There is/was a German Mafia called the Ringvereine. I have been able to put together some more of the puzzle that makes up my family history.
Lanza became well connected throughout the country with other mob figures, as well in Las Vegas by his friend William “Bones” Remmer. Remmer was Lanza’s link to Las Vegas and started their own casino skim. He became close friends with Joseph Civello, the boss of the Dallas crime family and to Joe Cerrito, the boss of the San Jose crime family.
Well, the Ringvereine flourished in the Weimar Period. I suppose it wouldn’t be inconceivable for some of the top men to flee to America to avoid either criminal prosecution or the Nazis, the organize German immigrant communities.
The Ringvereine would probably form solid competition to the organized crime rings already operating in America. An interesting thing to note is that they used democratic process, holding meetings and electing leaders. Over the years, this might give them an edge over hereditary groups.
Silent film star, Clara Bow, spent one September evening in 1930 playing illegal gambling games at a Lake Tahoe, Nevada casino. Both winning and losing at roulette, craps, 21 and the dice game, chuck-a-luck, she requested a high roll. The Cal Neva club obliged, allowing her to play as high as $300 per roll or card.
When she was in the red for about $5,000, the casino manager, Elmer “Bones” Remmer implored her to stop, but she refused. Throughout the evening, she lost $13,900 (a $198,000 value today), which she covered with three checks.
Then she stopped payment on them.
Clearly, the red-haired siren hadn’t known who she was tangling with at the Cal Neva! The owners, James McKay and William “Bill” Graham, ran Reno then, controlling its illegal gambling trade (Nevada legalized open-wide gambling in 1931) and operating speakeasies, brothels and more. “Bones” was their trusted partner and enforcer who did whatever they asked.
“‘Bones’” rarely met a man he liked, or a meal he didn’t, and he was just as likely to finish either one off,” wrote author Al Moe in “Roots of Reno.”
If Bow hadn’t been a star, she might’ve been physically harmed or worse for stiffing the casino.
Another Ballsy Move
At the time, gambling was mostly illegal at the time. Some games were allowed—poker, stud-horse poker, five hundred, solo and whist—along with slot machine play only for the sales of cigars and drinks and social games only played for drinks and cigars served individually or prizes not exceeding two dollars in value. As such, the casino’s owners couldn’t sue Bow for the money she owed. McKay tried to get her movie studio, Paramount, to cover the debt, but its executives refused, saying it was the actress’ personal matter.
Soon after, Bow issued a statement about the matter. She claimed the casino lacked a “rightful claim” against her, insinuating it had cheated her, charging her for $100 chips when she’d played with 50-cent pieces and changing the amount on her checks.
“I will gladly accept service of any legal documents,” she said. “I always pay every honest debt promptly” (Reno Evening Gazette, Sept. 24, 1930).
The Cal Neva’s attorney refuted her accusations, calling them ludicrous. He noted that Bow had cashed the checks with the casino, which gave her the money upfront to use as she wished.
It’s unknown whether Bow ever paid the Cal Neva.
It’s 4 am in Oakland, and Franklin Street is buzzing with the sound of forklifts, shouting and trucks in reverse. At one storefront, Van Lam checks produce prices on a computer and enters them using a handheld mobile device. Though restaurant owners and shopkeepers are just starting to filter into the wholesale produce stall, Lam’s been there since 2 a.m. He’s there nearly every morning at the same time.
Lam owns West Coast Produce, one of many wholesale produce sellers along Franklin Street near Jack London Square. Before the sun rises, Lam and his wholesale produce team are already working to stock grocery store shelves, small shops and local restaurants with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Around the turn of the 19th/20th century, so-called “Ringvereine” (literally “ring clubs”) cropped up all over Germany but mostly in and around Berlin.
They started out as mutual-support clubs for former prison inmates. Each club had its own ring as a sign of memebership. With time, those support groups took on more and more organized crime activities.
Prostitution, alcohol smuggling, breaking/entering, holdups/robberies, (petty) theft, pickpocketing, influencing trade unions etc. were taken up.
Each Ringverein had its very own set of rules, a strict code of honor and criteria that had to be met by hopeful applicants in order to be accepted into the club.
The club provided alibis and took it upon itself to provide the families of the members with food and money when/if a member had to go to prison. As long as the wife was faithful, that is. This form of social security was financed by a percentage of the illegal revenue each member had to pay.
