Louie the Lump
John William Tuohy
Pioggi Louis "Louie the Lump" Poggi (1889 - ?) was a New York criminal and member of the Five Points Gang, known most prominently for the murder of Eastman Gang leader Max "Kid Twist" Zwerbach and Vach "Cyclone Louie" Lewis. Louie the Lump
Although newspaper accounts report Pioggi (spelled Poggi) was employed as a clerk in a Coney Island hospital with no criminal record, Pioggi apparently became associated with members of the Five Points Gang during their decade-long gang war with the Eastman Gang.
On the night of May 14, 1908, Pioggi was confronted by Max Zwerbach and Vach Lewis over a Coney Island dance hall girl, Carrol Terry and eventually forced to jump out the first story window of a saloon. After returning to rival Five Points Gang leader Paul Kelly, Pioggi returned to the saloon and lured the two into the street where they were ambushed by members of the Five Points Gang and gunned down.
During his trial, Pioggi claimed that Zwerbach and Lewis had confronted him with members of their gang at his hotel with the intentions of murdering him. Forced out into the street, he went on to say that he then shot both of them before they were able to get out their pistols. His lawyer, John S. Bennett, issued a statement to the court that for the safety of his client, Pioggi would choose not to stand trial and plead guilty to manslaughter as his testimony might incriminate certain figures of the cities underworld. Bennett's claims were further supported by Edward Reardon, formerly of the District Attorney's office, and Thomas Fitzpatrick, brother of slain gangster Richie Fitzpatrick, however apparently neither man appeared at the trial.
Pioggi was later sentenced to one year at Elmira Reformatory, and following his release, he was later charged with violation of the Sullivan Law in April 1912 and jumped bail. Shortly after this, one of Pioggi's friends, Charley Torti, was accused of shooting arch-rival Jack Zelig on the steps of the Tombs on Pioggi's orders in June 1912. On the run for three years, Pioggi was eventually arrested in Times Square by detectives of the District Attorney’s office on July 28, 1915. At his arraignment, he was imprisoned in the Tombs without bail to await his trial. However, he disappeared from public record thereafter
Despite having a wife and child at his Williamsburg home, Kid Twist was known as a ladies man around town, and it was this that would prove the end of him. Zwerbach's regular girlfriend was a Canadian dancer named Carroll Terry, who also happened to be seeing Louis Pioggi aka Louie the Lump, an up-and-coming member of the Five Points Gang. In the early evening of May 14, 1908, Pioggi met with Terry in a Coney Island dance hall one last time, when she let him know that she preferred the company of Kid Twist. Burning with jealously, Louie the Lump went to a Surf Avenue saloon and began drinking. As he boozed, in walked Kid Twist and Cyclone Louie. They slid up next to their rival and began viciously taunting him with crude remarks about his failed relationship. When Louie the Lump looked as if he wanted to fight, the Eastman’s drew pistols and forced Pioggi to jump out of the second story window. Louie the Lump went out the window, breaking his ankle when he hit the pavement. He staggered off as Kid Twist and Cyclone Louie stuck their heads out the window and laughed uproariously.
Shortly before 8:30 that night the two Eastman’s were still in the saloon drinking and chuckling over Louie the Lump's dive, when a young boy delivered them a note, saying Carroll Terry was outside and wanted to see them. The two men strolled out into the night, when Louie the Lump, holding two revolvers, charged forward and opened fire. One bullet struck Kid Twist in the head, and Cyclone Louie was hit five times before he moved a step. Both men collapsed dead in the doorway underneath a large, ornamental horseshoe. Just then, none other than Carroll Terry herself arrived on the scene. Louie shot her through the hip. As the gangster limped away, a police officer yelled for him to halt. Pioggi whirled around and fired one shot, which ripped off the officer's helmet.
After his initial humiliation, according to legend (contemporary newspaper accounts make no mention of these events) Louie the Lump got on the phone to Paul Kelly, boss of the Five Points Gang, and told them what happened and asked permission to kill Kid Twist. A trolley car full of Italian gangsters soon arrived at Coney Island, ready for action. It was also said that the anonymous gangsters also did a good deal of shooting, although witnesses and police made it clear that Pioggi did all the killing himself.
Louie the Lump was arrested almost a year later and pleaded guilty, receiving eleven months in jail, sneering that, "I could to that standin' on me head!" After the death of Kid Twist, the Eastman Gang split into factions, continuing their feud with the Five Pointers. Leadership of the largest faction fell to Zwerbach's young protégé, Jack Zelig.
Years later, gangster Abe Reles was said to have taken his nickname "Kid Twist" from the long-dead Zwerbach.