Ten Percent Tony: The Story Of Chicago's Most Corrupt Mayor

"Ten Percent Tony" Cermak was born on May 7, 1873 in a Bohemian village about fifty miles from Prague.
      The family immigrated to America in 1884, settling in a Chicago slum on 15th and Canal and later, in 1900, moved to Braidwood in southern Illinois where the elder Cermak worked as a coal miner. Like most of the other children in Braidwood, Tony attended school three months out of each year, so that, at the least, the workers' children could read and write. Like all the other children in Braidwood, it was expected that Cermak would follow his father's footsteps into the mines.
      But the strapping young Tony Cermak had other plans. He was ambitious. He had already started earning his own living at age 11 as a muleskinner, leaving school permanently at the end of the sixth grade.
      Tony Cermak returned to Chicago alone at age 16 and worked on the railroad as a brakeman.
      Cermak was a hustler who saw his opportunity in the rough and tumble world of Chicago's ethnic politics. He organized the huge Bohemian community into a powerful voting machine and before he was old enough to vote himself, the legal age was twenty-one in those days, Tony Cermak was a political power in the area.
      Tony Cermak was also a greedy man who wanted nothing more then to be rich. To satisfy that yearning he formed his own organization called the United Societies, a high sounding name for nothing more than a shakedown operation. Every brewer and booze seller, dance hall operator and saloonkeeper was a member, as were most of the area's gunmen, pimps, prostitutes and gamblers that worked along 22nd street, later renamed Cermak Road. They paid to belong to Cermak's organization because Cermak had the police in pocket.
      While it's true that the pimps and hustlers could spread around the cash as well as Tony could, they lacked the political clout that Tony could provide to an ambitious cop's career.
      In 1902, Cermak went to the capitol as a member of the House of Representatives. By age twenty-seven, he had worked his way up the ranks to speaker of the House. From that position Cermak managed to block every piece of banking reform legislation before the House and for that gesture the State's moneylenders paid Cermak and paid him dearly.
      To make sure that he never took a direct bribe, Cermak formed his own insurance and real estate company and forced the banks and loan companies to direct massive amounts of business through these corporations since, at that time, there was no law against insurance agents or real estate brokers from receiving cash payments or lucrative "finders fees." The Building Trades, Construction industries and Real Estate brokerage houses paid Cermak as well because Cermak knew when and where the state's next highways would be built and new highways determined the value of otherwise worthless real estate. As the House speaker and majority leader, Cermak also had the power to hold up a highway project allowing him to demand even more money once the construction was started.
      During all those years in Springfield, Cermak never broke up the United Societies and he continued to receive shakedown funds from that organization as well.
      After three terms in the capitol, Cermak made so much money that his net worth was over one million dollars, in cash. By the time he became mayor of Chicago at age 56, Tony Cermak, the near illiterate muleskinner, boasted that he was worth seven million dollars although he never had a job that earned him more then $12,000.00 a year.
      Cermak was now an example of the lowest type of machine politics that the corrupt political life of Chicago had yet produced.
      One newspaper man noted: "When issuing orders to his henchmen showing his teeth and snarling at those who proposed that saloonkeepers and bootleggers should obey the law like other people or engaged in his underground operations, Tony felt sure of himself and acted with the authority of a master, but he was without any of the superficial qualities that are essential to the man who would take the part of the hero on this larger political stage. He was uncouth, gruff, insolent and inarticulate...he could engage in no more intelligent discussion of the larger political issues of the day than he could of the Einstein theory of relativity."
      "He appeared to take pride in his lack of polish," Judge Lyle wrote and added, "Tony Cermak, was not a very nice man."
      In personal situations, Cermak was known as an intimidator with a violent temper who never walked away from a confrontation. He liked very few people and he trusted virtually no one and as his power grew so did his paranoia. He wasn't a back slapper. He was elected because he was a political survivor who simply outlasted his opponents and those that he couldn't outlast he blackballed. In the state house, as President of Cook County and later as Mayor, Cermak used wire taps, stole mail, used secret surveillance and informants to get intelligence on the weaknesses of his enemies and he took great care to know who his enemies were. He admitted to authorizing beatings of any one that got in his way.
      In 1920, Cermak took full control of Chicago's democratic party and slated himself to run as president of Cook County board, at that point a far less powerful position than it is today, but it had its possibilities for a greedy and ambitious man like Cermak. Tony won the seat but there was such finagling at the polls that a judge ordered a recount which resulted in a state investigation which led to the conviction of several party officials, but with Cermak's help each one walked away from their sentences without serving a day in jail.
      It was at the start of Cermak's first term as County President that Cermak entered into business with the syndicate in the form of a hustler named Billy Skidmore. In 1925, Cermak set Skidmore up in the junkyard business by assigning a $100,000.00 a year contract to handle the scrap iron from county institutions. For every pound of scrap that entered Skidmore's yard, as in everything else, Tony Cermak got his 10 percent.
      During Cermak's terms as Cook County President, Skidmore would act as his bagman.
