The title character is a poor and fatherless teenager growing up in The Bronx. Billy and his friends are in awe of the flashy mobsters in the neighborhood. Dutch Schultz and Otto Berman, based on the real-life mobsters, hire Billy as a gofer and become mentors to him. The gangsters take Billy up to their upstate hideaway, where they are awaiting a trial. Schultz becomes a community leader and converts to Catholicism. Billy works his way up but begins to question his actions when he falls in love with Dutch's moll Drew, whom Dutch plans to have killed. Billy is sent to Saratoga Springs with Drew to keep an eye on her. They act as a couple in Saratoga. He realizes that she is to be killed and calls her husband in New York City to come and rescue her.