The Mob, the Mafia, the Outfit, the Syndicate and La Cosa Nostra, a phase coined by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky in 1931 meaning "this thing of ours", all terms for the same thing - the American version of the Sicilian Mafioso. It's American roots lie in the inner city gangs of the late 1800s. Prior to the Italian influx of immigrants in the latter part of the 19th century, the majority of criminal gangs in the big city ghettoes were of Irish descent. Those Irish gangs that prospered moved out of the ghettoes and the void that was created was soon filled with new blood from the Mediterranean. Those remaining Irish gangs were, over a period of time, ravaged and mostly destroyed by the new emergent Italian and Jewish criminal gangs.
These early crime gangs had little to do with the 'organized crime' that we associate with the Mob today. The organization as we recognize it did not really come about until the 1920s. Sure, there were gangs of organized criminals, but not organized crime. The thing that really kicked the whole thing in to action was the enactment of the 18th Amendment on January 16th, 1920 - Prohibition.
The Prohibition act closed down thousands of pubs and saloons and opened up tens of thousands of speakeasies across the country. Bootlegging and rumrunning became cottage industries in many towns, supplying alcohol to the masses through the capable hands of the crime gangs. There was so much money to be made through this lucrative industry, there was hardly a policeman or a judge that could not be bought off. These were the times of the millionaire criminals. It is estimated that Chicago's Al Capone made $60 million on the booze racket alone. The whole network, from manufacturing to delivery to final sales had to be run as a business and the dominant gangs of the early 1900s took on the challenge. The Organized Crime gangs were born.
The Chicago Mob - Early Days.
The Chicago Mob had its early beginnings with James 'Big Jim' Colosimo. Big Jim emigrated from his Italian home-land with his father in 1895 at the age of 24. After trying his hand as a newspaper boy, shoe shine boy and street sweeper, Colosimo figured honest hard work was a mugs game and moved on to crime. He began working for Michael 'Hinky Dink' Kenna and John 'Bath House' Coughlin as a collector. Kenna and Coughlin were two of Chicago's most corrupt aldermen and under their expert tuition, Big Jim moved up to the dizzy heights of Brothel Bagman, collecting the pimp money for his infamous bosses.
In 1902, Big Jim married the Madam of one of the brothels on his collection route, Victoria Moresco. Jim became the manager of the brothel and with his shrewd management and with aid of his alderman friends, business boomed. Big Jim turned his brothel in to an up-market whore house and expanded into the local neighbor hoods opening cheap prostitution houses where prices were as low as a dollar. Big Jim's cut on the bordellos take was about 60% and in no time at all, he was a millionaire.
It wasn't long before Big Jim became Chicago's premium whore dealer. Top of the list in a town brimming with dens of prostitution. However, Jim's high life did not go un-noticed by other members of the criminal underworld. The Black Hand Extortionists were soon pressing Jim into handing over ever increasing amounts of protection money or face the rosy consequences of a bullet in the head. Jim decided enough was enough and went looking for a solution to his problem. The solution came in the form of John Torrio, Colosimo's nephew from New York. A few short months and several bloody corpses later, the word was out that Big Jim Colosimo's prostitution empire was no longer open to extortion.
Colosimo was pleased with the results of 'Little John' Torrio's work and rewarded him by making him manager of some of the lower rung whorehouses in Big Jim's empire of vice. Torrio made vast improvements on the 'dollar-a-trick' brothels, ordering the girls to dress as sweet young virgins to entice more custom. The improvements paid off and the once sleazy pits became booming businesses. Little John was soon promoted by Colosimo to be his chief aide. This effectively put Torrio in the position to run all of Colosimo's empire since Big Jim just wanted to take a back seat, enjoy his profits and generally take it easy.
The Stakes Go Higher.
Johnny Torrio recognized the vast potential offered by the 18th Amendment and tried to convince Colosimo of the fortunes that could be made through illegal booze. However, Big Jim was happy with how his vice empire was going and saw little reason to move on to bootlegging. Jim was already rich and had no enthusiasm for a new venture. John Torrio was not going to be stopped by the reluctance of his boss and so he kept on planning.
In 1919, Torrio recruited a 19 year old hoodlum from the old New York gang he used to belong to, the James Street Gang. This young man would become Chicago's most notorious gangster - Al 'Scarface' Capone. Alfonse Capone was the brawn to Little Johnny's brain. Capone was the kind of man who liked to fix things the quick way - with the knife, baseball bat, gun or any number of murderous weapons. He became John Torrio's body guard, chauffeur and right-hand man. With Al by his side, Torrio decided to make his move on Colosimo.
