Bootlegger is about a Jewish immigrant who became a bootlegger at the age of 19 during Prohibition. By the time he was 24, the government claimed he owed $1.2 million in income taxes. He was a rarity in that he never used violence to achieve his wealth. After three of his breweries in Reading, Pennsylvania were closed down in 1928, he became a partner with Waxey Gordon, the foremost beer baron in the country. Their syndicate in North Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania controlled 17 breweries, according to the Prohibition Bureau. When real beer was legalized in 1933, Hassel became a legitimate brewer by placing a tax stamp on every barrel leaving his breweries. This was in direct opposition to the plans of the Luciano/Lansky forces whose plan was to retain control of the beer and liquor industries after Prohibition. Hassel was killed by mob hit men, setting off an investigation that ruined the mob's scheme. The mystery of who killed Hassel was not solved for almost seventy years.
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March 01, 2012
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