As Mooney Giancana settled into his new digs at the Cook County jail, the Outfit breathed a sigh of relief. And it was more than Mooney’s removal that caused the bosses to relax. With the guilt-ridden Bobby Kennedy traumatized to the point of catatonia, and the new president more concerned with healing the nation’s wounds and trying to wrap his backroom-specialized brain around the knotty problem of Jack Kennedy’s Southeast Asian undertakings, Bobby Kennedy’s “list” became less of a priority.
On July 11, 1965, under increasing pressure from court decisions that upheld the Fourth Amendment’s right-to-privacy provision, President Johnson ordered the FBI to remove its illegal bugs from the underworld lairs.
In Chicago, as elsewhere, the removal order placed the G-men in great peril, as they once again had to surreptitiously enter the mob hangouts and pull out the sources of their hard-won intelligence. “It was a heinous slaughter,” wrote Bill Roemer, “devastating to our coverage of the mob.” While the G risked life and limb, they seethed as they learned of former attorney general Robert Kennedy’s disavowal of his knowledge of the illegal microphones. But they saved their public vitriol for President Johnson. Roemer wrote: “I can only surmise that [Johnson] was afraid that sooner or later the bug[s] would reveal something of his activities . . . [regarding] the days when he was amassing his wealth as a senator from Texas . . . It was enough to raise suspicions that he had some things to hide somewhere along the line. There were those who even thought he might have been on the take, that the mob had gotten to him.”
As if to rub salt into the wounds of the agents, President Johnson’s vaunted 1965 Commission on Law Enforcement produced little of value, even relegating a sixty-three-page report on Chicago corruption by Notre Dame professor G. Robert Blakey to four footnotes. It is conceivable that Blakey’s report was so treated due to the Pandora’s box it threatened to open, for the professor’s censored thesis stated frankly: “The success of the Chicago group [mob] has been primarily attributable to its ability to corrupt the law enforcement processes, including police officials and members of the judiciary . . .” Two years later, the deputy director of President Johnson’s Crime Commission, Henry S. Ruth, cut off Henry Peterson, the head of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Division, in midsentence when he launched into his findings regarding corruption in the Teamsters. “We’re going to move on to another subject,” Ruth said.
The relief felt by the Outfit was to be short-lived, however, as the stresses of a life in organized crime were about to catch up with its irreplaceable mastermind, Llewelyn Morris “Curly” Humphreys.
The last year and a half had been a whirlwind for the ailing sixty-five-year-old gangster. Although twice divorced, Curly continued to see both ex-wives frequently. In 1964, Humphreys took his first wife, Clemi, and daughter, Luella, on a two-month tour of Europe, with stopovers in Switzerland, France, Greece, and England. In what may have been Curly’s way of bringing his life full circle, the last stop on the itinerary was his father’s homeland, Wales, Curly’s first-ever visit. Daughter Luella described her father’s reaction: “He went around and visited with cousins over there and he truly enjoyed himself. He stayed and settled the estate and sold the land because he knew he was on borrowed time . . . and he made sure everyone got a deed to property . . . He was just thrilled he made it home.”
In January 1965, Humphreys took one of his many return trips to Oklahoma, this time to bail his daughter out of her financial woes, largely the result of a recent divorce. After returning home to Chicago, Humphreys was seen by the FBI dating numerous women, including his second ex-wife, Jeanne. On her thirty-seventh birthday, Jeanne received a $37,000 gift from Humphreys in a futile gesture aimed at winning her back.
Even as he attempted to keep a low profile, only Humphreys could finish the mob’s work that he had initiated. Humphreys continued to lobby the state capital on behalf of antigambling legislation and against wiretapping proposals. Before pulling its bugs, the Bureau heard Curly’s glee when the wiretapping bill was defeated. “The fight is not over,” Curly instructed his associates, “and that fight versus other anticrime bills, especially the immunity bill, must continue.” When he failed to defeat one set of antimob legislative proposals, Curly was heard to complain, “I had thirty-five labor organizations attacking these bills, but they couldn’t do a thing.”
The final act in Curly Humphreys’ dramatic life commenced when he appeared before a grand jury on May 19, 1965, and refused to answer questions. So confident was he that he also declined to invoke the Fifth Amendment, saying instead that he refused to answer because he had no idea what the prosecutors were talking about. But in doing so, Curly was too clever for his own good, committing a rare legal miscalculation. When he failed to reappear for a another round of questioning on June 25, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Humphreys was located the next day in Oklahoma, where he was placed in lockup for the weekend. His bank-robber cellmate wrote his son about the legendary gangster: “We played quite a few hands of Chicago style gin rummy . . . He is a very interesting character, friendly, soft-spoken, considerate, smart, and above all loaded with long green. He wound up a good friend of mine.”
On his return to Chicago, Humphreys posted bail and worried to his brother Ernest that the gross miscalculation might ruin his reputation. The FBI noted that the brother assured him differently, comparing “the lifelong success of his brother in organized crime to the perennial domination of baseball by the New York Yankees.”
After a few months of fruitless testimony by Curly’s peers, it was decided out of desperation to charge him with contempt and perjury (Humphreys had testified that he was unaware of the scheduled June 25 court appearance). Agent Roemer was charged with serving the arrest warrant on Curly, but he refused. “I did not want to execute it,” Roemer wrote. “I was fond of the guy and did not want to be the one who snapped the handcuffs on him.” At one-thirty in the afternoon, Thanksgiving Day, 1965, three FBI agents went to Curly’s apartment and knocked for several minutes. Finally, a distraught Humphreys opened the door, his trusty .38 pointed straight at the agents. After disarming the sixty-five-year-old hood, the agents began to search the premises, albeit with no search warrant.
At that point, the agents became interested in Humphreys’ safe and asked him for the key. When Curly refused, the agents attempted to pry his hand from his pocket. Curly became hysterical and fell onto his bed tussling with FBI agent Danny Shanahan. After tearing Curly’s pocket, the key was retrieved, giving the G access to Curly’s safe. Once opened, the safe revealed $25,000 in cash and a letter that related to the Willie Bioff Hollywood scandal. After the money was counted twice in Curly’s presence, the gangster was taken downtown, where his pal Morrie Norman posted his $45,000 bail about 6 P.M. While signing his release papers, a disgusted Humphreys sniped at reporters, “Here we go again.” However, when an attractive TV reporter named Jorie Luloff asked Curly if he had a comment, the aging lothario quipped, “None, except, my, you are a pretty girl.”