On May 11th, 1920, Jim Colosimo was shot dead in his cafe. With the demise of Colosimo, John Torrio and Al Capone set about systematically getting their teeth into every criminal venture in and around Chicago. With Big Jim dead, Torrio simply took over the whole organization and anyone who complained about it had to face Al Capone.
Johnny Torrio had big plans for his inherited organization. Not content with just the whoring business like Colosimo, he wanted to unite all the Chicago gangs and take a piece from each of their criminal ventures. Each gang would have their own area of operations and stick to it. No interference from neighboring gangs was to be tolerated - each gang should stick to their own turf. So, he called all the gangs together - the Italians, Irish, Polish, etc. Torrio laid out his plans to the heads of each of the Chicago gangs - promised them millions of dollars if they towed the line and gang warfare if they did not. Warfare that he would undoubtedly win.
The leaders of the various gangs were not weak men. They had got to where they were by being tougher than the next guy but most saw the logic in what Torrio was proposing - make money and live to enjoy it. Some of the harder headed Irish gangs agreed to join and then did their own thing anyway. The inevitable war began.
Probably the most notorious of the gangs at war was the North Siders led by the Irish thug Dion O'Banion. Then, out of the blue, O'Banion offered to sell his Seiben Brewery to Torrio for a half million dollars and then retire from the mob scene. Torrio readily agreed - half a mil was pocket change and well worth it if it meant ridding himself of Dion O'Banion. A week after the deal was done, federal agents raided the brewery and confiscated everything. O'Banion had got wind of the federal action and sold the brewery off to Torrio so Little Johnny would take the loss. Torrio was furious at being suckered by O'Banion and vowed death on the Irish mobster. Torrio acquired help from New York in the form of Frank Yale, Albert Anselmi and John Scalise. The three of them murdered O'Banion in his flower shop. The trouble did not stop there though. The O'Banion gang continued to operate and make war with Torrio under the leadership of Hymie Weiss.
As expected, Weiss planned reprisals for the murder of Dion O'Banion. Torrio was ambushed twice and on both occasions was very lucky. The first attempt killed Torrio's chauffeur and pet dog. Torrio walked away from the scene without a scratch - just two bullet holes in his fedora. On the second attempt, Weiss and Co. scored better. On January 24th, 1925, Weiss had his gunmen ambush Torrio outside his apartment block. Torrio was hit by a shotgun blast and four bullets. With wounds in the stomach, arm and chest, the gravely wounded Torrio fought off death for a week and a half in the hospital, guarded day and night by 30 bodyguards.
Being so close to death brought a love of life on John Torrio. After his recuperation he thought a lot about where his life was and where he was headed. His plan for a united crime syndicate in Chicago was a long way from fruition and the chances that the O'Banion gang would succeed next time were very good. At the age of 43, with $30,000,000 in his pocket, Torrio turned to Al Capone and said "It's all yours, Al. I retire". Torrio took an extended Mediterranean vacation and then retired to Brooklyn.
The Capone Years.
At the age of 26, Al Capone became the leader of the largest criminal organization in America with over a thousand employees, the majority of them killers. But Capone's gang was merely part of his powerful empire. In his pocket, Capone had most of the police force and judiciary in Chicago, aldermen, attorneys, mayors, legislators, governors and even congressmen. Also belonging to the Mob were the big union bosses - particularly the infamous Teamsters Union.
Capone continued to war with the gangs that would not play by the rules and eventually succeeded in taking out all of his enemies. Probably his most famous hit was the massacre of the O'Banion gang at a garage at 2122 North Clark Street - The St. Valentines Day Massacre. Hymie Weiss was long since gone by now, having been gunned down outside his headquarters by machine gun fire on October 11th, 1926 - nine months into the Capone leadership. The leader of the gang now was George 'Bugs' Moran. Capone sent a hit team disguised as policemen to the garage on N.Clark where members of the old O'Banion gang were taking delivery of a shipment of booze. The hoods were lined up against the wall, as if ready for a pat-down search, and machine gunned to death. However, Bugs Moran and two others were arriving late to the meeting and were on a corner near the garage when the shooting started. They took off at the sound of the shots and escaped Capone's trap.
