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The Westies- Hells Kitchen, NY

June 2 2005 at 1:04 PM
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IrishHood  (Login IrishHood)
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Jimmy Coonan (1977-1986)- Jimmy Coonan led the most violent Irish gang Hell's Kitchen and New York has ever seen. After being released from jail in 1970, he started building up his own Irish gang so he could take over the rackets from Mickey Spillane. His gang soon outgrew the old Irish mob led by Spillane. Coonan's gang consisted of such killers as Richie Ryan (the uncontrollable kid who was a cocaine addict and alcoholic), Francis "Mickey" Featherstone (Jimmy's right hand man), JImmy McElroy, Billy Beattie, Eddie Coonan, Jackie Coonan, Kevin Kelley, and Kenny Shannon. Unlike the Spillane gang, which had a no-drug law, the Westies under Coonan were mostly cocaine addicts and alcoholics. In 1978, Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino's, wanted a sit-down with Coonan and they made an alliance with each other. Jimmy ordered the killing of mob associate and one of the most successful loansharks in New York City, Ruby Stein. Stein was a very powerful mand and a friend of Fat Tony Salerno. It was this murder where Coonan used the method of chopping up his victims and keeping the hands for fingerprints. Coonan also tried many times to kill Salerno. Several times Coonan, Featherstone, Ryan and McElroy went out looking for Salerno; they never spotted him. Coonan also tried to link up with an Irish gang in Boston run by his friend he met in Sing Sing, Pete Wilson. They met numerous times in NY and then flew to Boston to carry out a heist with Wilson and his boys. Together they robbed a pharmeceutical warehouse. But after that they never got back together because of the events happening in HK. From 1970-1986 there were some 30 unsolved homicides. In 1979 Featherstone and Coonan were indicted for the murder of Whitney Whitehead but were found not guilty. In 1980 Coonan and Featherstone were sentenced to four years for gun possession and counterfeiting. During the 80s the Westies' fortune grew. Narcotics became the most profitabe racket while Jimmy was gone. Sports betting was another growing racket. Pressure was building up on Coonan when his right hand man, Mickey Featherstone, flipped so Jimmy decided it was time to disappear from HK. He invested in Marine construction. In 1986, Coonan was arrested and this ended his reign of HK. Coonan was convicted in 1988 under RICO and received 75 years. In his absence Kevin Kelley took over.



    
This message has been edited by IrishHood on Nov 16, 2006 11:11 AM


 
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Francis "Mickey" Featherstone (Boyle)

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June 2 2005, 1:13 PM 

Francis "Mickey" Featherstone (Boyle) -the right hand man of Jimmy Coonan. Joined the Army at the age of 17. When he got back from Viet Name in 1970, he was involved in a few murders but got off due to insanity and declared unfit to stand trial. He was 5'8", 160 lbs and fearless, never backing down from a fight. Coonan soon introduced him to his organization. He was involved in the killing of mob associate Ruby Stein. In 1979, Featherstone was indicted for the murder of Whitney Whitehead. He was found innocent. He did get six years for gun possession and counterfeiting. When Mickey got out he was angered that Coonan had not taken care of his family like he promised. Featherstone also began to dislike how Coonan kissed up to the Italians. He decided it was time to go straight. He turned down an offer from Coonan to murder some guys, which angered Coonan. The breaking point between Featherstone and Coonan started when Coonan refused to lend Featherstone $40,000. Featherstone soon put together his own gang of HK thugs to take out Coonan and his associates. His two top men for the conspiracy were Billy Beattie, whom Coonan had a contract on, and Jimmy McElroy. They went out a couple of times trying to find him but were unsuccessful. The FBI got Mickey to flip in 1986. He testified against Coonan and helped convict him. He later testified against John Gotti and other Italian gangsters. Featherstone is still alive in WPP.



