The Chicago Syndicate: Al Capone
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Al Capone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Al Capone. Show all posts

Friday, January 19, 2024

Is Al Capone Still the Most Famous Mobster Ever?

With the 125th anniversary of Al Capone's birth upon us on January 17, the legacy of the notorious American gangster remains a subject that intrigues both Hollywood producers and novelists to this day.

Capone, who gained notoriety in the "Roaring Twenties" as the co-founder and boss of the Italian-American organized crime syndicate known as the Chicago Outfit, has been described by some as Prohibition's Robin Hood, as he donated some of the money from his illegal activities to charities. He also stood apart from other gangsters by being very present in the public eye, chatting with reporters and throwing big parties all while participating in illegal activities. But like many criminal figures from the past, the dastardly yet charismatic gangster divides opinion. Idolized by some, Capone was still responsible for "an empire of crime" in Chicago that was based on "gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, bribery, narcotics trafficking, robbery, and murder," according to the FBI's website.

Who was Al Capone?

Born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Neapolitan immigrants, Alphonse Gabriel Capone came into contact with organized crime at an early age. As a teenager, he became a member of the "Five Points Gang" — a criminal street gang of primarily Irish-American origins, based in the Five Points of Lower Manhattan — where he would extort protection money (fees that criminals take from people in exchange for agreeing not to hurt them or damage their property).

Capone, however, quickly learned that violence alone would not ensure the lasting success of a criminal enterprise.

In 1917, the gangster Frank Gallucio pulled a knife across Capone's face in a bar after he made a crude comment to Gallucio's sister. The nickname "Scarface" was born, and Capone later made the attacker his bodyguard.

Shortly afterward, Capone shot his first man, got into trouble with an Irish gang and beat a mobster half to death with his own hands. Knowing he could not be caught again, he left New York for Chicago.

In his Chicago heyday from 1925 to 1929, Capone was reputed to be the most notorious mobster in the United States.

Capone, however, didn't see himself as a criminal but as an entrepreneur — one who was also known for acts of generosity with the wealth he had garnered as the boss of organized crime in Chicago in the 1920s. The Capone-led consortium boasted revenue streams that ranged from the illegal sale of alcohol to prostitution.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre is described by the FBI as the "culminating violence of the Chicago gang era, as seven members or associates of the 'Bugs' Moran mob were machine-gunned against a garage wall by rivals posing as police."

Even though Al Capone was at his Florida home at the time, he was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the massacre.

He was never convicted of the murders but ultimately went to prison merely for the crime of tax evasion, ending his stint as a crime boss at the age of 33.

He served most of his time at the notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary off the coast of San Francisco, before being released in 1939, by which time his mental capabilities had significantly deteriorated.

Al Capone died in 1947 of cardiac arrest after a stroke at the age of 48.

A figure of fascination

The infamous gangster left his mark not only on the streets of 1920s Chicago but also on 20th-century Hollywood through multiple mafia movies inspired by his life and crimes. The image of a mobster adorned with a pinstriped suit and tilted fedora can be traced back to images of Capone. His accent and mannerisms have also inspired numerous gangster portrayals in comics, films, popular music and literature.

For example, already in 1931, for the film "Little Caesar," actor Edward G. Robinson spent time at an Al Capone trial to get a sense of his body language as inspiration for his role as a hoodlum who ascended the ranks of organized crime.

Capone appears in a segment of Mario Puzo's crime novel "The Godfather" (1969), which was turned into a celebrated film by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972. He was the inspiration for Armitage Trail's "Scarface" (1929), a novel that was also adapted into two movies over the years.

The Brian De Palma-directed masterpiece "The Untouchables" is another notable drama inspired by Capone's story. With Robert de Niro in the role of the gangster, the film is based on how Treasury agent Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, brought down the notorious Chicago mobster.

More recently, the 2020 movie "Capone," starring Tom Hardy in the lead role, also chronicled the life of the man who ruled an empire of crime.

The fascination surrounding Al Capone continues 125 years after his birth.

His story embodies not only the American Dream — the immigrant son going from rags to riches — but also the ambivalence of American culture during Prohibition, an era characterized by both puritanical restraint and excessive consumption. And those contrasting historical features are still part of the country's culture to this day.

Thanks to Deutsche Welle.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America's Jack the Ripper

Boston had its Strangler. California had the Zodiac Killer. And in the depths of the Great Depression, Cleveland had the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.

On September 5th, 1934, a young beachcomber made a gruesome discovery on the shores of Cleveland’s Lake Erie: the lower half of a female torso, neatly severed at the waist. The victim, dubbed “The Lady of the Lake,” was only the first of a butcher’s dozen. Over the next four years, twelve more bodies would be scattered across the city. The bodies were dismembered with surgical precision and drained of blood. Some were beheaded while still alive.

Terror gripped the city. Amid the growing uproar, Cleveland’s besieged mayor turned to his newly-appointed director of public safety: Eliot Ness. Ness had come to Cleveland fresh from his headline-grabbing exploits in Chicago, where he and his band of “Untouchables” led the frontline assault on Al Capone’s bootlegging empire. Now he would confront a case that would redefine his storied career.

Award-winning author Daniel Stashower shines a fresh light on one of the most notorious puzzles in the annals of crime, and uncovers the gripping story of Ness’s hunt for a sadistic killer who was as brilliant as he was cool and composed, a mastermind who was able to hide in plain sight. American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America's Jack the Ripper, reconstructs this ultimate battle of wits between a hero and a madman.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

With the Street Gangs Shooting Out of Control throughout the City, would Chicago Be Safer if the Mafia was Again in Charge?

When I was a kid and told people not from Chicago, the city of my birth and upbringing, where I was from, it wasn’t uncommon for them to raise their arms as if holding a machine gun, murmur ratatatatatat, then utter “ Al Capone. ” Capone died in 1947, but Chicago and violence have ever after been linked. And now that link is more firmly established than ever, given the murder and shooting statistics announced at the end of every weekend in the city.

After Prohibition, crime in Chicago moved from bootlegging to gambling, prostitution, and loan-sharking. These operations were run by a group of mostly Italian and some Jewish gangsters known variously as the Syndicate, the Mob, the Boys, the Outfit, never for some reason called the Mafia.

Under the Syndicate such crime tended to be perpetrated on those who couldn’t pay their gambling or loan debts or attempted to step into territory thought to be exclusively the Syndicate’s. A friend of mine whose father had a strong taste for corruption bought a controlling interest in a few prizefighters. One thing leading to another, soon he found himself being simultaneously pursued by a murderous thug named Felix “Milwaukee Phil” Alderisio and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Fortunately, the FBI got to him first.