      In 1928, Cermak who was still the "spokesman" for organized liqueur interest, decided to become mayor of Chicago.
      The syndicate saw Cermak's entrance into the race as a saving opportunity because the mob bosses knew that if the hopelessly corrupt Big Bill Thompson were elected again that the federal government might step in to restore justice to the streets of Chicago and nobody wanted that. Cermak, the outfit figured, was one of them. They could live and prosper with Tony Cermak at the helm. As for Cermak he was willing to take the mob's dirty money and lead them along for as long as he had to. But Cermak had his own plans. Once, just before the election Cermak met Judge Lyle at a gangster funeral and told Lyle: "The mob doesn't know how I really feel about them." Cermak said, "I think I can get some support from the mob during the campaign. I'll take it. But after the election I'll boot them out of town." Lyle said later, "In effect he was announcing his intention to double cross the Capone mob. It was, I reflected, a dangerous game to play with the Capones."
      On Election Day, April 7, 1931, word went out from higher ups in the Capone organization down to the goons and speakeasy owners to support Cermak. If Cermak won, the bosses said, the reformers would loosen up.
      Cermak did win. He trounced Thompson 475,613 to 667,529 votes, the largest margin ever recorded in Chicago's mayoral election to that date.
      On his first day in office as mayor, Tony Cermak promised the people of Chicago that he would rid their city of its gangsters before the Century of Progress Exhibition opened in the summer of 1933.
      But Tony wouldn't get rid of organized crime in Chicago, he wanted to coral it. To dominate it. To run it. He would own it. He would grow rich from it. All he had to do was to give it another face.
      So while the federal government did Cermak the favor of ridding Chicago of Capone, Cermak and the bosses plotted to fill the vacuum created with an even more organized gambling syndicate.
      Although it seemed to the nation that the people of Chicago had improved their lot by replacing the loutish and clown like Thompson for Cermak, the reality was that Thompson and his boys were second rate amateurs compared to the wholesale systemized looting that would be carried out by the Cermak crowd during their short reign.
      First, he would control the gambling. Cermak knew that the growing national depression and the end of prohibition would result in an end of the flow of beer money into his coffers. He also knew from his days as a ward healer that control of even a small portion of the city's gambling could bring enormous wealth and power. The two things he would need to forward his career on to Washington and perhaps even the White House.
      So Tony Cermak threw his net around the city's multi-million-dollar gambling rackets. The first thing Cermak did was to corner the gambling market by closing down the competition, those gamblers who refused to throw in with Tony Cermak were run out of business.
      The second stage was to control the police department. Without consulting with his police commissioner, Cermak demoted, transferred and banished cops who were on Capone's payroll or who refused to go along with his plan.
      When the police commissioner complained, he was fired and replaced with Cermak's hand picked successor, James P. Alman.
      The purpose of the raid was to send a message to the syndicate. They were no longer the sole rulers over the Chicago underworld.
      Cermak didn't let up. He went on the radio and encouraged the public to send him the locations of gambling dens and beer joints and the public responded with over a thousand calls in three days.
      Cermak announced that the raids would continue and a "special vice squad" was established under captain Martin Mullen, a political player, to go after big time gamblers on the south side.
      As a result of those raids, Cermak established a national reputation for himself as a crime busting public official. A reputation that still lives on today.
      Once Cermak had smashed the gamblers into submission, he would need someone dependable to act as his collector and street boss, the mayor's personal bagman.
      Enter Teddy Newberry.
      Newberry had been making his living off organized crime all his life. In October of 1930 Teddy Newberry, who had been with Bugs Moran and then the Aillos, changed bosses again and moved in with the Capones if for no other reason, because they were winning the war to control Chicago's underworld and Teddy Newberry always went with a winner. Working with Tony Ronano, a Capo in Capone's organization, Newberry took over Chicago's open-air markets for Capone, a racket thought up by Joey Aillo before his demise. The scam was so lucrative that Capone gave Newberry a solid gold belt buckle with Al's initials carved in it and Newberry was seldom seen without it.
      Capone trusted Newberry enough to let him supervise the killing of corrupt newsman Jake Lingle back in 1930 and again a grateful Al Capone rewarded Newberry by handing him an enormous gambling concession on the North Side.
      After several months of acting as Cermak's street supervisor, Teddy Newberry sat down with Anton Cermak in the summer of 1931 and worked out a deal. They decided that it was possible to not only corral organized crime in the city but to dominate it. As Newberry and Cermak saw it, with Capone and most of his top men behind bars or on the run from the law, what was left of the syndicate would easily fall apart.
      The fact that Roger Touhy was winning his shooting war against the mob was another plus for Newberry and Cermak. The way they saw it, all that was left to do with the wounded beast of organized crime was to kill the head and then watch the body die.
      So Cermak and Newberry decided that the quickest way to dominate the mob was to kill the outfit's new leader, Frank Nitti, after that all the other hoods would fall into line.
      Then reality set in. Within six months after hatching their plot, Teddy Newberry was found face down in a frozen cornfield, wrapped in barbed wire and shot through the face and Anton Cermak's life ended when a mob assassin, Guiseppe Zangara, plugged his Honor with a shot in the belly.

