The Incredible & Mysterious Tale Of Death-Cheating Mike Malloy

MIKE

A GRIM TALE OF LIFE INSURANCE FRAUD

Back in the 1930s, the legend of “Mike the Durable” or “Iron Mike” Malloy was born. A former firefighter, Mike Malloy was a homeless drunk man who lived in New York City. Malloy had a favorite watering hole, Marino’s, a speakeasy bar owned by Tony Marino.

Marino persuaded four friends to join him in what was dubbed “The Murder Trust”: Francis Pasqua, an undertaker, Joseph Murphy, a bartender at Marino’s, Harry Green, a cab driver, and Daniel Kriesberg. These five men plotted to make Malloy take out three life insurance policies and then kill him with “an open bar tab.”

Despite their best efforts, Malloy kept coming back to the bar, still alive and asking for more drinks. Marino started to get impatient. He laced Malloy’s drinks with antifreeze. When that failed, he tried turpentine, horse liniment and even rat poison; nothing worked.

One of the other men suggested soaking raw oysters in wood alcohol and feeding them to the drunk. When that didn’t work, they gave him a rotten sardine sandwich, garnished with tin shavings, which the drunken man ate with much gusto.

Months had gone by and Malloy would not die, costing Marino money in alcohol and insurance premiums. Frustrated and desperate, the gang decided to hire cab driver Harry Green to run Malloy over. According to accounts, Malloy avoided the cab twice, but was hit the third time. On the road, the cabbie backed up over him again, just to make sure, and the gang left the crime scene in a hurry.

A few weeks later, in walks Malloy limping and bandaged with a story: He remembered drinking, the cold air, the rushing lights, and waking up in a warm bed in Fordham Hospital. He had been admitted under a false name.

This was the last straw. Seven months after The Murder Trust had made the grim plans, Malloy died on February 21, 1933; a rubber hose ran from his mouth to a gas light fixture, a towel on his face. Pasqua’s friend, Dr. Frank Manzella, issued a fake death certificate, which cited lobar pneumonia as the cause of death.

Murphy then was able to collect approximately $800 from one of the insurance policies. When Pasqua went to retrieve the money from the other two, the insurance agent asked if he could see the body. Pasqua replied that it had been buried.

This raised a red flag with the agent, and an investigation began. Green, the cabbie, spoke out about the gang’s plans because he hadn’t been paid his full share. The gang was arrested; all were sentenced to death by electric chair at Sing Sing prison. The doctor who issued the fake death certificate was sentenced to an indeterminate prison term.

Malloy was reburied, taking with him his uncanny luck…

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