1929 was a bad year for Capone. The St. Valentines Day Massacre caused major public concern. Capone was no longer a supplier of wanted commodities to the people, he was seen as the killer he was. No longer did the public view the Mob as a gang who 'only killed their own', they were just plain killers. Public appreciation of Al Capone was on the decline. Capone was criticized by his underworld counterparts of the other big families at the underworld convention in Atlantic City for the massacre and so he agreed to go to jail for a cooling off period in the hope of diffusing public opinion. A collar on a firearms charge in Philadelphia put Al away for a short time. This was the only time served by anyone for the St. Valentines Day Massacre - and the charge was not even related to the event.
Al Capone got out of prison and continued to run the Chicago family as before, through murder, intimidation and violence. But, by now, the government had had enough. Although Capone could not be fingered for any of the murders he had been involved with, he was finally nailed for income tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. He was released in 1939 due to his poor health and spent the rest of his life at his Florida mansion where he eventually died of syphilis in 1947.
The Mob Goes On.
The Mob did not end with the demise of Al Capone, in fact it got even better at it's job. Capone was a very high profile figure and his activities, and so the Mobs activities, were well publicized during Al's ten years at the top. Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti took over from Capone and the Mob went low profile again - keeping it's head down. But the gangland slayings continued of course.
Nitti had a run in with the O'Banion/Moran crew, now run by Ted Newberry, in December 1932. Newberry had the new Mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, on his payroll and used his influence to have police sent to one of Nitti's hangouts to have him arrested. A gun fight erupted and Nitti was badly wounded. Police Sergeant Lang was also wounded. Mayor Cermak put Nitti on trial for the shooting of Lang but during the trial the jury became convinced that Lang had shot himself in order to look like a hero. The trial ended in a hung jury, Nitti walked and Lang got fired from the force. Cermak also got his during the trial. He was shot by a fanatic in Miami when he went to congratulate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt and died 3 weeks later. It is very doubtful that this was a Mob killing - but you never know! Newberry was 'clipped' about 3 weeks after the gun play with Lang and Nitti. Newberry was blown away with shotguns and .45s on Lake Shore Drive and his body was buried in a field in Indiana.
The Mob at this time moved out of the blatant prostitution circles. The Outfit kept the strip joints and quieter 'massage parlors' but stopped supporting the wide open brothels of the Capone era. This helped to get the public image of the Outfit back out of the gutter where Capone had driven it. Now the major money maker for the Mob was gambling. This has always really been the life blood of the Mobs. Prohibition had been repealed and so booze was no longer lucrative. Gambling was everywhere in the 30's. Every street corner had a bookmaker, each one either Mob operated or in private hands, kicking back 50% of the take to the Family. The police force was so corrupted by this time, nothing was ever done to control the bookies. Even the new Mayor, Ed Kelly, was put there by the Mob. In 1934, Mayor Kelly was re-elected to office and it seemed practically everyone voted for him. It is estimated that as many as 250,000 votes were faked. In 1936, he won again gaining four votes for each vote the opposition received!
When Nitti, Paul 'The Waiter' Ricca and other members of the Chicago family were indicted after an enormous shakedown in the movie industry, Ricca proposed the motion that Nitti take the rap for all the co-defendants in the case. Nitti had previously done 18 months on an income tax charge and had no desire to be banged up again. Nitti became nervous about the prospect and was a prime candidate to turn States Evidence and rat on others to help save his hide. Most of those indicted ,especially Paul Ricca, were not happy with the way Nitti had handled the whole Hollywood deal. A meeting was called at Nitti's house in Riverside, west Chicago, and Nitti was accused of messing up the whole thing, since he was the man behind it and ultimately responsible. The next day, March 19th, 1943, Frank Nitti took his own life with a pistol and blew his brains out.
Paul Ricca would have been the next obvious choice for Boss. It is the opinion of some that he was in fact in charge even before the demise of Nitti. Ricca was an elegant mobster - clean and neat, soft-spoken with a pronounced Italian accent. Ricca would pronounce a death sentence with the quiet phrase "Make'a him go away." Ricca had been in the mob for years. Al Capone had been his best man at his wedding in 1927 and by 1940, Ricca had done and seen all that was the Chicago mob scene. A natural leader and very well respected by his mob peers. Unfortunately, he was sent to prison in 1943 for his complicity in the Hollywood extortion racket and sentenced to 10 years. This did not stop him from having his say on the Mob activities however. The Chicago Mobs law firm was able to fake I.D.s for Tony Accardo so he could visit Ricca in prison pretending to be his lawyer. Thus, Ricca could still make executive decisions and have Accardo perform as Boss in his absence.
