The Amberg Brothers
John William Tuohy
Brooklyn Gangsters. The brothers used the same address, 339 Chester Street in Brooklyn. (An office building stands on the site today). Joseph Amberg (Born 1892, in Russia. Died September 30, 1935) and his brothers, Hyman (The Rat) Louis (Called Pretty because he was exceedingly ugly) and Oscar were vicious labor racketeering and other criminal activities in New York during the 1920s and 1930s. (The last brother, William, ran a furniture store in Brooklyn and had no criminal record)
The brother’s primary rivals were the equally vicious Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles and the Shapiro Brothers.
The brothers were probably the first to charge 20% interest on their loans and fought for control of the Brownsville neighborhood in a partnership with Little Frank Teitelbaum.
Joey Amberg (Below) had 13 arrests on his record, starting in 1908 when he was jailed for burglary. He served five years in Sing-Sing Prison for assault and three years in federal prison for narcotics peddling.
Hymie Amberg (Below)committed suicide while jailed at the Tombs in 1926 while he awaiting trial for the murder of a Brooklyn jeweler named Aaron Rodack. Oscar Amberg, another brother, was charged with bringing the weapons that Hymie used trying to escape. Hyman managed to murder the warden and a guard, before taking his own life. Oscar was acquitted.
Joey Amberg made most of his living as a loan shark in Brooklyn Jewish community and he was widely hated. On September 30, 1935, at high noon, Joey Amberg and his driver Morris Kessler (Born 1892) were ambushed in garage at the corner of Blake and Christopher Avenue in Brownsville (Brooklyn) At the time Amberg lived at 190 East Seventeenth Street in Brooklyn (The property still stands. Kessler lived at 50 Tapscott Street in Brooklyn. Amberg parked his gray limousine at the garage and picked up each day to tour his rackets. As the pair stepped into the garage, (The place was massive and covered most of the block) three young men dressed in blue work clothes walked in and pulled out pistol from their coats. One of them said to Amberg “Back up Joe” when Amberg back up to the wall, one of the men said “Got you now Joe, how does it feel?”
The gunmen then fired twelve shots into Amberg and Kessler, killing them both. Amberg was hit five times, mostly in the left lower back and left back of the head. Kessler, who turned to face the killers as he was shot, was hit four times, mostly in the face.
A month later, the remaining and eldest brother, Louis AKA Pretty (Born 1897) was found hacked to death near the Brooklyn Navy Yard on October 23, 1935 (the same day Dutch Schultz was murdered) at 1:15 in the morning.
The insane killer Abe Reles said of Pretty Amberg “The word was that he was kinda nuts” And he was. Amberg’s record, almost exclusively limited to assaults, started on November 3, 1914. In total he was arrested 15 times, and was found innocent for lack of evidence on virtually every charge.
He was also the prime suspect in 18 murders. He was credited with inventing the so-called “Sack murder” in which the victim was tied with wire around the neck, arms and legs and eventually strangled themselves trying to escape.
His hacked up, nude body was found inside a burning car at 131 North Elliot place in Brooklyn (The address no longer exists). It was wrapped in blankets and tied around the ankles and wrists with wire. He had been cut up with an axe at least ten hours before. Amberg had spent the previous week at different Turkish bathes around the lower east side, probably as a means to protect himself.
Joey, Little Frank Teitelbaum and Louis were more than probably murdered by a cop killer named Albert Stern AKA The Teacher. (His real name was probably Stein, he was born 1914)
Stern, a morphine addict, had once worked for the Amberg’s, ended the relationship when he robbed Joey Amberg on his extortion money (it turned out to be less than $70) and then with other members of the gang broke off on his own and started to pull off kidnappings.
Convinced that the Amberg’s and Teitelbaum would turn him into police for crimes of the past, Stern went on a murderous rampage and wiped the brothers out. Stein was found dead on October 27, 1935, hung by the neck, in a cheap New Jersey boarding house. It has never been established whether he killed himself or was murdered.