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Benjamin Hymen Siegelbaum was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 28, 1906

He built up a criminal empire through bootlegging, gambling and ruthless assassinations before settling in Las Vegas, where he opened the famous Flamingo Hotel and Casino. This was was the start of his notorious gambling operation in the middle of the Las Vegas desert.

Benjamin Hymen Siegelbaum was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 28, 1906The son of Jewish immigrants, Siegel was raised in the crime-ridden area of Williamsburg, where Irish and Italian gangs were prevalent. As a teenager, he extorted money from pushcart peddlers on New York City’s Lower East Side. In 1918, Siegel befriended a fellow hooligan Meyer Lansky, and they both established the Bugs-Meyer Gang - a band of ruthless Jewish mobsters that ran a group of contract killers under the name Murder, Inc. Nicknamed "Bugsy." Siegel was known as one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his day although often described as handsome and charismatic. He hated the nickname "Bugsy"-a slang term meaning "crazy" but that was given to him early in his criminal career due to his explosive temper and penchant for brutal violence, and was known to physically attack and seriously injure people who used it in his presence. He became one of the first front-page celebrity gangsters, and was known to have committed at least one rape, armed robbery, and murder before he turned twenty.

During the 1920s, Mafia kingpin Charles "Lucky" Luciano and a number of other Italian gangsters organized themselves into a national syndicate. Siegel became a prominent player in this newly established group of criminals, with a goal of killing off many of New York's veteran gangsters. Siegel was one of four hit men hired to execute Sicilian mobster Joe "the Boss" Masseria in 1931.

In 1937, Siegel relocated his bootlegging and gambling rackets to the West Coast. Relocating in California, he set up gambling dens and offshore gambling ships, also consolidating his already existing prostitution, narcotics and bookmaking rackets. He lived an extravagant lifestyle in Beverly Hills, where he bought a palatial estate, attended parties and rubbed elbows with Hollywood moguls and starlets.

In the late 1930s, Siegel began dating the actress Virginia Hill. They were a striking couple known as much for their violent natures as for their glamorous looks. In 1945, they moved to Las Vegas, where Siegel began working toward his dream of building a gambling mecca in the Nevada desert. With funding from the eastern crime syndicate, construction of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino began under Siegel's supervision.

Its original budget was $1.5 million, but the building project soon proved to be a problem as construction costs soared to more than $6 million. This was due to Siegel taking over the construction of the Flamingo Hotel & Casino from the original developer, and promptly ran up massive cost overruns. The fact that most of the money he was spending was mob money, and that much of the huge debts the casino was incurring would most likely never be paid off, are generally considered to be the reasons for his murder. When it was discovered that many of the overruns were down to Siegel's theft and mismanagement, Lansky (now a prominent member of the eastern syndicate) became enraged by this betrayal.

On the evening of June 20, 1947 around 10.30pm aged 41, Siegel was brutally killed,in Beverly Hills. He was sitting on the couch at his home when gunmen standing outside his living room window opened fire on him. A fusillade of bullets crashed through the living room window. The first shot hit Bugsy in the head, blowing his eye 15 feet from his body. Four more bullets fired from a .30-06 crashed into his body, breaking his ribs and tearing up his lungs. Three other shots missed their mark, but the damage was done. Bugsy Siegel, 42 years old, was dead. Even though Bugsy's slaying was front-page news across the country, just five people all relatives attended Ben's funeral. Meyer Lansky was in Havana and couldn't make it back in time; Virginia Hill was in Zurich; and none of Ben's Hollywood buddies managed to make it to the services.

Although it has never been established who had ordered the hit, conventional wisdom is that his mob associates, even though they were now making money from the casino, were still angry with him for the financial losses they incurred during the construction phase, especially since much of the money came out of their own pockets. At the same time, three of Lansky's cohorts entered the Flamingo Hotel and declared a takeover. Although Lansky denied involvement in the hit, there is little doubt that Siegel was murdered on syndicate orders.

Image: wikipedia and mafiawiki.com

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