Benjamin Fein

Benjamin Fein

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Benjamin Fein

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Benjamin "Dopey Benny" Fein (c. 1889–1962) was an early Jewish American gangster who dominated New York labor racketeering in the 1910s. With a criminal record dating back to 1900, Fein's arrest record included thirty charges from petty theft and assault to grand larceny and murder (of which he was acquitted twice due to lack of evidence). Fein was nicknamed "Dopey Benny" because of his eyes always being halfway-closed due to a medical condition.


Born in New York City, New York in 1889, Fein grew up in a poor neighborhood on Lower East Side becoming a petty thief and pickpocket as a child. A talented organizer Fein had formed his own gang of robbers in 1905 and during the next 5 years Fein would be sent to Elmira Reformatory several times particularly serving 3½ years for armed robbery. Soon after his release in 1910 Fein joined "Big" Jack Zelig's organization soon becoming involved in labor union and extortion of the garment district. Fein also used his gang as labor sluggers, renting his gang out to either unions or companies, dominating much of New York's East Side eventually earning $20,000 a year. In 1913 several minor labor slugger gangs formed to break the monopoly held by Fein and rival Joseph Rosenzweig in which a large shootout took place on Grand Street and Forsyth Street lasting several hours, although few were killed, beginning the New York Labor slugger war which would last almost 4 years. Arrested for assault in...
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