Occasionally the body of someone with the hubris to betray the Syndicate would be found in the trunk of a car in a church or hotel parking lot. These crimes were horrendous but controlled, their victims carefully targeted, everyone else in the city left to go about his business.

With the uncontrolled and ubiquitous nature of current crime in Chicago, one almost feels nostalgia for old Syndicate figures such as Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo, Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik and Sam “Momo” Giancana. They might bully someone on a golf course, or take over the best tables at city steakhouses, but they didn’t shoot into crowds, hijack your car, or wantonly kill children. In their day, the local television news didn’t open with yet another mother weeping over her murdered child.

For a time much of the violence in Chicago was confined to a small number of neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides. More than 80% of such crimes in Chicago are said to be perpetrated by young black men, most of them members of rivaling gangs. Living outside those neighborhoods, one felt sad for the scores of innocent people killed but felt relatively safe oneself.

That has now changed. Muggings and murders in Chicago are now taking place in once quiet middle-class neighborhoods such as Rogers Park and even in swanky ones such as Streeterville. A new crime du jour in the city is the hit-and-run, the perpetrator as often as not driving a stolen car.

Such has been the spread of crime in Chicago, I now find I lock my door as soon as I get in my car; I leave a full space between my car and the car in front of me at stoplights, allowing room to swerve away from any potential carjackers. I don’t check my phone at stoplights. I walk the streets of Chicago warily, even in relatively safe neighborhoods, and seldom go out at night.

Meanwhile, the city’s officials—Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Police Chief David Brown, Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx —pass the buck. The mayor appears to believe that the chief problem is getting the guns off the street, but she is more likely to eliminate mosquitoes than guns from Chicago. The police chief blames Ms. Foxx for releasing people brought in for gun crimes without bail, while Ms. Foxx reports that owing to Covid her office has a backlog of some 35,000 felony cases. So the unmerry-go-round goes, where it stops nobody knows.

Where it ought to stop is at the doubtless difficult but necessary task of breaking up the city’s street gangs. Some argue that gangs are the only refuge for young black men in a country where systemic racism reigns and they are its primary victims. These young men have no jobs, it is said; education for them is a dead end, it is argued. Progress in race relations, they are told, is nonexistent. The people who propagate this nonsense call for more programs: in mentoring, in psychotherapy, in advanced French, in whatever else you’ve got.

One wonders, though, if a start might be made by banishing all such talk, from charges of systemic racism to the cry for more programs, and to back it up by enforcing heavy penalties for gun crimes as a way of letting their perpetrators know that stiff jail sentences remain the best program on record for putting a stop to violent and vicious crime.

Thanks to Joseph Epstein.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Second City Sinners - True Crime from Historic Chicago's Deadly Streets #BookRecommendation

Countless crimes have riveted Chicago and its surrounding communities throughout history. Second City Sinners offers front-row seats to the Haymarket Riot that exploded across the city in 1886, then bleeds through the historic back alleys, skirting past a murderous butcher, the Black Hand, Tommy O'Connor's jailbreak, and John Dillinger's final flick at the Biograph Theater. In the courtroom, witness Clarence Darrow in 1894 as he defends the man who murdered Chicago's mayor, and then again in 1924 as Darrow attempts to save the young men who tried to plot the perfect crime.

Many of the voices of these historic characters come from the journalists of their era, reporting on life and death in Chicago. Chicago Sun-Times journalist Jon Seidel takes readers back in time to the days when H. H. Holmes lurked in his "Murder Castle" and guys named Al Capone and John Dillinger ruled the underworld. Drawing upon years of reporting, and with special access to the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-Times archives, Jon Seidel explains how men such as Nathan Leopold, Richard Loeb and Richard Speck tried to get away with history's most disturbing crimes.

Second City Sinners: True Crime from Historic Chicago’s Deadly Streets, is published by Lyons Press and is available in hardcover, on Kindle or Nook, or as an audiobook.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Chicago’s Crime Shrines

Chicago has a rich mob history, and Craig Alton capitalizes on the fascination of tourists and Chicagoans alike with his Untouchables Tour, a bus trip to some of the city's infamous gangster sites. Alton, better known by his nickname "Southside," suggests a few stops for those interested in checking out the history of Chicago's underworld.

Across from Holy Name Cathedral
Dion O'Banion, leader of the North Side gang, owned a flower shop here and was killed on the store steps in 1924 by some of Al Capone's men after he allegedly double-crossed Capone's mentor, Johnny Torrio. The shop is no longer there.

Green Mill in Uptown
A favorite hangout of Al Capone and his gang. Capone would sit at a table with a view of both doors. The club, which was connected by a tunnel system to a building across the street, still has a trap door behind the bar.

Site of Valentine's Day Massacre

The murders occurred on Feb. 14, 1929, at a garage at 2122 N. Clark St., where Capone's men, dressed as police officers, tried to set up George "Bugs" Moran, then the head of the North Side gang. Seven of Moran's men were gunned down, but Moran wasn't in the garage at the time. The building is no longer there.

The Biograph Theater
John Dillinger, named the FBI's "Public Enemy No. 1," was set up in 1934 by a woman who told the feds he'd be at the movies with her. When Dillinger walked out of the theater, located at 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., he was shot in the alley.

Al Capone's grave
Al Capone was buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, 1400 S. Wolf Rd. in Hillside.

More sites listed on the Chicago Mob Infamous Location Map.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Gangsters Up North: Mobsters, Mafia, and Racketeers in Michigan's Vacationlands

Gangsters Up North: Mobsters, Mafia, and Racketeers in Michigan's Vacationlands.

Gangsters play an important and colorful role in Michigan history. But what were they doing in Michigan's vacationlands?

Gangsters Up North: Mobsters, Mafia, and Racketeers in Michigan's Vacationlands, provides the fascinating account of truth and myth. Al Capone, the Purple Gang, Fred "Killer" Burke, additional Public Enemies and many other hoodlums found their way Up North in fact or fiction. Some came for gambling, bootlegging, kidnapping, and murder. Others just wanted some rest and relaxation.

For the first time, the whole colorful story can be told. Gangsters Up North draws on newspaper accounts, numerous interviews, and much unpublished material to paint the real picture of mobsters and their associates in Michigan's northlands.

Al Capone's Childhood Home Goes Up for Sale

Al Capone's Childhood Home
The Brooklyn, NY, home where Chicago mob boss Al Capone grew up has hit the market for $2.9 million.

However, buyers looking for relics from the infamous bootlegger's childhood will be sorely disappointed. The 20-foot-wide townhouse in now-tony Park Slope bears little resemblance to the home where Capone grew up more than a century ago.

The residence in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn has been renovated and turned into a gorgeous, modern triplex with a separate unit on each floor.

