October 23, 1935: A Mobster Cheats Satan

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Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

 “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.”

Oscar Wilde


Arthur Simon Flegenheimer was born into a Jewish family of German immigrants in New York City on August 6, 1902, the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Early in his life his father abandoned the family, and life was harsh for Arthur, his mother and his younger sister.  He dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support the family.  He quickly fell into a life of crime and by age 18 was serving a prison sentence.  He was paroled on December 8, 1920, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Going to work for Schultz Trucking, he swiftly returned to crime.  Among his gangland colleagues he adopted the nom de crime of Dutch Schultz.  Gangster Joey Noe hired him in 1928 to work as a bouncer at a small speakeasy, Hub Social Group.  Impressed by his brutality and ruthlessness, Noe took Schultz into partnership and soon he became wealthy owning with Noe a chain of speakeasies.  The Noe-Schultz gang quickly became a power in Manhattan, the sole non-Italian gang to rival the five Italian crime organizations that would later merge as the founding five families of the American Mafia.

The expansion into the upper west side of Manhattan, brought Noe and Schultz into conflict with Irish-American gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond.  War breaking out between the gangs, Joey Noe was gunned down and died on November 21, 1928.  Schultz was crushed by the loss of his friend and mentor.

Holding his own among the murderous New York gangs, Schultz pioneered the numbers racket at the end of Prohibition and also extorted “protection” money from restaurants.  In the summer of 1935 he was successful in beating a tax evasion prosecution.  During his trial he had portrayed himself as an honest business man, and he engaged in numerous charitable activities.  Secretly he began to study Catholicism, convinced that for some unfathomable reason Jesus had spared him from prison.

On October 23, 1935 Schultz was gunned down by Murder, Inc., the gangland Commission having ordered the murder, fearing that Shultz would attempt to murder New York prosecutor Thomas Dewey in revenge for his prosecution of Schultz, and bring the wrath of the law down on their heads.

Taken to a hospital, certain he was to die, Schultz begged to die as a Catholic.  Father Cornelius McInerney was summoned, gave Schultz some simple instruction in the Faith, baptized him and gave him the Last Rites. As  Schultz went into surgery, Father McInerney stayed at the hospital and comforted the three women in the life of Schultz, his mother, his sister and his wife.  Schultz died after the surgery on October 24.  He was given a funeral mass and buried at Gate of Heaven cemetery.

There was an uproar at the idea of this murderer stealing Heaven at the last moment among many non-Catholics.  Catholics, and Saint Dismas presumably, did not share in the outrage.




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  1. St. Dismas, pray for us. The penitent thief who alone on Calvary gave Jesus some comfort and support. Note the saint’s repentance, acceptance of his punishment, and statement of faith: “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ Note that St. Dismas did not ask for a place with Jesus in the Kingdom, but simply to be remembered.
    This brings me to today’s Gospel. Luke 18:9 “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.” This trap we must avoid. The Apostles admitted that salvation is impossible for man when Jesus told the young, rich man what he needed to do. And, Jesus assured them that “All things are possible with God.”
    Finally, there is greater rejoicing in Heaven for the one lost sheep . . .

  2. Imagine T.Shaw the rage of Satan! In Schultz he had a perfect servant fit for the deeper pits of Hell, only to have him snatched from his talons in the closing hours of his life. Great joy in Heaven and great rage in Hell!

  3. Wonderful! I am hoping that some I know (not gangsters; but away from God and His Church) will also have that grace of a blessed conversion, even though it seems very unlikely.

  4. Don,

    It also highlights the great Mercy of the Sacred Heart to remember that October 24, the day he had to appear before the Throne of the Just God, is also the Feast of St. Raphael, one of the Patron Saints of the Confessional as his name means “Healing/Medicine of God’….in his Litany he is also addressed as “Consoler of prisoners”, “Exterminator of vices”, and “as filled with zeal for the Salvation of souls”….How consoling to see the imprint of God’s Love in the “mystical” events of his life! God is so Good…………And we all need reminders that no matter how bad things are there is always Hope and the Mercy of a very Patient Savior. Dutch must have been or done something to merit such an abundance of Mercy in the midst of such evil. God have Mercy on us all.

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