Today I am starting a section of my blog called THUG OF THE DAY where I will give a brief bio of famous (or infamous) thugs throughout history. I am not creating this rogue's gallery to glorify these bad boys (and girls), but merely to inform.
We start off with a notorious thug from Cleveland, Ohio by the name of Danny Greene (1933-1977) who was affectionately referred to as "The Irishman."
Greene was bred from a working class family and worked himself as a longshoreman in the 1960's before rising up the union ranks to become president of his local. He had his office painted green, wore lots of green clothes and thought of himself as a Celtic warrior.
He was viewed by some as a local hero who fought for the rights or the working man. But in truth, Greene was an embezzler who intimidated workers into doing his bidding with violence and threats. He forced new members to turn their paychecks over to him for an initial period of time and told them the funds were going to build a new union hall, when the money in fact went into his own personal bank account.
Greene was ejected from the union and was convicted of embezzlement and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
After a friendly meeting, Jimmy Hoffa once told an associate, "Stay away from (Greene). There's something wrong with him."
After being exiled from the dockworker's union, Greene went to work as a professional thug. Mobster Alex "Shondor" Birns took Danny on as an enforcer for his numbers racket.
The mobsters that brought Greene into their organization would later regret doing so. Danny was as smooth and conspicuous a criminal as a bull in a china shop.
In 1968 he nearly cut his criminal career short with a botched assassination attempt on a black numbers runner who was holding out on his boss Birns. The Cleveland boys were famous for blowing each other up with bombs just like they did in Chicago.
Danny detonated the car bomb he was setting as he was getting out of the numbers runner's car. The explosion threw him 20 feet and permanently damaged the hearing in his right ear.
Several attempts were made on Danny's life over the years. Most probably from a $75,000 loan he took from the Gambino family through Shondor Birns, and refused to pay back. The money was actually nabbed by police during a narcotics bust in which the courier was arrested.
Danny felt that since he never received the cash, he wasn't obliged to pay it back. The Gambinos believed otherwise.
In a famous television interview, Greene demonstrated his brazen disregard for the men who put a target on his back by saying:
"The luck of the Irish is with me and I have a message for those yellow maggots (the Cleveland mafia). That includes the payers and the doers. The doers are the people who carried out the bombing. They have to be eliminated because the people who paid them can afford to have them remain alive. And the payers are going to feel heat from the FBI and the local authorities. And let me clear something else up...I didn't run away from the explosion. Someone said they saw me running away. I walked away."In another interview Danny Greene said,
"I have no axe to grind, but if these maggots in this so-called mafia want to come after me, I'm over here by the Celtic club. I'm not hard to find."Unfortunately for Greene his bold challenge was met, though not outside the Celtic Club. On October 6, 1977 Danny left a dental appointment and got in his car. The vehicle parked next to him was wired with the bomb that went off and took his life instantly.