Jacob “Little Augie” Orgen was born on the streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1896. He quickly ditched school and became known as a “Schlammer” for the Benjamin “Dopey” Fein mob. “Schlammers,” or “Sluggers” were basically head-breakers who kept the union workers in line, by “schlamming” them on the side of the head, with a club, or a baseball bat, if they went against what their union leaders degreed. Orgen formed a little side gang call the “Little Augies,” but he was strictly a small-time player under Fein.
After Fein was arrested for improprieties concerning the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, rather than go to jail for long period of time, Fein, not as dopey as his name, cut a deal with the cops. 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 over control of the labor unions, while Orgen cooled his heel in prison on a robbery charge. In 1919, Dropper eliminated Spanish with a few bullets, and Little Augie, fresh from his release from prison, had his eyes on Dropper’s domain.
Orgen’s gang of mostly Jewish criminals, joined forces with the gang of Soloman Schipiro, whose men, strangely enough, consisted mostly of Italians. They were fighting a losing battle with Dropper’s forces, so they decided to cut off the head; Dropper himself. As Dropper was being released from prison on a guns charge at the Essex Market Court, on Second Avenue and Second Street, Little Aguie and his gang stood anxiously in the street outside the court, mayhem in their minds. A dozen cops surrounded Dropper, with their eyes on Orgen, who was rumored to be there to kill Dropper. The police pushed Dropper into a waiting cab, when out nowhere, a nobody named Louis Kushner rushed the cab from the back and shot Dropper twice in the head. Kushner denied all involvement with Orgen (but the cops knew better), and he was sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison.
Orgen immediately took over Dropper’s rackets and he enlisted a dangerous crew of killers, including “Jack Legs” Diamond, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro. Pressure from the police, who were embarrassed Dropper was killed right under their noses, forced Orgen to abandon the labor rackets. He segued right into the bootlegging business, supplying illegal hooch to various speakeasies around town. This did not sit too well with the bootleggers whom he displaced in those joints. Orgen was told, in no uncertain terms, by Arnold Rothstein and by Meyer Lansky, to get out of the bootlegging business, or bad things could happen to him real quick. Orgen ignored these warnings, so the offended bootleggers struck a deal with Lepke Buchalter and Jacob Shapiro instead, offering them employment in their vast operations, for the murder of Orgen.
On October 16, 1927, Orgen was walking in front of 103 Norfolk Street with his new bodyguard Legs Diamond, when a black touring car pulled along side him, guns a-blazing. Orgen was killed and Diamond severely wounded, but he lived to die another day.
Orgen was buried by his estranged father in a huge cherry-wood coffin, lined with white satin. On the top of the coffins was a silver plate that simply said, “Jacob Orgen – Aged 25 years.”
Orgen was 33 at the time of his death, but his father, a legitimate, God-fearing man, considered his son dead eight years earlier, when he could not convince Orgen to get out of the rackets.