Biographies & Memoirs

Part Five

The G

15.

The Game’s Afoot: The G Gets Involved

While the Outfit struggled with its own nuisances, namely Bobby Kennedy and the IRS, their travails paled in comparison with those of their sometime associates in New York. For unlike in Chicago, which had unified its underworld in one sixty-second shooting spree on St. Valentine’s Day, 1929, New York gangsterism was typified by a continuous series of internecine bloodlettings. For years, the New York turf had been parceled out to five “families,” the brainstorm of 1930s boss Salvatore Maranzano, even as Charles “Lucky” Luciano attempted to downplay the “old-world” family paradigms in favor of Torrio’s modern vision. As writer John Davis says, “What Luciano accomplished was to Americanize and democratize the old Sicilian Mafia, turning it into a huge, and fearsome, moneymaking machine.” Despite Luciano’s national influence, the five New York bosses continued to squabble, with their leadership increasingly determined at the point of a gun. The recent attack on Costello, which had tipped authorities to the breadth of the Las Vegas collusions, was but the most recent example of the turbulence.

As the situation drifted perilously close to chaos, an emergency meeting of the Commission was called for November 14, 1957. Since Johnny Torrio had conceived the enterprise two decades earlier, the Commission had met regularly every five years to coordinate the members’ mutual or exclusive interests. At the top of this year’s agenda was the desire to effect a truce among the current ruling Empire State families - Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino, Profaci, and Bonanno. Among those invited to deliberate the warfare’s resolution were the Outfit’s Joe Accardo and his heir, Mooney Giancana.

It was decided that the eighty-odd bosses and their factotums from around the country would assemble at the rural estate of Joe Barbara, in the south-central upstate New York town of Apalachin (pronounced “Apple-aykin”). The fifty-one-year-old, Sicilian-born Barbara, a well-liked local philanthropist, had come to America during prohibition and cut his teeth as a bootlegger, later legitimizing to become the regional Canada Dry soft-drink distributor. New York State Police sergeant Edgar Croswell, however, continued to monitor Barbara, believing his distributorship to be a front for an illegal alcohol racket. On November 13, after learning that Barbara’s son had been booking rooms at the local Parkway Motel, Croswell drove out to the estate, where he observed a coral-and-pink Lincoln and a blue Cadillac, both with Ohio plates. Croswell returned the next day with his partner and two agents of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Agency, this time spotting more than two dozen cars parked behind Barbara’s barn. The next sight was even more odd for this rural setting: Scores of suited men were partaking in a sirloin steak barbecue. The 220 pounds of choice cut, valued at $432, had been specially shipped from Chicago the week before.

Before Croswell could gather his thoughts, the men, who had spotted Croswell, took their steak sandwiches and began vanishing into the surrounding woods, while the good sergeant called in for backup. Croswell quickly set up a roadblock on the only route from Barbara’s property. The first car to approach the rampart was a new Chrysler Imperial containing none other than New York boss Vito Genovese, with whose reputation Croswell was well-acquainted. From there, things degenerated into a comic opera, with backup police giving chase to a dispersing herd of middle-aged men racing through the brambles and mud in their silk suits and $200 imported dress shoes. Before the officers realized they were rounding up men who were not actually wanted for anything, they had arrested many of the cookout’s participants, most of whom had a knee-jerk reaction to run from men in uniform.

By 1 A.M. powerful bosses such as Santo Trafficante and Joe Bonanno, having been rounded up in cornfields, were being processed, if illegally, at the nearby Vestal police station, charged with absolutely nothing. In custody, the bosses were polite in the extreme, as the frustrated cops grasped for incriminating straws. Croswell later admitted to trying to entrap his detainees: “We gave them a rough time at the station house, but we couldn’t even make them commit disorderly conduct down there.” For their part, the hoods claimed that they were paying respects to an ailing Barbara. All told, sixty-three men had been caught, only nine of whom had no criminal record (their collective record came to 275 past arrests and 100 convictions). The men carried on them the incredible combined sum of $300,000 in cash. One of the bosses, holding ten grand, gave his occupation as “unemployed.” A stark reminder of the upper-world-underworld communion was the collaring of Buffalo, New York’s 4Man of the Year, city councilman John C. Montana.

Although sixty-three of the attendees were processed and quickly released, untold dozens more made their exits without being apprehended. Among them were Accardo and Giancana. Two days later, Mooney showed up at his Thunderbolt Motel in Rosemont, Illinois, managed by his brother, Chuck. “I tore up a twelve-hundred-dollar suit on some barbed wire,” Mooney said of his escape in Apalachin, “and ruined a new pair of shoes.” He gave Chuck a humorous description of the hoods’ flight through Barbara’s woods. “You should’ve seen some of the guys slippin’ and slidin’ down on their asses, splittin’ out their pants.” Mooney’s daughter Antoinette recalled a similar recap given to Johnny Rosselli at the family home. “These cops close in and start grabbing everyone in sight. I took off like I was some sort of gazelle out the back door . . . I mean, I ran like I was doing the hundred-yard dash in the Olympics,” Mooney recounted. “I made the woods in the back by going out the back door.”

The Chicago contingent was incensed that the Commission meeting had taken place in a venue they had warned against. Giancana was especially irritated, venting to Rosselli, “I told that fuckin’ jerk in Buffalo [Stefano Magaddino] that we shouldn’t have the meeting in the goddamn place that he should have the meeting here in Chicago, and he’d never have to worry about cops with all the hotels and places we control.” Years later, Mooney had still not let up about the confab. Utilizing a telephonic wiretap placed in one of the gang’s hideouts, the FBI heard Mooney chew out Magaddino personally for the debacle in New York. “I hope you’re satisfied,” Mooney fumed. “Sixty-three of our top guys made by the cops.” To which the chastened Buffalo mobster replied, “I gotta admit you were right, Sam. It never would have happened in your place.” In the next few sentences of the FBI’s transcript, Giancana said more about the Outfit’s influence, and legit business penetration, in Chicago than a hundred editorials: “This is the safest territory in the world for a big meet. We could’ve scattered you guys in my motels; we could’ve had the meet in one of my big restaurants. The cops don’t bother us there. We got three towns just outside of Chicago with the police chiefs in our pocket. We got what none of you guys got. We got this territory locked up tight.”

The national press had a field day with the Apalachin story, an occurrence that gave a temple-pulsing headache to the director of the nation’s premier investigative unit, the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover, the portly paladin who was ever protective of his beloved Bureau’s reputation, was now being pressured into action against organized crime. For decades, Hoover had denied that crime was anything but a local problem, that just such an assemblage as Apalachin was inconceivable. Now, for the first time publicly, Hoover was seen as being behind the curve. The G’s boss moved quickly to make up for lost time. On November 27, Director Hoover fired off a memo to all the FBI field offices. The missive was headlined “Top Hoodlum Program (THP),” and it ordered the FBI to penetrate the inner sanctums of organized crime, define it, and make cases that would stick. Hoover’s number two man, Cartha DeLoach, contends that the THP had actually been formed earlier in the year and that Apalachin only energized it. Other agents, such as Chicago’s Bill Roemer disputed this.