    
This message has been edited by IrishHood on Nov 16, 2006 11:14 AM


 
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Eddie "The Butcher" Cummiskey

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June 2 2005, 1:17 PM 



Eddie Cummiskey was an old time gangster compared to Jimmy Coonan. He was actually the first to show Coonan the way of chopping up his victims and dumping them into a river. He was first employed by Mickey Spillane and was on his side during the Spillane/Coonan wars of the mid-60s. But when Coonan got out of jail he became good friends with him. During the 1970s he was good friends with both Spillane and Coonan. On August 20, 1978 Eddie Cummiskey was drinking at the Sunbrite bar when a man walked in and shot him in the head at point blank range. The deed was done by Joe "Mad Dog" Sullivan and ordered by Tony Salerno.


    
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Kevin Kelley

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June 2 2005, 1:19 PM 

Kevin Kelley (1986-1988)- With the absence of Coonan, HK rackets were up for grabs. Kevin Kelley, along with his right hand man Kenny Shannon, grabbed what they could take. They also started operating outside the West Side, pushing cocaine in Manhattan's Upper East Side. With evidence building up, Kelly and Shannon went on the run. In August of 1988, after the sentencing of Coonan and other gang members, Kevin Kelley and Kenny Shannon turned themselves in. The FBI identified the two men as the last ruling structure of the Westies. They were wrong, Bosco "The Yugo" Rondonvich took over what was left of the HK rackets.

 
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Jimmy McElroy

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December 1 2006, 2:44 PM 






 
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Billie Beattie

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December 1 2006, 2:47 PM 






 
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The Westies In Detail

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December 2 2006, 12:04 PM 

The Westies are a group of predominantly Irish American organized crime figures operating from the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan's West Side in New York City. They were most influencial from 1965 - 1986. During this time period, the NYPD Organized Crime Bureau, the FBI, and other organized crime experts believe that the Westies murdered 60-100 people, making them one of the most dangerous crime groups in New York City.

Despite the long-time presence of Irish-American organized crime in Hell's Kithcen and the most notorious generation's rise to power in the mid-1960s, the Westies did not receive this title until 1977, from a detective investigating the murder of Genovese crime family-affiliated loanshark Charles "Ruby" Stein.

According to crime author T.J. English, "Although never comprised of more than twelve to twenty four members- "The Westies managed to control Organized Crime on New York's "West Side", for over 20 years, and were often more feared than the Mafia by other criminals.

The most notable Westie figures were Michael "Mickey" Spillane, James "Jimmy" Coonan and Francis "Mickey" Featherstone.


Spillane years

In the early 1960's Mickey Spillane -- no relation to the author of the same name -- had stepped into a power vacuum that had existed in Hell's Kitchen since gang leaders had fled the area in the early 1950's to avoid prosecution. A mobster from Queens named Hughie Mulligan had been running Hell's Kitchen since then; Spillane, a Hell's Kitchen native, was his apprentice until inheriting the fief.

Spillane ran the area with a "Godfather" style, sending flowers to neighbors in the hospital and providing turkeys to needy families during Thanksgiving in addition to running gambling enterprises such as bookmaking and policy, accompanied inevitably by loansharking. Loansharking naturally leads to assault, and Spillane had burglary arrests as well. However, among all his criminal activities, the most audacious was his "snatch" racket (kidnapping and holding local businessmen and members of other crime organizations for ransom); this probably most contributed to his eventual downfall.

Nonetheless, he was able to add to his neighborhood prominence by marrying Maureen McManus, a daughter of the prestigious McManus family which had run the Midtown Democratic Club since 1905. The union of political power with criminal activity enhanced the Westies' ability to control union jobs and labor racketeering, moving away from the declining waterfront and more strongly into construction jobs and service work at the New York Coliseum, Madison Square Garden and later the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.


Spillane-Coonan Wars

In the mid-1960s Spillane attracted the negative attention of New York's Italian mobster community when he "snatched" a numbers operator named Eli Zicardi, who worked for Genovese crime family boss Fat Tony Salerno. Zicardi's ransom was paid, but Zicardi vanished. Spillane also had internal problems. A young man from the neighborhood, Jimmy Coonan, had vowed revenge for Spillane's snatch of his father, an accountant who Spillane pistol-whipped before his release after the ransom was paid.

