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Involved in bootlegging as a teenager, Kelly returned to the profitable illegal enterprise after several failed attempts at legitimate work. He was caught selling illegal liquor in 1927 and spent a few months in jail in New Mexico. Nabbed again, this time for selling liquor on an Indian reservation, Kelly did time at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. While incarcerated, he made friends with several bank robbers-including Charlie Harmon, Frank Nash, and Francis Keating, and Thomas Holden-and is believed to have helped Keating and Holden escape.
They set up an elaborate system for the handling of their captive and the delivery of the ransom. But they didn’t count on Urschel’s sharp mind and the authorities keeping track the ransom money’s serial numbers. The ransom was delivered on July 30 in Kansas City and Urschel was released the next day.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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