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The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Syndicate, Chicago Mafia, Chicago Mob, or simply the Outfit, is a crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Dating back to the 1910s, it is part of the American Mafia; however, the Chicago Outfit is distinct from the "Five Families" of New York City.
The Outfit in the city of Chicago has no true monopoly on traditional organized crime. It competes for turf, for business, with many other organizations, including the current "Russian Mafia". The Outfit's control at its peak reached throughout the western United States to places as far away as Los Angeles and parts of Florida. The Chicago Outfit is also known to have large interests in neighboring states including Iowa, Wisconsin, and other areas of the Midwest. It also had satellite families, or crime families that answer to or are under Outfit control. These include the Iowa family, Las Vegas crew(s), the Los Angeles family, the Nebraska crew, and the San Diego crew.
As of 2007 the Outfit's size is estimated to be 28 official members (comprising its core group) and over 100 associates.. The Old Neighborhood Italian American Club is considered to be hangout of Old Timers as they live out thier golden years. The Clubs founder was Angelo J. LaPietra "The Hook", who at the time of death in 1999 was the main Council.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Historical leadership of the Chicago Outfit
- 4 Former factions
- 5 Outfit associates
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 See also
- 8 References
Overview[edit | edit source]
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Since its founding, the Chicago Outfit has been operating in order to keep and expand its status and profit throughout the Chicago area, among others. During the Prohibition era, its leader, Al Capone, competed with other gangsters like George "Bugs" Moran for the bootlegging business and was involved in other rivalries. Because of this, there appears to have been a business and personal rivalry between the Northside (North Side Mob) and Southside Chicago gangs. Al Capone headed the southern and George Moran, the northern.
There also appeared to have been cultural differences between the two sides, since the Northsiders were more Irish-American and the SouthSiders were more Jewish and Italian-American. This conflict led to numerous crimes, such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and numerous drive-by shootings resulting in the death of George Moran's associates and others on both sides. The Tommy gun was a trademark weapon for drive-bys. In the early 1940s, a handful of top Outfit leaders went to prison because they were found to be extorting Hollywood by controlling the unions that compose Hollywood's movie industry, and the manipulation and misuse of the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. There were also allegations that The Outfit was involved in strong-arm tactics and voter fraud at polling places, under Salvatore Giancana in the 1960 presidential election. Along with the voting allegations, The Outfit was involved in a Central Intelligence Agency-Mafia collusion during Castro's overthrow of the Cuban government. In exchange for its help, the Outfit was to be given access to its former casinos if it helped overthrow Fidel Castro in (Operation Mongoose or Operation Family Jewels). Having failed in that endeavor, and facing increasing indictments under the administration of President John F. Kennedy (JFK), the Outfit is the subject of conspiracy theories regarding the JFK assassination and that of JFK's brother Robert Kennedy. The Outfit controlled casinos in Las Vegas and "skimmed" millions of dollars over the course of several decades. Most recently, top mob figures have been found guilty of crimes dating back to as early as the mid 1960s. It has been rumored that the $2 million skimmed from the casinos in the Court case of 1986 and portrayed in the blockbuster movie "Casino" was used to build the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, the founder of which was Angelo J. "The Hook" LaPietra.
History[edit | edit source]
Pre-Prohibition[edit | edit source]
The early years of organized crime in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were marked by the division of various street gangs controlling the South Side and North Side as well as the Black Hand organizations of Little Italy.
Giacomo Colosimo ("James," "Big Jim") centralized control in the early 20th century. Colosimo was born in Calabria, Italy, in 1877, emigrating to Chicago in 1895, where he established himself as a criminal. By 1909 he was successful enough that he was encroaching on the criminal activity of the Black Hand organization.
His expanding organization required the procurement of extra muscle. This came in the form of Colosimo's nephew Giovanni Torrio ("Johnny the Fox") from New York. In 1919, Torrio brought in Al Capone, thus providing Capone's entrance to Chicago. In time, Colosimo and Torrio had a falling out over Torrio's insistence that they expand into rum-running, which Colosimo staunchly opposed. In 1920, Colosimo was killed by Al Capone allegedly on Torrio's orders, ending the argument.