Returning to his apartment, the fastidious Humphreys set about cleaning up the residue of his struggle with the G. While pushing his vacuum cleaner, his heart also sucked in detritus, a blood clot. Curly fell dead, his head hitting a table in the fall. At eight-fifty, Curly’s brother Ernest discovered the body.
The phone rang at Bill Roemer’s home that night. It was Chicago Tribune reporter and FBI confidant Sandy Smith, calling with the news of Curly’s death.
“I felt like I had taken a punch in the stomach,” Roemer later wrrote. “Honestly, it was as if a part of me died that night. No more Hump? What would my life be like? He was a major reason I enjoyed what I was doing.” Roemer also felt responsible for having helped piece together the “two-bit” perjury case, without which “Hump would still be alive.”
An autopsy was performed out of fear that Humphreys may have been poisoned by an enemy. However, it was determined that he died of a blood clot in the heart. His Oklahoma family flew in for the private funeral at the Donnellan Funeral Home. Only ten mourners, names unknown, attended the wake. After the ceremony, Curly’s remains were cremated, although he had wished for his body to be donated for medical research.
After the funeral, the Oklahoma contingent repaired to Morrie Norman’s restaurant, where they were met by a grieving Bill Roemer. “I told them all how much I respected their husband, father, and grandfather, and that I deeply regretted what had happened,” the agent later wrote. Turning to Curly’s grandson, George, Roemer said, “Fie was a fine man.” Summing up his feelings for Humphreys, Roemer wrote in his autobiography, “There was a style about the way he conducted himself. Flis word was his bond. I surely was to miss him. My work would lose some of its glitter.”
Humphreys’ ashes were taken to Oklahoma, interred under a huge stone on his property that said only “Humphreys.”
The news coverage befitted Curly’s stature. His EPITAPH - NO GANGSTER WAS MORE BOLD announced Sandy Smith’s headline in the Chicago Tribune. “Humphreys died of unnatural causes - a heart attack,” quipped Mike Royko, who also noted that “Humphreys turned Sam Giancana from an unknown semiliterate into a well-known semiliterate.” On a more serious note, Royko stated, “[Humphreys] devised legal strategies and political fixes that have yet to be equaled. He engendered appreciation for his immense intellect, his finesse, and again within the perspective of his vocation, his civility.” The Daily News opined, “His brains spoke louder than his muscle . . . At the time of his death, Humphreys was still the crime syndicate’s master fixer, the man who could ’reach out for’ a judge, a policeman, or even a congressman.”
Among the personal effects seized at Curly’s apartment by the FBI was a seventeen-page sheaf of notes containing the notation “No. 46-400 at 20.” Since Humphreys owned pieces of Las Vegas casinos, in addition to every other Outfit gambling enterprise, investigators hoped the cryptic code would lead them to a stash of millions in a Swiss bank account, but Swiss law prevented the banks from responding to inquiries about Curly’s alleged nest egg. However, almost immediately after her father’s passing, Luella Humphreys Brady began what would be a yearly trip to Zurich, Switzerland, where she would raid the Swiss bank account of her deceased father, the fruits of his four-decade career with the Outfit. In 1984, Huw Davies, the comptroller of a prestigious Welsh public television station, encountered Luella in transit on one of her yearly forays to Zurich. In his Cardiff office, Davies was shown one stash of over a million dollars, which Luella was transporting back to Oklahoma.
In Key Biscayne, Jeanne sold the house, bequeathed to her in Curly’s will, for $205,000.
The corpses continued to pile up: Not long after Humphreys’ death, Joe Bulger, the Unione Siciliana consigliere, and the Outfit’s mysterious “secret boss,” died when the small plane he was piloting to Miami crashed; on March 24, 1966, forty-nine-year-old Virginia Hill finally succeeded in poisoning herself to death in Kopple, Austria. Jeanne Humphreys believes Hill was despondent because March was “payday,” and it had been Curly alone who made certain her yearly “pension” was delivered. As noted, Hill was just one of many who had benefited from Humphreys’ generosity. In Florida, Mae and Sonny Capone had used Outfit disbursements to finance a Miami Beach restaurant, The Grotto. Shortly after Curly’s arrest, they lost the business and Sonny was charged with shoplifing $3 worth of sundries from a supermarket, his only run-in with the law.
In California, Johnny Rosselli was also experiencing the passing of the torch of organized crime. On May 11, 1966, Los Angeles FBI agents informed Rosselli that they knew his real name was Filippo Sacco, and that he was an unregistered alien. Although Rosselli did not know it at the time, the Bureau had obtained the intelligence from a man who had functioned as Rosselli’s courier, delivering yearly $10,000 gifts to Rosselli’s mother in Boston. “We got nothing against you, John,” said one of the agents. “It’s a matrer of national security.”
“Talk to my lawyer,” was Rosselli’s response to the agent who brandished nothing more than a pesky misdemeanor violation, albeit with a hint that he was after bigger fish. The next day, Johnny flew to Washington to meet with his CIA contacts, Shef Edwards, still with the Agency, and Bill Harvey, by then an attorney in private practice. Rosselli assured his partners in the assassination plots that he was not going to jeopardize national security by singing to the FBI. However, upon his return to the West Coast, Rosselli was told by the FBI that what they actually wanted was the goods on the Outfit’s skimming operation in Las Vegas. Rosselli politely refused. (After one year, however, the INS case had refused to go away, and the CIA had as yet not come to Johnny’s rescue. Rosselli began leaking part of the assassination story to syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, with the proviso that Anderson not use any gangsters’ names. Anderson’s column thus became the first public disclosure of the CIA-Mafia plots sanctioned by the Kennedys. Frightened that Rosselli would soon give up more, the CIA, according to its own records, finally intervened with the INS, and the immigration threat was dropped.)
