Abe Bernstein "Purple Gang Leader"

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Abe Bernstein (1892 - March 7, 1968)

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Abe's Early Life

Born in New York, in 1892, Abe Bernstein and his three brothers; Joseph, Raymond, and Isadore Bernstein, moved to Detroit, Michigan, in their childhood years. While growing up in the slums in Detroit, the influence of criminal behavior soon became a way of life for Abe and his brothers as their petty crimes turned into something much greater and much more dangerous. During their adolescent years, the five Bernstein brothers joined up with an adolescent delinquent gang that was the antecedent to the soon to be Purple Gang.

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Abe's Gang Pt. 1

The Purple Gang also known as the "Sugar House Gang" was a group of Jewish gangsters founded by the Bernstein brothers: Abe, Joe, Raymond, and Izzy (also known as Isadore) that resided in Detroit, Michigan.

Unlike many other gangs, that profited off the prohibition law, by bootlegging, the Purple Gang was not interested in rum running, as it was called. Instead the gang was known for stealing illegal booze from more experienced bootleggers and for intercepting shipments of alcohol as they arrived from over the Canadian border to Detroit. The Purple Gang's business plan was a simple one. Hijack the booze and kill the bootleggers. Since the Purple Gang was only about fighting and killing other gangsters, there was little suppression on the part of the police force. There was probably a fair amount of corruption on the force, but those cops were also very pleased to see the Purple Gang get rid of other gangs such as the Purple Gang's sworn rival the Little Jews Navy.

Abe's Gang Pt. 2

In March 1928, Abe Bernstein was arrested and charged with conspiracy to extort money from the city's wholesale dry cleaners industry. Arrested and charged with the crime along with Abe Bernstein were other Purple Gang members; Raymond Bernstein, Irving Milberg, Eddie Fletcher, Joe Miller, Irving Shapiro, Abe Kaminsky, and brothers Abe and Simon Axler. It is unknown if whether or not the men served any jail time.

The Gang's Actions

Al Capone and different gang bought a ton of their alcohol from Canada during Prohibition, and the Purple Gang was considered a noteworthy go-between for the gangs. In the summer, the Purple Gang transported alcohol from Canada by shipment, with an insignificant 10-minute ride across the river. During the winter, when the river was frozen solid, the transportation of alcohol was carried out by trucks that simply drove over the ice.

Abe's Gang Pt. 3

During the Purple Gang's control rein over Detroit, Abe Bernstein and a few different individuals were later arrested and charged with the murder of Detroit policeman Vivian Welsh. Despite the fact that a Chevrolet car was utilized as a part of his homicide, murder was later traced back to one of Abe's siblings Raymond Bernstein, while Abe was discharged from the crime because of the lack of evidence that police had to go by. This choice might have come about because of press reports that affirmed that Vivian Welsh had blackmailed cash from autonomous peddlers and an speakeasy administrator. Abe and other group individuals were under ceaseless police observation. Later on, Raymond Bernstein along with a couple of other Purple Gang members, were convicted for the first degree murder of Vivian Welsh in an alternate case.

Abe's Gang Pt. 4

The gang violence in Detroit soon plummeted, as Abe Bernstein's Purple Gang started to break down in the mid 1930's due to the strife and fighting that was happening among the gang members.

In September 1931, the Purple Gang killed three of their own individuals who were conflicting with the group to their greatest advantage. The three men, Hymie Paul, Joe Sutker, and Joe Lebowitz, were invited to a peace transaction at the Collingwood Manor Apartment working in Detroit. When they arrived, they were gunned down, and Sol Levine, the man who transported the three respectable men to the condo, was later arrested by Detroit Police and for his connections with The Purple Gang, who was against the group. Thus, three out of four of the men who were involved with the murders, including Ray (Raymond) Bernstein, were indicted an extensive round of questioning murders and sentenced to life in prison .

The St. Valentines Day Massacre

Infamous, and scandalous Chicago mafia boss "Scarface" Al Capone connected with his underworld associates in Detroit, the notorious Purple Gang, for help in pulling off the famously severe St. Valentine's Day Massacre in the winter of 1929.

Abe's Final Years

Abe Bernstein, who had started fanning out to other significant urban areas in the nation during the mid-1920's, became a partner of New York mobsters Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky, and later turned into an accomplice in a few syndicate betting gambling clubs in Miami. After his sibling Ray was detained for his involvement in the "Collingwood Massacre", Abe dedicated the rest of his life to getting his sibling out of jail until his death on March 7, 1968 in his inn room of the Book-Cadillac. To this the day it is unknown where Abe Bernstein's final resting place is located.

The Detroit Mob & The Purple Gang english documentary part 1
The Detroit Mob & The Purple Gang english documentary part 2