Thomas “Shang” Draper – criminal and casino keeper

Thomas “Shang” Draper (1839–1883) was a criminal, saloon/casino keeper at 6 W. 28th street, and criminal gang leader in New York City. His casino was known as one of the fanciest in town. It was just off of Fifth Avenue and the growing prosperous neighborhood tried to get the casino removed through legal means. 

The underhanded Mr. Draper performed a confidence scam using an underage girl to lure a mark to a dark hotel room (which Draper owned) only to rob him. Draper acquired his distinctive nickname “Shang” from the “shanghaiing” trick he used to play on his unsuspecting patrons. Draper would drug a bar patron with laudanum (an opium mixture). By the time the fellow woke up, he was often in a  merchant marine ship or enrolled in naval service, sometimes bound for a foreign land.

His criminal activity also included bank robbing and he was a well known safe cracker, crossing the United States with his gang before opening the casino. The very well fortified casino was eventually raided and closed down. Draper lost thousands of dollars in the raid and left New York City for Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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Cherie

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