Although the Outfit’s Mr. Smooth was supremely confidant that he could deal with the immigration bother, he was unaware that one of his side ventures was set to blow up in his face. Since the early sixties, Rosselli had taken a cut from a card-cheating scheme run at the Beverly Hills Friars Club. The cheating had been devised by Maury Friedman, a businessman for whom Rosselli had brokered a complex partnership in the purchase of Las Vegas’ Frontier Hotel. With illegal high-stakes gin games holding sway on the third floor of the Friars, Friedman had holes drilled in the roof, from where lookouts would tip their playing partners via a radio hookup. In this manner, regular patrons such as entertainers Zeppo Marx, Tony Martin, Phil Silvers, and others were relieved of approximately $40,000 nightly. As a matter of courtesy, Rosselli was sent a percentage of the take. After years of successful celebrity fleecing, the scam was about to become unraveled.
Back in Chicago on Memorial Day, 1966, Mooney left prison and was immediately summoned by the two remaining bosses, Joe Accardo and Paul Ricca, who had not forgiven him for both bringing the suicidal Kennedy fix to them and for his front-page-grabbing style. Informants told the FBI that the meeting between the bosses was a hot-tempered screaming match, with Mooney on the losing side. Accardo and Ricca not only removed Giancana from his leadership role, but ordered him out of the country until further notice. A recalcitrant Giancana left family behind and fled to Mexico, while Accardo and Ricca tried to salvage their empire.
The original Outfit was now crumbling, the combined effect of processes natural and man-made: Curly Humphreys and Jake Guzik had passed on; Rosselli had been placed under increased official scrutiny; Mooney Giancana had been banished; and Jimmy Hoffa was exhausting his appeals on two thirteen-year terms for his misuse of the pension fund. Only Accardo and Ricca were left, and they longed for retirement. There would follow a succession of temporary front men to take Giancana’s place, trusted bosses like Sam Battaglia, Phil Alderisio, Jackie Cerone, Joey Aiuppa, Joe Ferriola, Sam Carlisi, and John DeFronzo. But invariably, the key decisions were made by the gangsters’ last links to Big Al Capone, “Joe Batters” Accardo and Paul “the Waiter” Ricca. And although the Outfit’s final years saw the members more often on the defensive than not, a handful of lucrative conquests were still to be had before they too abandoned the mortal coil.
In 1966, one year before Hoffa went away, he and Allen Dorfman approved a $20-million pension-fund loan to hotel magnate Jay Sarno, for the building of Las Vegas’ most garish paean to gambling yet, Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino, a seven-hundred-room retreat (later expanded to twenty-five hundred) that features Romanesque fountains; the eight-hundred-seat Circus Maximus Theatre, patterned after the Roman Colosseum; numerous marble and concrete-over-chicken-wire replicas of classic Roman sculpture, frescoes, and murals; and an Olympic-size pool formed out of eight thousand pieces of Italian marble.
Although Sarno appeared to have a clean reputation, the FBI had learned two years earlier, just before its bugs were pulled, that the Caesars grand strategy had long been in the planning and that its putative owner would be just another in a long series of front men used by the Outfit and its partners. Before the casino opened in August 1966, the Bureau leaked a nine-hundred-page bug and wiretap report to Chicago reporter Sandy Smith, who in July of that year wrote a two-part expose in the Chicago Tribune,followed by another in Life magazine. Since the Bureau was embargoed from using the illegal tap evidence, they decided to leak the material in hopes of arousing public disapprobation. Smith’s articles stated emphatically that the soon-to-open Caesars, like many other Las Vegas casinos, was actually owned by a gangster consortium that ultimately answered to the Outfit. In his Life series, Smith also named “The Lady in Mink,” Ida Devine, as the Outfit’s new courier and even displayed an FBI surveillance photo of her at the train station (the only way she would travel).
The FBI was later told by an informant that the deal to cut up the Caesars skim was arrived at in October 1965 at a Palm Springs house rented by two Las Vegas showgirls. In what came to be known as the Palm Springs Apalachin, mob bosses from around the country, including Joe Accardo, Longy Zwillman, and Jimmy Alo, arrived to work out the details.
The disclosures in the Smith articles reverberated throughout gangland. “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo advised his Las Vegas partner Meyer Lansky to sell out. “Let’s take the money and have a quiet life,” Alo said to his lifelong friend. Chicago entrepreneurs took a similar tack, but with a critical distinction. With Jimmy Hoffa packing for college (and Allen Dorfman not far behind), Joe Accardo devised a temporary solution to the G’s Vegas onslaught. He would instruct Johnny Rosselli to keep an eye out for squeaky-clean suckers with deep pockets, then start unloading the gang’s holdings, with one key proviso: The Outfit would manage the casinos. “Timing is everything” goes the aphorism, and Accardo’s timing could not have been more fortuitous. On Thanksgiving Eve, 1966, Howard Hughes, the “billionaire kook” as he was known to the mob, moved into the penthouse suite of the gang’s Desert Inn Hotel. Hughes, a total recluse, liked the habitat so much that he refused to leave on checkout day, much to the rancorous objection of the hotel’s other pampered high rollers.
“Tell them to go to hell,” Hughes ordered his aides after the hotel managers attempted to evict him.
As fate would have it, Hughes, the sole owner of Hughes Tool Company, had just sold his stock in Trans World Airlines for $546 million, and it was burning a hole in his pajama pocket. Thus, the famous agoraphobe felt it less troublesome to buy the Desert Inn than to move out and instructed his key staff to work out the details. And Joe Accardo’s good fortune did not end there, for Hughes’ right-hand man was none other than Robert Maheu, friend of Johnny Rosselli, Las Vegas’ greatest partnership broker, most recently tasked to find a purchaser for his casinos - and who better than a man who would never surface to testify in court.
Bob Maheu instinctively turned to his old assassination chum Rosselli to get the ball rolling. “I told Mr. Hughes that I thought I had found a person fitting the background that he had requested me to seek,” Maheu later testified in court, “a person who had connections with certain people of perhaps unsavory background. . .” In his autobiography, Maheu admitted, “Johnny smoothed the way.” Although the Outfit had decided on a new front man, its mob partners in other cities had to be convinced. Using the skills that later earned him the sobriquet The Mafia’s Kissinger, Johnny Rosselli spent three months convincing the partners to agree to the Hughes buyout. For his diplomatic legerdemain, Rosselli was paid a $50,000 “finder’s fee.”