In either event, the nation’s major cities soon saw an influx of new G-men sent to ensure the success of the THP. By far the most emphasis was placed on New York, which welcomed twenty-five new agents, and Chicago, with ten. For the next two years, the new federal arrivals went to school on organized crime. In Chicago, FBI special agents wisely sought out the counsel of the former members of the city’s Scotland Yard investigative unit, recently disbanded by Mayor Daley. Although it would take many months before the Bureau was able to acquire connected sources, and critical inside information, it would eventually do so. That success would represent a major turning point in the fortunes of the Outfit. In the short term, the Outfit’s chieftains, increasingly desirous of going legit, kept a low profile throughout most of 1958-59, confining their business expansion to the offshore gambling haven of Cuba. While Meyer Lansky had just opened his deluxe twenty-one-story, 440-room Havana Riviera Hotel Casino (the first large Cuban building to be fully air-conditioned), the Outfit expanded in other directions. With Mooney Giancana as his partner, Joe Accardo invested in Havana-based shrimp boats and processing plants, an endeavor that reaped still more millions in profit. Accardo also teamed with Diamond Joe Esposito to cut in on the lucrative Cuban sugar export business. The Outfit’s low-profile domestic activity was believed by some to have had one bloody exception: In Vegas, drastic action was taken to prevent the Outfit’s Riviera HotelCasino plum from going belly-up.

The disturbing reports from Las Vegas were unabated: Gus Green baum’s personal descent was escalating. He was deep into the abyss of heroin addiction, spending night after hazy night with prostitutes, but only after losing stacks of money at the craps tables. His dreadful condition, which allowed him only a couple hours of afternoon work, predictably spilled over into his administration of the Outfit’s Riviera business. Although Greenbaum had worked his managerial magic for a decade in Las Vegas, now for the first time his ledger sheets were awash in red ink. With the Riviera’s casino doing a good volume of business, the Chicago bosses knew it could not be losing money - unless Gus Greenbaum was skimming to support his many addictions. Consequently, Greenbaum received another visit from the dreaded Marshall Caifano.

“Sell out or you’re gonna be carried out in a box,” Caifano ordered.

After Caifano left, Greenbaum consulted with his senior staff, telling them, “I don’t want to leave. This goddamn town is in my blood. I can’t leave.” The stance was either courageous or foolhardy, given not only Greenbaum’s current troubles with the Outfit, but also that he still had not repaid them the $1 million he had borrowed for the Flamingo Hotel improvements after Bugsy’s death.

What happened next may have come as the result of a Thanksgiving, 1958, meeting of “the Four Joes,” 124 miles south of Phoenix. The site was the Grace Ranch, owned by Detroit gangster Pete “Horse Face” Licavoli. The FBI received reports that Joe Accardo had made the holiday trek to Licavoli’s outpost to confer with New York Commission bosses Joe Profaci and Joe Bonanno and his brother-in-law Joe Magliocco, all of whom had attended Apalachin. With Accardo playing host, the Four Joes feasted on barbecued steak and discussed their business in Sicilian. It was rumored that one of the business decisions they reached cost Joe Accardo $1 million - the money he had lent to Gus Greenbaum for the Flamingo, which could now never be repaid.

In the late morning of December 3, less than a week after the Grace Ranch summit, Gus Greenbaum’s housekeeper happened upon a grisly scene in the Greenbaum bedroom. Still in silk pajamas, Gus Greenbaum’s corpse lay across his bed, his head nearly severed by a vicious swipe from a butcher knife. On a sofa in the den fifty feet away was found the body of Gus’ wife, Bess, also the victim of a slashed throat. Although no one was ever charged in the murders, the killings were widely believed to represent a Bugsy redux, i.e., the fastest way to effect a managerial change in Sin City. If in fact the Greenbaum murder was sanctioned by the Four Joes, the killing of Bess was a potent departure from the Outfit’s rule that prohibited involvement of innocent family members. There is also the distinct possibility that the hired killer overstepped his authority in an effort to dispose of a witness. Chicago insiders believe that the hit was authorized by the Riviera’s Miami investors, since police learned that two suspicious men had arrived from Miami the day of the murders, only to return to Miami that very night. Lending credence to this scenario was a conversation Johnny Rosselli had with Jimmy Fratianno two years after the murders. When Fratianno brought up the Greenbaum killings, Rosselli said, “That was Meyer’s contract.” Meyer Lansky was of course well-established in Miami and was an investor with his fellow Floridians in Greenbaum’s Riviera.

Back in Phoenix, the Greenbaums’ funeral was attended by three hundred mourners, among them Senator Barry Goldwater.

All the while in Washington, the McClellan hearings churned on. For the Outfit, the tribunal was little more than a nuisance, with the gang having to dodge a spate of congressional subpoenas. Eventually, some of the bosses appeared, only to plead the Fifth Amendment ad nauseam.1

Bobby Kennedy expressed a strong initial interest in hearing from Curly Humphreys on the subject of his alleged anointment of Hoffa. According to files in the Chicago Crime Commission (CCC), Kennedy’s investigators were also interested in Humphreys’ control over the Chicago Restaurant Association and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union. “Books of the Union have been sub-poenaed [by the committee] and restaurant owners and workers are being interviewed throughout the city,” a CCC memo noted. Chicagoans were therefore shocked when the Welshman never appeared before the McClellan Committee. The mystery was resolved on February 25, 1959, while Robert Kennedy was grilling Chicago slot king Eddie Vogel. Kennedy was essentially reading “for the record,” since Vogel pled the Fifth to all questions posed. While ticking off the names of various gangsters with whom Vogel was associated, Kennedy included: “Rocco Fischetti, Charles Fischetti, who is now dead; Murray ’the Camel’ Humphreys, who is now dead . . .” (Italics added.) The committee had somehow been led to believe that the very much alive Humphreys had passed on.

At least one connected Chicagoan was wise to the scam. Mayor Daley’s intelligence chief, Jack Clarke, laughed recently when the incident was brought up. Clarke had assisted the committee’s staff on occasion, as when they tried to locate Outfit leaders. “The committee had hired some local detectives to do their skip-tracing,” Clarke remembers. “Humphreys slipped them some C-notes and told them to report back that he had died. Apparently, Bobby bought it.”

Making the committee oversight even more unbelievable is that that very year, 1959, Humphreys appeared before an Illinois grand jury investigating organized crime and put on one of his seminal performances. It happened on April 1, 1959, and Curly’s performance was likely his idea of an April Fools’ Day joke. According to the April 4 edition of the Chicago American, Humphreys appeared but a pale shadow of his former self. “Humphreys has lost the dapper, erect appearance of his better days,” the paper reported. Wearing a crumpled raincoat, and feebly hobbling with a cane, Curly told onlookers, “My left leg is crippled - arthritis. I’ve gone to fifty doctors, but they haven’t been able to correct it.” For good measure, Humphreys sported a patch over his left eye. “It’s some sort of nervous disorder,” he explained. A local journalist quipped, “Humphreys is over the hump.” John Morgan, who wrote a Humphreys biography published in Wales, described what happened next, a scene that presaged the climax to the 1995 film The Usual Suspects: “Humphreys was asked a few questions: he croaked the Fifth Amendment a few times. After five minutes, the embarrassed court allowed him to leave. He shuffled into the April air, turned into Rush Street, threw away his walking stick, his raincoat and his homburg and skipped as blithely as ever from bar to bar to meet old friends. But the picture of the broken man was in every newspaper.”

Despite this widely reported incident, Kennedy and the committee proceeded as if they still believed the gangster to be dead, and made no effort to contact him.

“The Waiter” Is Unmasked

Whereas Curly Humphreys succeeded in disappearing from the G’s radar, Paul Ricca had no such luck. For over ten years, and with no fanfare, federal agents had quietly been building a case against a man they had initially believed to be chiefly a tax cheat. They soon concluded that Ricca was also an illegal alien and a murderer. While Ricca was imprisoned on the Hollywood extortion case conviction in 1945, an anonymous tipster apparently contacted the Chicago branch of the Immigration Service and informed them that Ricca had entered the United States on a false passport, using the name of Paul Maglio, a real citizen of a small Italian village of six thousand named Apricena. The investigation took a decade, but Ricca’s pursuers eventually stumbled into an astonishing coincidence: The real Paul Maglio had also emigrated to America, and to of all places, Chicago. In a strange twist, Maglio had been leading a parallel life as a laborer in the shadow of his alter ego, one of the most powerful crime bosses in the country. Adding to the bizarre tale was that Maglio had no idea he had been impersonated by Ricca. Even more, Maglio had been the town clerk of Apricena and knew that only one local family was named Maglio, and that there was only one Paul Maglio - him.

