Mobster Daniel Greene Narrowly Escaped Death Five Times Before He Was Murdered

As president of the local International Longshoreman's union, Daniel Greene put his charisma and drive to work. Those who worked under him knew that they had a man who would fight for better pay and work conditions, and his speeches at meetings were as eloquent as they were powerful. In those days, running a taught ship in the world of organized labor would get you noticed by another organized unit. Mob bosses from Cleveland began to pay attention to the feisty former Marine who had transformed the Cleveland docks. 

Indicted in 1964 for embezzling union funds, Greene protested his innocence but eventually pled guilty. The case was overturned in 1968, but by then his reputation with his union had become tarnished (per All That's Interesting). But the criminal underworld had long since been impressed with Greene's proven ability to enforce his ideologies on workers and his drive to transform a seedy area (like the Cleveland docks) into something profitable. Jewish mob boss Alex Birns was taken by Greene, hiring him to be an enforcer. Greene also began to work for other local mob units in Cleveland. Along with Birns, Greene began to do contract work for Italian boss John Nardi, combining work for his new-found associate after Birns was sentenced to time in prison (via Biography).

This led to Greene becoming attracted to explosive devices. Bombs were commonly used by the mafia in the 1960s and '70s to instill fear and destroy rival mob properties. However, it took Greene a little while to get the hang of things.

Greene was almost killed by TNT

Greene's first attempt at using a bomb nearly cost the man his life. All That's Interesting tells us that Greene (above, in 1959) tried to kill a mark with a stick of dynamite. While driving by the target's car, he ignited the fuse and tried to toss it inside. The TNT exploded before Greene intended it to, damaging his ear and blowing up his own car. Miraculously, he survived.

His next brush with death happened after the man he hired to deliver bombs, Art Sneperger, bungled a bombing meant to kill rival "Big Mike" Frato. The device ignited prematurely and killed Sneperger, but not before Frato realized he was now a target of Greene's. Set for revenge, Frato stalked Greene until he spotted him out on a run. As he rolled his car up to Green and began shooting at him, Greene took cover and responded with gunfire of his own. Greene survived the assassination attempt, killing Frato with a shot to the head. Biography reports that though Green was tried for manslaughter, the court acquitted him.

In 1975, Greene and Birns had a lethal falling out. Greene arranged for his former boss to be killed with a car bomb. But those loyal to Birns sought to get revenge and detonated a bomb outside Greene's apartment. Greene survived death for the third time. Greene attributed his escapes from death to his having "the luck o' the Irish." But no matter how lucky a man is, eventually, that luck is going to run out.

When the luck of the Irish runs out

Cleveland in the 1970s might have seemed like a war zone. The local mob battles resulted in more than 20 bombings in the city in 1976, most of which were orchestrated by Greene (via All That's Interesting). Greene was beginning to wear on some of the mob families' nerves at this point. Though Nardi was still a supporter, the Irish-American was beginning to make more enemies than he had friends. News5 Cleveland (via Yahoo! News) reports that a rival mob's sniper tried to shoot Greene in September 1976 with a high-powered rifle, but failed. 

Several months later, in March 1977, the U.S. Marshals office received a hot tip that someone had put out a hit on Greene. Later that month, Greene and Nardi narrowly avoided death when a car bomb aboard a vehicle they were climbing into failed to detonate. Nardi's luck ran out soon after. He was killed in front of the Teamsters office when a bomb exploded in May 1977. On October 6, 1977, that Irish luck finally ran out. Greene was leaving a dentist appointment in Cleveland that afternoon when a bomb placed under the vehicle parked next to his was detonated as he was trying to leave the parking lot. 

Greene's life and times were chronicled in the 2001 book "To Kill the Irishman: Danny Greene and the War That Crippled the Mafia," by Rick Porrello. In 2011, the film "Kill the Irishman" was released, starring Christopher Walken as Birns, Vincent D'Onofrio as Nardi, and Ray Stevenson as Danny Greene (per IMDb).