The Minnesota Mobster
John William Tuohy
Blumenfeld, Isadore. Minnesota Crime Boss. AKA as Kid Cann. AKA Issy. Born September 8, 1900, Rumnesk, Romania. Immigrated to the US in 1902. Lived at 5900 Oakland Avenue and 4700 Circle Down, Golden Valley, North Tyrol Hills. The son of a furrier. Died June 21, 1981 Minnesota based mobster, raised in Near North Minnesota.
There are several versions of how he got the nickname Kid Cann but it is most likely that he took it after Abe Cann, the prizefighter.
Poverty forced Cann out of grammar school and onto the streets first as a newspaper boy and then, gradually, into the Minneapolis red light district where he learned the basics of prostitution and narcotics sales. Prohibition, and the proximity of the Canadian border, made him rich. Cann and his brother Harry Bloom were soon partners with the Capone organization in Chicago in a whisky smuggling operation that expanded to five states. ( Harry was called Bloom, because the family changed its name to what they felt was the less Jewish, Bloom. Harry went a step further and legally changed his name to Yiddy Bloom). Their bootlegging years were brief. They entered the business in about 1928 and left it in 1933.
On August 23, 1933, a federal grand jury in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma charged Cann and his business partner Barney Berman with playing a role in the infamous Charles Urschell kidnapping with haphazard gangster George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly. (Who did not actually own a machine gun). The charges were dropped. If Cann played any role in the kidnapping, it was probably as a fence to ‘wash’ the ransom money. He was sentenced to one year in the Workhouse in 1934 for operating a still
The brothers were quick to expand their criminal empire across the Twin Cities to New Orleans and other places, (Cann was indicted in New Orleans but he refused to appear at trial. The charges were dropped.) largely because they were willing to dabble in drugs and prostitution, two areas where Minneapolis’s Irish mob boss Tommy Banks refused to trade in. In 1956, Banks and Cann became the largest investor in the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company.
Nor where they reluctant to use violence when they had too. In 1928, Cann, who was with the notorious criminal Verne Miller, was accused of shooting officer James Trepanier, crippling him for life. During the gun battle, which started over a disturbing the peace call, another officer shot Cann in right leg.
On September 6, 1934, Howard Guilford, another reporter looking into public corruption, was murdered when gangsters drove his car off of Pillsbury Avenue and almost decapitated him with a shotgun blast to the neck. He died instantly. In 1927, gangsters had done the same thing to him. He survived, but barely and spent the remainder of his life in poor health. Guilford was killed because he planned to run for mayor of Minneapolis.
Then, on December 9, 1935, Walter Liggett, the publisher and editor of Plain Talk Magazine was shot five in front of his wife and ten-year-old daughter Marda, in a drive by shooting outside of his apartment in Minneapolis. Liggett was a crusader who reported on dozens of connections between Minnesota politicians, especially the Governor, Floyd Olson and criminals. Liggett, who came from an old Minnesota family, had been an early backer of Olson until he realized how corrupt and power mad Olson was.
The politicians responded by having Liggett beaten in October of 1935 by Cann. Liggett had written extensively on Cann’s use of political influence and on October 23, 1935, Cann and Abe ‘Brownie” Bronstein first offered Liggett money and favors if he would stop reporting. When he refused, they beat him up and then had him arrested for assault. The beating was severe. One of Liggett’s ears was also ripped off and a tooth was kicked out of his mouth. Cann also arranged for Liggett to be arrested for statutory rape of a 19-year-old girl. Cann was arrested after Liggett was killed but on February 19, 1935, Cann was found not guilty of killing Liggett but few believed the truthfulness of the trial. It was widely assumed then and today, that Cann had fixed jury and the state’s investigators. Oddly, Governor Olson died the following year, at age 44, of a stomach ailment.
On January 22, 1945, Cann was suspected in the murder of another reporter named Arthur Kasherman. Like the others, he was killed in a drive by shooting. His last words were “Don’t shoot, for God’s sakes don’t shoot”. Unlike the others, Kasherman had a reputation as a minor extortionist, using his publication as means to shake down dirty politicians and policemen.
The brothers ran their empire from the Flame Night Club on Nicollet Avenue (it was later called the Club Carnival) and in 1942 the federal government dubbed him ‘The vice lord of the Midwest’ although Cann seems not to have been completely sane. He sometimes took on the persona of a character named Dr. Ferguson, or Fergie, millionaire philanthropist and he insisted that people refer to him by that name and title.
In the early 1950s, it was learned that Cann was an investor in the Mafia’s schemes to skim the Las Vegas casinos. How much he got and from which casinos, was never learned. In 1959, Cann was convicted of violating the Mann Act (Transporting a female across state lines for immoral purposes) The case was thrown out on appeal. The woman in question was a professional prostitute from Chicago. However, in 196, other charges of extortion and jury tampering followed and Cann was finally sent to federal prison.
After his release from prison in 1964, Cann and his wife (Lillian Lee. They were married on August 25, 1936 and were childless) moved to Miami beach where he was thought to partners with Meyer Lansky. Cann had invested in several of Lansky’s casinos back in the 1940s and on Lansky’s advice, they also owned land on Miami’s waterfront that was leased to large, national hotel chains. Cann died in 1981 at age 80.
In 1939, Yiddy Bloom (Born January 28, 1911) who ran a liquor store, married Verna Kraemer. The couple had two children, who, as adults, changed their name back to Blumenfeld. Yiddy also invested in real estate including 19 Florida hotels, which, according to the Florida Attorney General in 1968, were secretly owned by Meyer Lansky who was controlling them on behalf of various Mafia bosses.
In 1978, Yiddy pled guilty in a stock manipulation conspiracy case involving a scam to manipulate the common stock belonging to the Magic Marker Corporation from $6.50 to $30 a share. His son Jerrold was also indicted.
It was rumored in the underworld that after Meyer Lansky’s daughter spent money set aside to care for her disabled brother Buddy Lansky, that Yiddy Bloom paid all of Buddy’s medical bills. Yiddy died on November 18, 1994