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Most of his associates called him "Pep". In the 1930s, he was committing assaults, larcenies, and drug dealing. He was arrested 18 times but was never convicted until he was found guilty of the homicide that sent him and fellow Murder Inc. hitman Martin "Buggsy" Goldstein to the electric chair. After hitman Abe "Kid Twist" Reles turned informant, Strauss was arrested for the murder of Irving Feinstein, and at least five other known murders. Strauss tried to avoid conviction by feigning insanity in the courtroom and on death row. He was executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing on June 12, 1941.