Although Ricca got 10 years, he was released in August 1947 having only served 4. This was a big deal for the Chicago press who stated that Mob influence had a big hand in the early releases of Ricca and those men convicted with him in 1943. This is probably true. The man responsible for the approval of the early release, Attorney General Tom Clark, just happened to get appointed to the Supreme Court the minute the position became available. Coincidence? Many think not. The Chicago Tribune in 1952 went to press calling for Clark's impeachment saying he was utterly unfit for such a position of responsibility, citing his role in the early release of Ricca and Co. as obvious Mob involvement.
When Paul Ricca was released from Leavenworth, being seen and associated with known mobsters would be a violation of his parole. Thus, the gauntlet of power was passed onto Tony Accardo.
Expanding the Business
Tony had in fact been in effective charge since Nitti had blown his head off. Accardo continued to expand the Mob's hold on the gambling community in and around Chicago. He began pirating the wire service of Continental Press, a service that carried the betting odds, results and payoff information. The legal wire service owner, James Ragan, had refused to give in to the Mob when asked to hand over a piece of the action. So, Joe Batters began to steal the service by tapping the legal lines. He then ordered all the Mob influenced bookies to drop Continental Press and switch to the illegal service. Non-compliance with the order met with the usual consequences. Ragan began making waves for Tony by complaining to the police department and then ultimately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ragan began telling the FBI everything he knew about the Mob operation - he wrote a 10,000 word dissertation detailing all his dealings with the Mob representatives who had attempted to deal with him in the first place. This brought Ragan a nasty introduction to the business ends of several shotguns. Badly wounded, Jim Ragan was admitted to Michael Reese Hospital where he continued to inform the FBI of everything he knew. The case against the Mob and Accardo was getting stronger all the time. Ragan had to be put away for good and, six weeks after the shooting, the Mob finished what they had started. Ragan was poisoned in his hospital bed. The Mob had got to someone on the staff at the hospital. Without Ragan's testimony, the FBI had to drop the case.
At the end of World War II, the Chicago political scene changed dramatically for the Mob. Ed Kelly was ousted and Martin Kennelly was brought to office. Kennelly was not a Mob choice for Mayor and as such he was very opposed to Accardo and the Outfit. The police force went through a major cleaning process and a lot of officers were either transferred or moved out completely. The Mob's book making offices were hit hard and blatant open betting became a thing of the past. This by no means ended the Mob's gambling scene. Things just moved underground. The Mob also moved out into the suburbs where the local law was easier to corrupt.
In 1946, Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky, from New York, began a racket that was to be one of the top earners for mobsters for over 20 years. They sent Bugsy Siegal to Las Vegas where he opened the Flamingo casino and hotel. The scam was to 'skim' the house take even before it was officially counted so there was never any record of the cash anywhere. It would take a while before the Chicago Mob entered into the operations in Nevada but when they eventually did, they did on a grand scale. Meanwhile, the New York Mobs opened the Desert Inn, the Riviera, the Royal Nevada and the Dunes. The skim on some of these hotel/casinos was up to $400,000.00 a month!
The Chicago mob entered into Las Vegas late in the game but they were still doing nicely on other ventures. While New York was skimming casinos, Chicago was getting part of the S & G Gambling Syndicate operated out of Miami. S & G supplied the legal wire service to the gambling operators in Florida. It was owned and operated by five Florida residents and in 1948 showed a gross income of $26,000,000.00! Now who wouldn't want a part of that? The Mob used their connections in the police force to raid bookmaking establishments operating with S & G's wire service. Accardo also made Continental Press cut off service to all bookies in Florida essentially closing S & G down. The company remained out of action for about two weeks. When it eventually reopened, the company showed a Mr. Harry Russell as a fully paid up partner. Of course, Russell was a Chicago man and now part of the S & G take was now being funneled back to the boys in Illinois. Russell had paid $20,000.00 for his share of S & G - not a bad deal for part of a 26+ million a year business. Oddly enough, once Russell became a partner, the police never raided another S & G establishment!
The Total Domination of Chicago.
The Chicago Mob moved in on the policy and numbers rackets in the predominantly black areas of Chicago. Sam Giancana, recently released from prison, went to Accardo with some information he had picked up while banged up. There were some pretty lucrative numbers and policy wheels to be had in the 'black belts' of Chicago. Giancana was given some muscle and sent out to acquire the new business. One of the first wheels to be taken was the Maine-Idaho-Ohio wheel run by one of the biggest policy racketeers Eddie Jones. Jones was kidnapped by Giancana and Co., not for the ransom but to scare Jones half to death. The ruse worked and soon after his release, Jones moved to Mexico. The wheel moved into the hands of the Chicago Mob. Others soon followed suit, either by intimidation or death.