Rogr Touhy, gangster film credits

Robert Florey

Jerome Cady (screenplay), Crane Wilbur (screenplay), and 1 more credit »
Release Date:
July 1944 (USA)

Cast (in credits order)
  Preston Foster
...  Roger Touhy
  Victor McLaglen
...  Herman 'Owl' Banghart
  Lois Andrews
...  Daisy, Touhy's secretary
  Kent Taylor
...  Police Capt. Steve Warren
  Anthony Quinn
...  George Carroll
  William Post Jr.
...  Joseph P. Sutton
  Harry Morgan
...  Thomas J. 'Smoke' Reardon (as Henry Morgan)
  Matt Briggs
...  Cameron
  Moroni Olsen
...  Riley
  Reed Hadley
...  FBI Agent Boyden
  Trudy Marshall
...  Gloria, Sutton's escort
  John Archer
...  FBI Agent Kerrigan
  Frank Jenks
...  Bernard 'Troubles' O'Connor
  George E. Stone
...  'Ice Box' Hamilton
  Charles Lang
...  FBI Agent
  Kane Richmond
...  Mason
  Joseph E. Ragen
...  Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
  Murray Alper
...  Ralph Burke (uncredited)
  Jessie Arnold
...  Wife (uncredited)
  Warren Ashe
...  Cop (uncredited)
  Herbert Ashley
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Arthur Aylesworth
...  Farmer (uncredited)
  Jay Black
...  Tenant (uncredited)
  Stanley Blystone
...  Cop (uncredited)
  Freddie Chapman
...  Boy (uncredited)
  Joseph Crehan
...  Warden (uncredited)
  Ralph Dunn
...  Patrolman (uncredited)
  Jim Farley
...  Bailiff (uncredited)
  Byron Foulger
...  Court Clerk (uncredited)
  Jack Gardner
...  Reporter (uncredited)
  Bud Geary
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Dwight Green
...  Illinois governor (archive interview) (uncredited)
  William Haade
...  Truck Driver (uncredited)
  William Halligan
...  Capt. Bradley (uncredited)
  John Harmon
...  Lefty Rowden (uncredited)
  Ralf Harolde
...  Prisoner (uncredited)
  George Holmes
...  McNair (uncredited)
  Selmer Jackson
...  Principal Keeper (uncredited)
  Thomas E. Jackson
...  Jury Foreman (uncredited)
  Cy Kendall
...  Edward Latham (uncredited)
  George Lessey
...  Judge (uncredited)
  Edmund MacDonald
...  FBI Man - Finds Rent Ad in Trash (uncredited)
  Horace McMahon
...  Maxie Sharkey (uncredited)
  Ivan Miller
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Pat O'Malley
...  Police Orderly (uncredited)
  Frank Orth
...  Comic in Theater (uncredited)
  William Pawley
...  Prison Guard Briggs (uncredited)
  Ralph Peters
...  Clanahan (uncredited)
  Lee Phelps
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Joey Ray
...  Headwaiter (uncredited)
  Addison Richards
...  Priest (uncredited)
  Dick Rich
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Roy Roberts
...  Frank Williams - FBI Chief (uncredited)
  William Ruhl
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Byron Shores
...  Guard (uncredited)
  Ferris Taylor
...  Businessman (uncredited)
  Billy Wayne
...  (uncredited)
  Charles C. Wilson
...  Police Capt. After Hay Wagon Crash (uncredited)
  Grant Withers
...  FBI Man Detaining 'Ice Box'

Produced by
Arthur Gardner
....  assistant producer
Lee S. Marcus
....  producer (as Lee Marcus)

Original Music by
Hugo Friedhofer
  (as Hugo W. Friedhofer)

Cinematography by
Glen MacWilliams

Film Editing by
Harry Reynolds

Art Direction by
James Basevi

Lewis H. Creber
  (as Lewis Creber)

Set Decoration by
Thomas Little

Al Orenbach

Costume Design by
N'was McKenzie

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jasper Blystone
....  assistant director

Sound Department
Bernard Freericks
....  sound
Harry M. Leonard
....  sound

Special Effects by
Fred Sersen
....  special effects

Music Department
Emil Newman
....  musical director
David Buttolph
....  composer: additional music (uncredited)
Arthur Lange
....  composer: additional music (uncredited)
Arthur Morton
....  orchestrator (uncredited)
David Raksin
....  orchestrator (uncredited