Torrio brought together different parts of Chicago criminal activity, with a lasting effect on Chicago in general, and Chicago crime in particular.
Outfit development with Al Capone[edit | edit source]
Severely injured in an assassination attempt by the North Side Mob in January 1925, the shaken Torrio returned to Italy and handed over control of the business to Capone. Capone was notorious during Prohibition for his control of the Chicago underworld and his bitter rivalries with gangsters such as George "Bugs" Moran and Earl "Hymie" Weiss. Raking in vast amounts of money (some estimates were that between 1925 and 1930 Capone was making $100 million a year), the Chicago kingpin was largely immune to prosecution because of witness intimidation and the bribing of city officials. The Chicago Outfit under Al Capone's leadership was certainly one of the most dangerous gangs in the world. In the 1930s, Al Capone and his successor, Frank Nitti, developed the Outfit rapidly in all the surrounding areas.
One of the prime areas of interest was in Canada, the main source of alcohol which the Outfit was smuggling into the States. This illicit alcohol was then distributed to all the "titty bars" (brothels) of Chicago. During prohibition, this was one of the greatest sources of income for the Outfit. The Outfit, as established by Capone, functioned on relationships with a high degree of trust between the gangsters and the "boss of bosses".
The Boss controlled the heads of various divisions of the outfit through a system of informants placed throughout the various levels of the organization. Anyone who betrayed the honor of the organization was executed. Among the most active representatives of the Al Capone Outfit were “Happy Memories” DeLuca (assets in Illinois and Wisconsin), Bob Calandra (Ontario), Vince DeLuca, Tom Ciampelletti (Montreal) and Frank Nitti, who acted as intermediary between Al Capone, the Boss, and the other gangsters. Frankie La Porte and Ross Prio out of Chicago Heights, carried some heavy weight with Capone organizing his gang into an empire. Frankie La Porte, being Sicilian and having the ability to work in confidence with New York gangsters Joe Bonanno and Charles "Lucky" Luciano, who were also Sicilian, is believed to have been Capone's connection to the Commission.
While Al Capone was in charge of the Chicago Outfit it has been reported that some members of organization would take the train from Chicago to Wabash County, Illinois and stay at a remote hotel called the Grand Rapids Hotel on the Wabash River next to the Grand Rapids Dam. The hotel was only in existence for nine years but many residents of the area remember seeing men who claimed to be from the Chicago Outfit at the Grand Rapids Hotel. Suspiciously, the Grand Rapids Hotel was burned down by a man with one leg who dropped a blowtorch.
From Nitti through Accardo[edit | edit source]
After Capone was jailed for tax evasion, his hand-picked successor, Frank Nitti, a former barber and small-time jewel thief, only nominally assumed power. In truth, power was seized by Nitti's underboss, Paul Ricca, who was acknowledged as "boss" by the leaders of the growing National Crime Syndicate. Ricca would rule the Outfit, either in name or in fact, for the next 12 years.
Over the next decade, The Outfit moved into labor racketeering, gambling, and loan sharking. Geographically, this was the period when Outfit muscle extended its tendrils to Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, Kansas City, and especially to Hollywood and other California cities, where The Outfit's extortion of labor unions gave it leverage over the motion picture industry.
In 1943, the Outfit was caught red-handed shaking down the Hollywood movie industry. Ricca wanted Nitti to take the fall. However, Nitti had found, years earlier while in jail for 18 months (for tax evasion), that he was claustrophobic, and he decided to end his life rather than face more imprisonment for extorting Hollywood. Ricca then became the boss in name as well as in fact, with enforcement chief Tony Accardo as underboss. Around this time, the Outfit began bringing in members of the Forty-Two Gang, a notoriously violent youth gang. Among them were Sam "Momo" Giancana, Sam "Mad Sam" DeStefano, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio and Fiore "Fifi" Buccieri.