It is not known if Maheu or his boss were aware that they had become merely the newest pawns in the Outfit’s front-man motif, but years later Maheu told Chicago investigator Jack Clarke, “Johnny told me who to hire to run the casinos and pit crews.” Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Sergio Lalli divined what had happened when he wrote, “The mob went about its business as usual.” Historians Roger Morris and Sally Denton called the sale nothing more than “a classic Las Vegas shell game.” And Johnny Rosselli himself told Jimmy Fratianno, “The whole thing was a Syndicate scam . . . We roped Hughes into buying the Desert Inn.” Fittingly, Hughes took over on April Fools’ Day, 1967. Shortly thereafter, the hoods sold their newest sucker the Frontier, the Sands, the Castaways, and the Silver Slipper, for a total of $45 million. Before he pulled up stakes four years later, on another Thanksgiving Eve, Hughes was relieved of another $50 million via the skim.
It would take Howard Hughes four years to realize that he was being robbed blind in his casinos’ count rooms. In 1970, he put his Las Vegas holdings up for sale, as his Mormon Mafia aides secreted him out the back door to the Bahamas. In a parting shot, Flughes called Bob Maheu “a no-good, dishonest son of a bitch” who “stole me blind.” Thanks to the 1969 passage of the Corporate Gaming Act, corporations were finally permitted to own casinos in Nevada, and they seized the baton lustily, moving quickly, as one local historian put it, “to purifying the wages of sin.” Overnight, upperworld bastions such as Hilton Hotels, MGM, Holiday Inn, the Ramada Inn Corporation, and impresarios Kirk Kerkorian and Steve Wynn began their irreversible push to give Sin City a superficial veneer not unlike that of Disneyland - but at the heart of it all would remain gambling activities shamelessly rigged in the casino owners’ favor.
Before they were completely finished with Las Vegas, however, the Outfit would find one more sucker to front for them in Sin City.
The Hughes purchases were not the only occurrences causing celebration in underworld enclaves in 1967. Although they were not the architects of Jack Kennedy’s murder, the nation’s organized-crime bosses, not unlike Fidel Castro, became the chief beneficiaries of Lee Harvey Oswald’s marksmanship. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the Democratic successor to Jack Kennedy, appointed one do-nothing attorney general after another. After a stint by Nick Katzenbach in which little was done to continue Bobby Kennedy’s war on crime, things only got better for the bosses.
President Johnson brought still more smiles to the faces of Accardo and Ricca when he appointed Ramsey Clark, the son of Supreme Court justice Tom Clark, to be the new attorney general, replacing Nicholas Katzenbach. (Tom Clark resigned his Supreme Court chair to avoid conflict-of-interest charges.) The reader may recall that it was Tom Clark who had facilitated the early paroles of Ricca and his cohorts in the Hollywood extortion case two decades earlier; Clark had also restricted the FBI’s probe into vote fraud in the Truman-Pendergast stronghold of Kansas City in 1947. The Outfit’s enthusiasm for the appointment of Ramsey Clark would prove well-founded, as the new AG made it clear from the beginning that he was not going to authorize bugs or wiretaps, both of which he felt were infringements of privacy rights, in addition to being “wasteful and unproductive.” Incredibly, Clark also abandoned the G’s one ace in the hole when it came to bagging the most wanted hoods, the Internal Revenue Service. The new AG surely warmed the heart of Joe Accardo, who had been fighting the taxman for years, when Clark testified that it is “not OK to select organized crime cases” for scrutiny by the IRS. When Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1968, Clark made it clear that he would not utilize the wiretapping provisions of the bill.
In place of the surveillance, which had actually proved of immense use to the FBI’s understanding of organized crime activities, Clark expanded the regional Strike Force operations, which by 1967 had only one outpost, in Buffalo, New York. Under Clark, the Strike Force set up shops in Detroit, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark (N.J.), and Miami. However, having been stripped of their most effective tools, and receiving little encouragement from their standard-bearer, the Strike Forces under Clark saw few successes. Clark Mollenhoff, the reporter who had persuaded Bobby Kennedy to join the McClellan Committee, wrote in his book Strike Force, “The Organized Crime Division weakened under Acting Attorney General Nicholas de B. Katzenbach, and all but expired as Ramsey Clark became the Attorney General . . . His bleeding for the poor criminals was so extensive that some joked that he must be in quest of the Mafia vote.” Ramsey Clark indeed harbored short-lived presidential ambitions and faced the prospect of challenging the leftist, antiwar positions of candidate Robert Kennedy. Mollenhoff surmised that Clark’s views on privacy rights “appeared to be the only way for a young man with obvious presidential aspirations, who at that time was backed by everyone from the New York Times to President Johnson, to move to the left of Senator Kennedy.”
When Richard Nixon again ran for president in 1968, the “law and order” candidate aimed much of his campaign rhetoric at Ramsey Clark, whom he charged with “leading an official retreat” in the battle against organized crime. “If we are to restore order and respect for law in this country,” Nixon fulminated upon accepting the Republican nomination, “there’s one place where we’re going to begin: We’re going to have a new attorney general of the United States of America.”
After Nixon won the 1968 contest, thanks to his own election high jinks, he indeed appointed as attorney general a bug-happy John Mitchell, who charged up both the FBI and the regional Strike Forces in their antimob prosecutions. Of course, President Nixon’s motives may not have been entirely grounded in morality: He obviously remembered how organized crime had helped steal the 1960 election from him, and he was now in a position to prevent a reoccurrence in 1972. And Mitchell’s prosecutions turned out to be straw targets, especially after Mitchell’s sloppiness resulted in the dismissal of nearly seven hundred federal indictments that were based on improperly authorized wiretaps.
More troublesome for the underworld was the passage of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, the most important aspect of which was a section entitled “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations,” or RICO, crafted largely by one of Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department subordinates, G. Robert Blakey. Now the G would be able to indict not only entire crime organizations by showing a pattern of criminal activity over a ten-year period, but also anyone who could be shown to be involved in said organization. Such associations would not be easy to prove, but at least it was now possible to make war on the “organized” part of organized crime.
Combined with the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Title III of which sanctioned court-approved wiretaps, RICO would eventually decimate criminal organizations in every major city. (During the next decade, more than twenty Mafia bosses were indicted, and most were convicted.) The FBI heard one New York mob boss complain, “Under RICO, no matter who the fuck we are, if we’re together, they’ll get every fuckin’ one of us.” Interestingly, the first prosecutor to successfully navigate the intricacies of RICO was an Italian U.S. attorney in New York City named Rudolph Giuliani, who worked tirelessly for years to create the templates for the first RICO convictions.
