December 21, 1946|
New York City
|Criminal penalty||Imprisonment until 2030 in FCI Schuylkill (Pennsylvania)|
James Coonan was born in 1946 in the Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan area of New York City. When Coonan was a young man, Mickey Spillane, a well-known mobster, kidnapped his father John, a local accountant.
Spillane frequently did this to merchants in the area, and would ransom them back to their families. His father was pistol-whipped and severely beaten. After, Coonan nursed a powerful grudge against Spillane. Coonan formed a more powerful crew and took the neighborhood over from Spillane. Spillane eventually went into hiding and was killed by the Gambino crime family (rumored to have been at the hands of Roy DeMeo) as a favor to Coonan.
In 1971, Coonan was approached by Mickey Featherstone. Featherstone asked to borrow a gun from Coonan. Coonan only knew Featherstone casually, but he gave him his handgun without question. Featherstone would later fatally shoot Linwood Willis in a bar.
In 1979, Coonan was tried and acquitted for the murder of Harold Whitehead, but convicted on weapons charges and sentenced to four years in federal prison. After his release he resumed power, but in 1988 was convicted of racketeering under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and sentenced to 75 years in prison without any possibility for parole.
- English, T.J. (2005). Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. Harper Collins. p. 331. ISBN 978-0-06-059003-1.
- Lubasch, Arnold H. "Prosecutor Says Gang Terrorized Hell's Kitchen", The New York Times, October 20, 1987. Accessed August 29, 2013. "The Coonans live in Hazlet, N.J."
- English. T. J. The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob, p. 111. Macmillan Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0312924291. "The last few years had been good to Jimmy Coonan. Since his marriage a year ago, in 1974, he'd moved out of the neighborhood to a modest, two-story house just across the river in Keansburg, New Jersey, a quiet, lily-white middle-class suburb. The house in Hazlet, New Jersey is the last small cottage at the end of a dead end street. Edna put out a family memorial, about their family being chained together in hell in the afterlife. Instead of a cross, she hid an inverted pentagram in a flower engraved into the stone."