"The exterior is similar [to the original home] at the front of the facade, but everything else has been gut-renovated," says Nadia Bartolucci, the Douglas Elliman real estate agent representing the property. Even the roof has been replaced. "There are no original components to the house."

Today, the home has been divided into a main unit with three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a garden. The new kitchen features stainless-steel appliances and a subway tile backsplash, and the stylish bathrooms have chevron tile and chrome fixtures. There are two one-bedroom apartments above, one with a newly tiled, private roof deck and the other with a terrace. The electrical system has been upgraded, and all three residences are equipped with new split Mitsubishi Hyper heat units and vented washers and dryers.

"What's really special is, each apartment has generously proportioned outdoor space," says Bartolucci. "It's so important right now because we have a lot of people pivoting to working from home. It's nice to have ... during these uncertain times."

Capone was born in Brooklyn in 1899. Chicago's one-time "Public Enemy No. 1" moved into the house at 21 Garfield Place with his family sometime in the early 1900s. He'd live there until he decamped to the Windy City in 1919, where he became known for running bootleg, prostitution, and gambling rings in the 1920s. Capone was eventually convicted of tax evasion in 1931 and served eight years in prison. He died in 1947 at age 48.

The home's last owner purchased the property for $2.42 million in 2018.

"It is really nice to be able to hold on to a piece of Brooklyn history," says Bartolucci.

Thanks to Clare Trapasso.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Al Capone: Devoted Husband or Notorious Womanizer?

Call him Scarface or Snorky, Al Capone is one of the most-remembered gangsters and his reign as a crime boss during the Prohibition era has been fictionalized for several TV shows and films. His antics will forever be part of Chicago history and perhaps, even American history.

Born in New York City to Italian immigrant parents, he joined the Five Points Gang in his adolescent years and got deeply embroiled in organized crime, especially in brothels, as an ill-informed bouncer. Even though he was the “bad guy,” his popularity rose as “the modern-day Robin Hood.” He made huge donations and charities to the needy and spectators cheered for him at ball games.

One of the most striking things about him was his personal life. Capone is perhaps one of the few gangsters who had a happy marriage despite his gang life. The co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit got hitched to Mae Josephine Coughlin when he was 19. Though she belonged to a staunchly Catholic family bringing home an Italian street punk was frowned upon but their relationship was truly a love story. Since he was under 21, his parents had to give their consent in writing. It was a cold winter day, on December 30, 1918, when the two got married — a month after their son Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone was born with hearing impairment in his left ear. It is believed that Al had a long and committed relationship with Mae but how true is that?

National Book Award-winning biographer Deidre Bair penned down Capone’s humane side in her book, ‘Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend’.

In the book, she writes, “Al was a typical Italian boy who loved his family and needed to be in their midst and did not like being away from home.” She adds, “Al had the only steady job, but besides his Baltimore expenses, he had Mae and a sickly baby to support.” The book also mentions the constant friction between Mae and her mother-in-law, Teresa.

According to hearsay, even after the birth of his son, Capone was a notorious womanizer. The philandering gave Capone syphilis and his wife and son got it from him. He never sought treatment as opening up about the STD would mean having to accept his illicit affairs. In the book, Bair reflects upon the story about how he kept a 15-year-old female mistress in an apartment and how Mae dyed her hair same as her. While other writers have deemed it as true, she feels it could just have been a legend with no solid proof.

It is also believed Mae once told her son “not to do what your father did. He broke my heart.” Nevertheless, his marriage survived and Mae was a devoted wife. He was put behind the bars at the age of 33 and after an 11-year prison sentence, he went through mental trauma. From Al Capone’s rise from a low-ranking thug to a fearsome mob leader, Mae was by his side. When he left prison, he had the mind of a twelve-year-old and in the book, Bair writes about how his wife Mae and his brothers took care of him and saw him having imaginary conversations with long-dead colleagues. He was Mae’s full-time job as she tried to keep him out of the eyes of hounding reporters who were trying to catch a glimpse of him.

On January 25,  1947, Capone died of a stroke and Mae Capone died on April 16, 1986, in a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida.

Thanks to News Lagoon.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What Happened To Gennaro Colombo? #McMillionsHBO

Audiences watching HBO's new docu-series "McMillion$" may be astounded by the breadth of the conspiracy to defraud McDonalds of tens of millions of dollars –– while others may be more drawn to the colorful cast of characters who make up the scheme.

One of such these characters would be Genarro Colombo, who played a key role in helping fraud mastermind Jerome Jacobson pull off the $24-million scam of the Monopoly promotion game.

McMillions on HBO: FREE Sneak Peek.

Although Jacobson kicked off the scheme by stealing winning game pieces from his workplace and distributing them to friends and family, authorities alleged his connection with Colombo helped him take the scheme to another level –– especially aided by Gennaro's connections to an infamous Mafia family active in New York City: The Colombo Crime Family.

The Colombo Family is one of New York City's "Five Families," vast criminal enterprises which were established by the Mafia in 1931, according to The New York Times. The Colombo Family is the youngest of the five organizations and was responsible for dozens of murders and criminal rackets in the NYC area for decades. The family was started in 1928 by importer Joe Profaci and quickly rose to become a feared presence in the underworld – with hands in various criminal enterprises like extortion and protection rackets, an historical overview of the Family from The New York Post reported.

Colombo's membership in the Family is confirmed by his wife Robin and his brother Frank Colombo in the documentary. Robin talks about his connections to a godfather named "Uncle Dominic" who was served as Gennaro's main point of contact with the Colombo organization and who helped Gennaro find various jobs and cons to work on.

The Family itself was also known for various colorful gangland figures like “Crazy Joe” Gallo, who kept a mountain lion in his New York apartment, the Post reported, and Gregory “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa, an informant and hitman who the FBI believes killed perhaps over 100 people according to investigation records.

Gennaro's family insists he was also something of a lively figure in his field of work. "Take Marlon Brando and Joe Pesci and put them together ... you'd probably end up with my brother," Frank Colombo recounted about Gennaro in the documentary. Giving further thought to the subject, Frank later describes his brother as a mix between Al Capone and Rodney Dangerfield.

In 1995, Gennaro meets and forges a partnership with Jacobson, The Daily Beast recounted. He was allegedly referred to Jacobson's scheme to fix the McDonalds Monopoly game by his connections in organized crime. "Uncle Dominic" was the person who linked Gennaro to Jacobson, according to Frank. But Robin also tells the filmmakers that Dominic died soon after allegedly linking the two men together –– dodging a question on how Dominic died. Likewise, it is not made clear if Uncle Dominic is a pseudonym for some other figure of prominence in the Colombo organization.

