Saturday, September 10, 2005

From Al Capone, to a Mayor Richard Daley special:

The other big city with questionable alliances between the underworld, and the men who officially run things, is of course Chicago.

When I think of the Chicago mob, I think of Al Capone, as would anyone. As far as big hitters are concerned, he was definitely right up there at the top of the mafia tree, along with his old New York pal, Charlie 'Lucky' Luciano.

Post-Capone, there is the legacy of The Big Tuna himself, Tony Accardo, aka Joe Batters - allegedly handed the moniker by Capone after he bludgeoned a man to death with a baseball bat upon his boss's order.

From streetwise young hoodlum to boss of arguably one of the most powerful La Cosa Nostra families in the United States, the Chicago 'Outfit', Accardo, up until his death in the early nineties, controlled organized crime in 'The Windy City' for the best part of four decades. He was a man adversely disposed towards publicity. Certainly no John Gotti, he. Accardo preferred the shadows, and is considered one of the most astute, and organized of all mafia chieftans. A legend in mobdom, the Carlo Gambino of the midwest.

Accardo, with his top lieutenants, saw to it that Las Vegas, a gambling mecca launched by New York mobster, Ben 'Bugsy' Siegel, in the fifties, would over the next several decades, become almost exclusively controlled by Chicago, with other mafia families like Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Kansas City, operating under Chicago's solid umbrella.

Though capable of ordering the most vicious of murders - I recall a bunch of thieves whom had made the mistake of robbing the Accardo home in plush Forest Hills, Illinois, and who were later found horrifically murdered all across the city, stabbed, and beaten, shot and strangled (all mercillesly tortured, naturally) - Accardo, having worked his way up in the organization as a proficient hitman himself, often allowed those close to him to assume the ultimate mantle of boss, at least superficially, but it was always Accardo as the man behind the scenes, running the show, the real power.

When the brash, and high-profile Sam Giancana rose to the top spot in the late 50‘s, and his much-publicized exploits with Marilyn Monroe and JFK (many believe that Sam put Kennedy in the Whitehouse, by securing votes in Chicago) elevated his status, particularly with the federal government, exponentially, came and went with several bullets in his head, he was replaced with a succession of other bosses, from Joe Ferriola - believed to be the man whom sanctioned the hit on Tony Spilotro, one-time Vegas enforcer for the mob - to Joey 'The Clown' Lombardo, whom despite a recent arrest on murder and racketeering charges (what else) is suspected today of occupying the top spot.

Only in the city of Chicago has organized crime enjoyed such strong relationships with law enforcement and upper echelon politicians, for so many years. It is a city that has long been associated with unprecedented corruption, stemming back to before even Al Capone, when Big Jim Colossimo ran the scene, with more crooked politicians in his back pocket than he knew what to do with.

SoBoss Richard J Daley of Chicago, moving away from these more overtly unsavoury characters, and onto City Hall, we come to the mayor of that fair city, Richard Daley, whom was questioned last week by none other than the U.S attorney's office. The two hour grilling session revolved around various scandals, alleged to have taken place in Daley's offices. Daley is likely to have been the first Chicago mayor to face this kind of questioning. Going back over the last half a century, to when Daley’s father was mayor, none have come under such scrutiny by the FBI. Now, they have.

Daley was questioned on Friday by the U.S. Attorney's office in a two-hour session about the alleged scandals that surround him. Talking sparingly with the predicted throng of reporters outside his offices, Daley commented that he would be avoiding specifics pertaining to the matter, though he did concede to answering his questioners in a frank, and honest fashion. Would we expect anything less, one is bound to ask?

Describing questions posed to him as: "very serious," Mayor Daley reinforced that his current predicament would not impact upon his responsibilities in running his city. And contrary to recent speculation that he might not run for re-election, Daley remained more than optimistic about continuing in his role as mayor, all this despite the fact that two city officials have been charged last month with allegedly rigging the city's hiring system to flout a court order that bars City Hall from considering politics when filling most city jobs. The ensuing federal investigation encompasses bribery also.

Well, at least ostensibly, the mayor of Chicago's empire is a respectable, and of course, law-abiding one.

Excerpted with thanks to Steven Morris at New Criminologist

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