The Outfit and Hoffa’s Presidential Clemency
In 1971, Nixon was under pressure from many directions to offer executive clemency to Jimmy Hoffa, imprisoned since 1967 on jury-tampering and pension-fund kickback convictions. Without presidential intervention, Hoffa v/as likely to serve out his two concurrent thirteen-year terms. Both the rank and file, and the interim Teamster boss Frank Fitzsimmons, who counted Nixon as a close friend, had been lobbying for Hoffa’s release.1 Nixon may have been leaning toward such a move, since he felt he owed Hoffa for the million-dollar contribution he had made to Nixon’s candidacy in 1960. However, it now appears that Nixon was finally convinced by the promise of another fat check, this one from none other than Joe Accardo.
According to White House tapes released in 2001, Nixon informed Henry Kissinger on December 8, 1971, “What we’re talking about, in the greatest of confidence, is we’re going to give Hoffa an amnesty, but we’re going to do it for a reason.” (Italics added.) Nixon then whispered about “some private things” Fitzsimmons had done for Nixon’s cause “that were very helpful.” In February 1973, fourteen months after Hoffa’s release by Nixon, and just as Nixon was frantic to raise “hush money” for the 1972 Watergate burglars, Accardo, Dorfman, and Fitzsimmons met at “the mob’s country club,” LaCosta, to make good on a promise to Nixon. It was fortuitous timing for the president, who would five weeks later be informed by aide John Dean that the Watergate burglars would require one million dollars to bite their collective tongues.
“You could get a million dollars,” Nixon replied. “You could get it in cash. I know where it could be gotten.” Many journalists, such as Hoffa chronicler Dan Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars, believe Nixon was referring to the money that he had just been promised by the Teamster-Mob alliance.
In the period of Hoffa’s incarceration, the Outfit seems to have grown to like Frank Fitzsimmons (and partner Dorfman) more than Jimmy Hoffa, who only used the mob loans to help strengthen the Teamsters; he was never considered “one of ours” by the hoods. Hoffa was also known to have become a government informant against Fitzsimmons.
Before going away in 1967, Hoffa had said to his board about Dorfman, “When this man speaks, he speaks for me.” He made similar statements about Frank Fitzsimmons. Now the duo surpassed their iconic colleague in his appeasement of the underworld. Under Fitzsimmons and Dorfman, Moe Dalitz was loaned $27 million to expand LaCosta; Frank Ragano, Santo Trafficante’s lawyer, received $11 million in a Florida real estate deal; Irving Davidson, Carlos Marcello’s D.C. lobbyist, received $7 million for a California land purchase; and in addition to Caesars, the fund was tapped to construct the skim-friendly Landmark, Four Queens, Aladdin, Lodestar, Plaza Towers, and Circus Circus. All told, the pension fund, controlled by Curly Humphreys’ Chicago protege Allen Dorfman, had loaned over $500 million in Nevada, 63 percent of the Fund’s total assets, and most of it went to the hoods’ favored casinos. But, perhaps most important, Fitzsimmons had decentralized Teamster power, which benefited local mob bosses, who could now easily outmuscle small union fiefdoms without having to bargain with an all-powerful president.
Now at LaCosta, the conspirators, who included an FBI informant, devised a new scheme wherein California Teamsters would be mandated to funnel dues into a prepaid billion-dollar health plan, 3 percent of which would be kicked back to something called People’s Industrial Consultants, which was nothing more than Joe Accardo and what remained of the Outfit. For the scheme to work, Fitzsimmons had to remain at the top of the Teamsters. According to high-placed FBI sources, the purpose of the LaCosta meeting was to coordinate a delivery of one million dollars in Las Vegas skim to the besieged Nixon, who had released Hoffa with the stipulation that he not run for the Teamster presidency. It was also reported that the money would guarantee that Nixon-Mitchell would take it easy on investigations of pension-fund loans. According to a secret FBI report, one mobster who attended the LaCosta meetings stated that half of the payback, $500,000 in cash, “had been requested by White House aide Charles Colson, who handled the administration’s relations with the Teamsters.” When Colson was later asked about this by the Senate Watergate Committee, he pled the Fifth Amendment.
While the schemers met at LaCosta, Nixon was at his nearby San Clemente home, with aides John Dean and John Haldeman, both of whom drove to LaCosta where Accardo et al. were in the midst of their four-day meetings. Although no one can prove that the two camps met, it is known that Fitzsimmons flew back to Washington aboard Air Force One with Nixon. According to mob sources located by author William Balsamo, Fitzsimmons told Nixon on the flight, “We’re prepared to pay for the request I put on the table . . . You’ll never have to worry about where the next dollar will come from. We’re going to give you one million dollars up front, Mr. President . . . and there’ll be more that’ll follow to make sure you are never wanting.”
Soon after, John Mitchell indeed scuttled investigations into the Teamster loans and rescinded the taps on Accardo and friends.
Hoffa’s conditional release was not the Outfit’s only behind-the-scenes power play in 1971. One of its unheralded successes simultaneously displayed how thorough had been the gang’s commandeering of the nation’s labor unions and also treated the world’s movie fans to what has been called “the best three hours one could spend in a movie theater.”
At the time, Las Vegas real estate millionaire Kerkor “Kirk” Kerkorian had just seized control of MGM Studios in Hollywood and thought to use the association with the MGM film Grand Hotel to construct another Las Vegas theme hotel, $106-million megalith to be called the MGM Grand Hotel, the largest hotel in the world. A millionaire many times over, having recently sold his Trans International Airlines for $100 million and having built the hugely successful International Hotel, Kerkorian could build anything he wanted. However, all of the money in the world could not overcome the stranglehold Accardo and Humphreys had placed on the nation’s labor force, and the Outfit wanted something in return for its cooperation: They wanted one of MGM’s contract actors for a production by another studio.