At Ricca’s Immigration trial, the surprise witness was none other than the real Paul Maglio, who delivered testimony so airtight that Ricca offered no defense. Although he was ordered deported, Ricca was supremely confidant that the order would never be enforced. Ricca boasted, “I’ll blow the lid off politics, from the White House down.” Through Curly Humphreys, Ricca demanded that all the pols who had been feasting at the gang’s trough be marshalled in his defense. In short time, Ricca’s petition to remain at liberty was remanded to the federal district court of Judge Michael L. Igoe, who was one of the many friendly officials who had marched behind the coffin of the Outfit’s patriarch Big Jim Colosimo in 1920. Ricca was said to have laughed in Igoe’s face after the judge granted him his request.

According to Humphreys’ second wife, Jeanne, Curly worked tirelessly to have the deportation order quashed, putting in long hours in legal research and strategizing. The work on the immigration issue proved successful, but the feds merely fell back on their charge of last resort, tax evasion. On this charge, even Curly could not obtain a complete dismissal, and on July 1, 1959, Ricca was sent to Terre Haute to start a ten-year sentence, later reduced to three years, with twenty-seven months ultimately served.2 The real Paul Maglio, who said he had testified to prove that not all Italians are lawbreakers, became a neighborhood hero, still walking fourteen blocks back and forth to work every day.

Ricca’s imprisonment caused him to miss by three days the wedding reception Mooney threw for his daughter Bonnie and her husband, Tony Tisci (Congressman Libonati’s secretary) at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel. The muted affair, by gang standards, was held on the very day most mob watchers were in River Forest gawking over Joe Accardo’s Fourth of July barbecue. Giancana purposely kept the marriage low-key, after the fallout from the much more lavish reception he had thrown for another daughter, Antoinette, three months earlier. That affair, which had featured more than seven hundred guests at Chicago’s LaSalle Hotel, had drawn local headlines and become fodder for questions put to Mooney two months later when the boss appeared before the McClellan Committee. Mooney, therefore, decided to keep Bonnie’s wedding off the press’ radar. Poor Bonnie was thus prevented from receiving the same kind of envelope largesse as her sister, who collected over $200,000 at her gala. “I never saw most of the money,” Antoinette recently said. “I gave it to my father for safekeeping and never saw it again, except for a few thousand dollars he gave me for a down payment on my house.”

Cat and Mouse with the G

Although green to the world of the Outfit, Chicago’s newly assigned G-men were under such pressure from Hoover that they worked overtime until learning who the leaders were, and where to find them. With Ricca already in “college” and Accardo lying low, the agents became most interested in Curly Humphreys and Mooney Giancana. FBI men like Ralph Hill, John Roberts, Bill Roemer, Marshall Rutland, John Bassett, and Vince Inserra hit the streets, attempting to tail their targets. In many instances, their efforts played out like a Keystone Kops comedy, in which the hoods used their well-honed skills to toy with the agents. Local G-men remember one humorous incident in which they employed a full-court press on Mooney Giancana, dispatching nine cars to his home one morning, intent on following his every move. Little did they know they were about to match driving skills with the most talented wheelman from the Patch. When Giancana drove off, he took his pursuers on a labyrinthine route, causing them to bark excitedly to one another on their radios, at times nearly colliding with one another. After successfully losing all nine cars, Mooney snuck up on one of them from behind, then stopped alongside the agent’s car and chided, “Here I am.”

On another occasion, Curly Humphreys saw that on one particularly hectic day the G was following him everywhere he went, from a newsstand, to an attorney’s office, to a restaurant, to a hardware store, etc. Eventually tiring of the game, Curly had his driver stop the car, then alighted and walked back to the startled agents parked behind him. “Look, this is silly,” Curly said. “Instead of wasting all this gasoline, why don’t I just send my driver home and go with you guys. That way you’ll know exactly where I am at all times.” Humphreys then opened the back door of the federal car, got in, and was chauffeured for the rest of the day by the federal government. Needless to say, the agents took a grudging liking to the disarming Welshman, as did almost everyone else who had personal contact with him. The charm he had first cast as a teen on his court-appointed adjudicator was as potent as ever. On one occasion, agents followed Joe Accardo and Curly Humphreys into a movie theater as they took in a matinee of the 1959 film Al Capone. Sitting inconspicuously behind the bosses, the agents eavesdropped as the old chums critiqued the adaptation of their patriarch’s career. “No. No, it wasn’t like that at all,” they said repeatedly, nudging each other.

Unbeknownst to the G-men, their routines were also being scrutinized - by the Outfit. The gang knew one agent, Bill Roemer, coached his son’s Little League team and had determined the boy’s practice schedule, so they coordinated their most important gatherings around little Roemer’s baseball. One gang member recalled walking to a meeting with Accardo and worrying about Roemer’s surveillance. “He’ll be gone by three,” Joe replied confidently.

In his memoir, Bill Roemer makes much of the “Family Pact” he reached with Curly, whom he called Hump. At the time, according to Roemer, his wife, Jeannie, had been receiving threatening phone calls. “Your husband is a dead man,” they would whisper before hanging up. In addition, Roemer’s two sons were seen followed to school by two mysterious men in a car. Wisely, Roemer sought out Curly to intervene. One morning, Roemer approached Humphreys outside his current residence at 4200 Marine Drive and introduced himself.

“Yes, Mr. Roemer, I know who you are. What can I do for you?” Humphreys asked.

Roemer explained what had been going on, and Curly replied, “Mr. Roemer, I understand your situation. I’ll look into it.” Roemer suggested ground rules that essentially stated, “You stay away from our families and we’ll stay away from yours.” Curly agreed to take the matter up with his associates and get back to Roemer. A week later, Humphreys reported, “Bill, this was the work of a misguided individual. I have spoken to him, and you can rest assured your family will have no more problems.” With that, the two amicable adversaries shook hands on the Family Pact. However, when Humphreys later learned that the G had given the press the name of Frankie Ferraro’s mistress, Humphreys and Roemer’s mutual friend and restaurant owner Morrie Norman was asked to set up another meeting.

“I thought we had a deal,” Curly said. Roemer professed that he had no idea “families” included mistresses. “Bill,” Humphreys said, smiling, “there might come a day when you regret this. You might not always be so righteous.” The arrangement was soon amended to include paramours. At least that was Roemer’s version.

According to Humphreys’ widow, the “threatening” calls and visits were greatly misrepresented by the late Mr. Roemer. “Roemer couldn’t keep his zipper zipped,” says Jeanne Humphreys. Jeanne maintains that it was common knowledge in the Outfit that Bill Roemer and his compatriots had roaming eyes for some strippers working in a downtown joint called the 606 Club. A passage from Jeanne’s contemporaneous journal reads, “Gussie [Alexl, Henry Susk, and Dave Gardner were trying out the same strippers as the agents and decided to use the strippers to get the goods on the agents.” Jeanne recently summed up the gambit, saying, “It was Gussie’s idea to rat Roemer out to his wife to get the G off everybody’s back. The Family Pact was nothing more than ’you forget about our mistresses and we’ll forget about yours.’ No one ever threatened Roemer’s wife and kids.” Curly told his wife of the pact, explaining, “This way, the G will get to keep their lily-white image, and they’ll stay away from our families.” When Jeanne asked one of the gang if the agents’ families had ever been threatened, her source quipped, “Sure, their home life.”

