Maloney gambling scandal roiled Pittsburgh police force in '50s
The five-count indictment of former Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper is not the first time a corruption scandal roiled the city force.
Lawrence Maloney, 54, then the assistant superintendent of city police, was indicted, tried and acquitted of public corruption and tax evasion charges in 1965.
Handpicked by then-Mayor David Lawrence in 1947 to lead “Maloney's Marauders” against organized crime's gambling dens and brothels, he had free rein to roam the city to bust the rackets. Less than two decades later and during the administration of Mayor Joe Barr, however, a cavalcade of crooks testified that Maloney became a bagman for the gambling syndicates that needed his protection to flourish.
Meyer “Slick Man” Sigal, boss of the Third Ward operations, told jurors that he paid Maloney and other police brass $176,000 in protection payoffs over 5 1⁄2 years.
In his book about Lawrence, “Don't Call Me Boss,” the late Duquesne University historian Michael P. Weber noted that those late on their Monday payoffs were raided by cops, which helped explain why underworld kingpin Tony Grosso made sure that Maloney received $1,000 per month, plus a Christmas bonus of $1,000 and another $1,000 “when he went on vacation each year.”
Maloney beat the rap in 1965 by convincing jurors that he had made his riches by betting on horse races.
“Mayor Barr testified as a character witness for Maloney. So did David Lawrence,” recalled Morton Coleman, 80, director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics. “He was found innocent and wanted his job back, but they didn't want to give it back to him.”
Barr's city safety director, David Craig, solved the problem. He returned Maloney's back pay and then promptly fired him — for obviously spending too much time at the racetrack and not enough at the police department.
Maloney died four years later from bone cancer.
Carl Prine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-320-7826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Rock-a-thon Queen’ keeps on rockin’ for Vincentian fundraiser
- Police charge Allentown teen for beating, holding ex-girlfriend at gunpoint
- Analyst says Pa. senate race leans toward Toomey — because Democrats ‘loathe’ Sestak
- With space to spare, Pittsburgh International draws corporate jet carrier
- Kennywood fanatic, 82, rides Jack Rabbit 95 times in a row
- Neighbor arrested after McKeesport house fire, authorities say
- Newsmaker: Susan M. Rademacher
- CMU, Pittsburgh’s Surtrac program aims to ease traffic congestion
- Woman operating scooter struck by freight train dies in Coraopolis
- 4 dogs found dead in Beechview home; woman charged
- Man shot while driving through Liberty Tunnel