Friends of ours: James "Duke" Basile, Sam Giancana, Joe Ferriola
An edited text of James "Duke" Basile's June 1996 testimony in Washington, D.C. before a Senate judiciary committee. He hasn't been heard from publicly since.
I have lived a life of crime since 1958, two years after I was honorably discharged from the Marines.
I was 23 and in my second year of college when, by coincidence, I became connected with organized crime by signing on to work in the Owl Club in Calumet City as an operator for roulette, poker, blackjack and dice games. When the bosses moved their gambling operations to Las Vegas in 1962, I stayed in Chicago to do outfit work.
During my tenure, I worked under several bosses -- Sam Giancana and Joe Ferriola were a few. I knew them on a first-name basis.
I became a main soldier in about 1976 after I was discharged from prison after serving five years for bank robbery. My duties included taking care of loan sharking, lending and collecting, gambling, bookmakers, chop-shops, prostitutes, restaurants and other business collections -- collections which were all extortion to allow these operations to continue doing their business.
I averaged about $300,000 a month. I was allowed to keep $5,000 monthly for myself.
During this time in 1982, I was called before the federal grand jury and given immunity. I served 15 months for my refusal to testify and earned the added respect from the outfit, being that I had kept quiet.
I was told to lay low afterward because I became too popular and had bad press. I then temporarily returned to burglaries and because of my high living and constant need for more money, I continued.
Although I was a loyal member of the Chicago outfit for 38 years, in 1986, I began for the first time to have my doubts. I finally decided to do something because it seemed there was no way out. I began informing on the mob.
The rest of my story is all documented in FBI files. I have made approximately 186 taped conversations. I was told that I kept 15 agents busy for months working on all the information I provided. I was able to provide the FBI with detailed information on 40 murders together with other details of the entire mob and its activities. I also testified against other members.
I always pride myself as having never pulled the trigger on any hits, although I was part of setting up and assisting hits.
I remain relatively straight, but it's hard. I haven't been able to get any good jobs. I've been turned down, on my worst day, at McDonald's. I've been living hand-to-mouth with jobs whenever I can get one. I'm not here looking for sympathy. I don't even deserve it.
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