The Chicago Syndicate: Paul Ricca
Showing posts with label Paul Ricca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Ricca. Show all posts

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo Index

Anthony Accardo (1906-1992): mob boss, The Genuine Godfather Joe Batters

He had the longest career of any U.S. mobster. Tony Accardo, aka "Joe Batters" or "Big Tuna," served as the boss or chairman of the board of the Chicago Outfit from 1944 until his death in 1992.

Accardo was born in Chicago, the son of Sicilian immigrants. His father was a shoemaker. He grew up at Grand and Ashland avenues and started as a common street burglar, involved mostly in petty larceny. This caught the eye of "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn. Accardo joined the Circus Gang, working his way up the ladder of minor league organized crime. Gradually he progressed from muggings and pocket picking to armed robbery and aggravated assault. He became a member of Capone's Gang after he successfully planned and executed the Hanlon Hellcat shootout in which he led the killing of 3 rivals. As a teenage hood with the Al Capone mob in the 1920s, he participated in lots of Prohibition-era violence. By age 16 he was a high-ranking bodyguard, gunman and "enforcer." In 1929 he participated in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of Capone rival Bugs Moran's gang on Clark Street.

Accardo received his nickname from his reputation for swinging a ball bat to mete out violence to rivals and others who'd displeased his bosses by failing to make their weekly loan-shark payments. After he killed two of those men, Capone is to said to have commented "This kid is a real Joe Batters".

By the '30s, with the end of bootlegging, the Mob turned its attention to even nastier stuff, like narcotics. During that era the Chicago Syndicate drove all the non-Italian gangs out of business until the Mafia was in complete control of the city's illegal activities. Accardo became Paul "The Waiter" Ricca's second in command. When Ricca went to prison from the Hollywood Extortion Case, Accardo stepped into the position of acting boss of the Outfit in 1944. He often visited Ricca in the federal penitentiary masquerading as his lawyer to obtain direction.

Eventually, around 1947, Accardo became the boss himself. Under Accardo's leadership, the Chicago Outfit expanded its dominion, taking Las Vegas away from the New York mob. This was first done through the Stardust Casino (which yours truly just visited as documented at the Vegas Syndicate and it is was I use the Stardust Odds for my NFL picks at the Sport Syndicate) and later expanded to several other casinos. Joe Batters also aggressively enforced a city-wide street tax, which ordered that the Outfit get a percentage of any money made illegally.

Around 1957, Accardo passed the leadership over to Sam Giancana. As consiglieri, Accardo removed Giancana in 1966 and named Sam "Teets" Battaglia top guy. This was the start of a "boss" merry-go-around that eventually led to Joe Batters assuming the role of boss again in 1971 and had him ordering the hit of Giancana in 1975 as he was cooking dinner in his basement after returning from Mexico.

Despite everything that went on in his empire, Accardo never spent a single night in jail. In the 1950-'51 Kefauver hearings, Accardo took the Fifth Amendment 172 times. In 1960 he was sentenced to six years in prison for income tax evasion but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because of "prejudicial" newspaper publicity during his trial.

Accardo ran the Chicago Outfit for 40 years as boss and/or consiglieri until he died in his sleep due to heart problems at 86 in 1992.

In the past, I used to list all of the articles below in which Tony Accardo appeared. However, by clicking on the label with his name, you can find the same results.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mob better watch out: Best mayor is getting mad

Today, readers reflect on the big news about the FBI's Operation Family Secrets investigation, which led to the indictment of several Outfit bosses and the closing of 18 previously unsolved mob killings.

Hey, John, the Outfit is in serious trouble now. Forget about the U.S. attorney and the indictments. Know who's mad at them? The mayor. The mayor's mad at the hoods and the mob. He says they run drugs and everything else and he's really, really mad at the mob. Wow, are they in trouble! When Mayor Daley starts fighting them, look out. T.P.