Joe Batters then sent all his top men out to convince ALL of Chicago's bookmaking establishments to fork over 50% of their take. Of course, many were already doing this and others soon agreed to do so but some held out and many legs were broken during this time. Even one of Accardo's capos, Charles 'Cherry Nose' Gioe, was clipped since he thought he could hold out on some of the take. Gioe was ambushed in his car and shot five times. Eventually, everyone towed the Mob line. If there was a bookie not giving 50% to the Mob, then the Mob had not yet found him and he was skating on very thin ice.
With Chicago in line, the Mob moved in on Las Vegas. With a sizable loan from the Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund, the Stardust hotel and casino was built. This was to become the Chicago Mob's flagship casino in Nevada. The New York Mobs were already well ahead of the Chicago mobsters with scams set up in the Desert Inn, the Flamingo, the Riviera and others. What was once Highway 91 was quickly becoming 'The Strip'.
Now Tony Accardo was becoming bored with his Mob life. Accardo had accomplished more than any other Boss in Chicago. Things were operating smoothly all over and Tony, after a great deal of thought, opted out of the top spot of the Chicago Mob. Accardo confided in his long time friend, Paul Ricca, about his decision and Ricca basically told Accardo that the Mob just couldn't lose such an important leader as the great Joe Batters. It was decided that Accardo could step down if he agreed to become Consiglieri, counsel, to his successor. Tony was to be available to the Outfit for consultation on important Mob matters. Accardo agreed and in 1957 Sam Giancana became the head honcho of the Chicago family of La Cosa Nostra.
Giancana was to become one of the most ruthless of the Mob Bosses. There are rumors that Giancana put a contract out on Desi Arnaz because he produced the hit TV show 'The Untouchables which glorified the role of Elliot Ness and showed the Chicago Mob in a very poor light. How did he expect Arnaz to portray murderers and extortionists? The contract was canceled - as were several others put out by Giancana - probably on the authority of Accardo and Ricca. Giancana was also involved with the Central Intelligence Agency in plots to assassinate Fidel Castro - and some say President John F. Kennedy too. Although other Mobs were involved too, the evidence seems to show that they were in it for the money. Giancana was a firm believer in the viability of the plots.
The FBI Enter the Game.
1957 was a watershed year in the history of the Mob. The five families of New York were always at war over something. They had their own well being on their minds rather than that of La Cosa Nostra. To put a stop to this, a meeting at Apalachin of all the heads of each family was called on November 14th. All twelve members of the Commission attended along with many top aides. Sam Giancana went and Accardo accompanied him. The gathering of so many of the countries top gangsters did not go unnoticed and it was not long before the press were there too. The interest of the Head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, was also peeked. It became obvious that the dealings of the gangsters were crossing state lines which made Mob crimes federal crimes.
Up until 1957, the FBI had little or no dealings with Mob activity. Hoover was busy hounding communists and felt that Mob crimes were the responsibility of local law enforcement. But now, in 1957, the communist threat was waning and the Apalachin meeting proved that the Mobs were in fact a country wide organization. This meant that Mob crimes had, at least on some occasions, to be the responsibility of the federal government. Hoover initiated the Top Hoodlum Program which investigated racketeering and other organized crime dealings. The heat was on now.
Giancana loved to be in the limelight. Rather than keep his head down, like Accardo had done so well, he courted the press and became a celebrity of the underworld. His fling with singer Phyllis McGuire was a much publicized event - especially since she was seen in the company of President John F. Kennedy also. The FBI began following every move Giancana made and he began to slip up and make bad decisions. He even began putting prices on the heads of the FBI agents who were working on him. These contracts were, like the Arnaz contract, withdrawn on the orders of Tony Accardo. The Mob murder of an FBI man would only bring down the wrath of the whole Bureau. However, Sam did get one over on the FBI. In 1963, Giancana took the Bureau to court claiming that his civil rights were being abused because he was being followed so acutely. In a decision that completely threw the FBI, Judge Richard Austin granted an injunction which ordered the FBI to stay at least one block distant from Giancana at all times.
The Granting of Immunity.