At the time, Paramount producer Robert Evans was attempting to package a film project based on Mario Puzo’s wildly successful novel The Godfather, for which Evans owned the movie rights. A problem arose when the director, the as yet unsuccessful wunderkind Francis Ford Coppolla, insisted on an unknown, diminutive actor named A! Pacino for the lead role of Mafia boss Michael Corleone. The fly in the ointment was Pacino’s unbreakable contract with Kerkorian’s MGM. Evans first called MGM’s president, Jim Aubrey. “With the emotion of an IRS investigator,” Evans wrote, “he turned me down.”
The way Bob Evans saw it, he had no choice but to call the Outfit’s Hollywood dealmaker, Sidney Roy Korshak. The producer had been a great friend of Korshak’s since the early fifties and claimed that the pair met every day until 1980, when they had a falling out. Like most upperworld achievers, Evans was well aware of the Outfit’s knack for getting things done - they were, after all, action men. Years later, Evans wrote of the power Sidney Korshak, and by proxy the Outfit, now wielded: “A nod from Korshak, and Santa Anita closes. A nod from Korshak, and Madison Square Garden stays open. A nod from Korshak, and Vegas shuts down. A nod from Korshak, and the Dodgers suddenly can play night baseball. Am I exaggerating? Quite the contrary. In the spirit of confidentiality, it’s an underplay.”
Among Korshak’s Tinseltown triumphs was the critical assistance he had given Screen Actors Guild president Ronald Reagan in settling the 1966 actors’ strike. In 1971, the same year Evans faced his Godfather predicament, Korshak served as uncredited legal adviser for the Las Vegas-based James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. Korshak had recommended his friend Jill St. John for the costarring role of “Plenty O’Toole.”
As recounted in his memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Evans, who was in New York at the time, placed a call to Korshak at his New York office in the Carlyle Hotel:
“Sidney Korshak, please.”
“Sidney, it’s Bobby.”
“I need your help.”
“There’s an actor I want for the lead in The Godfather.”
“I can’t get him.”
“If I lose him, Coppola’s gonna have my ass.”
Evans advised Korshak of his turndown by MGM’s Aubrey, a revelation that elicited a nonstop recitation of yeahs from Korshak.
“Is there anything you can do about it?”
“The actor, what’s his name?”
“Pacino . . . Al Pacino.”
“Hold it, will ya. Let me get a pencil. Spell it.”
“Capital A, little / - that’s his first name. Capital P, little a, c-i-n-o.”
“Who the fuck is he?”
“Don’t rub it in, will ya, Sidney. That’s who the motherfucker wants.”
As Evans tells it, twenty minutes after the friends hung up, an enraged Jim Aubrey called Evans.
“You no-good motherfucker, cocksucker. I’ll get you for this,” Aubrey screamed.
“What are you talking about?”
“You know fuckin’ well what I’m talking about.”
“Honestly, I don’t.”
“The midget’s yours; you got him.”
That was Aubrey’s final statement before slamming the phone down on a befuddled Evans, who immediately called Sidney. The master fixer advised the producer that he had merely placed a call to Aubrey’s boss, Kirk Kerkorian, and made the request. When Kerkorian had balked, Korshak had introduced his Outfit connections into the negotiations.
“Oh, I asked him if he wanted to finish building his hotel,” Korshak told Evans. “He didn’t answer . . . He never heard of the schmuck either. He got a pencil, asked me to spell it - ’Capital A, punk l, capital P, punk a, c-i-n-o.’ Then he says, ’Who the fuck is he?’ ’How the fuck do I know? All I know, Bobby wants him.’”
The rest, as they say, is history. Not only did The Godfather redefine the cinema, but Al Pacino became a star, and Kirk Kerkorian completed his MGM Grand, earning him the moniker Father of the Mega-Resort.
When the film was screened for a party of Hollywood insiders at a Malibu estate, antimob crusader Steve Allen somehow made the guest list. “There was the usual crowd there,” Allen said in 1997, “but there were also a few swarthy Vegas boys who had ’organized crime’ written all over them. After the movie, my wife, Jayne, made a remark about gangsters that caused one producer, who was friendly with the mob, to get in her face. ’You have no idea what you’re talking about, lady,’ this character told her.”
Allen says he intervened before the face-off got ugly, and soon thereafter, he and Jayne made their exit.
“The next morning, while I’m just waking up,” Allen said, “our housekeeper came banging on our bedroom door.”
“Mr. Allen! Mr. Allen!” called the frantic woman. The entertainer rushed out and followed his housekeeper to the front porch, where, in a scene reminiscent of the movie he had just seen, he found an enormous severed leg and shoulder of a horse. Allen knew the name of the producer who had had the set-to with Jayne and, in a show of defiance, had the carcass delivered to his home. (The producer, whom Allen identified for the author, was a close friend of Johnny Rosselli’s, whom Allen believed also attended the screening.)
Sidney Korshak’s behind-the-scenes role in the making of The Godfather was merely one illustration of many such maneuverings. Korshak also facilitated the production of another Paramount box-office success, the 1976 remake of King Kong. In 1975, according to the film’s chronicler Bruce Bahrenburg, “Paramount was looking for another ’big’ picture in the same league as their recent blockbusters, The Godfather and The Great Gatsby.” When the project was announced in the trades that year, Universal Pictures sued the new film’s producer, Dino De Laurentiis for $25 million, claiming it alone held the rights to the remake of the original 1933 RKO production. Universal simultaneously filed suit against RKO, which had sold the rights to De Laurentiis, after it had supposedly already done the same to Universal.
De Laurentiis countersued for $90 million, as the legal morass became more entangled with each successive day. “The legal issues surrounding the copyright to Kong,” Bahrenburg wrote, “are as puzzling as a maze in a formal British garden.” With the lawsuits casting a shadow on the film, Paramount nonetheless went ahead in early January 1976 with principal photography, and it now became imperative that the legal issues be resolved. Although the courts had failed to bring about a deal, there was, of course, one man who was famous for just that, and he already had a track record with Paramount and Universal, whose parent company, MCA, was run by his close friends Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg. The master negotiator was, again, Sid Korshak.
According to a source close to the film, a luncheon was arranged at Korshak’s Beverly Hills home between executives of Paramount and Universal (MCA). “Sidney was the court,” says the source. “In a couple hours, a deal was arrived at that made everybody happy. Sidney had done more over his lunch hour than dozens of high-priced attorneys had done in eight months.” The source, a producer at Universal, adds that Korshak was paid a $30,000 fee for his 120-minute business lunch.