Dear T.P. -- Jeepers, you are a sarcastic Chicago resident. Are there more of you? It's just another reason why he's the best mayor in the cosmos. I'm calling TIME Magazine right now, mister!

I feel prompted to write you after reading your April, 26, 2005, column ("Mob charges tell a story, but more isn't told"). When you discussed how the Chicago Outfit's survival has been dependent upon help provided by crooked politicians, judges and cops, it reminded me of a book I read as a teenager, CAPTIVE CITY CHICAGO IN CHAINS. Have you read this work? Can you recommend any other books that cover this topic? I've been fascinated by this subject matter since I was a teenager. Thanks. P.P.

Dear P.P. -- When I first started covering Chicago politics in 1980The Outfit, someone lent me a worn paperback copy of Demaris' "Captive City," which fascinated me by detailing the incredible web of political connections between civic leaders, politicians and the Outfit. It was so good that, naturally, I stole it. It is the best book on the subject I've ever read. If you'd like to read more about the mob and politics, I'd recommend reading this newspaper and also "The Outfit" by Gus Russo. (Appropriately enough, a friend gave me Russo's book while we were having a drink on Rush Street.) Also, the William Brashler book The Don about Sam "Momo" Giancana, and Mafia Princess: Growing Up in Sam Giancana's Family by Giancana's daughter, Antoinette, who makes a great pasta sauce. And, the Web site of the Laborers International Union of North America ( has plenty of information. If anyone can recommend other books on the Outfit, please share them with me and I promise to steal them too.

John, my son-in-law gave me the book "The Outfit" for Christmas. I was enjoying it but had to take a break because suddenly, everything I saw was "connected." I was stunned to realize that the Outfit probably provided the bottles of milk I drank in elementary school. I started looking over my shoulder; the Outfit seemed to dominate my thinking; and every businessperson, waiter, delivery guy looked like they were part of it. I would mutter "mob connections" in unlikely places. My family became concerned that I had developed some kind of mob dementia. They would laugh, but I would nod knowingly, like some old crone in Sicily. J.H.

I had a similar experience recently. A friend mentioned the great philanthropic family, the Annenbergs, and I said they started as tough guys in Chicago's old newspaper circulation wars, under the tutelage of Paul "The Waiter" Ricca. The friend looked at me as if I was crazy. I just smiled, knowingly.

It's commendable that they round up all these old mob guys. I'm sure they've all done something one time or another. But it's Godfather 4. What are they going to do, put them in the retirement home? How about the drug gangs, Chinese mob, Russian and Ukrainian mobs, the black gangs. What about the sex offenders? They just grabbed another one. But they put a monitor on Martha Stewart's ankle, so we feel safe at night. So they're going to put these mob guys in the senior citizen home? Big deal. B.D.

You're not the first American of Italian descent to have such feelings about the mob story. Another is my wife. When I asked her, she said: "So I'm the token angry Sicilian in the column, the one who's angry about how these criminals reflect on us? They're criminals, but we all look bad." I don't think the indictment of Joe Lombardo makes Italians look bad. It makes Lombardo look bad.

But I also think that because Italians are now considered white, which wasn't always the case in the U.S., writers take more liberties with the Outfit than we do with the equally ridiculous behavior of the black and Latino gangs.

Bill Dal Cerro, of the Italic Institute of America, is someone always on the lookout for anti-Italian images in the media. He just wrote me a letter saying it was important to focus not only on the gangsters, but also on those public officials--crooked politicians, judges, cops--who've allowed the Outfit to prosper in Chicago and suburbs.

"We hope you can pursue this line of logic," Dal Cerro wrote. "It is uncharted territory. You are going to get hell for it because it challenges the notion that `organized crime' is somehow an `alien' [read: Italian] thing which pollutes the pristine veneer of an `uncorrupt' nation. As my Uncle Louie used to say, `@#$$% {circ} &*!'"

Thanks to John Kass

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