A Top Cult Movie of the 1960s
20 July 2009 | by JohnHowardReid –
It's amazing to find a buzzword cult movie of the 1960s so utterly neglected 50 years later. True, "Roger Touhy, Gangster" was not numbered among the top ten, but it would certainly have made the 1960s' top thirty. Originally filmed as a 95-minute "A" feature and given a great publicity boost with an elaborate in-prison premiere in 1943, the movie came unstuck when the Hays Office demanded that 32 minutes be jettisoned. Although the events depicted all occurred in Touhy's real-life criminal career, the censors objected that this still gave no license to Fox to show such brutality on the screen. In order to placate the Hays Office, Fox made the cuts and then shot an extra two minutes with the Warden of Statesville Prison as an Epilogue. Even so, the movie still packs quite a punch in its shorn version. Director Robert Florey has handled his big-budget scenes with considerable flair. But while some scenes stagger the eye with their generous budget, other episodes (re-takes, perhaps?) have obviously been filmed on the cheap with some of the most incredible skimping ever perpetrated by a major studio.
The prison scenes were filmed at Stateville Prison in Joliet, Illinois, where the real Roger Touhy was incarcerated. The film was previewed at Stateville on July 12, 1943 with the Governor of Illinois (Dwight H. Green), and over 1,000 police officers and State's Attorneys from Chicago other Illinois communities in attendance. Touhy, who was suing 20th Century Fox (unsuccessfully it turned out) to prevent the films release, was not invited to the show, nor were any other prisoners, which was held in the prison chapel.

Saul Alinsky on Touhy

PLAYBOY: Why would professional criminals confide their secrets to an outsider?

ALINSKY: Why not? What harm could I do them? Even if I told what I'd learned, nobody would listen. They had Chicago tied up tight as a drum; they owned the city, from the cop on the beat right up to the mayor. Forget all that Eliot Ness shit; the only real opposition to the mob came from other gangsters, like Bugs Moran or Roger Touhy. The Federal Government could try to nail 'em on an occasional income tax rap, but inside Chicago they couldn't touch their power. Capone was the establishment. When one of his boys got knocked off, there wasn't any city court in session, because most of the judges were at the funeral and some of them were pallbearers. So they sure as hell weren't afraid of some college kid they'd adopted as a mascot causing them any trouble. They never bothered to hide anything from me; I was their one-man student body and they were anxious to teach me. It probably appealed to their egos.
Once, when I was looking over their records, I noticed an item listing a $7500 payment for an out-of-town killer. I called Nitti over and I said, "Look, Mr. Nitti, I don't understand this. You've got at least 20 killers on your payroll. Why waste that much money to bring somebody in from St. Louis?" Frank was really shocked at my ignorance. "Look, kid," he said patiently, "sometimes our guys might know the guy they're hitting, they may have been to his house for dinner, taken his kids to the ball game, been the best man at his wedding, gotten drunk together. But you call in a guy from out of town, all you've got to do is tell him, 'Look, there's this guy in a dark coat on State and Randolph; our boy in the car will point him out; just go up and give him three in the belly and fade into the crowd.' So that's a job and he's a professional, he does it. But one of our boys goes up, the guy turns to face him and it's a friend, right away he knows that when he pulls that trigger there's gonna be a widow, kids without a father, funerals, weeping -- Christ, it'd be murder." I think Frank was a little disappointed by my even questioning the practice; he must have thought I was a bit callous.

