Organized Crime Figure. An Irish-born gangster in New York City, he regaled in the media attention for his violent activities, preferring short-term, violent solutions to his problems with gang rivalry. His attacks on the major New York City gangs left him with the nickname “Mad Dog,” for daring to take on the other mobsters. In 1931, he started a gang war between his mob and the other gangs in New York City. Born in Ireland in 1908, his family immigrated to New York City’s Bronx, where he and his older brother, Peter, turned to crime early. At age 12, he was arrested for unlawful entry and sent to a Catholic Reform School. Four years later, he was arrested for carrying a gun, and by the age of 23, he had been arrested a dozen times. In the late 1920s, Vincent and Peter started as armed guards for the illegal beer delivery trucks of Dutch Schultz’s mob. Shortly afterwards, Vincent broke away from Schultz’s gang, taking with him a dozen gangsters including his brother Peter, to form up his own gang in the Bronx and Harlem. Coll’s first strike against his former boss was to gun down Schultz lieutenants Slats Bologna and Frank Amato. The next day, his brother Peter was murdered in revenge. Three days later, the Coll gang raided one of Dutch Schultz’s beer drops, destroying ten trucks and 150 slot machines, and two days later, Coll killed Louis De Rosa, a Schultz lieutenant. In the next several weeks, Coll’s gang targeted several of Schultz’s mob, killing several gang men and several innocent bystanders, including a five-year old boy. Lacking in business acumen to take over the underworld beer industry, he then decided to meet his financial needs by the successful strategy of kidnapping people for ransom. Prior to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932, kidnapping was not a federal offense, and gangs often kidnapped famous personalities or rival bootleggers to obtain ransoms for them. He is suspected of having kidnapped Broadway singer Rudy Vallee, supposedly obtaining $100,000 from Vallee, and later kidnapped Sherman Billingsly, owner of the Stork Club, the best-known restaurant in New York. For Billingsly’s release, Coll obtained $25,000. In June 1931, he kidnapped George “Big Frenchy” De Mange, an important subordinate of gangster Owney Madden. Madden paid a ransom of $38,300 for Big Frenchy’s release. Shortly after this, Coll kidnapped Billy Warren, a banker for the New York mob, and received $83,000 for his release. After Coll successfully beat a police charge of murder, Dutch Schultz posted a $50,000 reward for Coll’s murder. He was killed by a member of Owney Madden’s gang, when he fired a submachine gun into a drug store telephone booth where Coll had gone to make a call. He died with 18 bullets in him. Less than 6 months later, the remaining members of the Coll gang were either killed or were in prison. In 1961, the movie “Mad Dog Coll” was released, staring John Chandler as Coll, with future notable actors Telly Savalas, Jerry Orbach, Vincent Gardenia and Gene Hackman.
- July, 20, 1908
- February, 08, 1932