Ignazio “Jack” Dragna (alias “Jack Rizotta”) in a 1916 police mugshot.
Dragna was a longtime friend of Gaetano “Tommy” Reina when they both lived in the East Harlem Section of New York. Both were implicated in the Barnet Baff murder case in November of 1914. After the murder, Dragna fled to California where he established his own crime family.
Find a Grave:
Birth: Apr. 18, 1891
Death: Feb. 23, 1956
Los Angeles County
Organized Crime Figure. Made member of the Chicago Cosa Nostra. The most successful, but least known of any Los Angeles crime boss. He was not a publicity seeker like Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen, which allowed him to die of natural causes and not to pass away in jail. He lived in Los Angeles most of his career, and made his living off of gambling and prostitution. He, along with mobser Johnny Roselli ran a telgraph system called the “Race Wire”. It allowed bookie joints to get fast racing information. Later, the New York Mob sent Bugsy Siegel out to get a piece of the action. When Siegel was murdered, Dragna attempted to take over his rackets. This put Jack Dragna into a long feud with Mickey Cohen. Many attempts were made on Cohen’s life, but they were never successful. When he died, the L.A. mob was taken over by Frank DeSimone. Dragna was the only L.A. crime boss to ever hold a seat on the national Cosa Nostra Commission. (bio by: Joe Walker)
In December 1947, Mickey Cohen celebrated the relocation of his haberdashery from un-posh Santa Monica Blvd. up the hill to new digs at 8802 Sunset on the Strip, with a Christmas-themed grand-opening party. Among the guests were Jack Dragna, Cohen’s principal rival for control of the Los Angeles rackets, and Lt. Rudy Wellpott, head of the LAPD’s elite administrative vice unit, who ran another set of rackets from inside the department.
Both men will play big roles in his life over the next year and a half.
In August 1948, a shotgun-toting hitman hired by team Dragna will enter Cohen’s plush offices in the ground level below the haberdashery and blow the head off of one of Mickey’s bodyguards and wound another. Cohen, who was in the men’s room washing his hands when the shooting started, hid from the gunman in a stall by crouching on the toilet.
In May 1949, Cohen will release recordings of phone calls that implicate Wellpott and other LAPD brass, all the way up to Chief C.B. Horrall, in gambling, prostitution and abortion rackets in the city, including Brenda Allen’s A-list bordello services on the Sunset Strip. Wellpott be forced to resign from the LAPD, but will be acquitted by a jury on bribery charges.
The store, which was called Michael’s, occupied a storefront in a building Cohen purchased that occupied the southwest corner of Holloway Drive and Palm Avenue on the Strip.