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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Al Capone Era Murder Mystery To Be Examined by Chicago's Cold Case Unit

The City Council’s resident historian cracked open the history books for another re-write Tuesday, this time involving some of Chicago’s most notorious characters: mob boss Al Capone; Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness and Edward J. O’Hare, father of the city’s most famous war hero.

Thirteen years after absolving Mrs. O’Leary’s cow of responsibility for the Great Chicago Fire, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) wants to set the record straight about the role O’Hare played in Capone’s conviction — and possibly shed new light on O’Hare’s gangland-style 1939 murder.

At Burke’s behest, the deputy chief of detectives in charge of the Chicago Police Department’s Cold Case Squad agreed to take a fresh look at the 70-year-old murder case, with help from a soon-to-be-released book about Capone that just might provide a few clues.

Asked how much time he expects police to spend on the case, Burke replied, “Very little.” The alderman said he’s more concerned about setting the record straight about the role played by Edward J. O’Hare, Capone’s business partner-turned-federal informant.

“O’Hare was the linchpin in the criminal investigation that led to the conviction of Capone. But for his cooperation, Capone may never have been brought to justice,” Burke told the Police Committee. “If nothing else, O’Hare’s reputation ought to be rehabilitated and the truth ought to be known. ... It was not ‘The Untouchables.’ It was not the role played by Kevin Costner ... that led to the conviction of Al Capone, the most notorious criminal of American history. ... It’s a fiction of Hollywood.”

The story of Edward “Butch” O’Hare, is well-known. He was the World War II fighter pilot who shot down five Japanese bombers, saved the U.S.S. Lexington and was ultimately rewarded by having his name attached to the airport once known as Orchard Field.

Lesser known is the fact that the war hero’s father, Edward J. O’Hare, was a gambler and owner of the Hawthorne Kennel Club racetrack in Cicero who partnered with Capone only to turn on the Chicago mob boss.

The elder O’Hare helped crack Capone’s bookkeeping codes, leading to the mobster’s conviction on tax evasion charges.

On Nov. 8, 1939, the 46-year-old O’Hare was driving his new Lincoln Zephyr near Ogden and Rockwell when he was gunned down by three men wielding shotguns.

The car carrying the gunmen was reportedly traced to a Cicero nightclub owned by Ralph Capone, Al’s older brother.

Newspaper stories at the time described O’Hare as a “prize moneymaker for the mob” and speculated that he was assassinated, either in retaliation for ratting on Capone or to serve notice that Capone was planning a comeback.

During’s Tuesday’s Police Committee hearing, Jonathan Eig, author of the soon-to-be-published book, “Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster,” offered a different explanation.

Eig noted that, at the time of O’Hare’s murder, Capone was suffering from syphilis that had ravaged his mind and body — so much so that he was “incapable of and uninterested in resuming his career.” And even though O’Hare helped deliver the goods on his former partner, there was “no evidence to suggest that Capone knew it,” the author said.

Instead, Eig pointed fingers at a Capone family struggling to pay medical bills, court fines and a $300,000 debt to the IRS.

“Prohibition was over. The old outfit was earning at a fraction of its peak. But, Eddie O’Hare was still making money at his racetracks, including Sportsman’s Park,” Eig said.

Noting that Al Capone was a “silent partner” in the racetrack, Eig said, “To round up cash, the Capone brothers would likely have turned to O’Hare and demanded Al’s fair share of the profits. O’Hare was a big, strong, tough and stubborn man. If he refused to pay — or if he refused to pay as much as the Capones wanted — he would have understood the consequences. That’s why he was carrying a pistol at the time of the shooting.”

Burke believes the murder investigation was derailed from the outset by Daniel “Tubbo” Aloysius Gilbert, the chief investigator for the Cook County state’s attorney. Gilbert was subsequently described by investigators as Chicago’s “richest cop.”

“If the mob ever had a police chief, it was Gilbert,” Burke said.

Thanks to Fran Spielman

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Rogues' Hall of Fame

Johnny Roselli was the mob's ambassador-without-portfolio, corrupting the film industry's unions in Hollywood and becoming the go-to guy in Las Vegas and Miami. After testifying before a Senate committee and emerging as a player in the mob's long-rumored involvement in JFK's assassination, his body washed up off Miami.Patriotic Skyscraper1


Meyer Lansky
was the mob's gambling czar and set up casinos in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Hot Springs, Ark., New Orleans, Las Vegas, Florida and Cuba. Refused citizenship in Israel, he retired to Miami. Immortalized by actor Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth in "The Godfather II."

Vito Genovese sought to dethrone Lucky Luciano as capo di tutti capi; conspired to assassinate mob rival Frank Costello, leading to the ill-fated mob conference in Apalachin, N.Y., that put the Mafia under the eye of investigators. Died in federal prison after mob cohorts reportedly set him up on a heroin rap.

Paul Castellano, Gambino's heir, ran meat and poultry businesses and lived sumptuously in a Todt Hill, S.I., mansion known as "The White House." Dapper Don John Gotti supposedly orchestrated his Dec. 16, 1985, assassination outside a Manhattan steakhouse.

Frank Costello was a Tammany Hall fixer and diplomat whose gravel-voiced persona supposedly was the inspiration for Marlon Brando's Don Corleone in "The Godfather." Lived on Park Avenue and in Sands Point, L.I.; retired after Vito Genovese's failed assassination bid in May 1957.

Carmine Galante, a feared hit man and dope dealer, assumed the reins of the Bonanno crime family in the '70s; was gunned down at an Italian restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where his bullet-riddled body lay crumpled on the ground, a cigar still hanging from his mouth.

Mickey Cohen, head of Los Angeles gambling rackets, maintained a host of powerful friends, including Frank Sinatra - who once appealed to him to get mobster Johnny Stompanato to stop dating Ava Gardner. Depicted by Harvey Keitel in the 1991 film "Bugsy" and by Paul Guilfoyle in 1997's "L.A. Confidential."

Carlo Gambino infiltrated the garment industry while heading the country's largest and most powerful mob family, yet managed to avoid the limelight - and the scrutiny of cops - by living quietly at 2230 Ocean Parkway in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Died of a heart attack in 1976.

James Ralph "Bottles" Capone was the lesser-known and benignly named brother of the Windy City's uber-gangster, Al "Scarface" Capone. Lived with a sister at Martha Lake, near Mercer, Wis., and was said to have had numerous arrests - but no felony convictions. He reputedly owned a vending machine business in western Chicago.

Charles "Lucky" Luciano, considered a visionary in mob history, helped engineer the five-family crime structure in New York City. Given 30 years for running brothels, he served only a decade behind bars, with the proviso that he be deported to Italy.

Thanks to Phillip Messing

Monday, May 22, 2006

Marketing Al Capone

Friends of ours: Al Capone, Ralph "Bottles" Capone, George Meyer

A photograph of one of the world's most famous mobsters vacationing in Hot Springs, Ark., is being used for a new postcard to promote the historic town.
Al Capone, Ralph 'Bottles' Cappone and George Meyer
The photo shows Al Capone wearing a floppy cowboy hat and riding a donkey in Happy Hollow Springs, a popular tourist spot in the town in the 1930s. Capone is joined by his brother, Ralph "Bottles" Capone, and George Meyer, who supposedly drove the getaway car in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago.

In the 1930s, Hot Springs was considered neutral ground for mobsters who visited, said Steve Arrison, executive director of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Capone frequented the town so often that he had his own suite at the Arlington Hotel, and guests at the Arlington still ask to stay in "Al's Suite."

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