Hearings Before the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate

Date: 1951

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Government Printing Office Washington 1951

A Nation Eyewitnesses Sees Kefauver Investigation

[1951]

MR. HALLEY. You had an income in 1949 from George M. Levy, $15,000. Would you mind telling the committee again what that was for?

MR. COSTELLO. Mr. Levy engaged me—you want me to go in details about what I told you the last time, Mr. Halley?

MR. HALLEY. Would you mind? I would appreciate it.

MR. COSTELLO. You do?

MR. HALLEY. The committee has been very interested in that transaction.

MR. COSTELLO. I met Mr. Levy, and Mr. Levy told me that he was having difficulty at the race track, at the Roosevelt Raceway. He thought that he might lose his franchise, his interest; bookmakers were there, and the racing commission told him that if he didn’t clean it up, he might jeopardize his license. He asked me to help him.

I says, "What way can I help you?"

He says, "Can you suggest something?"

I says, "Well, haven’t you got a detective agency there?"

He says, "I have."

I says, "Well, if they can’t help you, how can I help you?"

He says, "Well, it seems that there’s a tot of complaints. I personally don’t think there’s any more bookmakers there than any other track, but there’s a lot of complaints."

I says, "Nothing I can do for you, George."

So he said, "Maybe you can think of something."

I says, "Well, what I can do, George, I can spread the propaganda around that they’re hurting you there and you’re a nice fellow, and I can tell them that if there’s an arrest made, it’s going to be very severe. I don’t know how much good it’s going to do you, but I’ll talk about it."

He says, "I wish you would," and I did.

MR. HALLEY. Where did you talk about it, Mr. Costello?

MR. COSTELLO. Oh, I talked about it from the second day that he spoke to me about it.

MR. HALLEY. Where did you talk about it?

MR. COSTELLO. Oh, in Moore’s Restaurant, Gallagher’s Restaurant, a hotel, a saloon, as you would call it, any place, or a night club, whenever I had the chance, just in general.

MR. HALLEY. To whom did you talk about it that you might have thought had any connection with bookmaking at a race track?

MR. COSTELLO. Anybody who was around at the time.

MR. HALLEY. When Mr. Levy first came to you, did you tell him that you had no connection whatsoever with bookmakers?

MR. COSTELLO. Positively. He always knew that.

MR. HALLEY. Did you ask him why he came to you?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, I don’t know why he come to me, but he came to me anyway.

MR. HALLEY. Why do you think he came to you?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, he come to me—he thought maybe I would have a solution of some kind, a suggestion, and I told him I had none.

MR. HALLEY. But instead, your suggestion was that you would go and pass the word around?

MR. COSTELLO. That’s right, for no monetary reason at all; as a friend.

MR. HALLEY. Do you think that your passing the word around would have such an influence on bookmakers?

BERLIN, 1945

HANDS ACROSS THE SCREENThe hands of Frank Costello play with his glasses during a television showing of the Senate Crime Investigation hearing at Federal Court. The TV cameramen, requested not to show Costello’s face, had to concentrate on his bands as he testified at the hearing.

MR. COSTELLO. I didn’t think so, and I still don’t think so.

MR. HALLEY. Did you think that your services were worth a total of $60,000 over 4 years?

MR. COSTELLO. Which is $15,000 a year. No, I didn’t think so.

MR. HALLEY. During the first year when he came to you, I believe it was during the racing meet in August, is that right, or possibly earlier in 1946—

MR. COSTELLO. Well, I wouldn’t remember just the time.

MR. HALLEY. But it was the summer of 1946?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, it was prior to the opening of the meet, the middle, or something, I wouldn’t know, I wouldn’t remember.

MR. HALLEY. Well, it certainly must have been the first year in which you went to work for him.

MR. COSTELLO. In 1946.

MR. HALLEY. You are sure of that?

MR. COSTELLO. Yes; I believe it was 1946.

MR. HALLEY. Looking at your own records, what is the first year for which you were paid?

MR. COSTELLO. I believe it was 1946.

MR. WOLF. 1946.

MR. HALLEY. 1946 is right?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, it was 1946.

MR. HALLEY. What did you do in 1946 to earn $15,000?

MR. COSTELLO. Practically nothing.

MR. HALLEY. Well, just what did you do, unless it was absolutely nothing?