In 1963, the Justice Department came up with a new strategy against the Mob. The granting of immunity. If a subject was granted immunity then he would effectively not be prosecuted for any crimes he had committed. Sounds great. However, this also means he cannot incriminate himself with any testimony so he loses the right to take the Fifth Amendment and has to answer the questions posed to him. If he lies, he is found guilty of perjury, if he stays silent he is in contempt. Either way, he goes to jail. If he tells the truth, he gets off free but his fellow gangsters might have a few things to say about that. In May of 1965, Sam Giancana was granted immunity. Giancana refused to testify at a Grand Jury and was hauled off to the county jail until he would testify or until the term of the Grand Jury was up. Sam would stay locked up for the term - one year. So, now the Chicago Mob needed another leader. The trouble was, there was nobody really up to it. Tony Accardo had to come out of his semi-retirement as Consiglieri and pick up where he had left off in 1957.
When Giancana was released in May of 1966, he was adamant that he wanted the top spot back from Accardo. Tony had a different plan in mind. Accardo and others were convinced that the major FBI harassment of the Mob had a lot to do with the high profile ways of Giancana. The contracts on FBI men, the cockiness after the triumph of his law suit against the FBI, the general contempt Sam had for all law enforcement. Accardo refused Giancana the top spot. Giancana was furious but realized there was noting he could do when up against Joe Batters. He agreed to leave and moved off to Mexico. Accardo now had to appoint another new leader. The prize went to Sam "Teets" Battaglia. Battaglia's reign at the top would not last long, however. In May 1967, he was pinched for bribing public officials. He was released after six years due to ill-health and died eleven days later. Yet another leader was required. The Outfit picked Felix 'Milwaukee Phil' Alderiso.
Tough at the Top.
Milwaukee Phil was, at one time, a top hit man for the Mob. It is known that he carried out at least thirteen contracts and was undoubtedly a party to many more. Knowing that this man is such a killer, it is unusual to find that Alderiso's years at the top were remarkably hit free. Of course, this may be due to the fact that Accardo was still acting as Consiglieri to the Outfit. Alderiso's reign at the top was short lived. In July of 1969, he was arrested for conspiring to defraud a Chicago suburb bank. The arrest was made at his home in Riverside and a cache of arms was found there. More trouble was to follow Phil once the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms got their hands on that. Alderiso was found guilty and sent to jail where he died some years later.
The Outfit now had yet another Boss to find. John 'Jackie' Cerone was the successful candidate. Jack Cerone was Tony Accardo's protégé. Groomed from an early age for the top spot by the man who was seen by many as the greatest Mob Boss ever, Cerone could have had an astounding effect on the world of organized crime. Unfortunately for the Mob, he would be arrested and imprisoned in 1970. Cerone fell foul of a 'disgruntled employee' Lou Bombacino. Bombacino got into an argument with his bosses, Don Angelinni, Joe Ferriola, Frank Aurielli and Dominick Cortina. The dispute was settled by Cerone who took the side of the four bosses. Bombacino was not happy with the outcome and decided to get his revenge by turning States Evidence. Cerone was convicted on racketeering charges along with all four of the bosses.
Accardo Rides Again
Tony Accardo had no more suitable mobsters to take the top spot and so he was again forced to come out of his semi-retirement and assume the hot seat. The only other viable contenders were Gussie Alex and Joe Auippa. Alex was by far the most experienced but he was not Italian and so could not be 'made'. There were guys in the outfit that would reserve judgment on the decisions of man who was not made, not one of their own. Joe Auippa on the other hand was made and had been around for a while, he was now in his seventies, but lacked the management skills to be top boss. So it was decided that the three of them, Accardo, Alex and Auippa would all take control together. As Auippa gained confidence and expertise, Alex and Accardo would step back and let Joe have the driving seat.
The seventies were very active times for the Mob and a lot of 'examples' had to be made. The casinos in Las Vegas were not producing as much income as they used to and so a new man was sent to oversee the operation - Tony 'The Ant' Spillotro. There were five gangland murders very soon after his arrival. Another example was made of Sambo Cesario. When Milwaukee Phil Alderiso had gone to prison, Cesario began seeing Phil's mistress. This was a violation of Omerta where 'made' guys could not mess with the wives and girlfriends of other members of the Outfit. Sambo was blasted while sitting on his front lawn. March of 1972 saw the demise of Chuck Carroll. He was bound, gagged and blind folded, shot and stuffed into the trunk of his car. April 14th 1973 was the day Mad Sam DeStefano was gunned down. On December 20th of the same year, Dick Cain had his head blown off in Little Sicily for double crossing another mobster. Cain was also an informant for the FBI but the Mob never knew that until the FBI revealed that fact, as Cain had asked them too, when he died. 1974 saw ten documented gangland slayings and there were nine more in 1975.
