Phillip Kastel

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Phillip "Dandy Phil" Kastel (April 2, 1893 – August 16, 1962) was an American mobster, gambler, and longtime associate of the Genovese crime family.

Early life[edit]

Phillip Frank Kastel was born in New York's Lower East Side to Solomon Kastel and Rachel Rosenthal on April 2, 1893.He was brother to Allen, Florence, Ida and Rose Kastel. He stood 5'7 and weighed 165 pounds. He married Elsie Conner in 1940 but they later divorced and he married Margaret Dennis. Despite growing up in a violent neighborhood frequented by street gangs and others of the city's underworld, Kastel instead became involved in gambling and confidence games during the early 1900s and held interests in many of the city's gambling dens shortly before Prohibition.

In 1917, upon the United States entry into World War I, Kastel fled to Canada in order to avoid the draft and operated a nightclub in Montreal, Quebec for the remainder of the war. Returning to New York in 1919, Kastel was quickly arrested for extortion, although the charges were dismissed. Finding employment with Arnold Rothstein, Kastel oversaw Rothstein's numerous bucket shop's, an early telemarketing scam selling fraudulent securities. He also preyed upon local chorus girls, specifically being charged with stealing $22,000 from chorus girl Betty Brown in 1922; however this charge was dismissed.

From New York to New Orleans[edit]

Following Rothstein's death in 1928, Kastel went to work for former Rothstein associate and New York mobster Frank Costello and later moved to New Orleans to establish gambling operations, primarily slot machines, during the mid-1930s. Between 1935 and 1937, the Costello-Kastel partnership earned an income of over $2.4 million from slot machines alone, according to federal authorities. Although both were charged in 1939 for tax evasion, Kastel and Costello were both acquitted.

By the 1940s, with control over the majority of gambling in Louisiana, both legal and illegal, Kastel and Costello began to expand their operations opening high class gambling casinos in New Orleans earning millions. It was during this period that Frank Costello was allegedly claimed to have committed his only act of violence when Kastel, in daily contact with the New York mobster, reported his suspicions that one of the casino employees had been skimming cash from the slot machine collections. Costello was said to have replied he would handle the matter personally and, flying down to New Orleans, called for a meeting of Kastel's entire organization including bagmen, hired thugs and other associates (possibly including enforcer Carlos Marcello). Calling the accused employee forward, he was asked to explain the unusual shortages in his collections. As the employee was explaining, Costello was said to have reached under the podium and knocked the man unconscious with a monkey wrench. When he had regained consciousness, Costello told the man to return to his seat and told the audience that if anyone were caught trying to steal from the syndicate there would be worse treatment.

Final years[edit]

Kastel continued to run the organization throughout the 1950s and, due to considerable financial contributions to local politicians (including $750,000 to the campaign fund of Earl Long, a nephew of former Governor Huey Long, from Kastel, Costello and Frankie Carbo in 1955), without interference from city officials.

However, as Costello's influence declined with the emergence of rival mobster Vito Genovese, Kastel's control in the city's gambling operations also declined and was eventually taken over by Marcello. In failing health, having lost his sight in one eye and worsening vision in the other, Kastel remained in his apartment at the Claiborne Towers in New Orleans until August 16, 1962 when his body was found in his apartment from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His death was later ruled a suicide.[1]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Fox, Stephen. Blood and Power: Organized Crime in Twentieth-Century America. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989. ISBN 0-688-04350-X
  • Kelly, Robert J. Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 0-313-30653-2
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Crime. New York: Facts on File Inc., 2001. ISBN 0-8160-4040-0

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