The Papers of George Morton Levy

Almost eighty years ago, in one of the most sensational criminal trials of the twentieth century, Charles “Lucky” Luciano was convicted on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution in a New York City courtroom, effectively ending his storied reign as the head of organized crime in America.

In order to prove his improbable claim that Luciano was the secret leader of a city-wide vice ring, special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey had arrested and jailed nearly a hundred New York prostitutes as material witnesses in order to find – some would say bribe or coerce – those who might be willing to take the stand and tie Luciano to the so-called prostitution bonding combination.

Attorney George Morton Levy, who served as Luciano’s lead trial counsel, died on July 19, 1977, whereupon his office files were placed in storage.  The following original documents, never before seen in public, were culled from these files.

Because Levy had been hired only two days before jury selection began on Monday, May 11, 1936, and because Luciano remained incarcerated throughout the trial, no documents reflecting privileged attorney-client communications are among Levy’s papers.  But the following documents, along with my accompanying commentary, should nonetheless be of interest to anyone familiar with the case or, more importantly, to anyone concerned with the question of Luciano’s actual guilt or innocence:

  1. Affidavit of Helen Horvath aka Helen Kelly dated July 8, 1936
  2. Levy file memo dated June 9, 1936 regarding letter from Horvath/Kelly
  3. Handwritten note from Harold Weil to Levy regarding Horvath/Kelly letter
  4. Second Levy file memo dated June 9, 1936 regarding letter from Horvath/Kelly
  5. Telephone message slip dated July 2, 1936 regarding call from Horvath/Kelly
  6. Affidavit of Samuel Kornbluth dated June 11, 1936
  7. Letter from Kornbluth to Levy dated June 11, 1936 regarding affidavit
  8. Handwritten letter from Dorothy Russell Calvit to Kornbluth
  9. Telegram (with envelope) from Mildred Balitzer aka Mildred Harris dated July 3, 1936
  10. Confidential surveillance reports dated April 30 and May 1, 1936
  11. Confidential report of interview with the family of Genevieve Flesher aka Nancy Presser
  12. Levy’s handwritten notes regarding the testimony of Cokey Flo Brown
  13. Levy’s typewritten notes for his final argument