This Day in Jewish History / August 28

A Jewish gangster met his death after a long, bloody street rivalry for control over New York City's 'wet wash' laundry unions.

On this day in 1923, Nathan Kaplan, aka "Kid Dropper" and “Jack the Dropper,” was shot to death in New York at the age of 32. Kaplan was a criminal specializing in “labor slugging,” the provision of muscle to one side or another (in his case usually to unions) in labor disputes.

Kaplan’s gang had an ongoing rivalry with the organization of Jacob “Little Augie” Orgen, whose associates included the up-and-coming gangsters Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, Jack “Legs” Diamond and Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro. After Orgen’s release from prison, the two gangs competed for control of the protection racket of New York’s “wet wash” laundry unions, a long-running war that included frequent shootouts – with 23 deaths during 1922 and 1923 alone.

On August 28, 1923, Kaplan was arrested on the Lower East Side for possession of a concealed weapon. As he entered a police car outside the Essex Market court house, he was shot by Louis Kerzner (aka known as “Kushner” and “Cohen”). Kerzner, a small-time crook who was apparently acting at the bidding of Orgen, was later convicted of the crime and sentenced to 20-25 years in Sing Sing prison.

Kaplan was buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery, in Queens. With him out of the way, Orgen resumed control of the New York labor rackets, only to be shot dead himself in 1927 by his former associates Buchalter and Shapiro. Orgen was buried in Mt. Judah Cemetery.