Years later, Roemer wrote of his sincere affection for Humphreys: “I actually did like the guy. The truth is, I did have a grudging respect for Accardo. And I had even more respect for Hump . . . There was a style about the way he conducted himself. His word was his bond.” Roemer added that he took no glee in harassing his “friend” Humphreys. He much preferred to chase the swarthier, violent types like Mooney Giancana. “In Chicago there were always plenty more mobsters to choose as targets. But none like Hump.”

Roemer was well aware of the professional problems that might ensue from his genuine affection for the Hump. As he wrote in his Roemer: Man Against the Mob: “I had clearly developed an affinity for Hump - more so by far than I did for anyone else in the mob. Obviously, I had to lean over backward to ensure that my respect for the man did not outweigh my responsibility to do all in my power to neutralize his connections and minimize his role in the mob.”

After many months of tails and informant debriefs, the Bureau’s effort began to bear fruit as, one by one, the gang’s meeting places were identified. At the time, the Outfit maintained a series of venues for use at specific times. At nine in the morning, like clockwork, the old guard of Accardo and Humphreys met with Mooney and his aides at Celano’s Custom Tailor Shop, a large second-story facility located at 620 North Michigan Avenue, in the heart of the city’s Magnificent Mile. Although the Bureau never learned of it, the gang assembled for lunch twice a week in the Wedgewood Room of Marshall Field’s Department Store, where the city’s elite ladies gathered for tea. “It was perfect,” remembered one hood. “Nobody ever suspected that these tough guys would meet in a room full of women. When we took over the back of a restaurant in those days, we referred to our section as Amen Corner.” On Thursday nights, the “boys” came to Joe’s River Forest palace to conduct business over a home-cooked meal, while Mooney Giancana met his charges late night at the Armory Lounge at 7427 West Roosevelt Road in the western suburb of Forest Park.

The Bureau first noticed that Curly and the others were showing up every morning just before 9 A.M. at the North Side intersection of Rush and Ontario Streets. The hoods would enter an office building and disappear into a maze of hallways and lobbies. After some weeks of head-scratching, the agents discovered that the building shared a common hall with another edifice that fronted on Michigan Avenue, which took the gangsters ultimately to the backroom of Celano’s; the Ontario entrance was meant as a diversion. Once inside, the gang nodded to Jimmy Celano, who abandoned the backroom while the Outfit conducted its business. Accardo et al. met in the sparsely furnished room, which had a couple easy chairs, a large sofa, a desk, a television, a well-stocked wet bar, and a safe.

As recounted often and with great swagger by agent Bill Roemer, the feds obtained a key to Celano’s and executed a recent Hoover directive that ordered a wholesale trashing of their targets’ civil rights: Hidden microphones would be planted in the hangouts. The order gave witness to the pressure Hoover felt to break the mob. “I decided I would be the first guy to plant a mike,” Roemer wrote. “I had been the first and only guy to win four Notre Dame boxing championships. It wouldn’t be my first first.” Roemer’s bravado notwithstanding, Hoover and his agents were fully cognizant of the unconstitutionality of their “black bag job.” In his autobiography, Roemer recounted the situation: “If we got caught, we were not to identify ourselves as FBI agents, and we were to attempt to escape without being identified. We were to carry no badge or credentials, no gun, nothing to connect us with the FBI. But, heaven help us if we were apprehended and it eventually came out that we were employed by the FBI; then the Bureau would denounce us. We were ’rogues,’ carrying out an unauthorized operation.”

Every Sunday night for two months, the G-men surreptitiously entered Celano’s, sawing their way through crawl spaces to create invisible wiring ducts. The operation was fraught with danger as the agents bumbled toward their goal. On one occasion reminiscent of a Three Stooges short, an agent fell through the crawl space, exiting the ceiling of the first-floor restaurant below, which was luckily closed. The agents had to race out to find plaster and paint to repair the damage before the eatery opened the next day. On July 29, 1959, Agent Roemer finally completed the task of planting a pineapple-sized World War II microphone (nicknamed Little Al in honor of Al Capone) behind the backroom radiator, hardwiring it into phone lines.3 Of course, the noise of the radiator when it kicked in obliterated the conversation in Celano’s, just the sort of discovery that led to the invention of a new definition for the Bureau’s famous acronym: Famous But Incompetent.

Emboldened by their success at the tailor shop, Hoover’s mob busters spent the next several years planting bugs at other gang headquarters: Mooney’s Armory Lounge (this mike nicknamed Mo); Curly’s apartment (Plumb); Johnny D’Arco’s First Ward headquarters (Shade); the dry-heat room at Postl’s Health Club, where the gang often met; and one in Accardo’s lawyer’s offices. In addition to the bugs, phone lines were tapped both in Chicago and at the gang’s Las Vegas properties. One of the G’s intelligence coups was hearing that the Outfit was skimming over $12 million per year in Sin City. They also learned that the gang had at least forty-nine cops on their dole, in addition to various and sundry politicians of both statewide and nationwide notoriety. And invariably, the G came face-to-face with the shadowy connections between upperworld and underworld leaders. Agent Bill Roemer recalled how he once informed Sidney Korshak that he wanted to interview his wife, Bernice. Korshak said, “I’ll tell you where you can reach her. She’s having dinner at the Mocambo with Peter Lawford and his wife - you know, Bobby Kennedy’s sister.” At the time, Bobby Kennedy was the inquisitor general on the McClellan Committee. When Roemer reported the intelligence to his superiors in Washington, he assumed that they would rendezvous with Bea Korshak at the upscale eatery. Johnny Leggett, the THP coordinator at headquarters, responded, “Are you kidding, Roemer? They wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole.”

In passing, Curly mentioned to Jeanne that the G was getting wise to the gang’s activity. “Maybe they’ve got the tailor shop bugged,” Jeanne surmised. “No way,” Humphreys responded. However, with Humphreys’ seeming endless list of infiltrators in the police department, it wasn’t long before he confirmed his wife’s suspicion. “He also had a source in the Bureau,” insists his second wife, who refuses to divulge the name in deference to the agent, who may still be alive. West Side boss Frank Buccieri told one friend, “We knew the place was bugged, so we gave them a show.” According to Buccieri, Humphreys knew that the bugs were illegal and thus inadmissible in court. Said one friend, “Curly got a kick out of teasing the G.”

The December 1959 murder of alleged kidnapper Roger Touhy is believed by some to have inspired a classic Humphreys tease of the G. For twenty-six years, law enforcement officials had suspected that the actual planner of the Jake Factor kidnapping, for which Touhy had been imprisoned, was Curly Humphreys. When Touhy was gunned down after threatening to sue Humphreys and Accardo in 1959, authorities were all but convinced of Curly’s authorship of the hit. Confounding the G was the knowledge that Curly had fled Chicago for Florida on the day before the December 16 murder, much as Capone had done decades earlier, before the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Thus authorities were excited to overhear Humphreys at Celano’s discussing Touhy’s killing ten days after it had happened. The rest of the story was developed by Chicago journalist Sandy Smith, who was given access to the tapes of the powwow at Celano’s. In the middle of a conversation with Joey Glimco, the Humphreys-appointed head of the taxicab unions, Glimco brought up the recent whacking of Roger Touhy.

“What was it with Touhy?” Glimco asked, bringing the G-men to attention in their hidden listening post.