However, later in 1943, following the "Hollywood Scandal" trial, Ricca was sent to prison for his part in The Outfit plot to control Hollywood. He, along with a number of other mobsters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Through the "magic" of political connections, the whole group of Outfit mobsters was released after three years, largely due to the efforts of Outfit "fixer" Murray "The Camel" Humphreys. As a condition of his parole, Ricca could not associate with mobsters. Accardo nominally took power as boss, but actually shared power with Ricca, who continued behind the scenes as a senior consultant.
Accardo joined Ricca in semi-retirement in 1957. From then on, Ricca and Accardo allowed several others, such as Giancana, Alderisio, Joey Aiuppa, William "Willie Potatoes" Daddano and Jackie "the Lackey" Cerone to serve as front men over the years, this due to some "heat" that Accardo was originally getting from the IRS, in the 1950s. Most of the front bosses originated from the Forty-Two Gang. However, no major business transactions, and certainly no "hits," took place without Ricca and Accardo's knowledge and approval. By staying behind the scenes, Ricca and Accardo lasted far longer than Capone. Ricca died in 1972, leaving Accardo as the sole power behind the throne.
The Outfit reached the height of its power in the 1960s. With the aid of Meyer Lansky, Accardo used the Teamsters pension fund to engage in massive money laundering through the Outfit's casinos, aided by the likes of Sidney Korshak and Jimmy Hoffa. The 1970s and 1980s were a hard time for the Outfit, as law enforcement continued to penetrate the organization, spurred by poll-watching politicians. Off-track betting reduced bookmaking profits and illicit casinos withered under competition from legitimate casinos. Replacement activities like auto theft and professional sports betting did not replace the lost profits.
Operation PENDORF (codenamed for penetrate Allen Dorfman) and the "Strawman" case ended the Outfit's skimming and control of their Las Vegas casinos. These events are fictionalized in the film Casino.
Operation GAMBAT proved to be a crippling blow to the Outfit's tight grip on the Chicago Political Machine. Pat Marcy, a made man in the Outfit, ran the city's First Ward which represented most of downtown Chicago. With the help of Alderman Fred Roti and Democratic Committeeman John D'Arco Sr., close Outfit associates, Marcy and company controlled the circuit courts from the 1950s until the late 1980s. Together, the First Ward fixed cases involving everything from minor traffic violations to murder. Attorney and First Ward associate, Robert Cooley, was one of the attorneys that represented many mafiosi and associates in which cases were fixed. As a trusted man within the First Ward, Cooley was approached and asked to take out a city police officer. Cooley, who was also an addicted gambler and in debt to certain undesirables, approached the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force, declaring he wanted to "destroy Marcy and the First Ward." Cooley was soon in touch with the FBI and began cooperating as a federal informant. Through the years, Cooley kept close with Marcy and the big shots of the First Ward. He wore a wire, recording valuable conversations at the notorious "First Ward Table", located at "Counselor's Row" across the street from Chicago City Hall. The results in Operation Gambat (Gambling Attorney) were convictions of 24 corrupt judges, lawyers and cops.
Accardo died in 1992. In a measure of how successfully he'd managed to stay out of the limelight, he never spent a day in jail (or only spent one day, depending on the source) despite an arrest record dating to 1922. Compared to how organized crime leadership transitions take place in New York City, Chicago's transition from Accardo to the next generation of Outfit bosses has been more of an administrative change than a power struggle.
21st century[edit | edit source]
On April 25, 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice launched Operation Family Secrets, which indicted 14 Outfit members and associates under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel presided over the Family Secrets trial. The federal prosecutors were Mitchell A. Mars, T. Markus Funk, and John Scully. The jury found James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Frank Calabrese, Sr., Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle guilty of all counts, which included extortion, illegal gambling, tax fraud, loan sharking, and murder (Doyle was not found guilty of murder) on September 10, 2007. Scully retired, and Mars died prior to sentencing (which was handled by Funk). Paul Schiro was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Frank Calabrese, Sr. was sentenced to life in prison on January 28, 2009. On February 2, 2009, Joseph Lombardo was sentenced to life imprisonment. James Marcello also received life imprisonment on February 5, 2009. March 12, 2009, Anthony Doyle received 12 years of prison. Nicholas Calabrese was sentenced to 12 years, 4 months of imprisonment. This lenient sentence was due in part to Calabrese's cooperation with the government. Nick Calabrese turned government witness in the early 2000s (decade) and was the star witness at the Family Secrets trial. Additional punishment was added on April 6, 2009 to the five guilty men, over $24 million in fines and restitutions to be paid. Also, $4.3 million to the relatives of the 14 men murdered by the Outfit. The five would split the restitution cost, but Doyle has to pay the least. Zagel's words, "...I hold Defendants Calabrese, Sr., Marcello, Lombardo, and Schiro jointly and severally liable." Judge Zagel found that Calabrese during the closing argument threatened to kill prosecutor Funk (muttering "You're a fucking dead man" in Funk's direction); Calabrese reportedly was subsequently incarcerated under highly-restrictive measures.
