Friday, March 11, 2016

The Dead Can't Testify : Nightclub Owner Goes Free

In the St. Louis Municipal Courts Building, a scuffle broke out in the crowded hallway.  Tony Sansone, Jr. and two others were arrested under general peace disturbance charges.

Mr. Sansone, a Deputy Constable and owner of the La Vida nightclub, located at 521 Washington Avenue, carried a pistol into the court building....I guess there were no metal detectors at the courthouse doors in January of 1935.  Sansone was at the court building to answer to illegal liquor sales charges.   Sansone had failed to obtain the proper licenses for selling liquor. He stated that as he stood at the Police Court entrance, two men known as James Capasso and Tony Busalacki, approached him and began to beat him.  They had unfinished business from a quarrel that they had the evening before.

In an effort to defend himself, Sansone withdrew his pistol from under his coat and hit Busalacki over the head with it.  The crowded corridor was soon emptied as the persons there began to swarm to the doors in order to get out of the way of swinging fists. Sansone was treated for bruises at the nearby hospital, while Busalacki suffered a laceration on his scalp.

The case of Tony Sansone had two continuances, before both parties were fined $200, and appealed.  The court case was carried on the docket eight times before sustaining the fine. On June 27, 1935, a new trial was granted.

Fast forward to August 1935, on the fifteenth court setting for this case, the general peace disturbance charges against Sansone are dropped.  Tony Busalacki, the witness expected to testify again Sansone was no longer alive.  How fortunate for Sansone.  In July, Busalacki was killed in the neighboring county of St. Charles. He had been shot by a member of his own extortion accident.  OOPS!

 St. Louis Post-Dispatch13 Jul 1935, SatMain Edition,

Busalacki and his extortion chumps were trying to collect a large amount of money from a fellow who had a farm in St. Charles County, just across the river from St. Louis.  While running away from the sheriff, one of the gang mistook Busalacki for a county deputy, and he was shot dead.

Judge Schmitt realized that the chief witness against Tony Sansone, Jr. was Tony Busalacki.  The prosecutors could not make a case against Sansone without the testimony of the dead man. Sansone was released from the court as a free man, thankful for the death of his adversary.

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