By 1966, when Coonan was only 18, the Coonan-Spillane Wars were in full swing with murders, beatings, "snatchings," and other acts of vengeance forcing the entire neighborhood to take sides or risk retribution. Coonan was eventually imprisoned for a brief time, but was released at the age of 25 and immediately resumed his criminal career, opening a bar and becoming a prominent neighborhood loanshark. As his sidekick, he recruited a troubled 24 year old Vietnam War veteran named Mickey Featherstone, who's impressive feats in barroom brawling and trigger-happy tendencies had become quite infamous throughout the West Side.

By the mid-1970s Spillane had moved out of Hell's Kitchen but Coonan had not. Coonan steadily encroached on the criminal activities which provided much of the Westies' income under Spillane's rule. Spillane was murdered in front of his apartment in Woodside, Queens on the night of May 13, 1977. Featherstone stood trial for but was not convicted of the murder, which permitted Coonan to take over. According to T.J. English, Featherstone had nothing to do with it; the murder was performed as a favor to Coonan by the Gambino crime family, cementing the Westies' ties to existing Italian crime syndicates and resolving the tension between Spillane and the Italians after the unsuccessful ransom of Eli Zacardi.


Coonan and Featherstone

During the late 1970s Coonan tightened his alliance between the Westies and the Gambino organization then run by Paul Castellano. Coonan's main contact was Roy DeMeo, who had brought him word of Spillane's assassination. With Coonan's cunning and Featherstone's reputation, the two men ensured a notoriously vicious stranglehold on the all-ready brutal racketeering circles of Hell's Kitchen. In 1979 both Coonan and Featherstone were acquitted of the murder of a bartender. Another Westie, Jimmy McElroy, was acquitted of the murder of a Teamster in 1980.

Even as both Westies leaders were imprisoned in 1980 -- Coonan on gun possession charges, Featherstone on a federal counterfeiting rap -- the gambling, loansharking, and union shakedowns continued on the streets of the West Side. After DeMeo himself was murdered, Coonan's Gambino Family connection became Danny Marino, a capo in Brooklyn. Coonan eventually interacted directly with the Don John Gotti, who took over the Gambino Family after the murder of Castellano in December of 1985. From time to time, even briefly into the Gotti regime immediately before their collapse, the Westies worked for the Gambino Family as a contract murder squad.

Bad blood between Coonan and Featherstone, in part due to Featherstone's distaste for Coonan's Italian mob connections, eventually led to Featherstone being framed for the murder of Michael Holly, a construction worker and ex-criminal who was a known enemy of the Westies gang. The murder was committed in April, 1985 by Westie member Billy Bokun while wearing a wig and moustache to impersonate Featherstone, and renting a car identical to the one Featherstone was driving.

Featherstone was convicted in early 1986 and began cooperating with the government in hopes of getting the murder conviction overturned. The information he and his wife Sissy provided, and the recordings they helped make, achieved this aim. In September of 1986 the prosecutor who oversaw Featherstone's conviction in the Holly frame told the presiding judge that post-conviction investigation had revealed Featherstone was innocent of that particular crime. The judge immediately overturned the verdict.

At that point the information provided by the Featherstones resulted in the arrest of Coonan and several other Westies on state charges of murder and other crimes. Shortly afterward, federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani announced a devastating RICO indictment against Coonan and others for criminal activities going back twenty years. Featherstone testified in open court for four weeks in the trial that began in September of 1987 and concluded with major convictions in 1988. Jimmy Coonan was sentenced to sixty years in prison on assorted charges. Almost all of the other gang members received stiff sentences.


