Jacob “Little Augie” Orgen was born on the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1896. He quickly dropped out of school and became known as a “Schlammer” of the Benjamin “Dopey” Fein mob. The “Schlammers” or “Sluggers” were basically brain teasers who kept union workers at bay, “hitting” them on the side of the head, with a stick or a baseball bat, if they went against what their leaders trade union titled. Orgen formed a small sub-band called “Little Augies”, but was strictly a small-time player under Fein.
After Fein was arrested for wrongdoing related to the Amalgamated Garment Workers of America, instead of going to jail for a long period of time, Fein, not as dumb as his name, made a deal with the police. As a result of being a rat, Fein lost his job and his influence with the unions. Enter rival gangsters Johnny Spanish and Kid Dropper, who spent the next several years fighting for control of the unions, while Orgen chilled his heel in prison on a robbery charge. In 1919, Dropper eliminated the Spaniard with a few bullets, and Little Augie, fresh out of jail, had his eyes set on Dropper’s domain.
Orgen’s gang, made up mostly of Jewish criminals, joined forces with Soloman Schipiro’s gang, whose men, curiously, were made up mostly of Italians. They were fighting a losing battle with the forces of Dropper, reason why they decided to cut off the head; Dropper itself. As Dropper was being released from prison on a weapons charge at Essex Market Court, at Second Avenue and Second Street, Little Aguie and his gang were anxious on the street outside the courthouse, chaos on their minds. A dozen policemen surrounded Dropper, their eyes on Orgen, who was rumored to be there to kill Dropper. The police pushed Dropper into a waiting taxi, when nowhere, a nobody named Louis Kushner ran into the taxi from the back and shot Dropper twice in the head. Kushner denied any relationship with Orgen (but the police knew better) and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Orgen immediately took over Dropper’s rackets and recruited a dangerous crew of assassins, including “Jack Legs” Diamond, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, and Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro. Pressure from the police, who were embarrassed that Dropper was killed right under their noses, forced Orgen out of the labor business. He went straight into the smuggling business, supplying illegal liquor to various speakeasies in the city. This did not sit very well with the smugglers whom he displaced at those joints. Arnold Rothstein and Meyer Lansky told Orgen, in no uncertain terms, to get out of the smuggling business, or bad things could happen to him very quickly. Orgen ignored these warnings, so the offended smugglers settled with Lepke Buchalter and Jacob Shapiro, offering them employment in their vast operations, for Orgen’s murder.
On October 16, 1927, Orgen was walking outside 103 Norfolk Street with his new bodyguard, Legs Diamond, when a black touring car pulled up beside him with guns blazing. Orgen was killed and Diamond seriously injured, but he lived to die another day.
Orgen was buried by his separated father in a huge cherry wood casket, lined with white satin. On top of the coffins was a silver plaque that simply read: “Jacob Orgen – 25 Years Old”.
Orgen was 33 years old at the time of his death, but his father, a legitimate and God-fearing man, considered his son dead eight years earlier, when he was unable to convince Orgen to get out of trouble.