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Danny Walsh

Danny Walsh

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Daniel L. "Danny" Walsh was an figure in Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is the capital and most populous city of Rhode Island and was one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the third largest city in the New England region...

 involved in bootlegging
Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

 during Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

. He was the top underworld figure in southern New England, and last major Irish-American gangster
A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang. Some gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from mob and the suffix -ster....

 in the region, until his kidnapping and apparent murder in 1933.


Born in the Cumberland
Cumberland, Rhode Island
Cumberland is a town in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States, incorporated in 1746. The population was 33,506 at the 2010 census.-History:...

 mill village of Valley Falls
Valley Falls, Rhode Island
Valley Falls is a village and census-designated place in the town of Cumberland, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. Valley Falls is located in the southern part of Cumberland, Rhode Island and borders the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island,the city of Attleboro, Massachusetts, and...

, Walsh was a clerk in a Pawtucket
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Pawtucket is a city in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 71,148 at the 2010 census. It is the fourth largest city in the state.-History:...

 hardware store before he entered bootlegging in 1920. First driving alcohol shipments for other local bootleggers by the mid-1920's. Considering himself a “gentleman farmer”, Walsh had spent much of his money on thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed...

s which he raised for his farm in Charlestown, Rhode Island
Charlestown, Rhode Island
Charlestown is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 7,827 at the 2010 census.-History:Charlestown is named after King Charles II, and was incorporated in 1738. The area was formerly part of the town of Westerly...

, although he owned two high-class apartments in the east side of Providence and a waterfront mansion in Charlestown.

Rhode Island was known for its lax enforcement of the Volstead Act
Volstead Act
The National Prohibition Act, known informally as the Volstead Act, was the enabling legislation for the Eighteenth Amendment which established prohibition in the United States...

, being one of two states which refused to ratify the 18th Amendment
Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established Prohibition in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition...

. The federal government charged Walsh not with bootlegging but with tax evasion, regarding $350,000 in back taxes and penalties owed the Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

, although Walsh and authorities agreed on a lesser sum.

Following the aftermath of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Walsh enjoyed enormous wealth as one of the country's largest bootleggers. One of four Irish-Americans in the "Big Seven
Seven Group
The Combined or Big Seven Group, was a criminal organization headed by organized crime figures on the east coast during Prohibition serving as the predecessor to the alleged National Crime Syndicate of the 1930s...

", his frequent business trips to New York were speculated by the press to be meetings with other members of the "combine" which included New York's William "Big Bill" Dwyer
Bill Dwyer (mobster)
William Vincent Dwyer , known as "Big Bill" Dwyer, was an early Prohibition gangster and bootlegger in New York during the 1920s. He used his profits to purchase sports properties, including the New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates of the National Hockey League , as well as the Brooklyn...

 and Owney "The Killer" Madden
Owney Madden
Owney "The Killer" Madden was a leading underworld figure in Manhattan, most notable for his involvement in organized crime during Prohibition. He also ran the famous Cotton Club and was a leading boxing promoter in the 1930s.-Early life:Owen Vincent Madden was born at 25 Somerset Street, in...

 and Boston's Joseph Kennedy.

His attendance at the later Atlantic City Conference
Atlantic City Conference
The Atlantic City Conference held in 1929 was a historic summit of leaders of organized crime in the United States. It is considered by most crime historians to be the earliest organized crime summit held in the US...

 is disputed; however, he appears to have been shut out along with many other Irish bootleggers and mobsters during the early 1930s, as Italian immigrant criminal groups assumed greater prominence. In 1933, during the last months of Prohibition, Walsh was last seen at the Bank Cafe in Pawtuxet Village
Pawtuxet Village
Pawtuxet Village is a section of the towns of Warwick and Cranston, Rhode Island. It is located at the point where the Pawtuxet River flows into the Providence River and Narragansett Bay.- History :...

 in Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick is a city in Kent County, Rhode Island, United States. It is the second largest city in the state, with a population of 82,672 at the 2010 census. Its mayor has been Scott Avedisian since 2000...

, after having dinner with six business associates on the night of February 2, 1933. Several days after his disappearance, his brother Joseph Walsh received a ransom note demanding $40,000 and, although he traveled to Boston to pay the ransom demand, Daniel Walsh was never returned.

A federal inquiry was held shortly after his disappearance and, although Walsh was named as a member of the "Big Seven" by testimony from a former associate, the investigation failed to solve his disappearance. Numerous rumors circulated about his disappearance, including his body being stuffed into a barrel filled with cement and dumped into the sea by a rum runner off Block Island
Block Island
Block Island is part of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately south of the coast of Rhode Island, east of Montauk Point on Long Island, and is separated from the Rhode Island mainland by Block Island Sound. The United States Census Bureau defines Block...

, as well as unidentified witnesses who reported seeing several men using lime to fill a shallow grave; however, neither of these leads were investigated.

Over the next several years, police would often investigate unidentified murder victims in the hopes of finding Walsh. However, as it was reported by the press “any time a suspicious corpse was found – in the Massachusetts or Rhode Island woods – or a skull turned up in a fishing net off Block Island, police checked it against Danny Walsh’s dental records.” Despite efforts by law enforcement, Walsh's body was never recovered.

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