Eliot Howland Lumbard
Eliot Lumbard, son a factory foreman, was one of the nation’s foremost experts on organized crime. He was the primary force in creating the New York City Police Foundation; the School of Criminal Justice at Albany; the American Maritime History Project at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; and NYSIIS, the first criminal-justice database to include individual criminal histories.
Born in Fairhaven, MA, Mr. Lumbard entered World War II as one of the first graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point. He sailed on Liberty ships as a 3rd and 2nd mate, carrying troops and bombs. It was dangerous work; the death toll among merchant mariners was higher than that of any branch of the military services.
After the war, his ship berthed in Philadelphia, he made a weekend visit to The Wharton School at the U. of Penn. The doors were all locked, but he found an open window which happened to be the admissions office – and was admitted on the spot. Without access to the GI Bill, he worked his way through Wharton and then Columbia Law.
As an Assistant United States Attorney (in the offices of Judge Edward Lumbard), Mr. Lumbard prosecuted corruption in the Internal Revenue Service. He also prosecuted members of the Mafia; while living in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town, he and his young family received a 2 a.m. visit from a menacing-looking visitor who warned him not to continue with the prosecution of a mobster. The cause of justice was undeterred.
For the Mafia – La Cosa Nostra – the consequences of the late-night warning were disastrous. Mr. Lumbard went on to become chief counsel for the New York State Commission of Investigation, directing a select unit of 50 state troopers in battling corruption and organized crime – including a raid on the mob’s Apalachin Meeting, in which he and his troopers surrounded a meeting of 100 Mafia bosses from around the nation, held in a house in the woods of upstate New York. It’s said that the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover refused to acknowledge the existence of the Mafia until 58 mob bosses – including Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, and Joseph (“Joey Bananas”) Bonnano – were captured in the raid.
Next came an appointment as Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s Special Assistant Counsel for Law Enforcement. While on Rockefeller’s staff, Mr. Lumbard proposed the creation of a School of Criminal Justice, eventually established at the State University of New York in Albany, and created the New York State Information and Intelligence System, which allowed the police of jurisdictions across the United States to share information about the activities of highly-mobile and well-organized criminals. Other states, and the United Kingdom’s Scotland Yard, hired him to advise their own criminal justice efforts.
Through most of these years and beyond Mr. Lumbard practiced law in downtown New York as a litigator, an expert in maritime law, and as a trustee in large and complex bankruptcies. He advised Ira Haupt & Co., which was bankrupted by Tino De Angelis’s Great Salad Oil Swindle – in which giant storage tanks were rigged to look like they were filled with salad oil and thus usable as collateral in large loans – and acted as CEO/Chairman/Trustee of the Hellenic Lines, Universal Money Order, and the Equity Funding life Insurance Company.
In retirement, Mr. Lumbard launched the American Maritime History Project from an office at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, King’s Point. The project has thus far produced two books, “The Way of the Ship” and “In Peace and War,” on the key contributions of our merchant marine throughout American history.
He is survived by two daughters, Susan Lumbard and Ann Alexander; a son, John Lumbard; four granddaughters, Katherine and Laura Lumbard, and Sarah and Kate Alexander; a brother, Alden; and also Jean Lumbard, mother of Susan, Ann, and John and Kirsten Dehner.
Those wishing to contact a member of the family may reach John at (800) Lumbard (800.586.2273). Memorial gifts may be made to the Lumbard Award, University at Albany Foundation, School of Criminal Justice, 135 Western Avenue, Albany 12222; or to the American Maritime History Project, care of USMMA Alumni Foundation Inc. 14 Bond St. #1000, Great Neck, NY 11021.