After linking up, Gennaro helped Jacobson establish a network of "recruiters" to pass along the winning Monopoly pieces he was stealing from his workplace, according to The New York Times.

In exchange for finding recruits to claim the prizes, Jacobson and his associates like Gennaro would take a cut from these recruits. Robin recounts that her husband flew around the country picking the winners and Frank recalling that his brother would create various agreements depending on the prize amount, usually involving upfront payments for the winning piece.

Frank describes his brother as having a vaguely threatening aura that helped him compel his recruits to follow his commands. One of the winners, Gloria Brown, recounts how Gennaro even pressured her into taking out a new mortgage on her house in order to get upfront money for the winning game piece. "My life was in danger," Brown said. "I almost felt kidnapped."

Though even Gennaro himself stepped into the spotlight by using a stolen game piece to "win" a Dodge Viper.

Reporter Jeff Maysh had even uncovered an old McDonalds commercial featuring Colombo touting a win for a new car –– arraigned by Jacobson. The advertisement is also featured in "McMillion$."

His wife Robin said in the documentary "that commercial ... that almost cost him his life" going on to describe him as a "ham."

The series itself helps accentuate Gennaro's larger-than-life personality by talking about into his management of a night club known as the Church of The Fuzzy Bunny – at first a gentleman's club that he then attempted to turn into a religious establishment that prominently featured scantily clad women.

Robin explains she met Gennaro in 1995 and "the chemistry was crazy," she told the filmmakers –– describing the marriage as a rebellion against her "strict" family while displaying her excitement in talking about Gennaro's ties to organized crime.

However, Robin contends that Jacobson is the true "Uncle Jerry" that was behind the scam – after briefly confusing the documentarians while frequently using "Uncle Jerry," to refer to Jacobson, and Jerry, referring to her husband. But Gennaro himself would not ultimately be around for the collapse of the scheme. Just three years after meeting Jacobson, Gennaro would be involved in a horrific car crash in Georgia that sent him into a comatose state. Doctors turned off his life support two weeks later, according to The Daily Beast, and Jacobson soon moved on to find new accomplices.

More of the story will be illuminated in HBO's "McMillion$," which is currently airing on HBO.

Thanks to Connor Mannion.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Making of the Mob: Chicago - Discover the Rise and Fall of Infamous Gangster Al Capone as He and His Successors in the Chicago Outfit Dominate the Chicago Underworld.

The Making of the Mob: Chicago, is an eight-episode docu-drama chronicling the rise and fall of iconic gangster Al Capone, as well as the story of his successors, collectively known as “The Chicago Outfit.”

Spanning the better part of a century, the series begins with Capone’s early days in New York and continues through his move to Chicago - to work with his childhood mentor in the underworld.

When Prohibition hits, battles break out as the city’s gangs rush to set up bootlegging operations and Capone decides to go up against his rivals.

As he consolidates power, he achieves legendary status for his ruthless tactics and over-the-top lifestyle that attracts the wrath of President Herbert Hoover.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

FBI Files Show Links of Legendary Underworld Figure Meyer Lansky to Chicago

Meyer Lansky was a powerful New York underworld figure involved in the mob’s efforts to create a nationwide network of gangsters and control casino gambling in Las Vegas and, in the pre-Castro era, Cuba.

Sometimes called the “mob’s accountant,” he was associated with big-name hoods like Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Charles “Lucky” Luciano. And Lansky was said to be the inspiration for the Hyman Roth character in The Godfather Part II who, through actor Lee Strasberg, famously said of the mob: “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel.”

FBI records — now part of “The FBI Files” database by the Chicago Sun-Times — also reveal he had a lot of connections to Chicago, even supposedly living here for a time.

“Over the past twenty-five years the subject has resided in the major cities of the United States for short periods of time, especially in Miami Beach, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, Los Angeles, California, New Orleans, Louisiana, Chicago, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska,” reads one old but undated FBI record.

His grandson and namesake, Meyer Lansky II, disputes that, saying in a recent interview that Lansky “never lived in Chicago,” though he did go “there a lot because he was very good friends with Paul Ricca, who he named my dad after, actually.”

Ricca ran the Chicago mob after Al Capone and Frank Nitti, all of whose FBI files are also in the Sun-Times’ portal.

Lansky and Luciano were with Ricca in Chicago when they were rounded up by police in 1932 — during Prohibition when booze was outlawed and alcohol-selling mobsters flourished — and photographed, according to a Lansky biography called “Meyer Lansky: The Thinking Man’s Gangster.”

They were “probably on a bootlegging business trip” to Chicago when surprised “by an enterprising detective” and “lined up in front of the camera in their best hats and overcoats,” according to the book.

“Charlie managed a slight smile, but Meyer did not look amused one bit.”

An FBI record from 1954 says Lansky was “one of the group of top hoodlums, who controls the rackets, specifically the Eastern District . . . He also continues to act in an advisory manner for racketeers throughout the country.”

The same record said “Lansky still travels extensively on business to Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas and Hot Springs.”

Meyer and Siegel “had their first big start in the early 1920s at which time they were hired by Dutch Goldberg, Charlie Kramer and Bill Heisman as convoy guards for alcohol trucks running from New York City to Chicago, Illinois,” according to another federal record, from 1957.

Lansky died in 1983 an underworld icon.

“When FBI agents raided the New Jersey operations room of the Lucchese crime family . . . in the mid-1980s, they found two black-and-white icons on the wall: a photograph of Al Capone and, alongside it, a photograph of Meyer Lansky — the twin patron saints,” according to the book, by Robert Lacey.

“Capone stood for all the traditional violence and toughness of U.S. urban crime” while Lansky “stood for the brains, the sophistication . . . the sheer cleverness of it all.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Does the Ghost of Al Capone's Bodyguard Haunt Coral Gables' @BiltmoreHotel?

Twelve people ambled through the Everglades Room at the Biltmore Hotel on Sunday and lingered at the spot where a gangster's bodyguard was shot dead by an unknown gunman.

Only two of them were guests -- in other rooms.

The group was part of a free tour of the historic hotel led every weekend by a member of the Dade Heritage Trust. It learned how the Biltmore was built during South Florida's construction boom by George Merrick, the founder of Coral Gables. It learned about the styles of architecture used, its stint as a hurricane shelter and later a war hospital and the multiple renovations that came later. But most went for the ghost story on the 13th floor.

''To be able to walk through the room, it's a little creepy,'' said Phillip St. Clair, visiting with his girlfriend from Raleigh, N.C. He also recognized the room from the Bad Boys movie starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

He and the others were lucky last weekend; many times the tour must skip this highlight because the room is rented, said Michael Beeman, head of the docents for the Biltmore and trustee for the Heritage Trust. He came up with the tour concept and has been leading them once a month for 16 years.

