Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bugsy Siegel, the glamour-loving gangster, was shot down in Beverly Hills on this day in 1947

A drive-by shooter unloads nine rounds through the front window of a Beverly Hills home, instantly killing notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel.

A founder of the small but promising Las Vegas casino scene, the pal of movie stars and moguls, and head of the Mafia's west coast syndicate, is dead at 41.

No one was charged with the murder, and the crime remains officially unsolved.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The First Vice Lord: Big Jim Colosimo and the Ladies of the Levee

While some people are fascinated or repulsed by the evil crimes committed by Chicago mobsters, others have studied it. And one who has is studied the mob is Wauconda author Arthur J. Bilek, whose book is "The First Vice Lord: Big Jim Colosemo and the Ladies of the Levee."

"The First Vice Lord" covers the early years of the Chicago outfit through 1920. Bilek found that it began with Big Jim Colosimo, who came to the United States from Italy, worked as a Chicago street cleaner and rose in Chicago's political ranks.

The book details Colosimo's career through the time period. Bilek has also co-authored a book with William Helmer, entitled "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre."

Bilek's life of battling crime began after graduating in 1953 from Loyola University with a masters degree in criminology. He spent the rest of his life in law enforcement and education, climbing the ranks of the Chicago Police Department and was appointed Chief of Cook County Sheriff's Office in 1962.

He said he started the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Criminal Justice bachelor's of science program in 1966, was the associate director of Northwestern's Traffic Institute in 1989, He also worked on Cook County's Cold Case Task Force.

Most recently he was a board member of the Chicago Crime Commission and followed the Family Secrets trials. He believes the outfit still operates but its political prowess has dwindled since Colosimo's day.

Thanks to Ilene Haluska

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Immigration Arrests 39 Members of MS-13 Gang

Thirty-nine members of MS-13, a brutal gang with roots in Central America, were arrested by the immigration authorities in New York in the past month, officials said on Wednesday.

Many of those arrested were on Long Island in Suffolk County, where the authorities have attributed 17 murders to MS-13 since Jan. 1, 2016. In the most recent, four young men were found dead in Central Islip in April.

The arrests came as part of an effort to eradicate gangs that operate across international borders. Called Operation Matador, it includes agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and affiliated Homeland Security investigators, as well as local law enforcement. In addition to the 39 members of MS-13, six members of other violent gangs, such as the Latin Kings and the SureƱos, were arrested, officials said. According to the immigration agency, people are considered confirmed gang members if they admit membership or have tattoos of gang symbols, among other factors.

“These individuals are members of a violent street gang actively wreaking havoc in the community,” Thomas R. Decker, ICE’s New York field office director for enforcement and removal operations, said in a news release about the arrests. “This unified effort is about keeping New York citizens safe.”

Most of those arrested come from El Salvador and Honduras. Five others are from Mexico, and two are from Guatemala, according to the immigration authorities. Twenty had criminal histories, ranging from misdemeanors like disorderly conduct to felony assault and weapons charges.

Twelve had originally crossed into America as unaccompanied minors, according to the release. Three others entered the country via a federal initiative called the Special Immigrant Juvenile program, which is designed to help abused or neglected children find safe haven in the United States.

MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, was started in the 1980s in Los Angeles by refugees from El Salvador but has grown into a transnational organization.

After the four bodies were found in Central Islip, the problem emerged as a federal priority, attracting the attention of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He visited Long Island in April and spoke with local law enforcement officials, vowing to eradicate the gang by cracking down on illegal immigration.

“There are times when we know someone is an MS-13 gang member, and we know someone is an active MS-13 gang member, but we’re not in a position to make a criminal arrest,” Timothy Sini, the Suffolk County police commissioner, said in an interview. “So another tool in our toolbox is to work with the Department of Homeland Security to target active known MS-13 gang members for violation of civil immigration laws, which is another way to remove dangerous individuals from our streets.”

The arrested men face a variety of consequences. Some had re-entered the country after having been deported once, which is a federal crime, and will face prosecution. Deportation proceedings will begin for some of those not facing criminal charges.

Jorge Tigre, 18, was one of the young men found dead in April, murdered in a manner “consistent with the modus operandi of MS-13,” Mr. Sini said at the time.

