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Hyman Roth is a fictional character from the novel and movie series The Godfather, where he was an investor and a business partner of Vito Corleone and former enforcer in Corleone family, and later his son Michael.

Biography

Born as Hyman Suchowsky, Hyman Roth settled in Hell's Kitchen, New York. In the early 1920s, while working as a car mechanic, he was noticed by Peter Clemenza, who called him "Johnny Lips". Clemenza introduced him to Vito Corleone who suggested to change his name. When Vito asked who he admired, Suchowsky told him Arnold Rothstein for fixing the World Series. He had one younger brother, Samand a wife named Marcia.

Roth worked diligently for the Corleone family during Prohibition, and was a close friend and ally of Moe Greene, the "inventor" of Las Vegas. Roth, as well as Don Corleone, both got their starts working together running molasses out of Cuba. It is suggested, however, that Vito never fully trusted Roth, nor did many of his associates, including Frank Pentangeli.

Roth's organization

Roth had very few men under his control over the years, which helped him keep under the radar of the authorities for many years. Although Roth himself had little in the way of fighting power, this was offset by his numerous business dealings, where his partners would provide him with all the muscle he needed. His ability to generate such enormous profits from his plans for him and his partners gave him immense influence and a sort of political invincibility in the underworld: nearly all of Roth's most bitter rivals realized he was far too valuable an asset to lose, and his partners were determined to protect their moneymaker from the few who didn't.

By the late 1950s, Roth was based in Miami and lived like a typically quiet, middle-class Jewish man approaching old age — though in reality he is a multi-millionaire and powerful crime boss. His right hand man is the Sicilian Johnny Ola. Roth, though in ill health, is about to enter into an extraordinarily profitable business partnership with the corrupt Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista, but is thwarted by Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution. He also had dealings with the Central Intelligence Agency. At about this time, Roth manipulates Michael's brother Fredo into giving him information he uses to make an attempt on Michael's life in order to avenge Moe Greene's murder.

Michael quickly realizes that Roth was behind the assassination attempt. However, remembering his father's advice to "keep your friends close and your enemies closer", he decides to make Roth think they still have a good business relationship before killing him. He also suspects Roth had the help of a mole in the Corleone family, and wants to buy time to smoke him out, too.

Assassination attempt

During the last night of Batista's leadership, Michael orders Roth killed, telling Fredo, "Hyman Roth will never see the New Year." After ordering the murder of Johnny Ola in the same night, Michael has his bodyguard, Bussetta kill Roth. Roth is ill and lying in bed when Bussetta sneaks in and tries to suffocate Roth with a pillow. Fortunately for Roth, members of the military storm the hospital and kill the bodyguard. That same night, Michael finds out Fredo was the one who betrayed him.

Senate hearing

Shortly before the Cuban fiasco, the Senate began hearings on the impact of organized crime. The subcommittee's lawyer, Questadt, was on Roth's payroll, and alerted Roth. Seeing a chance to eliminate Michael from the scene, Roth had the Rosatos try to kill Pentangeli and make him think that they did so on orders from Michael. Pentangeli tells the FBI that Michael is really a powerful Mafia leader who controls all of the gambling in North America, and has ordered dozens of murders. Pentangeli is considered very credible, since as a capo there is no insulation between himself and Michael. Fredo knew about Roth's involvement in the hearing all along, and only told Michael just days before he was due to testify, prompting Michael to banish him from the family. Realizing that Pentangeli's testimony could send him to prison, Michael flies in Pentangeli's brother, Vincenzo, to remind him not to break his blood oath.

Death

By the end of the winter, Roth publicly states that he wishes to retire and live the twilight of his life in Israel — which is a sign that he has given up his feud against the Corleones. But Michael is not satisfied yet. Roth's request to move to Israel under the Law of Return is rejected by the Israeli High Court, reportedly due to his criminal ties. When Michael finds this out, he puts a contract on Roth. Roth arrives at the airport and prepares to be taken into Federal Custody in the U.S. Minutes after getting off the plane, he is shot point-blank by Corleone caporegime Rocco Lampone, who was posing as a reporter. Rocco was then in-turn shot by federal officers as he was running away.

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