated him as a friend, but he lied his head off to me about the Black Dahlia case. I don’t think it was malicious; he just like to tell a good story.
I backed up a page to get a running start and have to pick my jaw up off the floor on this one.
“According to Vince Carter, many officers in Administrative Vice knew Donahoe was misleading the press and the public regarding the facts in the Black Dahlia case but they were afraid to come forward because of Donahoe’s underworld friends:
Donahoe had a reputation as a killer and he was a close friend of another killer—Jack Dragna, who was Lucky Luciano’s West Coast representative. Somewhere along the way, Jack Dragna and Captain Jack Donahoe became friends. Dragna had control over the narcotics business and Donahoe was an important contact…. It was Dragna who introduced Donahoe to Chickie Stein, Dragna’s narcotics distributor in L.A., and she and Donahoe became quite close. Chickie was a beautiful Sicilian woman with dark brown eyes who was brought up in a New York whorehouse. Her mother had been one of Lucky Luciano’s whorehouse madams….. Chickie was introduced to Dragna by Luciano when she was in her early twenties. Luciano trusted her completely and when Luciano was arrested by Thomas Dewey, and Chickie’s mother’s prostitution business folded, Chickie came to Los Angeles as Luciano’s West Coast heroin connection under Dragna’s guidance. Donahoe and Chickie became close friends and he presented her with a gold medallion with the Christ crucifixion on one side and the Star of David on the other. Chickie wore this around her neck on a fine gold chain. On one occasion she showed it to me and Captain Jack Donahoe’s name was engraved on one side of the medallion. Chickie was as proud of it as if it had been given to her by one of the mob bosses—which in my opinion was not too far off the mark.”
Wow. That’s about a dirty a deal as I have ever read about Jack Donahoe who in reality was squeaky clean and one of the most admired men in the Los Angeles Police Department.
I mean, this is the Jack Donahoe I know:
“Police Captain Jack A. Donahoe, commander of the Robbery Division, was honored by the City Council yesterday for his refusal to retire after 30 years of service to the Police Department.” Los Angeles Examiner, Nov. 11, 1954.
“No police officer in the city has done more or worked more conscientiously for the protection of the community and the riddance of criminals than Jack Donahoe,” Len Jacobsen, head of a charity known as the Roorags. Los Angeles Times, Aug. 18, 1955.
“He has been repeatedly cited for efficiency, cooperation, leadership, courage, alertness and devotion to duty. The recommendations come from the FBI, Treasury Department, Naval Intelligence, California Highway Patrol, District Attorney’s offices and State and local police throughout the nation.
“On the occasion of Donahoe’s 30 anniversary with the department, Chief of Police William H. Parker cited him for ‘devotion to duty and outstanding police work.’ In all his years as an officer, Donahoe has only missed 20 days on sick leave.” Gene Sherman, Club Magazine, September 1955.
“The capacity crowd [for Donahoe’s retirement in 1962] jammed the Police Academy for what was believed to be the largest police retirement dinner in Los Angeles history.” Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1962.
More than 1,000 mourners attended funeral services for retired Police Capt. Jack A. Donahoe in the Church of the Recessional, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park. About 600 stood outside the church [note: this is in June] in which seating arrangements could be made for only 400, and heard the services over loudspeakers.
Police Chaplain William Riddle said Donahoe was ‘ not just a policeman but a man who was building for us a future freedom which only law enforcement can make possible.’ ” (Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1966)
OK, let’s see Wolfe’s source on this baloney. This is attributed to Carter’s “LAPD’s Rogue Cops Cover Ups and the Cookie Jar,” a self-published book we covered earlier.
“Rogue Cops,” Page 156.
Now recall, before we even look, that Carter started with the LAPD in 1942 said he was working as a reserve officer at the Hollenbeck station while Donahoe worked downtown. Recall further that Carter says he never worked the Dahlia case but always followed it.
OK, let me check that again: “Mogul” Page 160-161 is attributed to “Rogue Cops,” Page 112, 156, 158.
Page 112 is too long to quote in its entirety, so I’ll quote the first line of every paragraph:
- A gambler like Mickey [Cohen] only bet on sure or fixed bets.
- Before Mickey left Cleveland in his early twenties he and some of his friends were arrested on robbery charges.
- The old line vice take in Los Angeles was in disarray and was being reorganized by Captain Jack Donahoe in the Robbery-Homicide Squad.
Note: Robbery and Homicide were separate divisions in the 1940s. Oops.
- While Luciano, the top mob man in the nation, was in prison, he controlled the New York mob through Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and other mob leaders.
Here’s Page 156:
- big cities, are controlled by those who control vice activities. The prison officials who worked with Nate…
- Ron asked Nate where he got women for the men
- “We used young men, boys, who came into the prison.”
- The war was coming to an end and Nate had a chance to get out of prison.
- Ron Hardman told me bits and pieces of his life.
- Big Jack Donahoe, Captain in charge of Robbery Division, exercised considerable power in 77th Street Division, an area which was predominately Black. Donahoe controlled narcotics and other vices in the Division. Everyone, crooks and cops alike, was afraid of Donahoe. He was known to have killed several men.
For the record, I can’t find a newspaper story about Donahoe ever killing anybody. In fact he went out of his way to take Edwin Walker alive, even though Walker had killed CHP Officer Loren K. Roosevelt. [The case was the basis for the Richard Basehart film “He Walked by Night.”]
Everybody was afraid of Donahoe, cops and crooks alike? I suppose that’s why his retirement party was the biggest in Police Academy history and why there were 1,000 people at his funeral, eh?
Now let’s go to Page 158:
- They visited the Division Captain before roll call the following night, Ron said.
- The Captain understood the problem fully. Apparently he didn’t believe that he could buck Captain Donahoe either.
- Ron said that everything went smoothly at Juvenile.
- Ron didn’t know it, but 9th and Broadway was the worst place in the department.
- Nate Rubin said that he knew the structure of vice operations in the city well.
- Nate trusted Ron Hardman and talked freely to him.
OK to be fair, Carter does drag Chickie Stein into the last paragraph. But I don’t see a word about this gold crucifix/Star of David.
Ha! Got you, Vince Carter:
Ron told the two Irish detectives about our visits with Chickie and Bernie at Chickie’s boutique. He described the medallion Donahoe had given her, with his name engraved on the back side, and how she bragged of her relationship with Big Jack. He also told Bain and McGhee that Chickie had bragged about being in bed with Jack Dragna in a Hollywood motel when he died of a heart attack.
In fact, Dragna died in Room 125 of the Saharan Hotel on Feb. 23, 1956, and was found by the maid. He was alone. No “Chickie Stein.”
Maybe you’re thinking of police recordings made with a microphone concealed in the headboard of a bed in 1951. That, Dragna buffs, was 24-year-old Annette Eckhardt. (Los Angeles Examiner, June 6, 1952, cites arrest date of March 11, 1951).
No Chickie, No Washie.
OK, so I didn’t get to Page 162, requested by Regular Anonymous Correspondent. I couldn’t ignore this smear of Jack Donahoe, one of the finest, most admired and most popular officers in LAPD history.
I’ll get it tomorrow.
Shout out to:
Albuquerque Public Schools [ISP Redacted]