The Chicago Outfit, shortened to "The Outfit", is a crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Dating back to the 1910s, it is part of the United States phenomenon known as the Mafia; however, the Chicago Outfit is distinct from the "Five Families" of New York City, though all Italian-American crime families are ruled by The Commission.
The Outfit is the only criminal organization that has a monopoly on traditional organized crime in the city of Chicago, whereas the Five Families compete with each other for control of racketeering activities in New York. The Outfit's control reportedly reaches throughout the western United States to places as far away as Los Angeles, California and parts of Florida.
Unlike the "Five Families," the Outfit has had other ethnic groups besides Italian Americans in its upper echelons since its earliest days. A prime example of this was the "Greasy Thumb" Jake Guzik who was the top "bagman" and "accountant" for decades until his death. He was Jewish and either Polish or Russian depending on the source. To this day, the Outfit bears the influence of its best-known leader, Al Capone. In fact for decades after Capone had left the scene, the Outfit was known as "the Capone Gang" or "the Capones" to outsiders. The Outfit's membership is moderately estimated to be between 50-60 made members comprising the core group with a 1000+ associates.
Since its founding, the Chicago Outfit has been operating in order to keep and expand its status and profit throughout the Chicago area among others. During the Prohibition era, its leader at that time Al Capone competed with other gangsters like George "Bugs" Moran for the bootlegging business and as well as other rivalries. Because of this there appears to be a business and personal rivalry between the Northside (North Side Mob) and Southside Chicago gangs of which Al Capone was the southern and George Moran was the northern.
There also appears to be cultural differences between the two sides since the northsider was more Irish-American and the southsider was more Italian-American. This conflict lead to numerous crimes such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and numerous drive-by shootings resulting in the death of George Moran's associates and others on both sides. The Thompson machine gun played a significant role in these.
In the early 1940s, a handful of top Outfit leaders went to prison because they were found to be extorting Hollywood by controlling the unions that comprise Hollywood's movie industry. There were also allegations that The Outfit was involved in strong-arm tactics and voter fraud at polling places, under Salvatore Giancana in the 1960 presidential election.
Along with the voting allegations, The Outfit was involved in a CIA-Mafia collusion during Castro's overthrow of the Cuban government. In exchange for their help, the Outfit would be given access to their former casinos if they helped overthrow Fidel Castro (Operation Mongoose or (Operation Family Jewels)). Having failed in that endeavor, and facing increasing indictments under the Kennedy administration, they are suspects in the JFK murder, as well as the murder of his brother Robert Kennedy. The Outfit controlled casinos in Las Vegas and "skimmed" millions of dollars over the course of several decades.
The early years of organized crime in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was marked by the division of various street gangs controlling the South Side and North Side as well as the Black Hand organizations of Little Italy. James Colosimo centralized control in the early 20th century. Colosimo was born in Calabria, Italy, in 1877, emigrating to Chicago in 1895, where he established himself as a criminal. By 1909 he was successful enough that he was encroaching on the criminal activity of the Black Hand organization.
His expanding organization required the procurement of extra muscle. This came in the form of Colosimo's nephew Johnny Torrio from New York. In 1919, Torrio brought in Al Capone, thus providing Capone's entrance to Chicago. In time, Colosimo and Torrio had a falling out over Torrio's insistence that they expand into rum-running, which Colosimo staunchly opposed. In 1920, Torrio arranged for Frankie Yale to kill Colosimo, ending the argument.
Torrio brought together the different parts of Chicago criminal activity, with a lasting effect on Chicago in general, and Chicago crime in particular.
Outfit development with Al Capone Edit
Severely injured in an assassination attempt by the North Side Mob in January 1925, the shaken Torrio returned to Italy and handed over control of the business to Capone. Capone was notorious during Prohibition for his control of the Chicago underworld and his bitter rivalries with gangsters such as George "Bugs" Moran and Hymie Weiss. Raking in vast amounts of money (some estimates were that between 1925 and 1930 Capone was making $100 million a year), the Chicago kingpin was largely immune to prosecution due to witness intimidation and the bribing of city officials.