Mr. Tigre’s brother William Tigre, originally from Ecuador, said on Wednesday that the arrests would not make a difference. “My brother’s not here anymore,” he said. “If they catch them, you know, that’s not going to solve the problem.”

There are just too many MS-13 members, Mr. Tigre said.

“Nothing’s going to change,” he said.

Thanks to Sarah Maslin Nir and Arielle Dollinger.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Untouchables Tours to Celebrate Milestone of their Live Action @GangsterTour

Beverly-based Untouchable Tours is preparing to celebrate a significant milestone as one of the top-rated downtown bus tours. With its distinct black bus and cast of theater-trained guides, the company credits its nearly 30-year success to a unique entertainment philosophy.

“The production level of our tour is second-to-none,” said co-owner Craig Alton of his gangster theater-on-wheels. “Our guides are talented actors who have studied Chicago crime chronicles and Prohibition society and conventions. They have truly perfected their personas and offer plenty of laughs while providing a knowledgeable voice on the rise of the Chicago mob.”

This formula has proven a hit since Alton, along with his sister and brother-in-law, Cindy and Don Fielding, first launched the concept.

“The three of us worked individually for not-for-profits,” said Cindy Fielding. “But with a shared interest in theater and design, we quickly slipped into a life of crime.”

The one hour, 45 minute live action tour continues to sell out regularly and reflects an unwavering interest in Chicago mob history. From Dion O’Banion’s flower shop to Holy Name Cathedral, the 18-mile journey takes passengers on a comprehensive and compelling trip back in time to Al Capone’s Chicago. With guides including “Johnny Three Knives” and “Matches Malone,” the tour company enjoys multi-generational appeal and repeat customers.

In addition to their regular public tours, the company also offers private tours to groups.

“The tone of the tour is light and fun. We book many private tours including school-aged children as well as seniors,” said Don Fielding. “We felt it was important to reiterate how the ultimate result of crime is prison or worse. This is the reason we embraced the word ‘Untouchable.’ Eliot Ness and his colleagues did incredible work in ridding Chicago of organized crime. We wanted to tip our hats to them.”

To commemorate its 30th year anniversary, Untouchable Tours is offering a special discount code to Beverly residents who book any tour online before Thursday, June 15. Simply enter the code: beverly and receive $2 off a seat.

Bookings can be made online at gangstertour.com or by calling (773) 881-1195.

Thanks to The Beverly Review.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Project Hero Honor Ride Chicago Benefiting Veterans and First Responders #NoVetAlone

WHAT: The 2017 Project Hero Chicago Honor Ride invites hundreds of cyclists of all ages and ability levels to ride alongside America’s healing heroes while raising funds for Project Hero on Sunday, June 11.

Project Hero is a national nonprofit organization that helps veterans and first responders affected by injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives.
Wounded veterans can ride for free at the event.  Starting and finishing at the at Evanston Subaru in Skokie, IL the Project Hero Honor Ride is a self-paced, non-competitive bike ride highlighted by hand cycles, recumbent cycles, custom tandems and traditional road bikes riding on scenic, bike-friendly routes ranging from 20 to 60 miles. All courses provide rest stops and SAG (Support and Gear) teams. Local sponsors include Evanston Subaru in Skokie, IL and United Airlines.

WHEN: Sunday, June 11, 2017.  Opening pre-ride ceremony begins at 7:30 a.m.; ride begins at 8:00 a.m.

WHERE: Start/Finish at Evanston Subaru in Skokie, IL 3340 Oakton Street, Skokie, IL

WHO: Local military veterans and families including recumbent and adaptive Veteran bike riders, Rob Paddor, Chicago Honor Ride Committee Chairman

ROUTES: Bike-friendly routes of 18, 36 or 50 miles.  Visit www.projecthero.org for route maps.

REGISTRATION: For more information or to register online, visit www,projecthero.org. Wounded veterans can ride for free by contacting honorrideinfo@projecthero.org. Registration includes a pair of Project Hero cycling socks, refreshments before the ride, and a festival-like atmosphere that includes lunch and music after the ride.