Variety later reported that Universal agreed to allow Paramount to make the film with Universal maintaining the rights to a future sequel. “I am very pleased,” De Laurentiis told the press, “and would like to thank MCA’s Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg for their understanding and generosity in making such accommodations possible.” Per custom, Sid Korshak’s name never surfaced in connection with the resolution.
Back on their home turf, Accardo and Ricca periodically surfaced to pass judgments on various individuals who threatened the Outfit’s common good. They were particularly hard on soldiers who broke the cardinal rule that forbade trafficking in narcotics. It is believed that ten drug dealers were slain in one week on Accardo’s orders; others who received the ultimate sanction included “street tax” scofflaws, who refused to pay the mandated tithe to the men who made it all possible.
Among the more unsettling news the duo was receiving was that from Mexico, where Mooney Giancana, ever the survivor, was making a fortune. Since his settling in a walled estate called San Cristobal in Cuernavaca, Mooney had been constantly in transit, using contacts he had made over the years to set up gambling cruise ships and casinos throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America. The former boss’ passport was stamped by the customs agents of Lebanon, Iran, Spain, Peru, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Greece, and every major European destination.
Mooney’s gambling ventures were not only legal, but wildly successful, netting him untold millions in profit, according to the FBI’s best information. Giancana’s biographer William Brashler wrote, “Five gambling boats in particular were gold mines for Giancana.” When word of Giancana’s prosperity reached Accardo, the boss suddenly decided that Mooney was, in fact, still in the Outfit and was thus required to send a cut of his profits back to Chicago. Accardo instructed an aide, Richard Cain, who was also an FBI informant, “I want you to go to Mexico and explain the facts of life to him. I mean the facts of life, do you understand what I’m saying?”
When G-man Roemer heard that Accardo might be gearing up to hit Mooney, he worried that the murder would bring the G down on Accardo. Roemer was clearly conflicted: He had been chasing Accardo for decades, but now when the whacking of Giancana threatened to backfire on Accardo, Roemer realized that Chicago could live with an original Outfit member, but not with another boss who might have no rules of conduct. Roemer thus arranged another neighborhood stroll with his ostensible adversary.
“I think you know you’re the right guy for the job you’ve got,” Roemer said. “And we think so too. You keep the Outfit out of narcotics, you only do what you have to do with the heavy stuff . . . Watch out on the hit on Mo. It’ll backfire on you.”
“Roemer, I appreciate your thoughts,” answered the boss. “There are worse guys than you around. But I don’t think there’s any good in you coming around. You do your job and I’ll do mine. Whatever is gonna happen will happen.”
With that, the two men shook hands and went their separate ways, with Roemer not knowing that his plea had absolutely no effect on Joe Accardo’s ultimate decision.
And Then There Was One
On October 11, 1972, after years of successfully stalling IRS and Immigration probes, seventy-five-year-old Paul “the Waiter” Ricca was felled by a fatal heart attack, in what was becoming a cardiac epidemic among Outfit bosses. In addition to his legal entanglements and occasional rulings with Accardo, Ricca had spent his declining years in relative quiet, often lolling about the Al Italia arrivals gate at O’Hare Airport, where he would chat with deplaning Italian tourists in the language of their shared inheritance. The day after Ricca died in his own bed, his lifelong friend Joe Accardo stood by his casket and greeted well-wishers as though it were his own brother who had passed. When the wake concluded, Ricca was buried with the full rites of the Catholic Church.
After his role in the Hughes takeover negotiations, Johnny Rosselli was imprisoned in the Friars Club scam in 1971. At sixty-five years of age, the man who had grown accustomed to tailored silk shirts was going back to prison blues, sentenced to a five-year term. He ultimately served two years and nine months, but by the time he left McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary, his relationship with Chicago was completely severed. In three years, he would have one last appearance in the headlines, although not by his own choosing.
Although the Outfit had de facto expired with the loss of Curly Humphreys, it was now officially over. The original gang that had seized the baton from Big Al Capone had a reign of forty-one years, a duration that far eclipsed that of any other underworld enterprise in U.S. history. What followed would have Joe Accardo, the ultimate survivor, attempting to pass on the vast network of national upperworld business partners, co-opted labor unions, legitimate businesses, and corrupt politicians to another generation.
The Chicago Underworld Today
At its peak, the Chicago Outfit employed hundreds of full-time “associates,” and thousands of soldiers, in its quest to expand its influence from coast to coast. The outposts established by Accardo et al. in locales such as Miami, Hollywood, and Las Vegas are now run instead by the local underworlds and have become so enmeshed with the legitimate sphere as to be virtually indistinguishable from their white-collar counterparts. It is unknown if these local power brokers still pay a tithe to Chicago, but it is a matter of courtesy that when an associate of the gang that founded Sin City arrives there for a spree, mountains are moved to make his stay enjoyable.
Since the Strawman setback (see Epilogue), and the deaths of the original Outfit bosses, the Windy City underworld has greatly contracted, content to run rackets in the Cook County vicinity. Chicago crime historian Howard Abadinsky, a professor of criminal justice at Chicago’s St. Xavier University, has opined, “The Outfit is a business and they’ve learned that having a smaller core is good business.”
Today there are believed to be as few as fifty Chicago organized-crime members in what Chicago Magazine recently called “Mob Lite.” Whereas local crews traditionally numbered seven, that figure has dwindled to a mere three, on the North, South, and West Sides. From these strongholds, the new, lean Chicago underworld continues to mine the traditional sources of treasure: gambling and labor unions (for both pension kickbacks and extortion of businesses who require their services). One such labor union believed to be controlled by Chicago’s Mob Lite is the nineteen-thousand-member Laborers’ International Union of North America, which sits on a $1.5-billion treasury. Controlling the unions allows the Mob Lite to have implicit, and usually legal, influence on work contracts. Abadinsky calls the new regime’s approach “remarkably sophisticated.”