While Eliot Ness of the Bureau of Prohibition concentrated on trying to dry up the flow of the illegal liquor to Chicago, the United States Department of the Treasury was devising a strategy of using the Supreme Court's 1927 decision on bootlegger Manny Sullivan to bring down Capone. Sullivan had argued that the Fifth Amendment prevented him from reporting how much income tax evasion he had engaged in. Al Capone and a number of the other Outfit members were soon indicted, but Capone went unscathed until February 1931, when he was convicted for owing more than $215,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a Capone biography on the FBI's website.
After Capone was jailed for tax evasion, his hand-picked successor, Frank Nitti, a former barber and small-time jewel thief, only nominally assumed power. In truth, power was seized by Nitti's underboss, Paul "The Waiter" Ricca, who was acknowledged as "boss" by the leaders of the growing National Crime Syndicate. Over the next decade, The Outfit moved into labor racketeering, gambling, and loan sharking. Geographically, this was the period when Outfit muscle extended its tendrils to Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, Kansas City, and especially to Hollywood and other California cities, where The Outfit's extortion of labor unions gave it leverage over the motion picture industry.
From Nitti through Tony Accardo Edit
Nitti committed suicide in 1943 after refusing to take the "fall" for The Oufit getting caught red-handed extorting the Hollywood movie industry. He had found years earlier being in jail for tax evasion for 18 months to be claustrophobic, and he decided to end his life rather than face more imprisonment. Ricca then became the boss in name as well as in fact, with enforcement chief Tony Accardo as underboss.
However, later in '43, following the "Hollywood Scandal" trial, Ricca was sent to prison for his part in The Outfit plot to control Hollywood. He, along with a number of other mobsters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, due to the "magic" of political connections the whole group of Outfit mobsters was released after three years, largely due to the efforts of Outfit "fixer," "The Camel" Murray Humphreys. However, as a condition of his parole, Ricca could not associate with mobsters. While Accardo theoretically took over as day-to-day boss, by all indications Ricca continued behind the scenes as a senior consultant. He and Accardo would share de facto power for the next 30 years, but with Ricca staying in the shadows. When he died in 1972, Accardo (who had joined Ricca in semi-retirement in 1957), was the sole power behind the throne for another 20 years until his death, in 1992.
Beginning in 1957, Ricca and Accardo allowed several others, such as Giancana, "Joey Doves" Joseph Aiuppa, "Willie Potatoes" William Daddano, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, Jackie Cerone, to serve as front men over the years, this due to some "heat" that Accardo was originally getting from the IRS, in the '50s. However, no major business transactions, and certainly no "hits," took place without Ricca's and Accardo's knowledge and approval.
The Outfit reached the height of its power in the 1960s. With the aid of Meyer Lansky, Accardo used the Teamsters pension fund to engage in massive money laundering through The Outfit's casinos, aided by the likes of Sidney Korshak and Jimmy Hoffa. The 1970s and 1980s were a hard time for The Outfit, as law enforcement continued to penetrate the organization, spurred by poll-watching politicians. Off-track betting reduced bookmaking profits and illicit casinos withered under competition from legitimate casinos. Replacement activities like auto theft and professional sports betting did not replace the lost profits. In May 1992, Tony Accardo, Chicago's one-time crime boss and ultimate consigliere of close to half-a-century, died. However, compared to how organized crime power struggles emerge in New York City, Chicago's transition from Accardo to the next generation of Outfit bosses has run rather smoothly.
Chicago Outfit Bosses Edit
1910–1920 — Giacomo Colosimo (1877–1920)
1920–1925 — Johnny Torrio (1882–1957)
1925–1932 — Al Capone (1899–1947)
1932–1947 — Paul Ricca (1897–1972)
1945–1957 — Tony Accardo (1906–1992) - Remained as top Outfit consigliere until his death and had final say on all major decisions
1957–1966 — Salvatore Giancana (1908–1975)
1966–1967 — Samuel Battaglia (1908–1973)
1967–1969 — John Cerone (1914–1996)
1969–1971 — Felix Alderisio (1912–1971)
1971–1986 — Joseph Aiuppa (1907–1997)
1986–1989 — Joseph Ferriola (1948–1989)
1989–1993 — Samuel Carlisi (1914–1997)
1993–2003 — John DiFronzo
2003–2007 — James Marcello
2007–present —John DiFronzo