Dark Side of Wall Street
Not so long ago, the Mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg stated that people who read the Wall Street Journaldon’t get killed. It came in the wake of yet another bout of US pangs of questioning doubts over whether there should be lax gun-laws in the country.
People who subscribe to the WSJ don’t kill or get killed, apparently.
In an interview with CNN, he stated: “I don’t know how to break this to you, but people that go out and murder people don’t read The Wall Street Journal.”
“I don’t know how to break this to you”, but this guy is the Mayor of New York! If the WSJ were able to save people from crime, then we would be forcible made to subscribe, wouldn’t we? Rupert Murdoch would be rubbing his hands together and the police forces around the country would be twiddling their thumbs all day long for lack of anything to do. Why, oh why have we been waiting for so long to put all of that into action?
Everybody loves a good murder, mystery and suspense story, especially when it’s about real life. Cluedo in real-life. Colonel Mustard in the parlor with Mrs. White. Up to no good, I suspect. Cordoned off with a yellow police line: “Do not cross!”.
But there are plenty of real-life financiers that have been involved in shady deals and killings.
1. 1920 Wall Street Bombing
The most famous killing on Wall Street was the supposed Galleanist, Italian anarchist mafia killings. The bomb that was planted and that went off on September 16th 1920 killed 38 people and injured 143. It has remained a mystery, but people believe that it was the Italian mobsters that were behind the crime. The man at the top was Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist. An Italian anarcho-communist. He believed the order of the day was the bumping off of tyrants and oppressors. This would overthrow governments and institutions. Rivoluzione! This was 1920; old-school bombing.
- 45 kilos of dynamite exploded in a horse-drawn carriage on the corner of the street just opposite J.P. Morgan Bank, 23 Wall Street.
- The victims were mostly the brokers and the office clerks on their way to lunch.
- It caused $2 million in damage to property, which is about $23 million today in real terms.
- William H. Remick, the President of the New York Stock Exchange closed all trading down within minutes to prevent panic selling.
- Business opened as usual the following day, however.
- It was first believed that it was purely an accidental killing (as if! 45 kilos of dynamite? Accidental?).
- There was little connection between the victims, except that they were all employed either at J.P. Morgan or at the NYSE. It was decided that the only motive must be a Bolshevik-anarchist movement against capitalism and opponents of the financial sector!
- However, nobody was arrested for the killings. The investigations were unsuccessfully in pinning down the perpetrator.
- Historians believe, however, that it was the Galleanists.
- The police stopped investigations in 1940 and you can still see the marks on the façade of the bank.
2. 1988 Lonnie L. Gilchrist Jr.
Gilchrist was a stockbroker working at Merrill Lynch. He shot his boss at point-blank range in 1988. He was convicted of first-degree murder after killing George W. Cook, an executive at the Boston branch of Merrill Lynch.
- Psychiatrists stated that Gilchrist was suffering from paranoia.
- He was making no commission at all and was fired in April 1988.
- He entered Cook’s office and shot him five times as he sat behind his desk in the Boston-based office.
- He then proceeded to kick Cook and shouted that “no billionaire is going to ruin my life”.
3. 1997 Scott Schneidermann
A failed stockbroker that was saddled with debts after he wound up his failed consulting company when it went down the tubes, leaving him with a debt of $4,000. He went to work at a Manhattan brokerage firm called D. L. Cromwell Investments, although he never collected a salary there in the two months he was on their books. Some said that he was surrounded by success and was unable to strike it rich.
- In 1997, he broke into the New-York Penthouse of his father and was caught red-handed by a police officer, Anthony Sanchez.
- A shoot-out ensued and he shot the officer.
- Stealing his gun he ran off to the basement of the building.
- Arrested, he was convicted of first-degree murder for killing the police officer in execution-style.
- He was described as an ‘arrogant liar’ by the judge.
4. 1999 Alan Chalem and Maier Lehmann
Chalem and Lehmann were two stockbrokers mixed up with a Brooklyn-based mob that were working for the Russian mafia.
- They had been involved in organized crime and were supposedly murdered so the mobsters didn’t have to give them their cut of the cash worth $5 million in the pump-and-dump scheme they had been operating.
- They were shot ten times each and were found in the New-Jersey mansion that was home to Chalem.
- It was discovered some ten years later that there were also ties with the Italian mob leader Alphonse (Allie) Persico. Chalem and Persico were business associates and Chalem had invested millions on behalf of the gang-leader.
5. 2000 Joseph H. Ludlam Jr.
Ludlam was a stockbroker working for First Union Securities.
- He gunned down his boss, Timothy K. O’Shaughnessy, who had just fired him for aggressive trading practices and misdemeanors. One of his client’s accounts had been misvalued at $8 million (apparently due to a glitch in the system).
- Psychiatrists agreed that he had been hearing voices telling him to commit the murder.
- But, he pleaded guilty to entering the office of his boss, beating him with a golf club and then shooting him dead.
- On the day he was fired, Ludlam had apparently stated to his boss “you’re toast”, which is an enigmatic way of telling someone that trouble is in store for them.
6. 2005 Richard Robert Russo
Russo was a stockbroker.
- He was convicted in 2006 of killing his wife (2005) after he discovered that she was having an affair with her gym trainer.
- Had he been working too much at Smith Barney, where he was senior vice-president?
- He was sentenced to 55 years imprisonment for using a handgun after he was declared sane.
- He will have to serve 85% of his sentence before he is up for parole.
- This seems rather unlikely as he was aged 51 at the time of the killing.
7. 2010 Anjool Malde
Malde was a London stockbroker working for the Deutsche Bank.
- He threw himself off a building in London at the exclusive Coq d’Argent restaurant in the City. He ordered a glass of champagne and then leapt to his death jumping from the eighth floor.
- He was facing a disciplinary enquiry at work after having left a message stating “I’m hot, I’m hot’ on the financial website of a client he was working for at the bank.
- The IT department traced the message to his computer.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a film that is being shot on location in New York City starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was unveiled three days ago and will be out in December this year. The life of Jordan Belfort, the guy who was sentenced to a 4-year prison sentence for fraud and money laundering, the kind of guy that we like to watch on the big screen. But, this one is for real. Living the high-life, hard-partying, cocaine-snorting, stacks of easily-spent money, scantily-clad young girls, yachts, lounging around in flash and brash hotels. Disrespect for life and losing touch with the value of what it means to live in society. Nothing unusual. A romanced version of life on the screen for our entertainment. But, life is not that different. It might sound like a movie in your local theatre or the latest fictional novel, but, there are real-life murders on Wall Street. Where there’s money, there’s life. Where there’s life, there’s a motive for killing someone.
Mr. Bloomberg, it’s not because people read the Wall Street Journal that they suddenly become righteous citizens who abide by the law. They have just as much temptation (if not more) to borrow, steal, swipe and bump off the guy sitting behind the screens, telephone in hand, beads of sweat dripping from their forehead that’s sitting next to them on the trading floor.
If all else fails, you can play the ‘Wall Street Massacre’ game, go on a rampage and kill the financial thugs and the cutthroat hoodlums of the stock market in a virtual NYSE. It’ll keep you out of trouble, maybe. If you have a penchant for being a professional punk of the financial world, then maybe it’s better to stick with the virtual side of things. If all else fails, order the WSJ to be delivered morning, noon and night and hope Mr. Bloomberg was right. Forced subscriptions, here we come!
Who’s your biggest gangster? Don’t tell me…I know!
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