One of the hits in 1974 was a tough decision for the Mob leadership. It involved a hit on an ordinary business man called Daniel Seifert. The decision was tough since Seifert was not a mobster and the Mob was only supposed to kill their own - other gangsters. But Seifert was set to testify in a case which could bring down too many good men that the Mob could not afford to lose. The hit was sanctioned and Seifert was blown away with shotguns. As if killing an ordinary citizen was not enough, the hit team performed the deed in full view of his wife and young child. The news media lapped up the story and Consiglieri Accardo was furious at the killers for their stupidity.
One of the killings in 1975 would also grab the presses attention. One time Mob Boss Sam Giancana was killed at his home in Chicago. Giancana had been making a fortune for himself off the casinos he had set up in Mexico, Cuba, Iran and various cruise liners. Sam felt that he owed the Mob nothing since he had effectively been thrown out of the Outfit by Accardo in the sixties. The Mob saw things in a different light. Giancana had been holding out and not paying his tribute. He was whacked in his basement with a .22 silenced pistol. He was shot in the back of the head and the throat.
1975 saw the release from prison of Jackie Cerone. Cerone rejoined the mob as second in command to Joe Auippa although in reality it was Cerone who was now running the show. Jackie did not want to come back to the limelight after his release but reluctantly accepted the position on the insistence of Tony Accardo. One thing Cerone had insisted on was using Auippa as a front so most of the press and police attention would be aimed in Joe's direction and not Cerone's. It is believed by some that Auippa was not aware of this arrangement and still believed himself Boss whilst all the time Jackie Cerone was pulling the strings.
One of the first things that had to be settled by the Cerone-Auippa leadership was the whacking of Chris Cardi. Cardi had done numerous small jobs for the outfit including collecting, 'juicing' or load sharking, and general muscle. Cardi was not happy with the return on his dealings and so took a road that was very taboo while Tony Accardo was still involved with the Outfit. Cardi began dealing drugs. In the Outfit of Joe Batters, dealing drugs was a cardinal offense. However, Cardi did not get the usual treatment of a bullet in the back of the head. When Cardi was arrested for his heroin racket, the Mob went to the judge assigned to the case. The judge was on the take and he was instructed to give Cardi the maximum sentence possible for his crimes. Chris Cardi served his time and was then released. Three weeks later, while he was out walking with his wife and three kids, two masked gunmen shot eight rounds from .45 pistols into his back. Then, just for good measure, he was popped in the face.
Other hits sanctioned in 1975 included two bookmakers. The first, Nick Galanos, was an independent bookmaker who kept up with his street tax. His crime was moving into the Forest Park area. Forest Park was a Mob controlled district and Galanos had not asked for permission to operate in the area. He was shot in his basement on August 30th with .45 caliber pistols. Nine rounds in the back (naturally) and again in the chest just for good measure. The second bookie was Tony Reitinger, also an independent. His crime was not paying his tribute to the Outfit. He was hit at the end of October by two masked men. Reitinger suffered four .30 caliber rounds to the back and side and two shotgun blasts to the head.
January brought yet another sanctioned hit. This time the target was a jewel thief who had caused trouble for the Mob when one of his jobs got solved by the police. The thief's name was Frank DeLegge, Jr. The police had an informant in on the burglary and were able to arrest and imprison the gang. Also imprisoned were two made Mob men who were nailed for conspiracy. DeLegge was whacked, probably by Tony Spillotro, soon after. His throat was cut from ear to ear and his body was left in a ditch near Elmhurst. The body was discovered later, frozen solid.
The Mob Hits Jimmy Hoffa
In July 1975, Tony Accardo, as the Chicago representative to the La Cosa Nostra Commission, cast his vote with the other heads of the LCN families to have Jimmy Hoffa murdered. Hoffa had been imprisoned for his part in the Mob dealings of the Teamsters Union. The Mob found another guy, Frank Fitzsimmons, to replace him. Fitzsimmons was more than happy to comply to all the Mobs requests - even more so than Hoffa had been. The Mob were very happy with 'Fitz'. When Hoffa was eventually released, Fitzsimmons had a clause included in Hoffa's parole terms that stipulated that he could never become involved with the labor unions again. Hoffa signed the papers without really reading them and became furious when the clause was brought to his attention. Regardless of the clause, Hoffa began to make the moves required to regain control of the Teamsters. Fitzsimmons asked for the Outfit to intervene and the last place Jimmy Hoffa was seen alive was in a restaurant called the Red Fox on Six Mile Road in Detroit.