“Well, Joe, I’ll tell you . . .,” answered Humphreys. At that moment the steam from the radiator that concealed the hidden mike came on full force. For the next ten minutes, Humphreys’ voice was obliterated by the gurgling and clanging of the radiator. When the clamor died down ten minutes later, Humphreys’ voice returned in its full resonance: “. . . and that’s the way it was, Joe.”

The opportunity to finally resolve the Touhy case, and the garbled tape that held the answers, sent paroxysms through the headphoned agents. The tape was rushed to FBI headquarters in Washington where the Bureau spent many fruitless months trying to filter out the static. Jeanne Humphreys is certain that the episode was staged by Curly, who merely turned on the radiator manually just as he got the G’s attention.

Although Humphreys seemed to have learned of the Celano’s bug, he likely never learned of the other microphones, including the one eventually placed in his own apartment. After a time, the entire Celano’s charade became even too ludicrous for Humphreys. He began to amuse the agent monitors, many of whom had come to a grudging liking of the hood, with a new meeting-opening address: “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and anyone listening. This is the nine-o’clock meeting of the Chicago underworld.”

Although the truth of the Touhy murder was obscured from the feds, the cause of another recent hit, also believed tied to a longtime Chicago mystery, was revealed, at least to Humphreys’ wife.

Curly’s Partner Gets Whacked

On August 23,1959, Jeanne Humphreys was reading the newspaper and catching some late-morning sun with Curly on the patio of their new Key Biscayne home when her eyes caught an unsettling story emanating from Chicago.

“Fred Evans was killed yesterday,” she said to Curly. “Didn’t he used to be your best friend?”

“He’s no friend of mine,” Humphreys responded brusquely, before turning and walking back into the house.

Jeanne Humphreys knew better. The Curly & Fred Show went back to the 1920s, when they had met as Young Turks in Messinger’s Restaurant and had thereafter partnered in a freelance fencing operation. From then on, after Curly’s graduation to the Outfit’s inner sanctums, they had worked closely together on numerous labor rackets, especially those involving the laundry business. In 1940, Curly and Fred had been indicted together in the $350,000 embezzlement of the Bartenders Union. At the time of his death, an up-against-the-wall execution, Evans was running a number of large operations, including the Industrial Garment Service with another Humphreys underling, Joey Glimco. In addition, Evans owned five other large laundry businesses and two luxury hotels in Los Angeles. His net worth was in the millions. But behind the scenes, Evans’ life was in turmoil.

Evans’ problems had come at him from different directions, and the question never resolved was, which one caused him to be shot twice in the head and twice in the throat as he exited his 5409 West Lake Street offices at high noon on August 22? And for Jeanne Humphreys, the question was twofold: Why had Curly turned against a lifelong friend, and was the desertion connected to Evans’ demise? In time, Curly’s minimal commentary combined with Jeanne’s hindsight reminiscences gave a degree of explanation for the tragedy.

Over the years, explanations for Evans’ murder have focused on two possible causes, both of which involved his recent problems with the G. First, Evans had come under attack by the IRS. For over a decade, Evans had been under close scrutiny by the taxmen, and once a year, as ordered, the dry cleaning kingpin toted his books down to the IRS office, where his numbers were put under a microscope. Despite their best efforts, the feds failed to find one penny out of place, so meticulous was Evans’ accounting. But by 1959, after McClellan and Apalachin, the G tried a new tactic: It began leaking details of Evans’ business to the press. It seemed that Evans’ minutely detailed ledgers also included the names of all the gangsters who received a cut of his operation, people like Curly Humphreys and Joe Accardo. Three weeks before his murder, Evans’ office was burglarized, the result of which left his files in shambles and many records missing.

The press wondered if Evans’ killing was the underworld’s way of stopping him from divulging the gang’s secret business workings. But G-man Bill Roemer had another theory. “I had a knack for planting bugs,” the agent later wrote, “and I developed a knack for recruiting informants. The first one I really recruited was Fred Evans.” Roemer described how he and fellow agent Ralph Hill had interviewed Evans at his office just six weeks before his killing: “He was a willing talker. He told us of Humphreys” youth, mentioned a couple of Hump’s associates . . . He also told us that Humphreys had a current financial interest in Superior Laundry and Linen Supply Company . . . Ralph and I went back to the office feeling pretty satisfied with ourselves. We had made arrangements to meet with Evans again in the near future.’

Chicago reporter George Murray, with his extensive sources in the underworld, reported what allegedly happened next: “The governing body of the Syndicate [Outfit] sat in judgment of Fred Evans in a kangaroo court. The records snatched in that office burglary on August 1, 1959, were scrutinized by men who understood every accounting entry. Murray Humphreys, as Evans’ sponsor, was asked if he wanted to advance any valid reason why the sentence of death on Fred Evans should not be carried out. Humphreys passed.”

Roemer believed his meeting with Evans instigated this star chamber. “The shots to the throat may well have been to ensure he would do no more talking to the FBI,” Roemer wrote. For his part, George Murray leaned toward the IRS-leak theory. Although both explanations may have contributed to Evans’ fate, recent interviews with Humphreys’ then wife strongly suggest that the overarching reason was rooted in one of the heartland’s greatest tragic mysteries.

In the year prior to the killing, Jeanne Humphreys witnessed a repeat occurrence that seemed trivial at the time, but would later turn out to be the turning point in the saga of Fred Evans. “Murray and I were walking into a restaurant to meet Joe [Accardo] and his wife,” recalls Jeanne, “when all of a sudden, Buster Wortman came running up and begging Murray for an audience with Joe Batters.” Frank “Buster” Wortman had long been the Outfit’s man in East St. Louis, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri, where he coordinated the labor rackets for Humphreys, who was a close friend. The Outfit’s relationship with Wortman went back at least as far as the 1940s, when Capone’s heirs came to Wortman’s aid in his protracted gang war with the rival Shelton gang. After eliminating the Sheltons, Wortman built a moat around his Collinsville, Illinois, ranch home.4

“I’ll see what I can do,” Humphreys answered the frantic Wortman. When the sit-down was not forthcoming, Wortman again traveled up from St. Louis a year later with a senior St. Louis hood named Elmer “Dutch” Dowling and visited Curly at home. “They stopped by on a Sunday morning and it was the same story,” remembers Jeanne. “They were desperate to talk to Joe.” This time Curly was even more terse. “There’s nothing I can do for them,” Curly said, as overheard by Jeanne. “They got themselves into this, and now they’ll have to suffer the consequences.” After Fred Evans’ death, and unending pestering by Jeanne, Curly gave a short explanation: “Evans and Dowling broke the rules. Buster was begging for their lives, but Joe could not let the Greenlease thing go unpunished.”

When Dowling, Wortman’s key lieutenant, was similarly executed three years later in Belleville, Illinois, it all began to fall into place for Jeanne Humphreys. The “Greenlease thing” was the tragic 1953 kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Bobby Greenlease in Kansas City. “Apparently, the Outfit wanted them to sweat it out for a while before hitting them,” Jeanne says of the interval between Wortman’s first entreaties and the killings. Although Jeanne Humphreys learned little else about the rubouts, she knew enough to ask no more questions. However, with her contributions, reasonable inferences can be drawn about the enduring forty-nine-year-old mystery of Bobby Greenlease.

The Midwest’s “Lindbergh Baby”

On September 28,1953, Bobby Greenlease, the son of the wealthy owner of one of the nation’s largest Cadillac dealerships, was abducted from his private Catholic school in midtown Kansas City. His captor was a forty-one-year-old prostitute named Bonnie Brown Heady, who together with her partner, ex-con Carl Austin Hall, had meticulously planned the kidnapping for months. The duo took the child across state lines into Kansas, where Hall brutally beat the child before fatally shooting him in the head, then burying the body in the backyard of Heady’s St. Joseph, Missouri, home. Next, the pair sent a ransom note to Bobby’s parents, demanding $600,000 in $10 and $20 bills (far eclipsing the 1932 ransom of $70,000 demanded for the murdered baby of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh).

