Open main menu

Charles Solomon (racketeer)

Charles "King" Solomon (1884 – January 24, 1933) was a Russian-born mob boss who controlled Boston's bootlegging, narcotics, and illegal gambling during the Prohibition era.


One of the earliest organized crime figures in New England's history, Solomon immigrated from the Russian Empire as a boy settling with his family in Boston's West End. The son of a local theater owner, Solomon and his three brothers came from a middle-class background and, during his teenage years, worked as a counterman in his uncle's restaurant. However, by his early 20s, he had become involved in prostitution, fencing and bail bonding prior to Prohibition.

By the early 1920s, he controlled the majority of illegal gambling and narcotics such as cocaine and morphine before expanding into bootlegging with Dan Carroll during Prohibition owning many of the cities most prominent speakeasies including the Cocoanut Grove nightclub. He enjoyed extensive contacts throughout the underworld including the Bronfmans in Canada as well as associates in New York and Chicago.

Solomon was tried on narcotics charges in 1922. Represented by editor and general councillor of the Boston American Grenville MacFarlane, which had then been crusading against drug abuse, he was later acquitted of charges. He would however serve thirteen months of a five-year prison sentence at Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for intimidating a witness into perjury for his narcotics trial. During his imprisonment, a request for his transfer to a prison closer to Boston was made by Boston Congressmen George H. Tinkham and James A. Gallivan.

Attending the Atlantic City Conference in 1929, Solomon was one of the several leaders in the "Big Seven" who helped negotiate territorial disputes and establish policies which would influence the later National Crime Syndicate in 1932. Solomon continued to control illegal gambling in New England until his death on January 24, 1933 when he was murdered in the men's room of Boston's Cotton Club by rival gunmen (John Burke and James Coyne). His territories were eventually divided up among his lieutenants Joseph Linsey, Hyman Abrams and brothers Max and Louis Fox.

Solomon and three others were indicted in Brooklyn in early January 1933 on charges of operating a liquor smuggling ring. Two months after Solomon was killed, another of the indicted men, Alexander Lillien, was murdered at his house in New Jersey.[1][2]

Further readingEdit

  • Fried, Albert. The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Gangster in America. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980. ISBN 0-231-09683-6
  • Goodman, Jonathan (1996). The Passing of Starr Faithfull. [Kent, Ohio]: Kent State University Press. pp. 278–281 et seq on Solomon. ISBN 0-87338-541-1.
  • Messick, Hank. Lansky. London: Robert Hale & Company, 1973. ISBN 0-7091-3966-7
  • Pietrusza, David. Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-7867-1250-3
  • Reppetto, Thomas A. American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2004. ISBN 0-8050-7798-7


  • English, T.J. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0-06-059002-5
  • Fox, Stephen. Blood and Power: Organized Crime in Twentieth-Century America. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989. ISBN 0-688-04350-X
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3

External linksEdit