Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Notorious mobster and boss of the Purple Gang found murdered in the Bronx

A former commanding officer of NYPD's organized crime homicide task force said the circumstances of Michael Meldish’s murder in the Bronx Friday had all the markings of a hit.

Gangster Michael Meldish’s lifeless body was discovered in the driver’s seat of a rusty Lincoln LS in Throgs Neck — a single gunshot to his head and blood leaking from both ears.

The notorious mobster who terrorized the city for two decades was executed gangland-style Friday night in the Bronx, cops said.

The murder of the 62-year-old Meldish — who is believed to have carried out more than 10 hits in the 1970s and 1980s — drew cheers from the former NYPD investigators he long tormented.

“Michael was a stone-cold killer,” said Joseph Coffey, former commanding officer of the NYPD’s organized crime homicide task force, who tried for years to pin murders on Meldish.

“We couldn’t get any witnesses. They had the people so terrified they just wouldn’t cooperate.”

Coffey said he suspects Meldish was offed by a rival.

“It should have happened a long time ago,” he added. “I call it vermin killing vermin — poetic justice.”

Meldish was found shot to death in front of this home in the Bronx on Ellsworth Ave.

Meldish’s body was found about 10:30 p.m on leafy Ellsworth Ave.

Janet Forbes, 52, was driving home with her daughter when they spotted the car’s driver’s side door half-open and a motionless man inside.

“We pulled up, I got out and I saw there was blood coming out of his ears,” Forbes said.

The man was nattily dressed, in a camel-colored leather jacket and slacks.

His head was back, his mouth was open and his sunglasses were on the floor, with one of the lenses popped out, Forbes said.

Her husband, John Forbes, said he heard “a pop,” but when he looked out of his window, he didn’t see any sign of a shooting.

“I’m disgusted,” John Forbes, 51, said. “It’s a family neighborhood.”

Michael Meldish lived here on Second Ave. in East Harlem.

The divorced Meldish’s adult son showed up at the scene Saturday afternoon and stared at his father’s blood on the road. He left without commenting.

Meldish controlled the drug trade in the Bronx and Harlem as the co-leader of the Purple Gang — a crew originally affiliated with the Lucchese, Genovese and Bonanno crime families.

His brother and longtime partner in crime, Joseph Meldish, is believed to be responsible for as many as 70 contract killings.

Joseph Meldish, 56, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 2011 for a 1999 slaying.

Michael Meldish racked up nearly 10 arrests between 1970 and 1990 on charges ranging from assault to forgery. “They were the lowest of the low ... just ruthless scumbags,” Coffey said.

But Meldish’s former landlady in the Bronx described him as a perfect gentleman.

“There’s not a bad thing I can say about him,” said his onetime landlady, Anne Rescigno, 84. “I loved him like he was my son.”

Joseph Meldish (pictured) is the brother of Michael Meldish, who was found murdered in the Bronx Friday night.


The Purple Gang, despite its non-threatening name, was long considered one of the city’s most ruthless crews.

The gang was known for killing and dismembering rivals as it controlled the heroin trade in Harlem and the Bronx in the 1970s and 1980s. Its members — many of whom were relatives of more established crime figures — often freelanced as “muscle” for the Lucchese, Genovese and Bonanno families.

Taking its name from a group of thugs that terrorized Detroit during Prohibition, the Purple Gang grew so powerful in the late 1970s that authorities feared it might attempt to become the area’s sixth organized crime family — potentially igniting an all-out mob war.

A 1976 federal report cited the gang’s “enormous capacity for violence” and “lack of respect for other members of organized crime.”

Joseph Coffey, former commanding officer of the NYPD’s organized crime homicide task force, called the Purple Gang “a group of mad dog killers.”

The crew’s power began waning in the late 1980s as members were snared in drug busts.

“They more or less evaporated,” Coffey said.



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