To Jake the Barber he was still Roger the Terrible

To Jake the Barber he was still  Roger the Terrible
New York News Bureau. (Australia 1954)
Bulb - nosed, pink - cheeked Roger ("The Terrible") Touhy wolfed a piece of apple-pie, gave a victory grin and talked of his happy times as a millionaire prohibition-beer-king.
Touhy, 56, grey-haired, had just been freed after serving 21 of a 298-years prison sentence for a crime which Federal Judge John P. Barnes declared had never been committed.
The main characters and plot in this Chicago gangster story that began in the boot- legging days and ended as the Alcatraz prison gates'' opened:
 British - bom John ("Jake, the Barber") Factor, colourful international confidence man whom Touhy was conected of kidnapping.
Factor, who boasted that he rose from a bootblack to play roulette with a king of England, was about to be extradited to England, in 1933, on charges of swind- ling British investors out of nearly £2 million.
Whisky swindle
Then, while Factor's law- yers were trying to delay the extradition,- the alleged kid- napping story broke. Factor turned up after a week, an- nounced that he had paid the ransom money for his release.
The Touhy gang was arrested and, because Factor was needed as the State's chief witness, the extradition order was suspended.  Eventually Factor settled the British claims, totalling £.2 million, for £500,000.
Later he pleaded guilty to an American charge of swindling a million dollars in a fake whisky bootlegging scheme and went to gaol for seven years.
Bluff, bearded Judge John P. Barnes, 73, often mistaken for Monty  Woolley, who startled Chicago legal circles this week with a 774-page opinion calling the whole kidnapping story a frame-up by Factor to gain public sympathy and avoid extradition.
Of Factor, Barnes declared, "He has learned all that a boy and man can learn as a bootblack, wash- room attendant, newsboy, barber, high-pressure stock salesman and confidence man-everything except how to be honest."
Honest father
 Judge Thomas Courtney, who was State prosecutor in the original trial, and is accused by Judge Barnes of knowingly using perjured testimony to convict Touhy.
Retorted Courtney, "No- thing Judge Barnes ever says counts 10 cents with me. If Touhy is entitled to be free, then everyone in Alcatraz prison ought to be let out."
 And finally Roger Touhy himself, who was sentenced to 99 years for the alleged kidnapping and later got 199 years more for having attempted to escape.
Roger and his brothers were sons of an honest Chicago policeman, James Touhy.
But, after their mother was burned to death in an oil stove explosion, the boys started getting into trouble with the law.
Young James Touhy was shot to death in a robbery attempt at the age of 17; brother John's head was blown away in a sawn-off shotgun battle between the Touhys and the Al Capone mob; Joe was bumped off similarly two years later while Eddie, to everyone's surprise, died a natural death in 1945.
But Roger, 5ft 6in tall slight in proportion, was the leader of the gang which ruled the Chicago suburbs, specialising in bootlegging, kidnapping and robbery.
Actually Roger Touhy was known as a somewhat quix otic character who gave money to the poor and refused to deal in prostitutes or narcotics.
The New York "Herald Tribune" recalls that "he also gained a reputation for running beer that was fit to drink."
Throughout his 20-year legal fight for freedom, Touhy insisted that Factor had conspired with the Capone crowd to frame him for the kidnapping.
When first gaoled, he vowed he would kill Factor if he ever got out, but this week, enjoying his first non prison meal for 21 years, Roger ("The Terrible") Touhy purred: "Poor old Factor. No, I'm not thinking about revenge. When you've been in the pokey as long as I have you get sort of mellow. I'm just looking for peace of mind."
Unconvinced, John ("Jake the Barber") Factor hired a couple of former G-men as extra bodyguards, shut him- self in his luxurious £25,000 Hollywood home while his strawberry-blonde, ex-model wife told reporters, "Please keep away. Mr. Factor is very nervous."
 The anti-climax carne when, after two days of freedom, Touhy wes put tearfully behind bars again on the grounds that he was a public menace-while the State frantically appeals against Judge Barnes' free- dom order.
Said Factor, "I'm still not convinced-if you know what  I mean."