''I approached Gene Prescott and told him we had to give tours,'' said Beeman, who is also a vice chairman of the city's historic preservation board.

Operators of the hotel welcome the tours, said Danielle Finnegan, a hotel spokeswoman. ''The Biltmore has the distinguished honor of being a national historic landmark,'' Finnegan said. ``Weekly tours conducted by the Dade Heritage Trust are enjoyed by both hotel guests and neighbors. We estimate that over 2,000 people take part annually.''

Private tour operators bring another 15,000 people from all over the U.S. and abroad each year, she said, adding that the Coral Gables Museum plans to start operating its own tour of the hotel beginning early next year.

Beeman told the group how Merrick, whose family bought 160 acres for a guava and avocado plantation in 1899, wanted to build a hotel as a beacon to his city in 1924. In the main lobby, he pointed at the Morish, Italian and Gothic style architecture in the hotel, designed by the same architects involved in the Empire State Building.

He pointed at the stencils on the ceiling, taken from buildings that date to the 13th and 14th century in Europe.

Construction began on a Friday the 13th in 1925 and the hotel opened 10 months later in January 1926. He talked about the gondolas that took visitors to Tahiti Beach, now a private beach in Cocoplum, and on fox hunts. But the 1926 hurricane that swept through Greater Miami put the area in a recession and Coral Gables Corporation, Merrick's company, went bankrupt.

Merrick left to run a fishing camp with his wife in the Keys and the city of Coral Gables sold 18 holes of a 36-hole golf complex to a private group that became the private Riviera Country Club, he said.

The hotel was foreclosed on in October 1929 and bought and operated for $1.7 by a group of owners led by Col. William Dougherty, president of a chain of gas stations.

There were other owners, but in 1941, the hotel -- which took about $10 million to build -- was sold to the U.S. government for $870,000 and became a military hospital, Beeman said. During that time, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower -- before he became president -- visited the injured soldiers.

In 1968, the Veterans Administration hospital moved to where it is today in Miami and the hotel sat boarded up and abandoned for years. Then the Nixon administration gave it to the city in 1973. Beeman said the city took several years to figure out what to do with it.

In 1982, the city issued a request for proposals to find a new operator for the property, said Ellen Uguccioni, the city's first and former historic preservation director and now works for the city of Miami. ''People were proposing condominiums and mostly housing, high-rise housing,'' Uguccioni said. ``So it could easily have gone in another direction rather than be restored as a hotel.''

Eventually, a group of 20 investors led by the Worsham brothers each pledged $1 million and borrowed $34 million to renovate the hotel, which opened again in 1987 but closed two years later, foreclosed by the bank, Beeman said.

The city searched for the next few years for someone to take it over, and in 1992, the current operators, Seaway Corporation, signed a lease with the city to run the landmark.

Beeman took the group to the Alhambra and Granada ballrooms -- where the ghost of Fats Walsch, the bodyguard for a Chicago gangster who was shot on the 13th floor -- has most often been seen walking through. And from a large balcony, he pointed out the largest commercial pool in the United States, where Johnny Weissmuller and Esther Williams once swam.

Up at the two-story Everglades Suite -- where President Bill Clinton has also stayed -- he pointed out the spot where Walsch fell. ''The shot came from upstairs,'' Beeman said. ``Some of the red staining the limestone might be his blood, but we don't know for sure.''

He said the room -- also called the Al Capone suite because the famous gangster stayed there often -- was popular with the mob because of a private elevator they used to bring whiskey and women up and showed where one bookcase had a secret exit to the staircase.

The tour hit close to home for Tamara Hallo, 35, whose grandmother was in a beauty pageant there in 1941 and whose great grandmother worked at the hotel as a maid.

''I kind of can picture her here, turning down beds,'' said the Country Walk resident. ``She had five children and was raising them on her own so she had several jobs.''

Thanks to Elaine De Valle

Friday, September 06, 2019

Purchase Al Capone's Former Hideout for Just $1,750,000.

Many homes come with amenities, but it's less common to come across a residence that is also a piece of history. A four-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath traditional for sale in Berlin, New Jersey, has both stunning design and a colorful past: It was once used as a hideout by the gangster Al Capone.

Listed at $1.75 million and nicknamed the "Valley House," the 6,500-square-foot dwelling is perched on over 36 acres of land, and is not visible from the street. The only indication the home even exists is a small curbside mailbox, which is perhaps what made it such a good hiding place for the organized-crime boss. Adding to the seclusion is the fact that the property is also surrounded by a 300-acre Boy Scouts preserve and is next to the prestigious Pine Valley golf course.

The interior of the main home has everything one would want while trying to stay out of the public eye. Inside is a "living room, formal dining room, library with fireplace, office, screened porch, studio, exercise room, two additional fireplaces, an amazing vault room perfect for a wine cellar, and a game room with an antique bar with a lake view," according to the listing.

There's also plenty of room for entertaining outdoors. The expansive property features a pool, a hot tub with an antique cabana bar, a European-style courtyard, a barbecue area, tennis court, large lake, and seven-car garage. An additional 2,400-square-foot guesthouse with three bedrooms, two kitchens, and two full baths can also be found on the grounds.

Capone isn't the only notable person to set foot on the property. The inventor of sonar for submarines is a former owner, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill have both visited, according to a previous listing.

Thanks to Jordi Lippe-Mcgraw.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Organized Crime in the United States 1865-1941

  • Why do Americans alternately celebrate and condemn gangsters, outlaws and corrupt politicians?
  • Why do they immortalize Al Capone while forgetting his more successful contemporaries George Remus or Roy Olmstead?
  • Why are some public figures repudiated for their connections to the mob while others gain celebrity status?

Drawing on historical accounts, in Organized Crime in the United States 1865-1941, author Kristofer Allerfeldt analyzes the public’s understanding of organized crime and questions some of our most deeply held assumptions about crime and its role in society.

Allerfeldt is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter. He has published extensively on American history, with a special interest in the history of American crime and its interpretation. He lives in the United Kingdom.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Former Home of Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, Suspected St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Mastermind, is for Sale

There’s no shortage of historic homes in suburban Oak Park. After all, it’s the city where Frank Lloyd Wright launched his career, inspiring a generation of architects to develop what’s widely considered to be the first true brand of American architecture, the Prairie school. But Oak Park also has a seedier history, one tracing back to the bootlegging days of Al Capone’s Chicago Outfit.

At 1224 Kenilworth Avenue, a double-wide bungalow stands among historic homes built at the advent of the Prairie school. And while it’s certainly unique for its double bay windows, the structure is better known as the former home of Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, a ruthless hitman and Capone confidant.