There are various glamorous stories detailing the final resting place of James Riddle Hoffa. One of the most famous is the story from a convict, Donald 'Tony the Greek' Frankos, who told Playboy magazine he had helped bury Hoffa's body in the end zone of the New York Giants stadium in New Jersey. Apparently, Frankos' original story had Hoffa's body buried in the foundations of a shopping mall in NJ but Playboy souped up the story for the benefit of their readers. The FBI believes Hoffa's body was thrown into a vat of boiling zinc at a fender factory in Detroit.
The FBI Score Big.
Jackie Cerone and Joe Auippa were eventually collared by the FBI in 1986. The FBI used electronic bugs and turn-coat mobsters to obtain evidence of racketeering on fifteen mobsters in a case they code named Strawman II. They were all charged with skimming $2,000,000 plus dollars from Las Vegas casinos. The trial started in the latter half of 1985. Cerone and Auippa were found guilty and sent to prison in 1986. Cerone was now 71 and Auippa 78 years or age.
Strawman II was the culmination of five years of investigative work by the FBI. The Strawman I and Strawman II (a continuation of Strawman I) caused the Chicago Mob more trouble than any other investigation. In 1978 the District Court in Kansas City authorized the FBI to use electronic bugging devices in Mob hangouts. Telephone taps were used, hidden microphones and other listening devices were put in place and Mob subjects were tailed everywhere. Seizures of money being skimmed from the casinos were made and raids were made on mobsters houses. In one such raid a set of books, detailing every aspect of the mob operations he took part in, was found in the home of Carl DeLuna, the underboss (second-in-command) of the Kansas City Outfit. These proved to be invaluable to the prosecution in the two trials that were to follow. In 1981, the cream of the Kansas City Mob were indicted for skimming the Tropicana casino in Las Vegas. All but two of the defendants would be convicted. One of the two was the Boss of the KC Outfit and he was never tried because he died whilst in custody. This was the result from Strawman I. Strawman II was a continuance of Strawman I. Using much of the same evidence and lots of new stuff, members of the Chicago Outfit were tied directly into the operations of the KC Outfit. Hence, indictments were brought on many of the top echelon members of the Chicago Mob also.
The Outfit Appoint Yet Another Boss.
The Outfit required another Boss. On the recommendation of Tony Accardo and Gus Alex, that Boss was Joe Ferriola. The first thing Ferriola did as Boss, on the same day he took up leadership, was put out a contract on Tony Spillotro. The Outfit was blaming Spillotro for all the grief caused them by the FBI in the past months. After all, it was Spillotro's responsibility to watch his men in Las Vegas and it was those men that had turned states evidence for the FBI. Tony was also becoming a renegade - performing un-sanctioned burglaries and running drugs. He had drawn attention to himself with all his recent court cases and high profile actions in Las Vegas. He had to be silenced. In June of 1986, Tony Spillotro and his brother, Michael, were clubbed unconscious and buried alive in a corn field in Indiana.
Although Ferriola was the Boss, he was suffering with incurable cancer and so passed on the mundane day to day running of the Outfit on to Sam 'Wings' Carlisi. Ferriola died of his cancer in 1991. Carlisi is generally acknowledged to have been the Boss of the Chicago Mob from the late 80's until he was put away in December of 1993 for racketeering, gambling, loan-sharking, extortion, arson, tax fraud and conspiring to murder.
And that is where the information runs out for me. It is thought that Joe Lombardo, released from prison in November 1992, may be calling the shots in the Outfit now but through the guise of his cousin, Joe Andriacci. Lombardo cannot be seen as active in the Mob or he will violate his parole and go back inside. Other prominent members of the Outfit that are still around are Dominic Cortina, Joe Spadavecchio, Robert Salerno, Al Pilotto, Joe and Larry Petitt, Angelo LaPietro, Pete DiFronzio, James Inendino and Marco D'Amico to name a few. Although the actions of the FBI have had a serious effect on the organized crime families of the Mob and natural attrition has taken it's toll on the original gangster members, the Mob is still alive and kicking and still making a tidy living from the gambling rackets of Chicago
On April 25, 2005 The U.S. Attorney in Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), Patrick Fitzgerald held a dynamite press conference where he announced the RICO indictment of the mob bosses of the four crews (Melrose Park Crew , Elmwood Park Crew , 26th Street Crew (Chinatown) , and the Grand Avenue Crew and named as the acting Boss of the Chicago Outfit James Marcello. The DOJ press release, the indictment, and charts of 18 unsolved murders from 1970-1986 defendants were accused of conspiring to have commit are available at http://www.ipsn.org/indictments/indictments-oc/default.htm
The press release gives a good account of how the Outfit operates.