The new Chicago mob has gone so low-profile that experts cannot even agree on who heads it. Some well-informed mob historians believe that John “No Nose” DiFronzo, seventy-one, an Accardo-style CEO, is the current chieftain.2 Others assert that Joe “the Clown” Lombardo, another seventy-one-year-old, and a survivor of the Strawman purges, is in charge. Local G-men believe that sixty-eight-year-old Joe “the Builder” Andriacchi, a construction mogul, is running the show. Lastly, there is the strong possibility that all three run the local rackets by committee. This is the view of Professor Abadinsky. “It’s fantastic. It’s unbelievable,” Abadinsky recently said. The crime chronicler explained that mobs have often designated straw front men as boss to confuse the G. “But the Outfit has gone even further; they’ve purposely made no effort to designate anyone as boss, so no one really knows. They realized that there’s an inevitable conclusion to being a dapper don. Just look at [New York boss John] Gotti . . . He’s in jail now for the rest of his life.”
When he was paroled in 1992, Joe Lombardo went so far as to make a public pronouncement about his lifestyle, attempting to convince the locals that they had nothing to fear from him. That year, his classified ad appeared in the Chicago Tribune: “I am Joe Lombardo, I have been released on parole from federal prison. I never took a secret oath with guns and daggers, pricked my finger, drew blood, or burned paper to join a criminal organization. If anyone hears my name used in connection with any criminal activity, please notify the FBI, and my parole officer, Ron Kumke.”
The increased low-profile extends to the adoption of a modus operandi at greater odds than ever with the use of violence and the trafficking in narcotics. “That they’ve managed to stay out of street-level drug deals is an amazing success story for the Outfit,” Abadinsky told Chicago Magazine. “The temptation, the money, is so incredible. This is true discipline.” A friend of Joe Lombardo’s recently claimed that Lombardo decreed in the early nineties that murder and mayhem were now forbidden, except in the most extreme cases, and then only when given the green light from above. It has been asserted that there were only six Outfit-sphere murders between 1990 and 1994, and even that number might be exaggerated. Abadinsky told Chicago Magazine: “When you have fantastically lucrative businesses like gambling, in which victims willingly participate and no one’s getting beaten up or killed, it draws much less attention from law enforcement - no one’s complaining. And when you’re not shaking down every bookie or restaurant owner on every street corner, when you’re not peddling drugs at the street level, you don’t require as many employees.” Wayne Johnson, the current chief investigator for the Chicago Crime Commission, says of the Outfit descendants, “They won’t take bets from just anyone, and when someone can’t pay, the penalty will often be as simple as blacklisting the guy and letting everyone in the business know that he’s a stiff.”
Regretfully, the abhorrence of street violence by the heirs to Accardo and Humphreys is not shared by the Young Turks that comprise the inner-city cocaine-dealing gangs with ties to Russian, South American, Chinese, and Mexican drug cartels. Turf wars and drive-by shootings in sectors such as Cabrini Green are regular occurrences, with Glock Nine-toting terrorists putting Capone’s “Chicago typewriter” gunmen to shame.
As the Chicago underworld continues to profit from its traditional sources of revenue, sectors of the city’s officialdom likewise continue to form partnerships with their alleged prey. Not only are the requisite pliant pols kept happy, but the city’s designated law enforcement officers are continually hit with a barrage of corruption allegations. In 1997, Chicago police superintendent Matt Rodriguez was forced to resign when his close friendship with convicted felon Frank Milito came to light. In 2000, retired deputy police superintendent William Han-hardt was charged with leading a nationwide band of jewel thieves who stole over $5 million in precious gems between 1984 and 1996. It has been charged that Hanhardt utilized his contacts at police headquarters to identify his jewelry salesmen targets. And when vice cops recently raided adult bookstores and peep shows owned by alleged mob associate Robert “Bobby” Dominic, they were met by the men hired by Dominic as security, the Chicago Police Tactical Unit’s Detective Joseph Laskero and Officer Anthony Bertuca, both coincidentally assigned to the raiding vice unit.
Chicago area politicians also made news recently when nine officials of Al Capone’s Cicero were charged in 2001 with stealing and laundering $10 million from the town’s health insurance fund. Among those indicted was the town’s president, Betty Loren-Maltese. One month earlier, a federal jury awarded former Cicero police chief David Niebur $1.7 million, after he had been fired by Loren-Maltese for working with the FBI on investigating corruption in Cicero.
Many of the survivors of the original regime have realized the immigrant gangster dream by making the transition into legitimate business. When recently asked what has become of the old-guard hoods, Jeanette Callaway, the director of the Chicago Crime Commission, laughed. “They’re everywhere,” Callaway says. “They’ve become involved in every possible Chicago business.” It is a truism in Chicago that when strolling down Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile,” one is surrounded on both sides by enterprises successfully entered into by former Outfit members.
Ironically, the Outfit’s own progeny appear to have no interest in the underworld, but have instead fulfilled their parents’ desires to embark on careers that gained them upperworld acceptance. It is a sacrosanct Italian dictate that holds that one’s offspring become better educated and more successful than one’s self; the next generation must improve upon the previous one. A child of one of the original top bosses, who asked not to be named, recently said, “My father would not discuss those kinds of things with the family. He was very closemouthed, but it was clear he did not want us to follow in his footsteps.” Mooney’s daughter Antoinette Giancana received a similar message from her father: “I don’t think any of these guys wanted their kids to get involved in crime.”
Consequently, the Outfit’s heirs took whatever trusts were allotted to them and either went into business or pursued higher education; a number of them are Realtors, stockbrokers, restaurant owners, etc. Some, like Jackie Cerone’s son, became prominent attorneys. Joe Accardo set up numerous family members with careers, such as his brothers John (who became a movie projectionist) and Martin (a tavern owner). Joe’s granddaughter Alicia became a highly regarded Hollywood script supervisor. There were occasional obstacles such as when Joe’s son, Anthony Accardo, Jr., attempted to set up a travel agency in the early sixties. According to one of Tony’s closest friends, “Bobby Kennedy got wind of this and sent out his goons to talk to potential clients - telling them they’d have IRS problems. The agency never materialized. That’s a story you can take to the bank.”
1. Other influential constituents such as Ronald Reagan, World War II hero Audie Murphy, and California senator George Murphy all lobbied Nixon on Hoffa’s behalf, hoping to obtain either Teamster business or pension-fund financing for pet projects.
2. DiFronzo obtained his moniker in 1949 when a part of his nose was shot off by a bullet that was standard issue for the Chicago police department.