Legend has it, says Berkshire Hathaway agent and local radio personality Cara Carriveau, that McGurn was one of the masterminds behind the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which left seven Capone rivals dead on the North Side.

While police suspected McGurn to have been a key player in the attack, an alibi — spending the day with his girlfriend, Louise Rolfe — kept him from trial. Rolfe, dubbed “The Blonde Alibi” by the press, would eventually marry McGurn and share the house with him.

“I’m sure there’s a good reason why his nickname is Machine Gun,” Carriveau says. “There’s a gangster bus tour that goes through Oak Park and this is one of the stops.”

The house has even made an appearance on the small screen. In 2014, National Geographic visited 1224 Kenilworth with its show Diggers, on which co-hosts George Wyant and Tim Saylor perform archeological searches for relics at historic sites.

Beyond its small role in Chicago Outfit lore, the 3,349-square-foot bungalow has a much longer history with the family who currently owns it. Pauline Trilik Sharpe grew up in the house, which her parents bought 55 years ago, and fondly remembers sharing the space with friends and family.

“As a child, it was great with my grandfather living here … when my parents were at work, I could go upstairs and visit [him],” Trilik Sharpe recalls of the multi-generational household. “It’s a large home and we’d have gatherings and parties with up to 50 people.”

Given the home’s sprawling first floor, it made sense for Trilik Sharpe’s parents to stay there into old age. But with her folks gone, Trilik Sharpe says she feels increasingly like a caretaker of the house, and is ready to let another family build memories there.

She adds that she’s happy to share as much of the home’s past with its next owners as they’d like. Because, she believes, “people are interested in the history of the houses they own.”

The home is listed for $584,900.

Thanks to AJ Latrace.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Nick Bosa and Joey Bosa are the Great-Grandsons of the Most Powerful American Mob Boss of the 20th century

In the first round of the 1987 draft, the Dolphins used the 16th pick to select John Bosa, a defensive end from Boston College. Miami again drafted 16th the following year, choosing Eric Kumerow, a linebacker from Ohio State whose father and uncle had been NFL offensive linemen. In ’93, Bosa married Kumerow’s sister, Cheryl, and they had two sons, Nick and Joey. Joey, of course, is a Pro Bowl edge rusher for the Chargers. Meanwhile, Jake Kumerow, son of Eric, is a receiver who went undrafted in 2015 but caught on with the Packers, starting two games last season.

So it is that when Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa was taken last week in the 2019 draft, second overall by the 49ers, he become the seventh player in the family, over three generations, to join the NFL. Yet none of them could ever hope to be considered the most feared and fearsome member of the clan. Not by a long shot.

Tony Accardo didn’t get the mob handle Joey Batters for his proficiency at baking muffins. And the same ruthlessness that earned Accardo his nickname and a place on Al Capone’s organization chart was on full display a half-century later. In early 1978, Accardo was in California to escape the Midwest’s biting cold when robbers broke into his suburban Chicago home. The 71-year-old Accardo seethed, less for rage over property lost than over the breach of respect.

At the time, he passed his days playing with his grandkids, including his daughter Marie’s thick-shouldered son, Eric, then 12. Still, Accardo wasn’t beyond demonstrating who was boss. Using his connections to identify the thieves, he betrayed no mercy. Within the year, 10 men were dead. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Each was found with his throat cut; one was castrated and disemboweled, his face removed with a blow torch, a punishment imposed, presumably, because he was Italian and should have known better.” As another account in The Guardian put it, Accardo “avenged insult with interest.”

This was business as usual. Accardo was born in Chicago in 1906, the year after his parents emigrated from Sicily. Though he was later believed to have a photographic memory, Tony dropped out of school at 14, in 1920, not coincidentally the first year that the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol was made illegal by the Eighteenth Amendment. Short on formal education but long on street smarts, he went to work for local crime syndicates and neighborhood bootleggers, executing muggings and serving as a lookout, before graduating to armed robbery.

In the mid-’20s he caught the eye of the real Scarface. In John Kobler’s definitive biography Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone, the author writes that Accardo became a bodyguard “and was sometimes seen in the lobby of the Hotel Lexington with a tommy gun across his knee.” He was having lunch with his boss in 1926 when members of Chicago’s North Side Gang opened fire. According to mob lore, Accardo splayed his body over Capone to thwart the hit.

Accardo would not only take bullets for Capone, but also deliver deadly blows. By some accounts he helped plan the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when Capone’s soldiers, dressed as police, killed seven members of Bugs Moran’s rival bootlegging gang. Days later Accardo figured prominently at a dinner that had been arranged both to celebrate Capone’s consolidation of power and to deal with two troublesome capos. In a scene later bastardized in the 1987 film The Untouchables, Accardo took the men out back before the main course was served and bashed their skulls in with a baseball bat. “Boy, this kid is a real Joey Batters,” Capone allegedly enthused about his protégé. The nickname stuck.

Despite these acts of violence, Accardo was, really, more brain than muscle. His specialties: understanding legal loopholes, expanding the mob’s reach and prospecting for new revenue streams. He was particularly involved in the gambling racket around Chicago, at one point overseeing an estimated 7,500 mob-controlled businesses that offered games of chance.

While Capone was a model of public flamboyance, Accardo cut the opposite figure, never granting interviews and living by the credo “keep your head down.” On the rare occasion when he appeared in public, he typically wore a hat pulled low and sunglasses shrouding his face.

After Capone’s conviction for tax evasion in 1931, Accardo became a leader in the Chicago operation, gaining power when Frank (the Enforcer) Nitti committed suicide in ’43 and Paul (the Waiter) Ricca was convicted on extortion charges nine months later. By the late 1940s, Accardo was in full control of the Chicago mafia. (Not that he ever admitted it. For decades he was invariably described as an alleged or reputed mob boss.)

“Accardo may not have had Capone’s mystique, but he was extraordinarily powerful,” says Rich Lindberg, a Chicago author and historian. “Remember, you’re talking about a time when the Chicago Outfit”—as Illinois’s multiethnic crime syndicate was known—“was so powerful that the newspapers had reporters whose only beat was covering the mob.”

In 1934, Accardo married Clarice Pordzany, a chorus girl. They adopted two sons, Joseph and Anthony; had two biological daughters, Marie and Linda; and moved into a sprawling home in River Forest, Ill., replete with an indoor pool and bowling alley. Tony would hold lavish Fourth of July parties that drew the most prominent mob figures throughout the country. In a scene cribbed for The Godfather, the FBI would come and survey the cars, matching license plates with names. Reportedly, Frank Sinatra showed up at the house to sing for Accardo on one of his birthdays.