All you need for a POD is either enterprising Vereine stretching their feelers across the pond and starting up branches in the German immigrant parts of the bigger cities (New York’s Germantown, Boston, Chicago(!) etc.) or some or even all members of a Ringverein hightailing it to the US after one close call with the police too many. The Ringvereine seem to have been tough but extremely fair, being very close-knit. A POD before WW I would mean a lot of trouble for the “German Mafia” during the anti-German atmosphere of WW I in the US. Maybe they could state categorically that they do not support the Kaiserreich and emerge relatively unscathed. Or have the Ringvereine start up their business in the US as a direct result of the post-Versailles troubles in Germany, givving them enough time in either case to build up a power base strong enough to challenge the Italian Mob and emerge victorious. A co-operation between the Irish mob and the Germans would be very likely after 1916 since the Germans supported the Irish rebellion with several thousand rifles and ammunition and Irish sentiment would likely have been very pro-German after that.
Ringvereine were officially chartered associations of ex-convicts which, on paper, provided mutual aid and promoted the cultural activities of their members. In reality, they promoted their members’ criminal activities in various ways and acted as professional associations of criminals, which set and enforced rules and provided members with contacts, assistance and status. At least in certain areas, namely prostitution and racketeering, the Ringvereine may also have functioned as criminal organisations with direct involvement in criminal activities. Using data obtained from a systematic analysis of various contemporary newspapers and periodicals, and from a review of secondary sources, primarily comprising journalistic and law enforcement accounts, this study examines their structure, function, geographical scope, membership characteristics and ties to legitimate institutions and highlights major phases and turning points in their history which spans an era from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. It is argued that the Ringvereine constitute a deviant case in the history of German organised crime, which otherwise has been characterised more by informal and fragmented offender structures embedded in deviant subcultures.
Francesco “Frank” Lanza became the first crime boss after a gang war that ended in 1932. Lanza guided the crime family during the prohibition era. He was the co-owner of San Francisco‘s Fisherman’s Wharf and a bootlegger, pimp, loan shark and drug dealer. The Lanza gang proved to be the strongest gang after murdering San Francisco gang leader Luigi Malvese on May 18, 1932.
Francesco Lanza was the leader of the Lanza gang and became the first real crime boss of San Francisco. He divided his income from loansharking, gun running, prostitution, gambling and narcotics. Lanza founded the famous Fisherman’s Wharf along with his partner Giuseppe Alioto. After Lanza’s death on July 14, 1937, he was succeeded by Anthony Lima.
Why San Francisco Was Never Much of a Mafia Town, or Was It?
Big Bones Remmer
You heard about that big mob bust late last week on the East Coast? Well, NBC went to local crime author and retired policeman Kevin J. Mullen to find out why we haven’t had any real, juicy mob activity out here. Mullen says that Al Capone sent emissaries out to San Francisco in 1931 to case the joint, but decided it was “too tough” a town to crack. That may just be a proud cop talking, but Mullen says it’s an easier town to police, given its size and geography, and the transcontinental railroad terminated in Oakland, after all.
NBC and Mullen neglect to mention that the mafia’s historic stronghold out here was Emeryville, where they set up shop with a figurehead mayor, a chief of police, and their very own little harbor, ultimately headed up by mob boss Elmer “Big Bones” Remmer, who worked for Lucky Luciano. Remmer controlled a number of after-hours joints, gambling parlors (the Oaks Card Club in Emeryville is a latter day remnant, grandfathered in under city law since it’s been there since the 1890s), brothels, and loan-sharking operations around Oakland, Emeryville, and S.F. Remmer’s S.F. headquarters was the Menlo Club, and at least one source credits Jerry Brown’s dad, “San Francisco Attorney Edmund Pat Brown [with helping to] incorporate Bone’s La Costa Nosta operation.” So maybe it’s just that the mob was better connected and operated in relative quiet out in crazy S.F.? In Emeryville, a reported hangout back in the mid-twentieth century was The Town House Bar, so named in part because it’s where the “mayor” sat and drank all day while Remmer had free reign.
The Alameda County D.A.’s office prosecuted a bunch of cases against noted mob figures in the 40s and 50s. Also, reportedly, Jack Ruby (Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassin) once worked in the Menlo Club in S.F. for a gambler named Eugene Shriber, an employee of Remmer’s. (And this blogger guy claims to be the son of one of Remmer’s prostitutes.)
