Louis Buchalter was born in New York City on 12th February, 1897. As a young man he got involved in shoplifting and by 1919 had served two terms in prison. He joined the gang led by Lucky Luciano and took the nickname Lepke (Yiddish for Little Louis). In 1933 Buchalter became the leader of what became known as Murder Incorporated. Buchalter recruited gunmen such as Abe Reles and Albert Anastasia to carry out executions for money.
In early August 1939 Walter Winchell received a message from a contact that suggested that Lepke was willing to surrender to the FBI if a deal was possible. Lepke was unwilling to surrender to New York's district attorney, Thomas Dewey, as he had vowed to execute him. Winchell now made a radio broadcast appealing to Lepke to give himself up: "Attention Public Enemy Number One, Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter! I am authorized by John Edgar Hoover of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to guarantee you safe delivery to the FBI if you surrender to me or to any agent of the FBI. I will repeat: Leapke, I am authorized by John Edgar Hoover."
On 24th August Winchell received another message from Lepke. He phoned J. Edgar Hoover: "My friends, John, have instructed me to tell you to be at Twenty-eighth Street and Fifth Avenue between ten-ten and ten-twenty tonight. That's about half an hour. They told me to tell you to be alone." Curt Gentry explains that "Hoover was not on foot, and he wasn't alone. Unknown to Winchell, more than two dozen agents had the corner under surveillance. Having picked up Lepke several blocks away, per instructions, Winchell pulled up beside the director's distinctive black limousine. Then he and Lepke got into the back of the FBI vehicle." Winchell later recalled that Hoover was "disguised in dark glasses to keep him from being recognized by passersby".
Lepke was tried on federal charges and sentenced to fourteen years in Leavenworth for narcotics offences. (Hoover had promised him he'd get only ten years and that with good behaviour he'd be out in five or six). The Chicago Tribune published a story that the FBI and the Justice Department had made a deal with Lepke, to keep him from telling what he knew about the Roosevelt administration's links with Murder Incorporated. President Franklin Roosevelt was so angry about the accusation he ordered that Lepke should be handed over to Thomas Dewey. When Abe Reles agreed to provide evidence against Buchalter, he was tried for murder. Found guilty, Buchalter was executed at Sing Sing State Prison on 4th March, 1944.