MR. COSTELLO. Outside of just talking about it, that bookmakers are going to hurt this man’s license and they cannot make enough money there to hurt a man or to take a chance on account of the severe penalty they would get if they got arrested.

MR. HALLEY. And in what places did you say that?

MR. COSTELLO. Oh, I told you before.

MR. HALLEY. Dinty Moore’s?

MR. COSTELLO. Yes; any place.

MR. HALLEY. Gallagher’s?

MR. COSTELLO. Yes. Wherever I had an occasion that they would talk, you know, in general.

MR. HALLEY. What other places, Mr. Costello, did you spread the gospel, in what other restaurant?

MR. COSTELLO. In other words, do you want me to tell you how many restaurants I go to?

MR. HALLEY. I want you to tell the committee in how many restaurants you went to people—

MR. COSTELLO. Half a dozen restaurants.

MR. HALLEY. And said it would be a bad thing to make book at the Roosevelt Raceway?

MR. COSTELLO. Maybe a half a dozen restaurants. Criselle’s, anywhere, the Waldorf, or—

MR. HALLEY. When yon go to the Waldorf there are bookmakers there?

MR. COSTELLO. The Colony, anywhere where I had dinner or lunch, or something.

MR. HALLEY. How many bookmakers have you had dinner or lunch with, at the Colony?

MR. COSTELLO. I didn’t say I had dinner with bookmakers and I didn’t say I spoke to bookmakers.

MR. HALLEY. Well, how would you expect bookmakers to stop operating at a track?

MR. COSTELLO. I didn’t expect nothing, and I didn’t expect no money for it.

MR. HALLEY. You accepted money for it?

MR. COSTELLO. That was the second year.

MR. HALLEY. And what did you do in the second year that made your services more valuable?

MR. COSTELLO. Nothing. I did the same thing I did the first year, and I don’t think I did a damn thing.

MR. HALLEY. That is the answer; you didn’t do anything?

MR. COSTELLO. I don’t think I did.

SENATOR TOBEY. That was an unearned increment?

MR. COSTELLO. I beg your pardon?

SENATOR TOBEY. That was an unearned increment, wasn’t it?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, now, the man thought I did a great job, and I don’t know why he did. I personally don’t think I did, and he insisted upon me taking this money.

SENATOR O’CONOR. Is there any further explanation you can give, because it is quite important here. You were engaged at the rate of $15,000 a year, a member of the bar and an official of the Raceway engaged you and then, after receiving the complaints from the chairman of the commission, as if by magic the complaint vanishes and there is no further complaint. Can you give any explanation of what further you did or what Mr. Levy said you were to do or sought from you information as to what you did?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, I don’t know. I’m under the impression there was no such a thing as bookmakers there of any amount to be frightened.

SENATOR O’CONOR. Did you report that to Mr. Levy in the first year? You continued on for 4 years and, according to Mr. Levy, you would have continued on still further had it not been for the fact that the internal revenue raised a question about it.

MR. COSTELLO. No; the second year Levy said, "I don’t know what you did, but your propaganda must have done some good because I got no more complaints," and he said, "I want to reimburse you for it."

I said, "There’s no reimbursement. What I did for you I would do for any friend of mine. You are my friend," but he insisted, and so I said, "Well, if you insist, fix it yourself," and he did.

MR. HALLEY. Well, you said you told him what you did for him you would do for any friend, and what this committee is trying to find out is what you meant when you said, "What I did for you"; what did you do for him?

MR. COSTELLO. Whatever he thought I did. I’m telling you what I did.

MR. HALLEY. You thought you did nothing?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, I didn’t think it was helpful, frankly speaking. It might have been, to a certain extent.

MR. HALLEY. What do you mean, it might have been to a certain extent?

MR. COSTELLO. Well, maybe somebody around must have taken the advice and says, "Well, you can’t make no money there, and, well, I don’t suppose you want to get pinched and get a severe sentence in Nassau County," and so on and so forth. I don’t know, just through my propaganda.

MR. HALLEY. Why, that is absurd, Mr. Costello.

MR. COSTELLO. Well, I don’t know what’s absurd. It’s just no other answer I can give you.

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Chicago: Hearings Before the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed October 7, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XZQLVFWUAZT4ETN.

MLA: . Hearings Before the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 7 Oct. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XZQLVFWUAZT4ETN.

Harvard: , Hearings Before the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate. cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 7 October 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XZQLVFWUAZT4ETN.