The St. Paul Incident

      William Hamm, "Terrible" Roger Touhy, "Creepy" Karpis. Their names are largely forgotten now, as is the dramatic incident that brought them together, and, for a brief few weeks, kept the eyes of the world on a gray and somber St. Paul's court room. Their worlds collided on June 14, 1933, an unusually hot summer's day in St. Paul.
     William Hamm, President of the Hamm Brewing Company, left his imposing office adjacent to the brewery, and, as he always did at exactly 12:45 each workday, started the slow walk up the imposing hill to the family mansion on Cable Avenue in St. Paul.
     He was a good looking man of 39 years. Tall, he stood 6 feet 4 inches, Hamm had the reserved arrogance of inherited wealth, a fortune estimated to be at least $4.5 million in cash and probably double that in real estate and other commercial holdings around the St. Paul area. Separated from his wife, and a member of one of the city's oldest leading families, Hamm was said to be the most eligible bachelor in the Midwest.
     After two blocks, two men, probably Alvin Karpis and Freddie Barker, walked up to Hamm and stood in front of him. One man extended his hand and asked, "Mr. Hamm?"
     When Hamm reached to clasp hands, the second man grabbed him around the chest, locking in the brewer's arm, and shoved and pushed Hamm to the back seat of a large black coupe with a uniformed driver in the front seat.
     Hamm was shoved face down on to the floor of the back seat, a hood was slipped over his head, and the car took off.
     The car stopped some twenty miles northwest of Chicago in front of a prosperous looking house on the main street of Bensenville Illinois, at the home of Edmund Bartholmey, soon to be appointed the local postmaster.
     Hamm was pulled gently out of the car "by the icy cold, but small hand of what I think was a women," Hamm remembered. He was guided up a set of stairs into a small bedroom where he was allowed to take off the goggles. The room's window had been boarded up, and there was a chair and bed with a small table with a lamp and an unshaded electric light.
     Over the next few days, only Fred Goetz, another wise dangerous outlaw, talked to Hamm although Hamm never saw his face. He remembered that he was fed adequate though simple meals, and when he ate, he was forced to face downwards while Goetz discussed his views on prohibition and the new Roosevelt administration.
     Once, Goetz asked Hamm, "I see your advertisements about your booze, let me ask you something, is your stuff really special?"
     Hamm though about it for a second and replied, "Naw, it's all pretty much the same under the label."
     "Look," Goetz said, "you seem alright to me, Mr. Hamm. But we had to snatch you. You see, I'm a man with champagne taste and beer income."
     The kidnappers, as time would reveal, were the Barker-Karpis gang, although exactly why Alvin Karpis and Freddie Barker decided to kidnap William Hamm, leading citizen and industrialist in the Twin Cities area, will probably never be known. Certainly Hamm's wealth was one factor, and another was that for years, since the prohibition had all but closed down Hamm Brewing, there were whispers in St. Paul, that the respectable William Hamm was in business with the Keatings mob, St. Paul's leading bootleggers, selling legal near-beer out of its front doors, while shipping the illegal bootleg beer out the back door.
     Apparently, according to gangsters Roger Touhy and Alvin Karpis, the Keatings used their muscle to get Hamm's illegal brew into the St. Paul and Wisconsin area speakeasies and Hamm's otherwise, legal operation took over from there, distributing the brew and making collections. A business dispute between Hamm and Keating, the details of which are lost in time, resulted in the Karpis-Barker gang, working with the Keating's permission, snatching the brewer off the streets.
     The day after Hamm was abducted, William Dunn, Hamm's business manager, took a call from Alvin Karpis who told Dunn that he had kidnapped his boss and would release him for $100,000, in cash, small bills and then hung up.
     The day the ransom money arrived, June 18, 1933, Goetz came to Hamm and said: "We have good news for you, Mr. Hamm, the ransom's been paid and you're going home"
     He was given fresh clothes, a clean shave, blindfolded again and placed on a car floor and driven for ten hours before he was pulled out of the car and left in a vacant field in Wyoming, Minnesota on Highway 61, about half way between St. Paul and the spot where the ransom money had been dropped.
     Hamm listened for the car to pull away, and then removed the taped goggles from his eyes and ran to a nearby farmhouse for help.
     The next day, an army of newsmen, photographers and curiosity seekers blocked the main entrance to Hamm's estates upon his return.
     During a news conference, Hamm told reporters that he had been treated well and, "They said that if I ever want anything or if they could ever be of any service to me, just to let them know."
     A reporter asked the obvious question, "Did they leave a forwarding address?"
     "No," Hamm replied. "No, I'm afraid they neglected to do that."
     Despite Hamm's casual attitude towards the entire incident, the public was outraged by the kidnapping, made all the worse by the fact that Hamm's mother had died during his abduction and over in Kansas City, mobsters, in an attempt to either free or silence one of its own, had ambushed and brutally gunned down the captured hood and several lawmen in a daring daylight massacre.
     In the public's mind, things had gone too far and somebody had to pay the price for the disorder and lawlessness that gripped the depression-racked nation, and Roger Touhy, Chicago gangster, fit the bill.
     Touhy was the son of a Chicago policeman, a former altar boy and class valedictorian, who invested a small fortune he had earned in oilwell speculation into a bootlegging business in 1925.
     Staking out the booming northern portion of Cook County, the county that surrounds Chicago, as his own, by 1932 Touhy controlled a multimillion dollar bootlegging and gambling operation, run out of his suburban Des Plains home.
     Now, in July of 1933, Touhy and four of his men left Chicago for the resort lake region of north woods of Wisconsin, intending to stay at Rohrbachers resort, about a mile south of Lac du Flambeau, in Minocqua, a resort village known as the Island City.