Kevin Kelly and Kenny Shannon

During the mid-to-late 1980s, while Jimmy Coonan lavished in his luxurious suburban home, and Mickey Featherstone futilely attempted to support his family by legitimate means, Kevin Kelly and his sidekick, Kenny Shannon, became the most active racketeers on the West Side. Sports gambling and dealing coke to young professionals on the East Side were their primary rackets. After a long period on the lamb, Kelly and Shannon could no longer take the heat, and decided to surrender themselves to the authorities. Rudolph Giuliani, who was a federal prosecutor at the time, claimed that they were the last ruling body of the Westies. He was wrong.


The Yugo and the New Era

By the early 1990's the old Hells Kitchen neighborhood had disappeared. The blue-collar Irish-American residents had been replaced by wealthy yuppies and a mix of Hispanic and black residents. With this demographics change came a decrease in street crime and a new name for the gentrified neighborhood, Clinton. However, the Westies weren’t dead yet.

A Serbian born thug, Bosco “The Yugo” Radonjich, started out as a low-level associate of Jimmy Coonan, but in the absence of the old leaders he was able to take control over the still predominantly Irish-American gang and restablish their connections with Gambino Family Boss, John Gotti. Among Bosco's underlings was Brian Bentley, an Irish-American mobster in his mid-20s who used two Hispanic associates to execute a highly successful buglary ring until the eventual arrest of Bentley's crew in the early ‘90s. When Michael G. Cherkasky, chief of the Investigations Division of the District Attorney's Office, was asked how much of the notorious gang remained in an interview, he replied "too much," and stated that "it is not the end." Around this time the organization's kingpin, Radonjich, fled the country to avoid jail time. These occurrences bring the changing face of the Westies into focus.


The Modern Westies

To this day, small groups of loosly allied Irish-American mobsters continue to dominate the West Side rackets. But, like Hell's Kitchen, they are by no means what they used to be. Less powerful and less violent, along with a lower profile and an increased tolerance for initiating other ethnicities, are the key differences between the Westies of the past and the modern day Hell's Kitchen racketeers.


Known Westies

Mickey Spillane
James "Jimmy" Coonan
Frances "Mickey" Featherstone
Eddie "the Butcher" Cummiskey
Kevin Kelly
Kenny Shannon
William Bokun
James McEllroy
Richie Ryan
Tommy Collins
Richard "Mugsy" Ritter
Patrick Dugan
Denis Curley
Tommy Hess
William "Rabbit" Hall
Eamon Daly
James Reilly
John Coonan, Jr.
Edward Coonan
Edward Sullivan
William "Billie" Beattie
John "Johnny" Halo
Bosco “The Yugo” Radonjich
Brian Bentley
Hughie Mulligan


Murders

Bobby Lagville
Jerry Morales
Mike "the Yugo" Yelovich
Paddy Dugan
Charles "Ruby" Stein
Walter Curtis killed by Eddie Cummiskey
Rickey Tassiello killed by Jimmy Coonan
William Walker killed by Jimmy McElroy
Harold "Whitey" Whitehead killed by Jimmy Coonan
Henry Diaz
Tommy Hess killed by Richie Ryan
Tommy "Butter" Moresco
Vincent Leone killed by Kevin Kelly
Michael Holly killed by Billy Bokun


Popular culture

The 2002 Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York provided a riveting, lightly fictionalized history of the Civil War-era origin of the competing Irish immigrant crime crews who dominated Five Points. The movie explains the social tradition of enduring, if not actually shielding, Irish gangs in Manhattan's Irish neighborhoods, which led to the eventual ascendancy of the Westies in the mid-to-late 20th Century.

The 1990 movie State of Grace also paints a largely fictionalized portrait of the Westies as they were under Jimmy Coonan. The film centers around the return to the neighborhood of an undercover cop who infiltrates the gang and finds himself torn between the neighborhood's code of silence and the badge he wears.

On March 17, 2006 The History Channel premiered a two-hour history of Irish-American organized crime that prominently profiled the Westies. Titled Paddy Whacked, it featured narrative interviews with crime historians such as T.J. English, author of a book by the same name, and Rose Keefe.

