A notorious local mob hit man finally became the victim, gunned down on a quiet east Bronx street.
Michael Meldish, believed responsible for more than a dozen gangland hits, was rubbed out with a single shot to his head as he was getting out of his car in middle-class residential Country Club in the late evening hours of Friday, Nov. 15.
His infamous brother and fellow Purple Gang member Joseph Meldish, is doing a 20 year-to-life stretch for a Throggs Neck murder.
Meldish 62, was found about 10:30 p.m. inside his rusty Lincoln LS sedan, parked in the middle of a crosswalk on Ellsworth Ave. at Baisley Avenue.
Meldish was shot in the right side of his head, with neither the bullet nor any shell casing recovered, said a law enforcement source, adding that the absence of powder burns indicated Meldish was shot from a short distance.
“He was getting out of his car with one leg already out, so it looks as if someoone either came up on him or shot him from inside the car,” said the source, adding that it looked like Meldish had pulled up in the crosswalk rather than at the curb “as if he had pulled over to stop to either pick someone up or let them off.”
The source said that he had relatives in the neighborhood, but not close to the scene.
His murder ended a long reign of terror by the two brothers.
Police believe his younger brother Joseph, 60, carried out dozens of contract murders for the gang, which was involved in the heroin trade in the Bronx and Harlem, as well as contract killings for the Bonanno, Lucchese and Genovese crime families.
“We heard of over 70 different homicides, from the Bronx to Harlem, all the way up and down the East Coast all the way to Florida,” said retired Bronx Homicide Detective Kevin Tracy, who arrested Joseph Meldish for the 1999 mistaken identity murder of Joe Brown inside the now defunct Frenchie’s Bar on Bruckner Blvd. at E. Tremont Avenue.
Meldish had sent his crackhead girlfriend into the bar looking for Thomas Brown, who owed him drug money, but the girlfriend picked out his brother. Meldish, wearing a ski mask, walked up to a back table and blew Brown away. He was convicted and sentenced in 2007.
“One of the reasons we believe both brothers weren’t killed a long time ago was that they’re related to Angelo Prisco, a capo in the Genovese family,” said Tracy. “A lot of people feared Michael and Joe. If you killed one, you’d have to contend with the other.”
“The Purple Gang pretty much doesn’t exist any more,” said another police source. “They moved on to other ‘careers’ with the Lucchese and other mobs.”
The mob rubout was the talk along tight-knit Ellsworth Avenue, a suburban street lined with two-story homes decorated with Thanksgiving decorations and American flags.
“This is the safest neighborhood in the Bronx,” said one neighbor who only went by Ralph, as he rushed out his Baisley Avenue home to run errands.
But another neighbor several houses from the shooting recalled the days when Country Club served as a “Mafia dumping ground” during the 50s and 60s where contract killers would often exploit the street’s low-key vibe to take out rivals.
Still, the longtime neighbor echoed what many supported – that Ellsworth Avenue is a decent neighborhood. – With David Cruz