John William Tuohy
Morris Sedway: Casino operator. Born Sedwits and legally changed to Sedway in 1924. AKA Moey. AKA Moe. Born 1894. Died 1952. Born in Poland. Arrived in the United States in 1921. Became a US citizen on July 16, 1914. Lived at 614 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hill, California.
Moey Sedway (standing left photo above)was essentially a gofer, a hanger-on for Meyer Lansky and later for Bugsy Siegel, and for the most part was not affiliated with the muscle end of the rackets business. He did have a criminal past. He was arrested in 1917 for grand larceny and in 1919 for unlawful entry. “It was on a Saturday afternoon” Sedway recalled “and we were running a crap game in the loft up in the twenties. I don't remember what street it was. And it was raided, and I was arrested with one other man, charged with unlawful entry....I went to the reformatory for 3 months to 3 years. I did a little less than a year. I was 22 years old, I think.”
He was arrested for assault and robbery in 1928 “But I was arrested in an office on Broadway, and they charged me with assault and robbery of a person and the person was called in and failed to identify, and I was released. That is one of those things. You are Mr. Halley, aren't you? In order to hold you in New York City, they fix—they put a charge on you regardless of what it is, to keep you overnight, to bring you into court.”
On July 6 1931, he was arrested for his role in stealing $200,000 in treasury notes but was acquitted in the case. He was named as the go-between in the 1936, $20,000 extortion of the Gottfried Baking Company to settle a labor dispute. His last arrest came in 1940 in San Diego for gambling and arrested in Albany New York for vagrancy (A reduced charge from gambling) His own steady job, outside of gambling, was running a trucking business with his brother-in-law and a Chinese restaurant, Fu Manchu, in New York for a few years.
Sedway followed Siegel to Las Vegas in 1938. “I came here” he told the Kefauver Committee “and I had a part interest in the Northern Club book. I came here at the request of Ben Siegel. He had bought in with Dave Stearns in the Northern Club and lie asked me to come down here, and he gave me a piece of the book to look out for his interests.
Although he had begun traveling to Las Vegas in the very early 1920s to build up gambling interest in Nevada and California. Sedway was also a crucial link in developing the mob wire service, Trans-America Race Wire Service.
In 1945, Sedway and Gus Greenbaum were the owner on record of the El Cortez Hotel in Vegas and posted record profits. In 1950, while he was, on record anyway, part owner of the Flamingo casino in Las Vegas he was called before the Kefauver Committee to answer questions about the Outfits holdings in Nevada. He testified that he was ill “I have had three major coronary thrombosis, and I have had diarrhea for 6 weeks, and I have an ulcer, hemorrhoids, and an abscess on my upper intestines. I just got out of bed and I am loaded with drugs.”
A year after the Sands casino opened its doors in Las Vegas in 1951, Jack Dragna, the head of the Los Angeles mob, the so-called Micky Mouse Mafia, moved in on Sedway, who was known to be Meyer Lansky's representative at the Flamingo,. Apparently, Dragna had cleared the assault with Thomas "Tommy Brown" Luchese in New York although it's more likely that Dragna, who worked directly under Chicago's control, actually gave the okay to appease the powerful Tony Accardo who had decided back in 1947 that he wanted his family to run Vegas.
Dragna sent one of his men, Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno, who would later turn mob informant, to send a message to Moe Sedway, Meyer Lansky's five foot, 130-pound front man in Vegas who had started as a gofer for Lansky back in New York.
Fratianno caught up with him as he left the lobby of the Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles and was trying to flag a cab. Fratianno grabbed Sedway from behind and swung him around by the neck. "Moey, I want to tell you something, you motherfucker. You better walk straight around Vegas because the next time I'm going to blow your fucking head off." Then he backhanded Sedway across the mouth, drawing blood.
"What's the matter with you?" Sedway cried. "Leave me alone."
"Remember, you better walk straight." It was a Sicilian message that Sedway and Lansky understood. They had been moved on. Five days later Doc Starcher, Lansky's other front man in Vegas also got a visit from Jimmy the Weasel.
Starcher had a record for assault and battery, robbery, burglary, bootlegging and hijacking and suspicion of murder. He had been under Longy Zwillman in New Jersey and for a while was a power in Newark politics. Then Lansky had picked him to oversee the building of the Sands in Vegas.
Fratianno caught him between two sets of glass doors at the entrance to the Sands. "Listen you motherfucker. I want to tell you something. You're around here high rolling like a fucking big shot, you better do the right thing," and then backhanded him across the mouth, drawing blood. "You better walk straight in this town, or I'll blow your fucking head off," and then Fratianno worked him over.
Starcher was small but he was tough but still there was nothing he could do, Fratianno was a made member of the Mafia, if he touched him, even to defend himself, he was a dead man.
Lansky went to Luchese. "What's the matter with that fucking weasel? What's his problem? First he whacks Moey Sedway and then he whacks Doc Starcher. He told them to walk straight or he'll blow their heads off. Listen Tommy, these guys are in my fucking family. Who does this weasel think he is anyway?"
Luchese said, "Well, you know, he's their top man out there. He's done a lot of work for LA and they're fucking starving out there."
Lansky said, "So they're putting the arm on us, is that what this is?"
"Listen Meyer, that's their country you're in, don't forget that."
Lansky yelled, "That's open country out there! They got no right to smack my people!"
Luchese remained calm and said, "What? You want to start a fucking war? They've got to make a living. What do they care about open country? Vegas is in their back yard." It took a year to work out but in early 1954 Lansky sent word to Dragna that he could buy into the Flamingo for $125,000 but Dragna declined.
Sedway, who was the head of the Las Vegas United Jewish Appeal, died of a heart attack, shortly before midnight on January 4, 1952, while on vacation in Florida. Three hundred people attended his funeral. His honorary pallbearers included Dean Martin, The Marx Brothers, Jerry Lewis, The Ritz Brother, Spike Jones, Eddie Canton and Danny Thomas.