In the 2001 John Favreau film "Made" the lead characters are assaulted by a group of Irish thugs referred to as Westies. However, it is made clear that they were not in fact Westies.

The 2001 Law & Order episode entitled "Brother's Keeper" features a fictional character named Cally Lonegan, who is referred to as "the last of the Westies."

The 2005 Don Winslow novel The Power of the Dog highlights the partnerships between the Westies, the Italian mobs, and their involvement with drug trafficking into New York.

 
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IrishHood
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Eddie McGrath

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September 12 2007, 1:01 AM 

Eddie McGrath (born January 31, 1906) was an Irish-American gangster from New York City, who controlled the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob and the lucrative waterfront throughout the 1940s. Originally from the notorious Gashouse District on the East Side, McGrath was arrested numerous times throughout the 1920s and 30s for offenses ranging from burglary to murder.

After serving a lengthy stretch in Sing Sing, McGrath ended up as an organizer for the International Longshoremen's Association on the Hell's Kitchen waterfront. With the notorious Joseph P. Ryan in control of the ILA, McGrath became the primary muscle on the waterfront, with gangsters like John "Cockeye" Dunn (who was McGrath's brother in law) and Andrew "Squint" Sheridan as his enforcers. He became a close ally of powerful organized crime figures such as Joe Adonis, Albert Anastasia, and Meyer Lansky.

Eddie McGrath was forced to abscond from New York after Dunn and Sheridan were executed for the murder of a hiring stevedore named Andy Hintz in 1949 and the investigation of waterfront criminal activity subsequently began to escalate. He was sent to Miami as an ILA organizer at the behest of Meyer Lansky, where he spent the remainder of his life.

The character of Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront is losely based on a composite of McGrath, Albert Anastasia, and an ILA organizer named Mickey Bowers.


 
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John 'Cockeye' Dunn

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September 12 2007, 1:05 AM 

John M. "Cockeye" Dunn (d. July 7, 1949 Ossining, New York) was a New York mobster involved in the numbers racket and labor racketeering as a top enforcer for his brother-in-law Eddie McGrath. He was convicted together with Andrew "Squint" Sheridan of the 1947 murder of Greenwich Village hiring stevedore Anthony "Andy" Hintz, and was executed in the electric chair on July 7, 1949.


Life

Born in Queens, New York, he was in and out of Catholic reform schools after the death of his father, a merchant marine who was lost at sea when he was four. With arrests for robbery and assault during his teenage years, he was finally convicted of robbing a card game and sentenced to two years imprisonment at Sing Sing Prison.

Following his release, Dunn was hired as an enforcer for McGrath who was then a part owner of Varick Enterprises, a front company which made collections for the waterfront dock bosses of Manhattan's Westside. In 1937, he and McGrath were arrested in connection with the death of a trucker but were eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.

Later he formed a labor union (Local 21510, Motor and Bus Terminal Checkers, Platform and Office Workers) associated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and eventually oversaw waterfront racketeering on Manhattan's Lower West Side by the early 1940s. He established underworld connections including Joe Ryan, who had sponsored him for union membership, and Meyer Lansky who had been in discussions regarding the use of the longshoremen's union to assist in the importation of heroin and cocaine into the United States.