Under Accardo the Chicago Outfit moved from bootlegging and assorted acts of violence to more sophisticated ventures. (As Ricca once put it, “Accardo had more brains for breakfast than Al Capone had in a lifetime.”) By penetrating labor unions, expanding gambling ties and establishing a beachhead in a newly minted city of sin, Las Vegas (with an equity stake in the Stardust Hotel), the Chicago Outfit came to resemble a conventional business. And Joey Batters was the unquestioned CEO. When mob historians refer to him as perhaps the most powerful American underworld figure of the 20th century, it is not hyperbole. New York City may have had a bigger organized crime scene, but that was split among five families. In Chicago, for all intents, there was just one boss.

Despite 30-plus arrests, Accardo never spent a night in jail. Not that there weren’t close calls. In 1946, Irish gangster James Ragen tried to inform on Accardo to the FBI—until Ragen died suspiciously of mercury poisoning. In ’51, Accardo was called to testify before Congress about organized crime. Wearing sunglasses, he invoked the Fifth Amendment 172 times. And in ’59 he was indicted for tax violations after he listed his occupation as “beer salesman” and tried to write off his Mercedes-Benz as a business expense. A jury overturned his conviction after a protracted appeal.

Accardo spent most of the 1960s and ’70s in what the Tribune called “semiretirement and serving as a counselor to underworld figures.” Marie, meanwhile, married Palmer Pyle, a guard with the Colts, Vikings and Raiders. (His brother Mike played nine seasons at center for the Bears and won a championship alongside Mike Ditka.) Palmer and Marie divorced, and she wed Ernest Kumerow, a former Chicago union boss, who adopted Eric and his sister, Cheryl, raising them both as his own. At Oak Park–River Forest High, Eric was a three-sport star, a 6' 6" 228-pound mauler whose grandfather often watched him play, inconspicuously, from the bleachers.

During pre-draft interviews after Eric’s junior year in Columbus, NFL teams asked about Accardo, concerned that he might influence games. (According to the Tribune, William Roemer, a former senior agent on the FBI’s Organized Crime Squad in Chicago, told teams Accardo would never put his grandson in that position.) After Eric ended up a Dolphin, a Miami Herald reporter told him that Joey Batters had been named No. 2 on Fortune magazine’s ranking of American gangsters, to which Kumerow replied, “To me, he’s just my grandfather, and I love him. He’s a great man, a caring man. I remember him coming to ball games and being with us. I never had an opinion when I would see articles in the paper. I don’t believe them. Half of what you read in the paper isn’t true.”

Eric was a pallbearer in 1992 when Accardo died at age 86, an event that occasioned a front-page obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times. In the ultimate testament to Accardo’s savvy, he died of natural causes. “If you’re a mobster and you don’t die with your shoes on, you must have been doing something right,” says Lindberg. “Just consider his span. He was in power for six decades. Capone was in power for six years.”

Joey Bosa was born three years after Accardo died; Nick, two years after that. Both tend to smile when their great-grandfather’s name comes up, but neither is inclined to talk about him. (Both Eric and Cheryl Kumerow declined to comment for this story.)

Today, the Chicago Outfit is essentially defunct, organized crime in the city having been replaced by street gangs. Inasmuch as the Outfit exists at all, there are believed to be fewer than 30 members remaining. Tony Accardo is a figure frozen in lore, a star in a game that, at least locally, is no longer played. Still, you suspect he’d be pleased that, in a more public and permissible line of work, his family has risen to the top.

Thanks to Jon Wertheim.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Big House Red Wine Inspired by Al Capone from the Bootlegger's Series

Big House 2016 Prohibition Red Blend - Red Wine.

So dark, so delicious, so dangerous-Big House Prohibition Red showcases notes of blackberries and raspberries, with hints of leather and spices.

The palate is clean, exhibiting flavors of cranberries, roses and a touch of rhubarb. This finish lingers, leaving you with flavors of vanilla and dark cherries.

Prohibition Red walks the line between soft and smooth and powerful and vicious; it’s as infamous as Al Capone himself.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Al Capone's Soup Kitchen

Chicago shivered through a particularly bleak November in 1930. As the U.S. economy plummeted into the Great Depression, thousands of the Windy City’s jobless huddled three times a day in a long line snaking away from a newly opened soup kitchen. With cold hands stuffed into overcoat pockets as empty as their stomachs, the needy shuffled toward the big banner that declared “Free Soup Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed.”

The kind-hearted philanthropist who had come to their aid was none other than “Public Enemy Number One,” Al Capone.

Capone certainly made for an unlikely humanitarian. Chicago’s most notorious gangster had built his multi-million-dollar bootlegging, prostitution and gambling operation upon a foundation of extortion, bribes and murders that culminated with the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in which he ordered the assassination of seven rivals.

Many Chicagoans, however, had more pressing concerns than organized crime in the year following the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Long lines on American sidewalks had become all-too familiar sights as jittery investors made runs on banks and the unemployed waited for free meals.

In early November 1930, more than 75,000 jobless Chicagoans lined up to register their names. Nearly a third required immediate relief. “The Madison Street hobo type was conspicuously absent from these lines of men,” reported the Chicago Tribune, which noted that many of the unemployed were well-dressed.

A week later the Chicago Tribune reported the surprising news that the mysterious benefactor who had recently rented out a storefront and opened a soup kitchen at 935 South State Street was none other than the city’s king of booze, beer and vice. Capone’s soup kitchen served breakfast, lunch and dinner to an average of 2,200 Chicagoans every day.

“He couldn’t stand it to see those poor devils starving, and nobody else seemed to be doing much, so the big boy decided to do it himself,” a Capone associate told a Chicago newspaper. Inside the soup kitchen, smiling women in white aprons served up coffee and sweet rolls for breakfast, soup and bread for lunch and soup, coffee and bread for dinner. No second helpings were denied. No questions were asked, and no one was asked to prove their need.

On Thanksgiving in 1930, Capone’s soup kitchen served holiday helpings to 5,000 Chicagoans. Reportedly, Capone had planned a traditional Thanksgiving meal for the jobless until he had heard of a local heist of 1,000 turkeys. Although “Scarface” had not been responsible for the theft, he feared he would be blamed for the caper and made a last-minute menu change from turkey and cranberry sauce to beef stew.

The soup kitchen added to Capone’s Robin Hood reputation with a segment of Americans who saw him as a hero for the common man. They pointed to the newspaper reports of the handouts he gave to widows and orphans. When the government deprived them of beer and alcohol during Prohibition, Capone delivered it to them. When the government failed to feed them in their desperate days, the crime boss gave them food. For anyone who felt conflicted about taking charity from a gangster, hunger trumped principles. As the Bismarck Tribune noted, “a hungry man is just as glad to get soup and coffee from Al Capone as from anyone else.”

