Supporting Cast

Dutch Schultz

for GURPS Fourth Edition

by Stephen Dedman

Biography

"Dutch Schultz" was born Arthur Simon Flegenheimer in 1902, in the Bronx, and grew up in the tough Bergen and Webster Avenues section. His father abandoned the family when Arthur was 14; Flegenheimer left school and began his criminal career by holding up crap games that refused to pay a percentage to the local mobster. At seventeen, he was arrested for burglary, and caused so much trouble at the brutal Blackwell's Island prison that he was transferred to the even tougher Westhampton Farms.

After Prohibition came into effect, Flegenehimer -- now calling himself "Dutch Schultz" after a notorious 19th century gangster - became involved in the bootlegging business, driving a beer truck for Arnold Rothstein, and working alongside Charles "Lucky" Luciano (see GURPS Who's Who 2) as a goon for Legs Diamond. By 1928, he had intimidated most other speakeasy owners in the Bronx into buying beer exclusively from him. When one refused, he was kidnapped, hung by his thumbs by a meat hook, beaten, blinded, and ransomed for $35,000.

When Schultz's operation expanded into Legs Diamond's territory in Manhattan, Diamond's men ambushed Schultz's partner and childhood friend Joey Noe, fatally shooting him. Schultz never found another partner he trusted as he had Noe, and when Diamond had to flee New York a year later to avoid arrest for another murder, Schultz took over his rackets. By the time Diamond had disposed of all the witnesses to the murder, Schultz had the support of the rest of the underworld, including Luciano. Soon Schultz was involved in three gang wars simultaneously -- personal wars with former employer Diamond and former employee Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, and the Castellammarese War between New York's rival old-style Mafiosi Masseria and Maranzano, and the multi-ethnic "Seven Group" led by Luciano and Meyer Lansky. The Castellamarese War ended in victory for Luciano in 1931; Schultz's gunmen shot Coll in a phone booth in 1932; and Schultz also claimed credit when Diamond was murdered in 1931, describing him as "Just another punk caught with his hands in my pockets."

Stealing from the miserly Schultz was usually fatal. His lawyer once advised, "Don't steal a dollar from his accounts. If you do, you're dead," having seen Schultz shoot underling Jules Martin "just as casually as if he were picking his teeth." Luciano described Schultz as "one of the cheapest guys I ever knew, practically a miser. Here was a guy with a couple of million bucks and he dressed like a pig. He used to brag that he never spent more than thirty-five bucks for a suit, and it hadda have two pairs of pants. His big deal was buyin' a newspaper for two cents so he could read all about himself."

Schultz loved getting good press; he claimed to have changed his name because Flegenheimer was too long to use in a headline, and when reporter Meyer Berger described him as "a pushover for a blonde", Schultz tracked him down and demanded an apology. "What kind of language is that to use in the New York Times?", he roared. Berger apologized, possibly aware that Schultz had once beaten an armed fellow-mobster with a chair for making a joke about a girlfriend.

After Prohibition ended, much of Schultz's wealth came from the numbers racket, which he'd taken over by force in the early 1930s. His accountant, a mathematical genius named Otto "Abbadabba" Berman, worked out a formula for squeezing another $100,000 a day out of the racket, but had to threaten to leave before Schultz agreed to raise his pay to $10,000 a week. Schultz's gang also extorted money from restaurateurs and the waiters' union, then paid protection in turn to corrupt Tammany Hall politicians.

A change of government saw Schultz being charged with tax evasion and facing a possible 43-year sentence. In 1934, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared him Public Enemy No. 1. After trying unsuccessfully to bribe an honest cop, Schultz surrendered and spent a few weeks in jail. While out on bail, he murdered Jules Martin, was feted by socialites, talked about converting to Catholicism, and beat the rap.

After Schultz returned to New York, the syndicate leaders hastily gave him back most of his empire. Schultz contented himself with disposing of his top aide, Bo Weinberg, and began plotting to assassinate special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey. When the syndicate voted against this proposal, Schultz stormed out the meeting angrily vowing to shoot Dewey himself. The syndicate then voted unanimously to have Schultz killed instead, despite Meyer Lansky advising Luciano that "Schultz is your cover. If Dutch is eliminated, you're gonna stand out."

