“Bugs” Moran’s Moraine Connection
Did you know that former flashy Chicago gangster George “Bugs” Moran has a Moraine connection due to his 1946 robbery and kidnapping crime? Moran is forever linked to Chicago’s infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Mob Boss Al Capone was the leader of Chicago’s south side gang. Bugs Moran was the leader of the north side gang. On February 14, 1929, Capone’s gang (several dressed as police officers) machine gunned Moran’s top seven gangsters in a north side garage. Moran was late arriving or he would have also been killed. After the massacre Capone took control of organized crime and bootlegging in Chicago.
Fast forward to 1946 in Dayton, Ohio. Moran was not the big time crime boss that he once was in Chicago. He needed money. He needed a new city to flex his muscle. Dayton, Ohio was a promising, blooming, industrial city. Along with Dayton bootlegger Al Fouts and Moran’s partner Virgil Summers, the trio of killers had been casing a branch of Winters Bank on West Third Street and Broadway watching the routine of a local tavern keeper.
On June 28, 1946 when John Kurpe, Jr., a bar manager at Silas Tavern in Moraine City left Winter’s Bank he was followed. Silas Tavern is the former name of today’s Upper Deck Tavern at the corner of Springboro Pike and Blanchard Avenue. (Through the years that location has been called Silas Tavern, The Lighthouse, John Bulls Restaurant & Upper Deck Tavern). Kurpe withdrew $10,000 in ten dollar bills from Winters Bank which he would use to cash pay checks for workers from the nearby Frigidaire Plant. Silas Tavern was owned by Kurpe’s father-in-law Gabor Silas.
As Kurpe drove south he was forced off the road at Broadway & Dona Streets by a Buick, forced to the floorboards at gunpoint by two men and was driven to a wooded area. We was led into the woods, bound hand and foot and robbed. Eventually, he got free and walked out of the woods onto Vance Road and obtained help.
Dayton Police Department detectives arrested Fouts in Dayton within a week of the robbery/kidnapping. A week later J. Edgar Hoover announced that the FBI had arrested Moran and Summers in Kentucky. G-men had tracked the pair to Henderson, Ky. where Dayton detectives (including Russell Pfauhl, the detective credited with arresting John Dillinger in Dayton in 1933) took them into custody and returned them to Dayton. Daytonians were fascinated to have a big time gangster on trial in their hometown. In the end all three crooks received sentences of twenty years in jail.
Today, few people realize that one of the nation’s top gangsters who battled Al Capone during Chicago’s bloody bootlegging era pulled his final crime by robbing a Moraine, Ohio tavern manager.