Robert C. Greenlease, Bobby’s seventy-one-year-old father, contacted the president of a local bank, Arthur Eisenhower, the brother of the president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Before releasing the funds to Mr. Greenlease, Eisenhower had his staff make note of the serial numbers on each and every bill. After the money was delivered, the kidnappers had the bad luck of taking a St. Louis cab from a fleet owned by Joe Costello, a local gangster in the Wortman sphere. Costello had strong ties to Chicago and was married to a Chicago girl. The cabbie, John Oliver Hager, took the kidnappers to a motel run by John Carr, another Wort-man-connected hood. Paying with fistfuls of cash, Hall and Heady hired Hager as their personal chauffeur, and he eventually ferried them to an apartment rental in St. Louis. By now, with the abduction a nationwide sensation, Hager became suspicious of the source of the lucre. After Hager informed Costello about the low-rent pair with bags of money, Costello quickly tipped St. Louis police lieutenant Louis Shoulders, a friend of both Costello’s and Wortman’s, who years later was placed in a position of power in Wortman’s St. Louis Steamfitters Union.

Hall and Heady were arrested on October 6 and quickly admitted their roles, telling police where to find Bobby Greenlease’s body. A mere eighty-one days later the pair were sitting side by side in the gas chamber - Heady earned the distinction of becoming the only woman ever to be so executed. All the loose ends appeared to be resolved, except for one: At the time of their arrest, Heady and Hall held only $298,000 - less than half the delivered ransom money; it was never determined what became of the missing loot. (At the time of their arrests, Hall and Heady were adamant that all the money was in their apartment when they were arrested.) Over the years, the serial numbers of the ransom bills were repeatedly printed in Midwestern newspapers, becoming a story every time one surfaced. On May 31, 1959, some of the bills turned up in a Chicago bank, the charge for a $686 money order paid to the Outfit’s gambling boss Lenny Patrick. The purchaser of the money order was Fred Evans.

James Deakin, the longtime White House correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, spent years researching the Greenlease case. After spending weeks with the lead FBI investigator, Phil King, and obtaining more than three thousand pages of the Bureau’s Greenlease file, Deakin wrote the book A Grave for Bobby. “The book should have been titled Blood Money,” Deakin recently said. “The only real mystery was who took the money; but the FBI was certain it went to Chicago to be ’cleaned.’”

In 1962, the same year Dowling was executed, both Shoulders and Costello died of natural causes. Thus, Lieutenant Shoulders’ partner, Officer Elmer Dolan, concluded it was safe to tell the truth of what he knew about the missing ransom money. Dolan confessed that he had witnessed Shoulders and Costello take the money to a three-hundred-pound Chicago Teamster leg-breaker, who precisely fit the description of one Barney Baker, a close associate of both Jimmy Hoffa’s and the Chicago Outfit’s. Both Dolan and the FBI concluded that Baker was a courier, hired to transport the marked notes to Chicago, where, Dolan was told, the hot money was sold for a mere twenty cents on the dollar. In fact, of the 115 bills recovered, 58 turned up in Chicago, and many of those surfaced at the Outfit-controlled Southmoor Bank & Trust Company.

And Elmer Dolan was not the only confessor. A prostitute named Sandy O’Day, who was hired by killer Hall after the murder, admitted to James Deakin that she went out looking for Wortman to inform him of the booty. When she did not locate Wortman, she sought out a close associate of his, whom she did not name, but possibly Dowling. Also coming forward was Mollie Baker, Barney’s divorced wife, who told Bobby Kennedy during the McClellan hearings that Barney had admitted to her that “Joe Costello got the Greenlease money.” Lastly, a former prostitute named Pat A. has admitted in recent years that she was Lieutenant Shoulders’ girl on the side, and that he confessed to her that he had made off with the Greenlease money.

Putting the pieces together, it can be surmised that, through Shoulders-Costello, it was leaked to Wortman and Dowling that the drifters held the $600,000 treasure, which they may have taken to be an extortion payoff.5 Wortman likely concluded that only one organization was capable of laundering such a large amount of cash, the Chicago Outfit, with which he had a close association through Humphreys. Seemingly without Humphreys’ knowledge, a decision was made to launder the money in the massive Evans-Humphreys dry-cleaning empire, and possibly thereafter apply it to Evans’ looming travails with the taxman. There is also the remote possibility that Costello had a more active role in the planning of the kidnapping, which went awry when the constantly drunk Hall murdered the child.

All the puzzle pieces will likely not be found, but it is clear that Accardo and Humphreys were not happy with what they learned of Evans’ and Dowling’s connection to the Greenlease caper. And even a long-trusted ally like Buster Wortman could not save them.

Although there were fewer and fewer high-profile rubouts in the Outfit’s sphere, the Evans killing was not to be the last that year. Four months later, on December 16, 1959, the double-dealing Roger Touhy was similarly executed.

The Black Book

In Nevada, the fallout from the discovery of Frank Costello’s link to the Vegas skim continued, and in 1959 Nevada authorities attempted to place tighter controls over the burgeoning Las Vegas gambling empire. Shepherded through the legislature by Mormon politician James Gibson, the Gaming Control Act of 1959 called for the creation of a five-member Gaming Control Board, which would grant licenses and, supposedly, keep unsavory characters out of the industry. The performance of the Board would soon demonstrate, however, that its real agenda was to guarantee that the gambling treasure remained in the hands of Nevada’s WASPs, and not with swarthy outsiders, especially Italians.

In their groundbreaking study of the history of Nevada’s gambling regulation, The Black Book, University of Nevada professors Ronald Farrell and Carole Case found that the “social control” exerted by the board was but a thinly veiled attempt to wrest control of the lucrative (albeit essentially immoral) gambling industry from those who had created it. The authors’ inspection of the licensing record was especially telling. Among those approved for licensing in the board’s first year were:

• Frank Soskin, who had a record of illegal gambling.

• Lincoln Fitzgerald, a functionary of the Michigan gambling syndicate, with a criminal record for tax evasion, gambling, bribery, and conspiracy to run a gambling operation.

• Sanford Waterman, a convicted bookmaker who had worked for Meyer Lansky.

• Morris Lansburgh, who the board was informed was fronting for “notorious hoodlums.”

• Ike “Cheesecake” Berger, a convicted bookmaker.

• Charles “Babe” Baron, convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, and rwice arrested for murder.

The above Anglos had little trouble convincing the board to overlook their bootlegging, bookmaking, and possibly murderous backgrounds. However, it was a different story for the Italian entrepreneurs who wished to enter Nevada’s gaming industry. Joseph D. Pignatello, for instance, was a gourmet chef from Chicago who applied for a permit to purchase a restaurant with four slot machines on-site. Although he had no criminal record or history of gambling, Pignatello was denied the license because he had cooked for, and chauffeured for, Mooney Giancana. The board claimed to worry that the restaurant would be a front for Giancana, although one wonders what interest Giancana would have in a mere four slot machines when he was pulling down millions per month from the skim and his interest in many major casinos. (Pignatello got the last laugh when he eventually purchased Vesuvio’s Restaurant on East Desert Inn Road, an eatery that thrives to this day.)