     They were going there, among other reasons, to find and then murder George Maitland, the elderly Black housekeeper who was the sole witness in the killing of a Capone enforcer named John Renelli by one of Touhy's gunmen several weeks before. The Touhy's had learned that Maitland was hiding out at Renelli's brother's place, the Chicago Tavern, in the Lake region.
     Another reason for the trip north, was to reclaim bootlegging territory lost to, interestingly enough, the Keatings-Hamm operation, which had started to compete with Touhy's expansive Wisconsin operations. Threats were made on both sides and tensions were high.
     All of it was just more details that were dragging Touhy further into the underworld, when all he wanted to do was to get out.
     He had promised his wife, Clara, that by the end of 1933 he would close down or sell off his expansive illegal operations, bootlegging, labor racketeering and gambling, take their millions and move her and their two sons out of Chicago. Clara wanted to go someplace warmer, Florida or California, Roger wanted Colorado.
     Touhy knew that it was time to get out of the rackets anyway, while he was still alive.
     He was locked in a bloody, two year, street war with the Capone syndicate over control of Chicago's billion dollar a year labor rackets.
     Backed by the national teamsters and Chicago's corrupt Mayor, Anton Cermak, Touhy had, in a case of the mouse eating the lion, actually chased the mob out of most of Chicago's teamster locals and inflicted serious damage to the syndicate, including the near fatal shooting of mob boss Frank Nitti.
     Then, suddenly, everything turned for the worse, the mob killed Cermak in a bold public assassination, costing Touhy his vital political clout. Then, the Teamsters National Council panicked, and surrendered to the Capone syndicate.
     Touhy continued the war anyway, financed in large part by a string of nationwide mail robberies that added almost a million dollars to his war chest. But now, United States Postal Inspectors were weeks away from cracking the case and sending everyone in the Touhy operation to jail, that is, if the syndicate didn't kill him first.
Traveling with Touhy, in the capacity of a bodyguard and gunman was 36- year-old Gustave Schactel, AKA Gus Schafer, a career criminal who used large portions of his income to support his brother, Father Joseph Schactel, through a PhD candidates program at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC. Gus Schafer had managed to keep his brother from knowing anything about his criminal life, and told him he had made a fortune in the shipping business.
     The second bodyguard was Willie Sharky, the gang's chief enforcer who had grown up with Roger in the Valley, once Chicago's enormous Irish ghetto. Sharky was wanted in Chicago for questioning for his role in five gangland slayings over the past year.
     The third person on the trip was Edward Thomas McFadden, a 67-year-old labor racketeer who picked up the name "Chicken Micky" when he organized a shakedown operation known as the Kosher Chicken Pluckers Union. McFadden had been a friend of Roger's father back when he walked a beat in Chicago's Lawndale district, and it was McFadden, with deep political and labor ties, that had placed the Chicago Teamster unions under Touhy's protection, in 1931.
     The gang checked into Rohrbacher resort, conducted their business and took some time out for fishing, using, as Indian guide Frank St. Germaine later testified, a Tommy gun and hand grenades to catch fish, instead of the standard pole.
     After four days in the lake region, the group left for Chicago on a Wednesday morning at about 6:30 A.M., on July 19, 1933, and headed for the tiny Wisconsin village of Elkhorn.
     It was here, in the Elkhorn area, that one of the Touhy gang's leaders, "Terrible" Tommy O'Connor, and escaped convict and cop killer, had probably fled to back in 1922 and probably ran Touhy's kingdom in Wisconsin.
     On the way into Elkhorn, Touhy, speeding down the road at 70 miles an hour, lost control of his car and knocked down a telephone pole on private property and kept right on going. The owner called the Elkhorn police department and the call was forwarded to Harry Ward, a slightly built, wiry rookie cop on motorcycle duty near Highway 12.
     Ward was to spot the car, stop it, and bring the driver into town and hold him until restitution, a total of $22, was made for the cost of replacing the pole.
     Ward did as he was told, and Touhy and the others were taken to the county jail, but Touhy who had grossed millions, refused to pay the paltry $22 for the pole's repair, offering half that amount instead.
     In the meantime, Harry Ward, who still had no idea who Touhy and the others were, conducted an illegal search of Touhy's car. Digging his hands deep under the seat cushions on the driver's side they found four .38 colt revolvers, a .45 Colt with altered identification numbers, and a .38 Colt automatic rigged to fire as a machinegun, and a .38 Smith and Wesson rifle with a site on the barrel.
     Phone calls were made to Chicago, and the local police discovered they were holding four of the most violent and desperate men in America. FBI Special Agent Melvin Purvis, who worked out of Chicago and was heading the investigation of the Hamm kidnapping, told the Elkhorn police to find a reason to hold them until he could arrive there and question them.
     While the pistols Ward had found in the car were legal, the rigged automatic was, technically, a machinegun, and, in 1933, Wisconsin was one of the few states that outlawed possession of the automatic guns. And although only a misdemeanor, it was enough to hold them.
     Before dawn the next day, the headline hungry Purvis, and an army of FBI agents, Chicago detectives, reporters, and news photographers invaded Elkhorn.
     Purvis, whose career was already starting to sink, formally charged Roger Touhy and the others with kidnapping William Hamm, despite the fact that virtually all of the information collected by Purvis, showed that Alvin Karpis and the Barker gang had actually committed the crime.
