Thursday, December 27, 2007

Now an Author, Retired Chicago Cop to Write about the Chicago Mob

A retired Chicago police officer who gained notoriety writing about an infamous triple murder is now at work on his next book, about the mob.

James Jack's book "Three Boys Missing: The Tragedy That Exposed the Pedophilia Underworld" won awards for its telling of the murders of Robert Peterson and Anton and John Schuessler in 1955. The boys' murders ended an era of perceived innocence for many Chicago families.

As a rookie detective, Jack helped investigate the case, but it went unsolved for four decades before horse trainer Kenneth Hansen was convicted.

Now, another high-profile case is giving Jack material for his second career as a writer.

The Daily Herald wrote about Jack in June, just before the Family Secrets mob trial, recounting his run-ins in the 1950s and '60s with Frank Calabrese Sr. and other players in the Chicago Outfit. Since then, Jack has become something of a minor local celebrity, attending the trial every day and commenting on it for WGN 720-AM, WLS-TV Channel 7 and other media outlets.

Now, Jack is working on his next book, about his brushes with the mob since his youth with young hoodlums in pool halls on the city's West Side.

Growing up, he knew future mob members like Frank Santucci and Phil Tolomeo, who was briefly his police partner before working on juice loan collections and eventually turning state's witness. "I was like the nice guy," said Jack, a former Gold Gloves boxer. "I used to tell these guys to back off."

After all these years, Jack's glad that the hoods who caused so much trouble are finally being put away. "These guys will never see green again," he said. Though he talked to one of the defendants, a fellow former cop, Anthony Doyle, during the trial, others, like reputed mob boss James Marcello, didn't speak with him, and instead gave him the "cold eye."

At age 79, Jack has survived open heart surgery and is in remission from Hodgkin's lymphoma.

He still appears for occasional book signings at bookstores, most recently in Schaumburg, and will speak at the Palatine Public Library in April.

Thanks to Robert McCoppin

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