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Frank Costello Picked up on Vagrancy Charge

June 3, 1964 - Frank Costello, once a symbol of underworld power, was picked up as a vagrant today in New York City as he finished a gourmet lunch at Dinty Moore’s with a man described by the police as one of the city’s most affluent bookmakers.

The Federal agents who arrested Costello were not looking for him. The man they wanted was his host, Jeremiah (Jerry) Kelly, who was carrying $7,400 in $100 bills. Costello had only $6 with him, which is not enough to cover a steak at Dinty Moore’s.

Kelly, 57 years old, was one of three alleged bookmakers arrested today by special agents of the IRS. His clientele included many “socialites,” according to U.S. Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Kelly and the other two bookmakers, Benjamin Rothstein and Samuel Feinberg, were charged with having failed to purchase $50 Federal wagering tax stamps.

Can a man dining in an expensive restaurant be arrested as a vagrant?

Judge Neal Bottiglieri evidently thought not. He dismissed the vagrancy complain in Criminal Court.

Costello showed annoyance as the agents reached his table. The restaurant was filled with women waiting for the matinee of “Hamlet” at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater across 46th Street.

Already a-twitter over the prospect of seeing Richard Burton’s portrayal of the melancholy Dane, several matrons were startled to hear the following dialogue:

A Federal agent: “What are you doing?”

Costello: “I’m eating, that’s all.”

Agent: “What are your means of support?”

Costello: “I’m retired.”

“He seemed a little disgusted when we told him he was being charged with vagrancy,” recalled Detective Donald Smith of the Police Commissioner’s Confidential Investigation Unit, who accompanied the Federal agents. “He felt it was beneath his dignity.”

For a man who has been under arrest so many times, Costello has spent relatively little time behind bars. His longest term was 42 months for income tax evasion. He was released on June 20, 1961. Except for 15 days on Rikers Island to finish an earlier contempt conviction, he has been at liberty ever since.

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