Soon, the board established the infamous Black Book, which listed “unsavory characters” who not only could never be licensed, but were barred for life from setting foot in a Las Vegas casino. Accompanying the list was a statement rich in contradiction. The introductory remarks noted that the list had been devised so that certain individuals “not discredit the gaming industry.” Discredit gambling? This is the same pastime that the board’s Mormon dogma prohibits and labels immoral. All those listed were so included without any formal notification, hearing, or appeal. And the reasons for their inclusion could be mere hearsay.6 Of the initial eleven placed in the Black Book, eight were Italian, and most had been implicated or convicted in the same sorts of crimes as the WASPs who were licensed: bootlegging and bookmaking. Included in the first eleven were the Outfit’s Mooney Giancana and Curly Humphreys. (So strong was the board’s opposition to Curly that his name was kept in the book for ten years after his death.)

Over the years, 62 percent of those placed in the Black Book have been Italian, dwarfing the numbers of the runners-up, Anglo-Saxons (15 percent). They were judged by a board that has been 75 percent WASP, with most of those Mormons, and of the forty-seven regulators to date, only two have been Italian, despite the long history of Italian industry in Nevada that preceded the gaming industry, and which helped build the infrastructure of the state. Farrell and Case wrote, “The mere Italian sound of a man’s name generated considerable suspicion.” In a candid moment, board chairman Harry Reid once said, “The reasons for their being singled out are not important as far as we’re concerned.”

Farrell and Case were not looking for the pattern they discovered. Nonetheless, they were forced to conclude the obvious:

The disproportionate selection of Italians for inclusion in the Black Book raises important legal questions regarding regulatory compliance with the 1989 law stating that entry must not be based on ethnicity . . . [Those listed] have presented little threat to the industry. These observations suggest that the function of the regulatory mechanism are indeed symbolic . . . The Black Book also serves to illustrate patterns of dominance and subordination in Nevada: certain groups make the selections, and other groups are selected.

The board’s philosophy reverberated into the executive suites of the Mormon-controlled Bank of Las Vegas, which accelerated its denials of Italian business-loan applications. (Until this time, the Bank of Las Vegas had been instrumental in financing the Sahara, the Fremont, the Sands, the Desert Inn, the Dunes, the Hacienda, the Stardust, and the Riviera.) But despite the xenophobia, the Outfit merely implemented Plan B, a strategy that gave it independence from the local banks.

Toward the end of the year, the Chicago underworld, with new upperworld partners, made its first major loan from the First National Bank of Accardo, aka the Teamsters pension fund. On September 3, 1959, a new Las Vegas partnership recorded a deed of sale in Nevada’s Clark County Courthouse for a desert tract consisting of hundreds of acres two miles southwest of the Strip. On the same day, papers were entered in Chicago to obtain a 6 percent interest, $1-million loan from the pension fund, with Jimmy Hoffa and his fourteen trustees signing on as beneficiaries. Surprisingly, the intended investment had nothing to do with casino construction. In a move that demonstrated the underworld’s awareness of their upperworld predecessors’ transition to legitimacy, the hoods decided to build a hospital.

The resultant hundred-bed Sunrise Hospital was more than a public relations ploy. The venture, a for-profit undertaking with built-in guarantees for the investors, would be but a prelude to an even bigger Sin City investment. The partnership chose as the hospital’s president Mervyn Adelson, the transplanted son of a Beverly Hills grocer, and currently the “clean” owner of the Strip’s Colonial House club (known locally as a magnet for Sin City hookers). Adelson had teamed up with local Realtor Irwin Molasky to build the much needed hospital, but the partnership came up short before they could realize their dream. The duo thus turned to Moe Dalitz (a boyhood friend of Hoffa’s) with his Chicago Teamster connections. “We ran out of money and had to take in some investors,” Molasky explained to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The hospital’s success was made certain when Jimmy Hoffa decreed that the Teamster and Culinary unions’ medical fund would pay for treatment only if the rank and file were treated at Sunrise. Thus, the new hospital saw an influx of thousands of “captive” patients. Irwin Molasky called it “an early form of managed care.” The lucrative facility also boasted the Sunrise Hospital Pharmacy, Inc., the Sunrise Hospital Clinical Laboratory, and the Sunrise Hospital X-Ray Lab, the only one in the county. Adelson and Dalitz would later parlay their huge Sunrise profits, with the aid of a $27-million loan from Allen Dorfman’s fund, into the construction of the luxurious Rancho La Costa Resort, a favorite meeting spot for Joe Accardo and Dorfman, outside San Diego. Federal officials referred to La Costa as “a playground for the mob.” One FBI report alleged that La Costa “is used as a clearinghouse for bookie operations. The phones are used to receive incoming lay-off bets.” Adel-son’s share of the Las Vegas and La Costa profits were in turn utilized in 1966 to bankroll his Hollywood juggernaut, Lorimar Telepictures Productions, which produced television’s Dallas and The Waltons series. Adelson and Molasky would also make the original land bequest that endowed the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.7

But the hospital provided one other service, and this was to the underworld. Per custom, the Dalitz-Outfit faction overlooked no ancillary devices for squeezing profits from the Sunrise Hospital operation. Ed Becker, the former public relations man for the Outfit’s Riviera Hotel, recently disclosed one of the hospital’s most appealing hidden advantages. According to Becker, Joe Accardo and associates used the hospital to fill the void left when their courier Virginia Hill fled to Europe. “They would send a man out and he would be met at [Las Vegas”! McCarran Airport,’ Becker recently recalled. “He was put in an ambulance, driven to Sunrise Hospital, spend a few days there; [then] back in the ambulance, back to the airport, then back to Chicago. That’s where the skim was going.” Becker, who went on to have business relationships with a number of underworld luminaries, eventually became a Las Vegas private detective and author. And Sunrise Hospital remains a highly regarded Las Vegas moneymaker. The Sunrise Hospital “mediplex” is the largest hospital west of Chicago, with 688 rooms and 1,200 doctors on staff.

The Sunrise Hospital conglomerate was but a prelude to an even bigger moneymaker, the Paradise Development Company. Employing great foresight, the Sunrise partners began developing the adjacent land tract, with the kind assistance of $5 million in government-guaranteed Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loans. With names like Paradise Homes, Desert Palms, and Paradise Palms, the consortium’s homes, in the $22,000-$42,000 range, sold by the hundreds. In fact, during one two-year stretch, the abodes were selling at a rate of one per day. Authors Roger Morris and Sally Denton wrote accurately that the “Paradise Development Company shaped the emerging commercial and residential map of the city.” The company’s profits would be used to underwrite even more massive withdrawals from the pension fund, the result of which transformed Las Vegas from a gambler’s getaway into a vibrant Western city. The U.S. Department of Labor estimated that the pension fund’s, loans in Las Vegas ultimately totaled $300 million, or one sixth of the fund’s total assets, all of which was repaid. Since the underworld began to develop the town in the early fifties, the city’s population has exploded from under fifty thousand to 1.5 million today. Clark County sheriff Ralph Lamb succinctly summarized the importance of the underworld on the development of Las Vegas. “Don’t forget this town owes something to these people,” Lamb said. “Without them there wouldn’t be a Las Vegas.” And none of it would have happened if Joe Accardo and Curly Humphreys had not put their man in charge of the pension fund.

Perhaps in celebration of his gang’s successful hijacking of the pension fund, Joe Accardo took his wife, Clarice, and longtime friends Mr. and Mrs. Anthony DeGrazia on a European holiday. The trip featured a stop in Zurich, where Joe probably made a deposit in his Swiss account. What made the vacation even more newsworthy back in Chicago was that DeGrazia was a lieutenant in the Chicago police department. When the press reported the story, the chagrined police commissioner quickly suspended the thirty-seven-year veteran and later fired him upon his return. However, few worried about the financial health of DeGrazia, with his police pension and the friendship of Joe Accardo.

