The Chicago Syndicate: Bill Heisman
Showing posts with label Bill Heisman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Heisman. Show all posts

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.”


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