Gambling, prostitution, bootlegging and their peripheral crimes and consequences have been part of the fabric of life in the city of Washington since its inception. Gambling was always an ever-present diversion in the federal city and surrounding area. In the 19th century prostitution flourished during the Civil W ar when Union troops were stationed in the Capitol city as protection from Confederate incursions. By the early 20th century bootlegging made its way to Washington, D.C. 3 years before the rest of the country thanks to Prohibition.
For most of the 20th century, no one epitomized all of these vices more than D.C.'s own native son Joseph Francis "Possum" Nesline. Joe Nesline was a character right out of a Damon Runyan novel. He worked his way up the criminal food chain, from a teenaged rum-runner between Maryland and Washington's "Thunder Road" to a top mechanic for New York's Genovese crime family. Joe and his "Made-Man" partner and protector, Charlie "The Blade" Tourine, ran gambling operations for East Coast mobsters all over the world. Their operations ranged from the U.S. and Cuba into the Caribbean, from the U.K. to Continental Europe and into the Middle East. His association with the Mob allowed him to mix and mingle with the 20th century's legendary gangsters, celebrities and politicos.