Daniel "Danny" Patrick Greene was an Irish American mobster and associate of Cleveland mobster John Nardi during the gang war for the city's criminal operations during the late 1970s.
Greene was born five days after his 20 year-old parents were married. His mother died of complications from the birth. Suddenly alone and with a child, his father turned him over to a Catholic orphanage. A few years later he would be living with his grandfather who sent him to Catholic schools. Eventually, Greene was expelled from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. After that, Greene attended Collinwood High School where he played baseball and basketball.
Leaving school in 1951, he joined the Marines and was noticed for his abilities as a boxer and his marksmanship. After the marines, Greene worked odd jobs and read deeply about Ireland and Irish history. He began to think of himself as a Celtic Warrior.
He began working on the docks as a longshoreman and was quite popular with the other workers. In 1961, the president of the local was removed from office by the International Longshoremen's Association and Greene was chosen to serve as interim president. After his service as interim president, he handily won re-election.
Once president, Greene had the union office painted green and installed thick green carpeting. He was known to drive a green car, wear green jackets, and often handed out green ink pens. In office, he raised dues 25 percent and pushed workers to perform "volunteer" hours to assist in providing a "building fund." It was unwise to refuse as those who did often found themselves losing out on work.
Having contact with other union leaders who were under investigation by the F.B.I. brought Greene a visit from agent Marty McCann of the Organized Crime Division.
Much like Whitey Bulger, Greene became a confidential informant, quietly passing along information to the F.B.I. but only that which suited his personal needs and nothing that would hurt himself or those he valued. His codename was "Mr. Patrick", a reflection on his steadfast Irish pride.
By 1964, the members of the union were fed up with Greene's behavior and the Cleveland Plain Dealer began writing a nine part series about him. The series brought Greene unwanted attention from U.S. attorney, the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department, and the Cuyahoga County prosecutor.
The International Longshoremen's Association began their own investigation and soon Greene was removed from office. Eventually, Greene was convicted of embezzling $11,500 in union funds as well as two counts of falsifying records. The verdict was overturned by an appeals court and federal prosecutors finally settled for Greene's guilty plea of two misdemeanors. All in all, he was only fined $10,000. Some think that his F.B.I. connections were at work to lessen his punishment.
Greene soon found employment with the Cleveland Solid Waste Trade Guild wherein he was hired in a capacity to "keep the peace". Impressed with his attitude and abilities, Alex Shondor Birns hired Greene to be an enforcer for his various numbers operators.
In May 1968, Greene was driving in his car when a bomb exploded. He told the police that a passing car had tossed the bomb into his vehicle at which point he managed to push it away. The explosion threw Greene nearly 20 feet (6 m) from the demolished vehicle and he claimed "the luck of the Irish" for having only minor injuries. The truth of the matter was that Greene was transporting a bomb and it exploded prematurely. In the future, he would only trust professionals to handle bombs for him.
One of the men in charge of the Cleveland Solid Waste Trade Guild, Mike Frato, decided to end the group and form a more legitimate trade group called the Cuyahoga County Waste Haulers Association. The Cleveland Solid Waste Trade Guild fell apart shortly thereafter.
In 1971, Frato's car was destroyed by a bomb. The body inside wasn't Frato, but instead was an accomplice of Greene named Art Sneperger. A month later, Frato was shot and killed. Greene was arrested and interrogated. He admitted to the killing but claimed it was self-defense. Evidence seemed to corroborate Greene's story and he was released.
Soon after, Greene left his wife and moved to Collinwood. There, as Ned Whelan wrote in a Cleveland Magazine story called "How Danny Greene's Murder Exploded the Godfather Myth": "Imagining himself as a feudal baron, he supported a number of destitute Collinwood families, paid tuition to Catholic schools for various children and, like the gangsters of the Twenties, actually had turkeys delivered to needy households on Thanksgiving."
In time, the relationship between Greene and Shondor soured as Greene refused to pay $75,000 that he owed Shondor. The mafia, whom Shondor worked for, wanted their money. Shondor pressed Greene. On Holy Saturday, the eve of Easter, Shondor was blown up via a bomb. Greene was responsible.
On May 12, an explosion rocked Collinwood. Greene's building was destroyed, but Greene somehow had only minor injuries. As the second floor fell, he was shielded from the debris by a refrigerator which had lodged against a wall. A second, and more powerful, bomb had failed to explode. This second explosion would surely have killed Greene. Greene credited his miraculous escape to the intercession of St. Jude, whose medal he always wore around his neck.
As the mafia began to chase Greene, he retaliated. In 1976 alone, 36 bombs exploded around Cleveland. It was soon to be called "Bomb City, U.S.A.". According to the book "To Kill The Irishman" by Rick Porrello, Greene personally assassinated at least eight of the Mafia hit men, sent to kill him. Most of these killings were either through the use of bombs or bullets.
The bombed car of Danny Greene
Danny Green, following his death from a car bomb explosion in 1977.On October 6, 1977, Greene went to a dental appointment. Members of the mafia, who had listened in on Greene's phone line they had tapped, anticipated this visit. After Greene left his dentist's office building and approached his car, the automobile parked next to his exploded. Greene was ripped apart. His clothing, except for his brown zip-up boots and black socks, was blown clean off his body. His left arm was torn free and was thrown 100 feet away. One gold ring with five green stones was still on one of the fingers. Ironically, Greene had had his dentist repair a loose filling.
In 2001, this story was optioned for a film to be entitled The Irishman: The Legend of Danny Greene.