Before the Outfit could continue to siphon pension fund treasure into the development of Las Vegas, it was distracted by the pull of dramas on the national stage. On the less significant side, some gang members were, like many of the country’s Italian immigrants, in a lather over the fall 1959 debut of the ABC television series The Untouchables, a less than accurate retelling of Eliot Ness’ battles with Al Capone and Frank Nitti. The show was a virtual slander of all things Italian and quickly elicited howls of protest from concerned Italian-American organizations across the country. Angered by the “goombah of the week” theme of the show, the protesters pointed out how the show conveniently ignored all upperworld corruption.

The backlash started even before the show’s two-hour pilot aired, after word of producer Desi Arnaz’s purchase of Oscar Fraley’s book of the same name hit the press. In Hollywood, Arnaz braced for the inevitable. “Having gone to high school and been such good friends with Sonny Capone [Al’s son],” Arnaz wrote in his autobiography, “I knew damn well, even though I hadn’t seen or heard from Sonny in years, that I was going to get a call from him.” Coincidentally, Desi and Sonny had attended St. Patrick’s High School in Palm Beach together, and Desi described his basketball teammate Sonny as “my best friend there.”

On the very day the story hit the papers, Sonny Capone called Arnaz. “Why you? Why did you have to do it?” Sonny asked.

“Sonny, if I don’t do it, somebody else is going to do it, and maybe it’s better that I’m going to do it,” Arnaz answered. Arnaz wrote that he “couldn’t get to first base with Sonny.” Soon, Arnaz’s Desilu company heard from lawyers for Al’s widow, Mae Capone, who filed a multimillion-dollar libel and unfair-use-of-image suit against the studio. Although Capone lost her case against Arnaz, the story was far from over. In New York, Albert “Tough Tony” Anastasia organized demonstrations outside ABC’s corporate offices and saw to it that the longshoremen under his control would leave crates of cigarettes made by the show’s sponsor Liggett &C Meyers untouched on the docks. Within days, Liggett withdrew its sponsorship of the show. In Chicago, however, the Outfit, especially the volatile Mooney Giancana, was far from satisfied.

According to information received by the Chicago Crime Commission’s chief investigator Wayne Johnson, Mae Capone called Mooney Giancana, who ordered Sinatra to pay a visit to Arnaz. When Arnaz refused to fold, Sinatra became enraged. In their history of Desilu, Coyne Sanders and Tom Gilbert wrote about the confrontation:

Frank Sinatra abruptly moved his production company off the Desilu-Gowar lot to Samuel Goldwyn Studios. “What started as a discussion about Italians on Desilu’s TV series, The Untouchables, ended up close to fisticuffs,” said one observer, who noted that Arnaz inflamed the altercation by calling Sinatra a “television failure.” Variety reported, “Frank Sinatra and Desi Arnaz almost came to blows at Desi’s Indian Wells Hotel when Frank looked him up after midnight to discuss the depicting of Italians as ruthless mobsters on the Untouchables programs.”

Unsatisfied, Giancana wanted Arnaz whacked. In his biography, The Last Mafioso, Los Angeles hood Jimmy “the Weasel” Fratianno described one conversation with Johnny Rosselli:

Johnny: Have you seen that TV show, The Untouchables} Jimmy: A couple of times, but I don’t have time to watch that shit.

Johnny: Let me tell you something, Jimmy. Millions of people all over the world see this show every fucking week. It’s even popular in Italy. And what they see is a bunch of Italian lunatics running around with machine guns, talking out of the corner of their mouths, slopping up spaghetti like a bunch of fucking pigs. They make Capone and Nitti look like bloodthirsty maniacs. The guys that write that shit don’t know the first thing about the way things were in those days. Eliot Ness, my ass. The tax boys got Al, not Ness. And what did he ever have to do with Frank Nitti?

Jimmy: Nobody pays attention to that shit. It’s like a comic book, a joke. Who cares?

Johnny: I’ll tell you, Jimmy. Sam [Giancana] cares. Joe Batters [Accardo] cares, Paul Ricca cares, and I care. Jimmy, what I’m about to tell you has been decided by our family. The top guys have voted a hit. I’ve already talked to Bomp [San Diego hood Frank Bompensiero] about it. We’re going to clip Desi Arnaz, the producer of this show.”

Bompensiero and his boys, however, were not as excited about the Arnaz situation as Giancana and made only one cursory attempt to track the producer. Bomp informed Fratianno that his hit men “got disgusted and went back home, so the [Desi Arnaz] deal is down, the drain.” They also knew that Giancana was moody and that this tantrum would likely soon pass. The situation was further resolved, according to Wayne Johnson, when Mae Capone vetoed the hit against her son’s former best friend. For his part, Arnaz defused the situation by making Sinatra a standing $1-million offer to produce any film of his choice at Arnaz’s studio. “That concluded the contract,” Fratianno wrote. “Desi Arnaz never knew how close he came to getting clipped.”

Of far more import was the charged political climate that was encroaching on the Outfit’s world. With the 1960 presidential campaign looming, the war rooms of both major parties were appreciative of the clout now wielded by Al Capone’s heirs. Their influence stretched from Miami to New York, through the major Midwestern cities, on to Las Vegas and Hollywood. Their sway over the nation’s Teamsters and other labor unions alone made the Chicago gang impossible to ignore. Thus, the Outfit would soon be courted by both Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate, and Joe Kennedy, the father of the Democratic candidate, Jack Kennedy. It now appears likely that Vice President Nixon simultaneously oversaw a 1960 operation that also needed the Outfit’s help, an escapade that, if successful, would have all but guaranteed his electoral success: He wanted new Cuban strong-arm Fidel Castro overthrown and, if possible, murdered. Thus, just as it had done repeatedly since the days of FDR, the upperworld White House enlisted the underworld Outfit.

1. Accardo took the “out” 152 times; Giancana read the oath from his Humphreys-supplied index card 34 times. Rosselli, not deemed by the committee to be in the labor racket, was not called to testify.

2. During his imprisonment Ricca was not only visited by his cohorts, but also on numerous occasions by Libonati, who astounded prison officials with his lavish displays of affection, hugging the Waiter repeatedly. According to Jeanne Humphreys, Ricca’s release mandated a massive coming-out party, attended by the likes of Libonati and Frank Sinatra.

3. Roemer and the Bureau apparently never learned of another bug planted at Celano’s three years later. At the time, the Illinois Crime Commission, under Charles “Cigars” Siragusa, hired a local detective to plant a microphone at the tailor shop. Unlike the G’s mike, this one was not hardwired; instead it was planted with a transmitter and broadcast on an FM frequency to anyone who knew where to set the dial. The broadcasts were monitored for an unknown period by the commission’s Ed King and James Kelliher.

4. After the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Ray, the brother of assassin James Earl Ray, told authorities that James had hid out in an East St. Louis gambling joint owned by Wortman.

5. It is also believed by some that John Carr, who died a multimillionaire, may have grabbed some of the loot.

6. When the questionable procedure was challenged in the Supreme Court, the court ruled in favor of the Gaming Board, explaining that gambling was a privilege, not a right.

7. Other Lorimar credits include Eight Is Enough, Knotfs Landing, Family Matters, Vll Fly Away, Falcon Crest, and Alf, all for television. On the big screen, Lorimar produced Billy Budd, Sybil, Being There, and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Merv Adelson was briefly married to TV journalist Barbara Walters. He has become great friends with the high and mighty, such as Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended Adelson’s 1992 marriage to Walters. For years, Lorimar was headed by Leslie Moonves, currently the head of CBS Entertainment. Adelson recently merged Lorimar into Time-Warner and placed his money in EastWest Capital Associates, which invests in digital motion picture infrastructure. His son, Andy Adelson, runs Filmtrust, which sells film-production accounting software.

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