Dutch Schultz was gunned down -- along with Berman and two bodyguards -- in a chop house in Newark on October 23, 1935. He died in hospital two days later. He is thought to have been responsible for 135 deaths.

Encountered

For most of his career, the miserly Schultz took little care to appear as anything other than a thug, preferring intimidation to charm or bribery. His reputation was enough to scare most people, but he was easily angered and often resorted to violence, even in social settings. (In the last two years of his life, he did enjoy a positive reputation among wealthy Connecticut socialites who he tried to charm, rather than intimidate: small group, always recognized). When encountered, Schultz will usually be accompanied by at least one armed bodyguard -- many more if he's expecting trouble (such as a group of armed PCs).

What If?

If Schultz had died at any time before 1935, it probably would have had negligible impact on history: his rackets would have simply been taken over by other mobsters. If he'd survived long enough to assassinate Dewey, however, the changes might be profound; New York would have stayed even more firmly under the syndicate's control, Luciano might never have been arrested and might have become still more powerful, and someone else would have had to run against Harry Truman in 1948.

If Schultz had been convicted of tax evasion charges (either the ones he beat, or the ones still hanging over him when he died) and gone to jail, he might have lived to make some dubious contribution to the war effort in WWII, as Luciano did. Being of German Jewish descent (though he was finally buried in a Catholic cemetery), he might have turned his talents to fighting Hitler, or helping Jews escape from the death camps. In this scenario, the PCs might meet him in jail before the war, or fight alongside him (or against him) in a WWII campaign.

If Berman had survived the gunfight at the chop house, he might have become a notable mathematician or economist, or he might simply have assisted the syndicate in squeezing more money out of gambling rackets.

Dutch Schultz (t/n Arthur Flegenheimer, aka Charles Harmon)                      110 points

Born 1902; Died 1935.
Age 31; average build, blue eyes, light brown hair.

ST 11 [10]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 12 [20]

Secondary Attributes: Dmg 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24; HP 11 [0]; Will 13 [10]; Per 10 [0]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 5.5; Basic Move 5.

Advantages: Combat Reflexes [15]; Fearlessness/2 [4]; High Pain Threshold [10]; Social Regard (Feared)/4 [20]; Status +1 [free from Wealth]; Wealthy [20].

Disadvantages: Bad Temper [-10]; Bloodlust [-10]; Bully [-10]; Enemies (Rival Gangsters, 6-) [-10]; Greed [-15]; Miserliness [-10]; Reputation 4 (New Yorkers and newspaper readers; large class, sometimes recognized) [-5]; Stubbornness [-5].

For a younger or older Schultz, change his wealth, reputation, and the frequency of appearance of his enemies: this shows him at the peak of his career in 1932-33.

Quirks: Homophobia; Impulsive when drunk; Loves reading his name in the papers (mild Glory Hound disadvantage); Uncongenial; Weakness for blondes. [-5]

Skills: Administration-10 [2]; Area Knowledge (New York)-12 [4]; Brawling-12 [4]; Carpentry-10 [1]; Detect Lies-8 [1]; Driving/TL6 (Car)-10 [2], (Truck)-11 [4]; Fast-Draw (Pistol)-11 [1]; Gambling-9 [1]; Guns/TL6 (Light Automatic)-12 [4], (Pistol)-13 [8], (Shotgun)-12 [4]; Holdout-9 [1]; Interrogation-11 [4]; Intimidation-15 [12]; Knife-11 [2]; Leadership-11 [4]; Merchant-10 [2]; Pickpocket-9 [2]; Professional Skill (Bartender)-10 [2]; Streetwise-14 [16].

Languages: English (native)

Equipment: Auto Pistol, .45 (usually tucked in waistband of trousers); Cheap suit. Sometimes carries SMG, .45; Double Shotgun, 10G; or Light Club.

Bibliography:




Article publication date: January 14, 2005


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