John Lazia

John Lazia

John Lazia was an underworld figure involved in various criminal activities, such as gambling and bootlegging. Additionally, he held a powerful political position in Kansas City that enabled him to accomplish many of his objectives.

As Prohibition progressed, Lazia faced increasing competition from other gangsters. In October 1932, he broke into the Army armory to obtain more guns for his men to use against these rivals.

Early Life and Education

John Lazia was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1896 and moved to Kansas City as a teenager where he joined a Sicilian gang of boys.

He was found guilty of robbery in 1916 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Upon his release, he continued living on the street, committing various petty crimes.

Lazia rose to prominence during Prohibition as a major figure in Kansas City’s criminal underworld, resisting attempts by outside organized crime figures to take over the city.

Lazia was an integral member of the Sugar House Syndicate and used his political connections to mobilize voters in North End, Kansas City’s majority-Italian neighborhood. Under Tom “Boss Tom” Pendergast’ guidance, Lazia became a key figure in machine politics.

Professional Career

In Kansas City’s organized crime world during Prohibition, John Lazia rose to be known as “Brother John”. With considerable political power in the city, he achieved notoriety for his criminal activities.

He was the political boss of the North Side’s Democratic Club and owned a soft drink company, gambling resorts, loan shark operation and bail bond company. In 1929 he failed to file his $82,000 federal tax return and was sentenced to one year in prison; however due to Tom Pendergast’s influence over government officials he was released pending appeal.

He had extensive connections throughout the city, which enabled him to solve two high-profile kidnappings during the 1930s. One involved dress manufacturer Nell Donnelly and her chauffeur being taken captive and held for ransom in December 1931; and Myrtle Bennett and her husband being shot – an event which received worldwide coverage.

Achievements and Honors

Lazia was a prominent figure in Kansas City’s organized crime world during the 1920s and ’30s. He served as head of the North Side Democratic Club, owned several soft drink companies, gambling resorts, loan shark operations, bail bond businesses, as well as being involved in many other criminal enterprises.

He had great political influence as well. He helped organize voters for Tom Pendergast’s machine, which controlled Kansas City politics through its network of alliances and affiliates.

He was arrested on tax evasion charges in 1930 and sentenced to one year of imprisonment, but was released pending appeals. Unfortunately, his tragic death on July 10, 1934 at age 38 brought an end to his life; his funeral was said to be one of Kansas City’s largest ever held.

Personal Life

John Lazia was an ambitious North Side gangster who rose rapidly through the ranks of the Pendergast machine. His mentor Michael Ross, captain of the 5th Democratic ward in “Little Italy,” played an influential role in his development as a leader.

By 1928, Lazia had achieved notoriety as an influential political figure and one of Kansas City’s most powerful mob bosses. Through his guidance, most of Kansas City’s crime organizations united to form the Sugar House Syndicate.

In the years after Prohibition, Lazia amassed a fortune through gambling and other enterprises. He also led an influential group of bootleggers. However, Lazia was also connected to several gangland murders.

Net Worth

John Lazia was a well-known criminal in Kansas City. He served as a fixer for the underworld and enjoyed an excellent reputation among police. In 1931, Lazia used his connections to save the life of a woman kidnapped and held for ransom; within 34 hours she was freed unscathed and her captors fled the scene.

Lazia maintained a luxurious home in Kansas City and vacationed regularly at his resort on Lake Lotawana in western Missouri. He also owned several speedboats and thoroughbred race horses. Despite his criminal activities, Lazia managed to maintain an impressive net worth. Additionally, he enjoyed success in the sports industry and donated generously to charities before passing away in 1935 and being buried at National Cemetery of Kansas City.

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