However, during the Family Secrets' trial, it was found that a Deputy U.S. Marshal named John Thomas Ambrose had leaked information on Nicholas Calabrese that led back to the Chicago mob as early as 2002. Ambrose would eventually be put on a Mob Leak trial himself (with Markus Funk returning as the lead prosecutor, assisted by Diane MacArthur) and a jury would find him guilty on April 28, 2009. He was charged with theft of Justice Department property, disclosing confidential information and lying to federal agents who questioned him about the leak. He was however acquitted of two charges of lying to federal agents. The information went to William Guide, a father figure to Ambrose and an officer convicted in the Marquette 10, and then to the mob. This is noteworthy as the first ever breach in the Witness Protection Program. In the end, Ambrose was sentenced to 48 months incarceration, which was almost three times higher than the top of his sentencing guidelines range—Judge Grady found "nothing mitigating" about Ambrose's leaks to the Chicago mob. A restaurant owner in the northwest suburbs was also indicted.
Historical leadership of the Chicago Outfit[edit | edit source]
Boss (official, acting and front)[edit | edit source]
- 1910–1920 — Giacomo "Big Jim" Colosimo ("James", "Diamond Jim") (1877–1920)
- 1920–1925 — John "Johnny The Fox" Torrio (1882–1957)
- 1925–1932 — Alphonse "Al" Capone ("Scarface") (1899–1947)
- 1932–1947 — Paul "The Waiter" Ricca (1897–1972) - remained as senior consultant (Consigliere) with final say on all decisions, he shared this power with Accardo from 1947 until his death.
- 1947–1992 — Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo ("Joe Batters") (1906–1992) - With Accardo becoming Consigliere in 1957 the Boss position became the Front Boss from 1956–1992, with Ricca (until his death in 1972) and Accardo retaining the real power. All of the front bosses had to get Ricca and Accardo's approval for all major transactions. Accardo remained Outfit's consigliere until his death.
- Front Boss 1957–1966 — Salvatore "Sam" Giancana ("Momo," "Mooney") (1908–1975)
- Front Boss 1966–1967 — Samuel "Teets" Battaglia (1908–1973)
- Front Boss 1967–1969 — Jackie "the Lackey" Cerone (1914–1996)
- Front Boss 1969–1971 — Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio (1912–1971)
- Front Boss 1971–1986 — Joseph John Aiuppa ("Joey Doves", "Joey O'Brien") (1907–1997)
- Front Boss 1986–1989 — Joseph "Joe Nagall" Ferriola (1948–1989)
- Front Boss 1989–1993 — Samuel "Sam" Carlisi ("Wings") (1914–1997)
- 1993–present — John "No Nose" DiFronzo - undisputed boss from 1994–1999; Angelo J. LaPietra "The Hook" Advisor until his death in 1999.
Former factions[edit | edit source]
Subdivided by faction leaders
- Des Moines faction
- Kansas City faction
- Las Vegas faction
- Milwaukee faction
- Los Angeles/San Diego faction
- Nebraska faction
Outfit associates[edit | edit source]
The Outfit has used other ethnic groups besides Italian Americans as high ranking associates since the family's earliest days. A prime example of this was Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, who was the top "bagman" and "accountant" for decades until his death. He was a Polish Jew. Others were Murray Humphreys, who was of Welsh descent, and associate Ken Eto (aka Tokyo Joe), who was a Japanese-American. The Outfit also had Michael J. Corbitt, who was a police officer.
