Frank Abbandando (July 11, 1910 – February 19, 1942), nicknamed "The Dasher", was a New York contract killer who committed many murders as part of the infamous Murder, Inc. gang.
Abbandando was one of twelve children of Lorenzo Abbondandolo and Rosaria Famighetti. On his tombstone, his family name was inscribed as "Abbundando". Abbandando's family immigrated from Avellino, Italy to New York. As a teenager, Abbandando extorted money from shop owners by threatening to torch their shops.
In his twenties, Abbandando joined a street gang in the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn. Before long, he was a lieutenant for Harry Maione. Abbandando organized gambling, loan sharking, and extortion rackets for the gang as well as committing murders. In 1928, Abbandando was convicted of beating a New York City police officer and was sent to reform school in Elmira, New York, where he demonstrated skill at baseball and received the nickname "The Dasher".
In his "free" time, Abbandando was a connoisseur of fine clothes and fancy cars. He was reportedly a sexual predator; he would drive around Brownsville and Ocean Hill, looking for young women to rape. At his later murder trial, the prosecutor said that Abbandando had all but admitted one rape. Abbandando replied, "Well, that one doesn't count really—I married the girl later." Most of his victims would be stabbed in the chest with ice picks.
Rise of Murder, Inc.
In the early 1930s, the Cosa Nostra crime families in New York, known as the Five Families, began using street gangs to commit their murders. Having recently settled the vicious Castellammarese War and reorganized into a new structure, the families desperately wanted to keep themselves out of public attention. By using Jewish contract killers, the families were better protected from public and law enforcement scrutiny. The gang leader that the mafiosi used the most was Louis Buchalter, the young Jewish leader of the "Gorilla Boys" gang. As the Cosa Nostra business increased, Buchalter's small informal network of killers turned into a group of 250 criminals who were involved in narcotics smuggling, labor racketeering, and other rackets. Buchalter called his group "The Combination", but the press labeled it "Murder, Inc." Unlike the Five Families, which required Sicilian or Southern Italian ancestry for membership, Murder Inc. included Jews, Italians, and members of other ethnic groups.
At some early point, Abbandando joined Murder Inc. During the 1920s and 30s, Abbandando was reputed to have killed thirty people, mostly in Brooklyn. He usually received about $500 for a murder. In September 1931, Abbandando reportedly helped Buchalter and gang member Abe Reles eliminate The Shapiro Gang, rivals from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who were trying to take over some of the men's rackets. In 1937, Abbandando assisted in the murder of George Rudnick, a loan shark in Brooklyn. Reles had ordered Rudnick's murder because he had received information that Rudnick was a police informant. Using an ice pick and a meat cleaver, Abbandando and several other gang members strangled Rudnick, stabbed him 63 times, and crushed his head inside a garage. No one was arrested for the crime. In February 1939, Abbandando and others killed mobster Felice Esposito in a contract killing. The Cosa Nostra wanted Esposito dead because he testified for the prosecution in a mob murder trial 17 years earlier.
Conviction and execution
At the beginning of the 1940s, Murder, Inc. was hit by a series of successful prosecutions that eliminated its leadership and several of its top hitmen. Facing a murder charge, Reles became a government witness and began implicating his fellow gang members. In May 1940, based on information from Reles, Abbandando was indicted for the 1937 Rudnik murder. At one point during the trial, while Abbandando was on the witness stand, he whispered a threat into the judge's ear. Throughout the trial, Abbandando was surpremely confident that his allies would succeed in fixing the verdict. To his surprise, Abbandando was convicted of murder. The verdict was overturned on appeal and Abbandando went on trial a second time in 1941. On April 3, 1941, Abbandando was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. On February 19, 1942, Frank Abbandando was executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.
After Abbandando's conviction, six other members of Murder, Inc., including Buchalter and Maione, were also convicted of murder and executed based on Reles' testimony. On November 12, 1941, while under police protection, Reles fell out a hotel window in Coney Island. The official ruling was that Reles died trying to climb down bedsheets to the street below; however, it was rumored that the Cosa Nostra raised $100,000 to bribe Reles's guards to shove him out the window.
With Buchalter's death, Albert Anastasia, a made man, of the Cosa Nostra took over "Murder, Inc." As a reaction to government informants in Murder, Inc., the New York crime families started using their own members and associates, who were more easily controlled, to commit murders. Murder, Inc. soon faded away.
As a young man, Abbandando married Jennie DeLuca, a hairdresser from Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, at his parents' urging. Abbandando had two sons: Lawrence, born on December 20, 1927 out of wedlock, and Frank Abbandando Jr., on October 17, 1935. Lawrence, a mob associate, died of cancer on March 25, 1995 in North Miami Beach, Florida. Frank Jr., also a mob associate, was killed in 1996 in South Beach, Miami, Florida