The Hintz case

At 7.40 a.m. on January 8, 1947, Andy Hintz, hiring boss on Pier Fifty-One, was shot six times on the stairs just outside his apartment when leaving for work. Surviving the attack however, he was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital were he drifted in and out of consciousness for three weeks before his death on January 29. Before having been taken to the hospital he told his wife that he had been shot by John Dunn. Dunn was arrested immediately and held as a material witness. On January 11, Hintz identified Dunn, "Andy" Sheridan and one "Danny" as his assailants in a dying declaration. Two days later he made another dying decalaration because in the first one he did not express clearly enough his belief that he was going to die. On January 24, the police arrested Andrew "Squint" Sheridan at his home in Hollywood, Florida. He was transferred to New York by the FBI on a federal charge and later turned over to the New York County D.A. office. Former prize fighter Danny Gentile turned himself in at the end of March, appearing with his lawyer in Assistant D.A. William J. Keating's office. All three accused men were held in custody without bail. Due to both the extensive press coverage of the event and Dunn's underworld connections, there was concern that the state's star witness, the deceased's widow Maisie Hintz, might be in danger and she was forced to go into hiding until the start of the trial. The trial, before Judge George L. Donnellan, began on December 4 with the selection of the jury, and on December 31, 1947, all three Dunn, Sheridan and Gentile were convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Dunn and Gentile then offered information against waterfront racketeers in exchange for life imprisonment. Since all of his information - incriminating dead people or talking about cases in a way the authorities knew was false - was useless, the deal with Dunn fell through. He and Sheridan were executed at Sing Sing on July 7, 1949. On the day before, Gentile's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by Governor Thomas E. Dewey, supported by a favorable letter from D.A. Frank Hogan, in which he claimed that "Gentile has done everything within his power to assist this office in its investigation of waterfront criminal activity."



    
This message has been edited by IrishHood on Oct 19, 2008 3:00 PM


 
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JLeary
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The Westies In Detail

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January 22 2010, 10:08 PM 

I would love to know who came up with all these names? Half those guys on the list wished they were apart of something! Most of these guys were individual criminals, not organized in the least. Theirs so many other real westies that were not on this list thank god! You really need to get your facts straight before you post this BULLSHIT! Who's this IrishHood? Did you grow up in Hells Kitchen? Just by looking at these names on your list, no way you did.

 
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N/A
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Mickey did the right thing!

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February 17 2006, 10:03 AM 

Hell's Kitchen would not be where it is at today if it was not for Mickey Featherstone! He helped that community become what it is today by being the man that he is!!!! If it was not for Mickey Featherstone Hell's Kitchen would not be the place it is today. So Thank God for mickey Featherstone!!!!!!...and I know YOU all know it! THINK ABOUT IT>>>READ THE BOOK AND WATCH THE SHOW! nHELLS KITCHEN USA!

 
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Anonymous
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muppet

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February 17 2006, 11:07 PM 

you muppet mickey was my bitch

 
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steve carroll
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3m heist

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March 26 2006, 10:24 PM 

hey muppet, remember the 3m heist. we decidid to take 3m scotch gaurd cans instead of the ciggaretts we were supposed to grab? oh man i tell that story and it just gets funnier every time

 
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BlackRoseBoyle
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To 3mHeist

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September 18 2008, 12:39 AM 

Would you email me personally. Thanks. KerriAnn1025@yahoo.com

 
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poppy
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3m heist

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April 7 2009, 5:22 AM 

hi steve ,long live stay dry dan. still remember the steamed clams every fri night over the legion bar.

 
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kevin g
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3m heist

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April 7 2009, 5:36 AM 

hey steve. still there? long live stay dry dan. i still remember the steamed clam nights over the legion bar. my sister still has the same phone. call her to get in touch with me

 
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steve carroll
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stay dry dan

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January 17 2010, 12:48 AM 

hey poppy. good talking to you, glad we caught up.thanks for understanding.took my son to some of the old haunts.he had some tricky questions for me. we must have walked entire 55th west.

 
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kevin g
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3m heist

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April 7 2009, 5:39 AM 

hey steve long live stay dry dan

 
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richie s
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stay dry dan

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August 29 2009, 4:16 AM 

hey cabbie, still waiting for that drink. at my sons wedding last month i met up with seans mother. she was asking me about you. should i give you up to her. all s forgivin. i raise my glass every once in a while to you and sean, i wish things turned out better. we had some good times. this ones for dan

 
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stevie
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stay dry dan

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September 3 2010, 12:30 AM 

thanks for the toast kevin. although its in a bottle, i have a guinness staring at me. here s one' Some are here, some have gone.
Some in the pen, some on the lam.
But to the man we say,
here s to you stay dry dan.



 
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