In popular culture[edit | edit source]
The Chicago Outfit has a long history of portrayal in Hollywood as the subject of films and television.
Films[edit | edit source]
- Scarface (1932)
- Chicago Syndicate (1955)
- The Scarface Mob (1957)
- The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)
- Bullitt (1968) begins with an Outfit associate who flees to San Francisco to turn state's evidence.
- The Outfit (1973)
- The Untouchables (1987)
- Casino (1995) directed by Martin Scorsese is a depiction of the Chicago Outfit's skimming operations in Las Vegas.
- Payback (1999)
- Road to Perdition (2002) was a film in which Al Capone and Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti were depicted acting in concert with an Irish gang in Rock Island, Illinois during prohibition.
- Public Enemies (2009 film) shows the organization as chiefly an off-screen presence, though Frank Nitti and his associates do appear numerous times. The chief examples of the Outfit being shown on screen are their network of safe houses, and their independent wire service that opened in Chicago, as well as mentions of their money laundering and whore house network.
T.V. series[edit | edit source]
- The Untouchables television series (1959–63; 1993–94)
- The F.B.I. showcased numerous, fictionalized, real Outfit cases on its television program during the 1960s and in to the 1970s.
- In The Simpsons episode "Viva Ned Flanders" the Las Vegas wedding-chapel priest cites the Chicago Outfit for vesting the power in him to marry.
- Crime Story, ran from 1986-88 on NBC, portraying a fictional Chicago mobster rising through the ranks of the "Chicago Outfit".
- The Playboy Club, a NBC TV series (2011) set in the 1960s in Chicago whose plot involves the interactions between the Chicago Mob and the titular club
- Prison Break a FOX's TV series (2005–2009), character John Abruzzi is the incarcerated boss of the "Chicago Outfit".
- In the Star Trek episode, "A Piece of the Action", the Enterprise visits Sigma Iotia II, a planet that based its culture on the Chicago Outfit (specifically the book Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, which in the episode was a work of nonfiction published in 1992).
- In Boardwalk Empire (2010-)
- Mob Wives: Chicago a VH1's TV series (2012-) Follos the lives of five women "allegedly" connected to the Chicago mob.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Joe Aiello- rival to Al Capone during Prohibition-Era, Aiello was also allied to Salvatore Maranzano during the Castellammarese War .
- North Side Gang- a rival gang to Al Capone
- Hired Truck Program scandal
- Organized Crime in Chicago
- Unione Siciliane
- Grand Rapids Hotel
- Nolan, John Matthew "2,543 Days: A history of the Hotel at the Grand Rapids Dam on the Wabash River"
References[edit | edit source]
Citations[edit | edit source]
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- Nolan, John Matthew "2,543 Days: A history of the Hotel at the Grand Rapids Dam on the Wabash River"
- "Powered by Google Docs". Docs.google.com. http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:0hazFO3699QJ:www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2005/pr0425_01.pdf+operation+family+secrets&hl=en&gl=us. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
- Thomas P. Hunt, New Milford, CT, firstname.lastname@example.org (1930-10-23). "The American Mafia - Joe Aiello". Onewal.com. http://www.onewal.com/w-aiello.html. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
General References[edit | edit source]
- Binder, John. The Chicago Outfit. Arcadia Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7385-2326-7
- Cooley, Robert When Corruption was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down, 2004. ISBN 0-7867-1583-9
- Russo, Gus. The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America, Bloomsbury USA, 2002. ISBN 1-58234-279-2
- Mark Lombardi: Global Networks. Mark Lombardi, Robert Carleton Hobbs, Judith Richards; Independent Curators, 2003. (published for the traveling exhibition of his work, "Mark Lombardi Global Networks"). ISBN 0-916365-67-0
- The F.B.I. (historical archives)
- Nolan, John Matthew "2,543 Days: A history of the Hotel at the Grand Rapids Dam on the Wabash River"