So what’s that again about the mafia never being in San Francisco?
Fed up with crime, corruption and Murder, Inc. in Alameda County during the 1940-50’s, the California State Attorney General had to come to Oakland to try to shut down the mob’s operations. The Attorney General’s office indicted and proceeded to prosecute some of Oakland’s mob figures. Under D.A. Coakley, the La Costa Nosta just didn’t exist in the county. Just imagine of all people that could have showed up in Oakland to defend the mob, it was the who’s who of Mafia Boss Meyer Lansky’s crime syndicate, another infamous underworld character by the name of Murray Chotiner. The noted Author Dan Moldea reported that Murray Chotiner, and his brother Jack, handled 249 cases of mob figures arrested or indicted between 1949 and 1952. 
Chotiner was also the campaign manager of Richard Milhouse Nixon and Former Alameda County D.A. Earl Warren.  Warren also attended UC-Berkeley graduating in 1912. He then also attended Boalt Hall School of Law School graduating in 1914. Earl Warren was Alameda County District Attorney from 1926 to 1938, Attorney General of California from 1939 to 1943, and Governor from 1943 to 1953. In September 1953, Earl Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Eisenhower. Murray Chotiner was the political public relations man for Earl Warren during his gubernatorial campaign in California.
Murray Chotiner had been associated with Nixon since 1946. When Nixon became the Vice Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1952, Murray Chotiner served as his campaign manager. In 1966, Murray Chotiner was called before Senator John McClellan’s committee investigating organized crime. Congressional investigator Robert F. Kennedy questioned Chotiner about his client, New Jersey mobster and Philadelphia crime syndicate leader Marco “Small Man” Reginelli, and demanded a list of Murray Chotiner’s other mob clients. 
During the 1940s and 1950s, Lanza was underboss of the San Francisco crime family, working under Michael Abati. He represented the San Francisco LCN family’s interest from the early 1940s to 1952 before being convicted of failing to report nearly $1 million in unpaid taxes. In 1957, he attended the infamous Apalachin Meeting, representing San Francisco, when the raid happened he was never caught, possibly escaping through the woods with other mobsters.
After Michael Abati was indicted and deported back to Italy, Lanza was named boss in 1961, making his underboss, Gaspare “Bill” Sciortino. Lanza soon became the most powerful and successful boss the family ever had, he started making gambling operations, contract hits, and more. Lanza became well connected throughout the country with other mob figures, as well in Las Vegas by his friend William “Bones” Remmer. Remmer was Lanza’s link to Las Vegas and started their own casino skim. He became close friends with Joseph Civello, the boss of the Dallas crime family and to Joe Cerrito, the boss of the San Jose crime family. His longtime underboss, Gaspare “Bill” Sciortino was the cousin to the underboss of the Los Angeles crime family Samuel Sciortino, making their connections down south stronger. He had close ties with former mayor of San Francisco, Joseph Alioto. In 1973, Los Angeles crime family member, Jimmy Fratianno moved to the Bay Area, whom Lanza didn’t like at all, put a contract on him because he was bringing too much attention about the SF family in 1977. They’re friendship quickly ended. Lanza was believed to have given permission for the murder of former New England crime family associate, turned government witness Joseph Barboza in 1976. As the family grew older, Lanza would watch as his small crime family grow to include 15-20 made members. Lanza had the misfortune of being one of the first mob bosses to garner media interest and was linked by Life to Mob boss Carlos Marcello and to Mayor Joseph Alioto. He was considered to be disliked by Jimmy Fratiano.
Editor’s note: It has been well established that the La Cosa Nostra component of the Italian and Sicilian mob was essentially a representation of the Jewish mob. One heavy component is the East and West Coast Lanza syndicates, the Lanzas being, originally, Sicilian Jews. This supports the latest assessment regarding the Sandy Hook hoax that the Lanza family itself, Peter, Ryan, and more, even, perhaps Nancy (Adam, if he exists), are all in on it.
The San Francisco LCN Family was built out of the ashes of bloody bootlegging war that took place from 1928-1932. Previously, during the ill-faded Prohibition era, gangsters worked in criminal harmony to ensure peace and prosperity with their colleagues. This all would end with a series of murders. When the smoke cleared a small but once prosperous crime family would emerge.