Bronx detectives pounce on junkie wanted in shooting slay
BY BOB KAPPSTATTER
DAILY NEWS BRONX BUREAU CHIEF
Monday, September 24th 2007, 4:00 AM
He shot the wrong man eight years ago, and now cops say a longtime - and deadly - enforcer for a notorious mob-connected gang has finally been brought to justice.
But police were forced to delay his arraignment because he had to be hospitalized for his heroin habit.
Joseph Meldisch, 51, an alleged hit man for the Genovese/ Luchese/Bonanno-connected Purple Gang, was arrested Thursday night in the Bronx for the March 21, 1999, slaying of Joseph Brown in an East Bronx bar.
Cops said Meldisch had a beef with Brown's brother Thomas, who had got Meldisch busted for robbery.
They said Meldisch, wearing a ski mask, walked into Frenchie's bar on E. Tremont Avenue in Throgs Neck about 2:30 a.m., stormed through a crowd of more than a hundred people, with the band still playing, and up to a table where Joseph Brown, 35, of Yonkers, was sitting with his wife and other family and friends.
"You're dead, mother-----r!" witnesses said Meldisch screamed as he pumped nine shots into Brown, who died at the scene.
Law enforcement sources said Meldisch, with a reputation for a hair-trigger temper, was long-time muscle for the Purple Gang, an independent crew originally affiliated with the Luchese mob, and later with the Genovese and Bonanno crime families.
The gang, labeled by federal prosecutors in the late 1970s as controlling much of the heroin traffic in East Harlem and the Bronx, "has pretty much been dismantled by police and the feds," said a law enforcement source.
When he was arrested in 1983 at age 27 on a robbery charge, Meldisch was already suspected by police in 30 homicides, said the source.
"We think he went on to do at least 70 mob-contract hits up and down the East Coast between New York and Florida," they added.
Along with detectives from Bronx narcotics and the major case squad, lead case Detective Kevin Tracy of the Bronx Homicide Task Force arrested Meldisch at his girlfriend's Logan Ave. apartment in Throgs Neck.
Two boxes of 9-mm. ammo were recovered in the apartment, police said.
But before Meldisch could be processed for arraignment, he fell ill from what he told arresting officers is a $100, 10-bags-a-day heroin habit.
He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where authorities were weighing a bedside arraignment.
With Alison Gendar
East Harlem Purple Gang
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The East Harlem based Purple Gang was a loosely connected group of at least 127 Italian-American drug dealers from Pleasant Avenue in Italian Harlem, and the Bronx, during the 1970's. Many members became Lucchese and Genovese family mobsters, including Daniel Leo (mobster), and Angelo Prisco.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Harlem_Purple_Gang"