The Chicago Syndicate: Mobster Gardners

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mobster Gardners

Friends of mine: John "Dressed Up Johnny" Gardner, William "Peck" Gardner, Bill Gardner, William J. "Sonny" Sheetz

A reader has contacted me looking for some additional information on notorious men with the surname of Gardner. If you can supply me with any further information, please send me your scoops.

John Gardner, a notorious character and gangster of the worst kind, known as "Dressed - Up Johnny". I am trying to find information about him. He was involved in syndicated bank robbery and had robbed a post office before, but was known to have committed several other crimes. I think he had been in Judge George W. English's courtroom, which was Eastern District of Illinois.

William "Peck" Gardner (1869 - 1954), a possible East Chicago mob boss, came from Baltimore, claimed to have boxed at Madison Square Garden, claimed to have been a Merchant Marine, his family history says that he had killed a man in a gunfight after being wounded three times. Gardner moved to Texas where he worked as a railroad engineer, then he would haul illegal liquor from East Texas to East Chicago during the Prohibition. He and William J. "Sonny" Sheetz headed the notorious gambling joint known as the "Big House" which had raked in as much as $9 million. Gardner and Sheetz were the operators of the East Chicago syndicate until it closed in 1950. Gardner eluded Pinkerton detectives and he later died in Texas.

Also, one of Eliot Ness' famous "Untouchables" was Bill Gardner, who was a half Indian, described as an enormous, handsome man with an olive complexion. He was the oldest of the agents, being in his late forties. He had been a famed pro football star, had served in WWI, and had been an attorney before becoming a FBI agent.

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