Boston Gang Wars-Loan Sharks and Bookies: Philip (Goldy) Goldstein

PHILIP GOLDSTEIN, 45                                                                                                                                          May 5, 1959

Eight months after Vazza, Philip (Goldy) Goldstein, 45, of Hull was discovered inside a sleeping bag in the trunk of a bullet ridden Massachusetts car belonging to Alexander “Sonny Boy” Rizzo of Revere. The car was parked in front of a poultry farm on Route 107 in East Kingston, New Hampshire.

He “died of “asphyxiation by strangulation.“ A length of new sash rope was looped around his neck in two places, stretched down the back and knotted around the ankles.  He was wrapped in a sleeping bag. He had no other marks of violence on his body.”

Goldstein was described as “a well-known Greater Boston sporting figure,” a euphemism for a big bookmaker and loan shark. He had been arrested on 28 occasions but only did time twice. He was known to carry large amounts of money on his person.

You may remember Thomas Ballou who was charged with being an accessory after the fact to the two Brink’s heist guys, Richardson and Faherty, by keeping them supplied with food and other necessities while they were holed up in their rented flat. Ballou plays a part in this gangster narrative again with Goldy on December 21, 1957. Christmas time causes guys to become desperate. Christmas meant you needed gifts which you could only buy with cash in those days.

The desire of everyone, especially gangsters, to have cash to buy Christmas gifts reminds me of a friend from my neighborhood named Muggsy. I was shopping with my wife, Maria, just before Christmas in 1966, the year of our marriage, at the main Jordan Marsh store in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. Out of the blue I see a guy with a big smile and his arms over-loaded with Christmas boxes coming towards me. It was Muggsy. I introduced him to Maria explaining he was a longtime friend from the neighborhood. We had a nice chat. He went on his way.

A short time later, I read about Muggsy in the newspaper. He had been shot attempting to hold up a liquor store. He had held up the same store shortly before Christmas which explained the bounty of Christmas gifts he carried.  Fortunately, he was not killed. He did some time back then; the last I heard of him he was doing well as a shop steward for a Laborer’s Local 223.  You will hear more about Muggsy later.

As it did with Muggsy, I presume the pressure of Christmas caused Thomas Ballou on December 21, 1957 to look to get some ready cash. He was really pressed for money as he was just released from the Deer Island jail the day before after serving 30 days for drunkenness. He targeted Goldstein because, as Willie Sutton said when he was asked why he robbed banks, “that’s where the money is.” After Goldstein left a Chelsea café, Ballou confronted him as he was getting into his car.  Ballou pushed the muzzle of a gun to Goldstein’s head. Goldstein fled from the car, screaming. The yells caught the attention of Patrolman William Monzione who pursued, and arrested Ballou.

Ballou was charged with attempted armed robbery. When his probable cause hearing came up in the Chelsea District court in February 1958, Goldstein failed to appear as a witness. Ballou was still indicted. The case in superior court then was dismissed after Goldstein again did not showed up. Like with Muggsy, I will write more about Ballou later.

Police suggest the motive for Goldstein’s murder was that he “had tried to set up gambling operations in the North End, Revere and Chelsea and had been ‘ordered out’ a week [earlier] by the local gangland heads.” Failing to leave as “requested” by the North End makes sense because, as I mentioned with Bittie, the Mafia was trying to consolidate its hold over the gambling activities in those areas. Goldstein apparently did not want to share his activity and funds with it.

Goldstein house in Hull

Goldstein’s murder was never solved. There are strange aspects to it.  The car in which Goldstein was found was stopped on the road in front of a New Hampshire poultry farm. Goldstein was already dead in the trunk. The car was then riddled with bullets. The gunshots alerted the neighbors. What was the purpose of shooting up the car other than to attract attention to it?

The poultry farm was owned by Louis Greco, formerly from Revere. He had owned the farm for six months. Why was the car driven from Massachusetts to that particular spot? Was the firing upon it with a rifle and a shotgun some type of warning to Greco? As best I can tell there’s nothing else which involves Greco in these matters.

The car’s owner Alexander Rizzo said it was stolen from a parking lot between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. the day of the murder. The county attorney in New Hampshire pointed out his car was on Highway 107 in East Kingston, N.H. at 12:15 a.m., three hours before the time he claims it was stolen. Rizzo was a long-time gangster. He was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 5 years in 1934; after he was released, he was caught carrying a weapon and got another year.

In May 1944, Rizzo was arrested with Abe Sarkis, a big-time Mafia connected guy who was involved in all types of gambling including boxing matches – most likely fixed like those of Terry Malloy in the movie On The Waterfront. In October 1963, Sarkis, mentioned again later, was listed as a member of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Mafia working out of Boston. Little doubt exists that Goldstein had crossed the Mafia which brought about his murder.


  1. William F Fitzgerald

    Thanks for posting these. As always, it is a pleasure hearing from Matt! I was able to tell him, several years ago, that I had the fun of playing golf at Ponkapoaug with Mugsy and, by the back nine, had solved several cold cases. Regards to all Connollys and friends of Matt.
    Bill Fitz (Norfolk County DA’s White Collar Crime Unit)

    • Good story, Bill!

    • Fantastic to hear from you, Bill Fitz

      • William F Fitzgerald

        My note back then to Matt….
        Matt…entered this under a November post about “Mugsy” Whitaker:
        Hey Matt….late to this comment…I played golf with Mugsy at Ponkapoag (Ponky) several years ago…he was the bookie at The Bulldogs….and said he was mentioned in the book about Jim Cotter, “A True Man for Others”…finally got around to reading that book by Cotter and Paul Kenney…much about Savin Hill, Eddie Connors and many, many other names you will know. Mugsy worked the docks with Cotter and his dad, Les, and Mugsy joined the National Guard and went to basic with a bunch of Savin Hill guys and Cotter. Some funny and some sad stories but all told “The Cotter way.” I think you would enjoy reading it.
        Fitz 2/20/19

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