Writing in Harper’s Magazine, Mary Borden called Capone “an ambidextrous giant who kills with one hand and feeds with the other.” She noted the irony that the line of jobless waiting for a handout from Chicago’s most-wanted man often stretched past the door of the city’s police headquarters, which held the evidence of the violent crimes carried out at Capone’s behest.

Every day, the soup kitchen served 350 loaves of bread, 100 dozen rolls, 50 pounds of sugar and 30 pounds of coffee at a cost of $300. It was a sum that Capone could easily afford since on the same day that news of his soup kitchen broke, Capone bookkeeper Fred Ries testified in court that the profits from Capone’s most lucrative gambling houses cleared $25,000 a month.

Although he was one of the richest men in America, Capone may not have paid a dime for the soup kitchen, relying instead on his criminal tendencies to stockpile his charitable endeavor by extorting and bribing businesses to donate goods. During the 1932 trial of Capone ally Daniel Serritella, it emerged that ducks donated by a chain store for Serritella’s holiday drive ended up instead being served in Capone’s soup kitchen.

Although the press never spotted Capone in the soup kitchen, newspapers ate up the soup kitchen story. Some such as the Daily Independent of Murphysboro, Illinois, expressed displeasure at the adulation bestowed upon its operator. “If anything were needed to make the farce of Gangland complete, it is the Al Capone soup kitchen,” it editorialized. “It would be rather terrifying to see Capone run for mayor of Chicago. We are afraid he would get a tremendous vote. It is even conceivable that he might be elected after a few more stunts like his soup kitchens.”

However, prison, not politics, would be in Capone’s future. No amount of good publicity could save Capone from the judgment of a jury that found him guilty of income-tax evasion in November 1931.

Thanks to Christopher Klein.

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Century of Chicago Mob Bosses

A thumbnail history of Chicago's mob leaders. Dates are approximate.

"Big Jim" Colosimo (1910 to 1920). Chicago's vice lord runs brothels and nightspots, shot dead in 1920 at his popular restaurant. Death cleared way for Capone

Johnny Torrio (1920 to 1925). Reserved boss, eschews violence, retires in 1925 after a fouled-up hit leaves him barely alive.

Al Capone (1925 to 1932). Made Chicago mob famous. Perhaps the most successful mob boss ever, the subject of countless books and movies, done in by the IRS for tax evasion.

Frank Nitti (1932 to 1943). With help from Jake Guzik, rebuilds the Outfit after Capone's departure. Commits suicide after he's indicted in 1943.

Paul "the Waiter" Ricca (1943 to 1950). Has a son who's a drug addict and decrees no Outfit member can have anything to do with narcotics trafficking.

Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo (1950 to 1957). Considered the most capable Outfit leader ever. Never spends significant time in jail. Always plays key role as adviser, but facing a tax case, he officially hands reins over to ...

Sam "Mooney" Giancana (1957 to 1966). Attends the infamous Apalachin, N.Y., meeting that draws national attention to organized crime, draws even more focus on the Outfit with his flamboyance, shared a girlfriend with JFK, flees country for eight years, slain in 1975 at his Oak Park home.

Sam "Teets" Battaglia (1966). Tough leader who is convicted in federal court same year, dies in prison.

John "Jackie" Cerone (1966 to 1969). Considered one of the smartest underworld figures, a strong leader, then the feds pinch him.

Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio (1969 to 1971). The mob killer is an unpopular leader, then he's convicted of bank fraud.

Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa (1971 to 1986). A Cicero mobster who ran gambling and strip clubs and grows into the job, with help from Accardo, Gus Alex and, later, Cerone. He is convicted of skimming profits from a Las Vegas casino.

Joseph Ferriola (1986 to 1989). Heads the Outfit for only a few years before succumbing to heart problems.

Sam Carlisi (1989 to 1993). Protege to Aiuppa and mentor to James "Little Jimmy" Marcello. Carlisi and his crew are decimated by federal prosecutions.

John "No Nose" DiFronzo (1997 to 2018). Called mob boss by Chicago Crime Commission, but other mob watchers disagree.

Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis (2018 to Current?) Although not official, Solly D is considered by many mafia experts to be one the highest ranking mobster on the streets in Chicago although he has long denied these claims. It is said that his 2nd in command could be convicted mob enforcer, Albert "Albie the Falcon" Vena. Time will tell.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Al Capone's Rumored Hideout is Remodeled

Al Capone, sometimes known as ‘Scarface,’ was an American gangster and businessman who attained notoriety during the Prohibition era. He was co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit. His seven-year reign as crime boss ended when he was 33.

In 1986, “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults” was a two-hour television special. It was broadcast April 21, 1986, hosted by Geraldo Rivera. The much-anticipated event turned out to be an anticlimactic and legendary flop. After almost two hours of teasing viewers, Rivera opened the vault to reveal … nothing!

Nevertheless, South Florida is still filled with Al Capone legend and lore. The Miami mansion where he died is easily located via any search engine. Almost every restaurant and bar established in Capone's time seems to have a story about how “Al Capone drank here.” But Capone’s reputed riverside hideout in Fort Lauderdale remains more of a mystery.

Al Capone Fort Lauderdale Hideaway

The only mention of this Fort Lauderdale house we could find was in a 2014 PBS special entitled “Al Capone: Icon.” Whether or not Al Capone used this home as a hideaway remains to be seen.

It was a very interesting home that was a joy to design,” says Interior Designer Perla Lichi. “We began our remodel by selecting white background materials. We wanted white walls and specified reflective white ceilings and shiny white floors that would make the rooms appear larger than they are and with higher ceilings. White was also the perfect background for hanging the client’s modern artwork.

“We added a feature wall in a backlit, wall-to-wall mural. The faux turquoise and onyx mural—one of my specialties—establishes a color palette that flows throughout the home: living room, family room, master bedroom, and kitchen. Custom LED lighting in a random geometric pattern within reflective white ceilings visually connects the living room, dining room, and family room.“ A white counter that extends almost the full length of the kitchen is the perfect casual dining area. Grey ceramic mosaic tile with silver accents creates a perfect kitchen backsplash. This same tile is repeated under the long counter, where four white leather stools make it easy for family and guests to join the conversation when someone is cooking. Windows along the front of the house allow water views from every room that faces the river. One can just imagine Capone’s boat pulling up to unload a shipment of bootleg whisky!

This vintage Fort Lauderdale classic style house and rumored hideout of legendary gangster Al Capone was recently remodeled by Perla Lichi Design. The new interiors feature a fusion of modern styling. Perla Lichi is a Florida licensed interior designer with offices in Coral Springs, Florida.


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