My third book came from hours of research on the local Mafia. While searching through newspaper articles of the 1920s I kept coming across these stories of Polish gangsters committing all kinds of crimes. I decided to put together the story of one of the more interesting gangs, which became “They Call Me Korney.”
The book was released on October 2, 2009 at the former Colvin police station in Buffalo. The location had become a center for rebuilding bicycles, and since I had run a bicycle delivery company for 7 years I decided to make the event also a fundraiser for the organization.
More than just an interesting story, but a unique look at Polish America during Prohibition. The book centers around 6-foot tall blonde-haired John “Korney” Kwiatkowski, a ruthless, calculating gangster whose main adversary is Anthony Kalkiewicz, who was also a member of his Korney Gang. You may have heard the saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer? That may be just how these dangerous, murderous men worked together, until Kalkiewicz had enough.
They robbed company payrolls, mail cars, safes, tires and since it was during Prohibition, they were also bootleggers. Korney ran stills and breweries in Buffalo and Depew, New York. He lived fast, liked nice clothes and ran through money like a drunken sailor. They lived primarily on Buffalo’s East Side which was inhabited with mostly Polish immigrants and their descendants. As time went on they moved to suburban Cheektowaga and Depew, also heavily Polish occupied.
The story was written over two months and culled from hundreds of newspaper articles, original court transcripts, original police records, genealogy records, photos and assistance from several people. As far as we can tell, there are no books on Polish gangsters, so this is not just another gangster tale, but a unique look at Buffalo during the 1920s.