On Danny Greene and “Kill the Irishman”

The life and times of reputed Cleveland mobster Daniel J. (“Danny”) Greene have been recovered by Hollywood in the film “Kill the Irishman,” which was released the week before St. Patrick’s Day. The film shows the mob violence which played out in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s as different ethnic mobster groups vied for control of Cleveland’s unions, trash hauling contracts, numbers rackets, etc. While the film is entertaining, it glorifies the crime-laden and violent life of Greene, and contains a number of historical errors.

Greene (1933-1977) first burst upon the Cleveland scene in 1961 upon being elected President of Local 1317 of the International Longshoremen’s Association. In the years immediately following Greene’s election, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a series of articles about alleged corruption on the docks of Cleveland which prompted an FBI investigation. In 1964, Greene and others were indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzlement and other crimes related to their tenure as union officials. Greene was convicted in federal district here in 1966, but a federal appeals court reversed his conviction in 1968 citing prosecutorial misconduct at his trial. In 1970, Greene plead guilty to two counts of falsifying records and paid a $10,000 fine, avoiding jail.

In 1971, Greene was back in court, charged with manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of rubbish hauler Michael J. Frato, who was involved in a union dispute with Greene. Greene shot Frato while he was out jogging in White City Park in Bratenahl. In 1973, Greene was acquitted of the charge on his defense of self-defense. In the same year, Greene was also charged with the shooting of Cleveland Model Cities Director Robert E. Doggett, who initially identified Greene as his assailant, but later claimed he had misidentified Greene—who sent flowers to his hospital room. The charges against Greene in this shooting were subsequently dropped.

Greene returned to court yet again in 1975—this time as a victim in the trial of William (Mo) Kiraly who was charged with bombing Greene’s house and office in an attempt to kill him. Greene and his girlfriend were at home at the time, and, although the house was extensively damaged, both—some might say miraculously, suffered only minor injuries in the blast.

Danny Greene’s luck with the law and the mob finally ran out on October 6, 1977, when he died in a car bomb blast as he left his dentist’s office on Cedar Road in Lyndhurst. A number of individuals associated with James “Mr. White” Licavoli, an alleged mafia kingpin headquartered in Cleveland’s Little Italy, were convicted of arson and murder in the slaying of Greene.

Below is a Google tour map of places in and about the City of Cleveland where Danny Greene lived, built his reputation for mob-style corruption and violence, and ultimately died a violent death.

View Life and Times of Daniel J. “Danny” Greene in a larger map

On Danny Greene and “Kill the Irishman”

2 Responses

  1. Hey Jim, I just saw the movie last night. Despite some complaints about the quality of the directing (uneven acting and pacing, filmed entirely in Detroit, etc.), I thought this was a pretty good movie. It really would have been much better had they actually filmed it here in Cleveland, but who knows the politics behind such decisions. Anyway, thanks for the writeup and the cool map.

    Erin April 1, 2011 at 9:16 am #
  2. Saw the documentary at the Lake Shore theater last weekend. Great! Even better than the movie–because the story was more honestly told.

    jim dubelko April 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm #