The Chicago Syndicate: FBI Files Released on Chicago's Most Feared Mobster Frank"The German" Schweihs
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

FBI Files Released on Chicago's Most Feared Mobster Frank"The German" Schweihs

The FBI called him a "psychopath" and "an extremely ruthless, cold-blooded and malicious individual with a violent temper."

He was dubbed "one of the top 'hit men' in Chicago for the past 10 years," back in 1975.

Investigators were warned: "Extreme caution should be exercised ... in view of his propensity for violence." And a confidential source once told the FBI he was "a very mean individual and that he had on one occasion shot a girlfriend in the head."

One nickname he was known by was "The Nut."

But for decades, Francis John Schweihs was best known - and feared - on the streets of Chicago by a nickname that spoke only of his heritage: "The German."

Though he was reputed to be a prolific mob killer, Frank Schweihs never went on trial for a single murder.

He died in 2008 at the age of 76 from complications of cancer. It was just a few months before he would have faced the most serious charges of his life, as part of the landmark Operation Family Secrets case that sent top Chicago Outfit bosses and killers to prison.

Many of Schweihs' secrets went to the grave with him. But his once-secret FBI files - 531 pages in all, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times - shed new light on a man widely considered to have been the most-feared Chicago mobster ever.

According to one report in the FBI files: "Sources have also indicated that Schweihs is allowed a free reign in Chicago due to his violent nature.

Sources have also indicated that Schweihs is called in by various Chicago crews to do hits."

His FBI file shows authorities were interested in Schweihs for many reputed mob hits in Chicago and elsewhere, including killings in M ilwaukee and Kansas City.

Schweihs' penchant for violence, his hair-trigger temper and his twisted behavior made him stand out even in the Chicago mob. Schweihs started his criminal career as a thief. One time, he defecated in a cash register while he and his young partners in crime robbed a business, sources say.

The late mobster Michael Spilotro warned his teenage daughter in the 1980s: If she ever saw Schweihs around their Oak Park home, call the cops and lock the door.

Schweihs once was caught on a secret government wiretap telling an undercover informant: "I won't see you for a while. I gotta - I got a f------ hit," according to a FBI transcript of the conversation.

Schweihs was also a member of a sophisticated burglary crew in Florida, where he spent much of his time when not in Chicago - and where he once ran into serious trouble with the law.

It was May 1975. He was arrested in Fort Lauderdale after two brothers, who were checking on their auto-body shop late at night, came across Schweihs and another man apparently trying to break into a Wells Fargo bank next door. Schweihs was convicted in that case in 1976. The prosecution victory in the Florida case was short-lived. A federal appeals court overturned Schweihs' conviction.

He wouldn't do prison time until the mid-1990s, when he was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for shaking down pornography bookstore owners for money.

In the mid-1970s, Schweihs was inves tigated for more than a year for allegedly extorting two restaurant-quality Vulcan ranges out of a guy who owed him money. Schweihs used them at his own Old Town restaurant, the Meat Block, according to the FBI files.

The Internal Revenue Service once had Richard Johnson - a legendary undercover agent - strike up a business relationship with Schweihs. It was a remarkable feat because Johnson was black, and Schweihs, beside being paranoid about law enforcement, was a virulent racist. Schweihs would brag about how he could sniff out FBI agents.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in 2006, Johnson recalled how he convinced Schweihs that he was interested in buying a restaurant property from him that Schweihs had converted into an Italian bicycle shop when he had problems with his liquor license.

Another time, Johnson said, Schweihs wanted to show him how strong a Plexiglas screen in the building's vestibule was. So Schweihs picked up a baseball bat and hammered at it in a frenzy for a minute. "I'm looking at him and ducking at the same time," Johnson said. "It was like he was in another world."

Schweihs, oddly, given his own reputation for violence, told Johnson that Italians could learn something from black people, saying, "You guys march and raise hell and shoot each other." But Johnson's undercover investigation had to be cut short. Schweihs began threatening the life of then-Cook County Board President George Dunne, who Schweihs mistakenly believed was behind his liquor-license problems. Dunne was warned of the threat, and the investigation ended.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir


  1. I think mobsters and men who love mobsters are kind of sexy. Since you write about mobsters, are you sexy as well?

  2. Where are the files? I keep checking the fbi foia site, but nothing.



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