Legs Diamond: A History of Kingston, NY’s Most Notorious Gangster

Eighty years ago, a raid on a Kingston bootlegging operation helped bring down notorious gangster Legs Diamond


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legs diamond

“They’ll never get Legs!”

Legs Diamond left the Albany hospital on May 31, 1931, to answer kidnapping charges in Catskill. In front of the courthouse, Gary Levine writes, a nine-year-old boy shouted, “They’ll never get Legs!”

The trial was moved to Troy, and finally held in December. Legs was acquitted — probably by bribing the jurors — and celebrated by getting drunk and visiting his mistress in Albany. In the wee small hours of December 18, he stumbled to his boardinghouse rooms on Dove Street and passed out.

The feds didn’t get Legs. But others did. Two gunmen followed him into the bedroom, where he lay sprawled out in his underwear, fired three bullets into his head at close range, and sped off in a black sedan. No one knows for sure who finally stopped Legs Diamond from bouncing back. He had enemies on both sides of the law. It could have been other gangsters. It may have been the Albany police department, under the direction of political boss Dan O’Connell; O’Connell claimed as much in Kennedy’s book O Albany! As with much of gangster life, and death, much remains mysterious.

“There are so many stories,” says Ed Ford. “How do you know the truth?”

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