     The fact was, up to that point, Purvis, who had minimal knowledge of the underworld, rested his entire case against Touhy, on the accusation of St. Paul's notoriously corrupt Police chief, Thomas Dahill.
     Eight months after Dahill accused Touhy of the kidnapping, a Federal grand jury launched a two year inquiry into accusations of graft and corruption within Cahill's department, and examined the chief's uncomfortably close relationship with the Keating mob, the group that may have been behind Hamm's kidnapping.
     On August 12, 1933, Roger Touhy and the others were formally indicted for kidnapping William Hamm by a federal grand jury in St. Paul, and, on that same day, as if just to show how bad Touhy's luck could be, President Roosevelt went on national radio and announced the Federal government's war on kidnappers.
     As an additional slap, that afternoon, Alvin Karpis and the rest of the Barker gang returned to St. Paul and robbed a Swift Company messenger of $30,000 on the steps of the main Post office, killing a policeman in the process.
     National newspapers carried stories that the Touhy gang had pulled off the robbery on Roger's orders to raise bail money to have him released.
     Before the trial began, Agent Purvis was starting to worry. He had convinced J. Edgar Hoover that he had an airtight case against Touhy, and in turn, Hoover convinced the U.S. Attorney in St. Paul of the same.
     However, as only Purvis knew, not only was the FBI unable to find any of Hamm's prints on Touhy's car, none of the money found on Roger Touhy in Elkhorn could be traced to the William Hamm kidnapping, in fact, none of the Hamm ransom money was ever found.
     Worse yet, none of the witnesses in the case could identify Touhy or the others during three separate line ups nor could they pick them out of photographs that they were shown, over and over again.
     William Hamm was such a reluctant witness, that the government publicly criticized him for his lack of cooperation. He avoided the FBI, and all during the investigation forced Agent Purvis to work through his business manager William Dunn, who in turn, would only answer questions through the Hamm family lawyer. As a result, the FBI had never interviewed Dunn, and when Purvis sent agents to collect Hamm and bring him to Chicago, the brewer leaped on a plane for New York and didn't return to the Midwest until the trial was almost over.
     One witness, Mrs. Lucille Otis, had told St. Paul Police that she saw one of William Hamm's kidnappers place a call from the drugstore payphone.
     In the middle of the night, Purvis's men dragged her out of her house and drove her to a line-up in Chicago.
     The Touhys were marched out before her, but Mrs. Otis was unable to identify any of them as the man who made the call.
     Purvis ordered her to look at the men once again and again.
     "I told him," Mrs. Otis said, "that I had looked at all of them long enough and none of them looked like the man I saw. Mr. Purvis kept pointing to one man (Roger Touhy) and asked me, "Are you sure that it wasn't him?" I told him, he was most definitely not the man whom I saw making the telephone call. He, Mr. Purvis, became very angry and told me that I would be arrested and jailed, if I didn't cooperate with him."
     Frustrated, Touhy and others were taken from St. Paul to the FBI offices in Chicago, where they were, as Purvis put it, "grilled" by his agents from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. For the next week, the prisoners were allowed to sleep in twenty minute intervals, and then woken up and beaten. As a result, Touhy lost twenty-five pounds, had seven of his teeth knocked out and three of his vertebrae in his upper spine fractured. But Purvis never got his confession.
     "The Hamm trial," said Roger Touhy, "had a sort of 'let's pretend we're all nuts' tone."
     The government's prosecutor was Joseph B. Keenan, a former special aide to US Attorney General Homer Cummings, who was the victor at the sensational Urchel trial in Oklahoma City, just months before that put "Old Harv" Baily, Katharine Shannon and her husband, George "machinegun" Kelly, behind bars.
     Unaware that FBI Agent Purvis had built a case from a house of cards, Keenan was so certain of a win that he requested that the trial be broadcast on national radio, making it the first ever to go over the airwaves, but the request was denied by the judge.
     It was a blessing in disguise for Keenan.
     William Hamm took the witness stand and mumbled that he couldn't identify the Touhys, or anyone else for that matter, as his kidnappers.
     The state's chief witness, a taxi driver named Leo Allison, had positively identified Eddie McFadden as the man who gave him the ransom note to deliver to the Hamm family.
     But under cross-examination by Touhy's lawyer, a priced mob mouthpiece named William Scott Stewart, a former Cook County Prosecutor who had defended every big name Chicago from Dion O'Bannion to Al Capone, Allison said he couldn't be sure it was McFadden he had.
     Witness, Clarence Thomas, who owned the drug store where Alvin Purvis had made the ransom call from, at first swore under oath that he was positive the caller was Roger Touhy, but after a drilling by Stewart, reneged and said, "Roger Touhy bears a close resemblance to the man" and refused to go further.
     A surprise witness for the state took the stand and said that he had watched Roger Touhy and the others following Hamm in a car as the brewer walked home.
     Touhy hired the Dannenberg Detective agency, run by the former policeman who had closed down Chicago's notorious red light district, the Levee, to check the witness.
     Two days later, the Dannenberg's detectives were able to prove that the witness had been at work in a printing plant in Chicago on the day he said he saw Touhy and the others in St. Paul. When questioned about why he lied, the witness said that he had been pressured into it by the FBI.
     Watching their case fall apart, the government started to play hardball.
     Two of Touhy's witnesses, Edward J. Meany and Vincent Thomas Connor took the stand on Touhy's behalf. Meany testified that Melvin Purvis had threatened him that, "If you go to St. Paul to testify for Touhy, you'll be sorry boy, and maybe you won't come back."
     Meany and Connor were both arrested by the FBI after they testified, under the charge of registering in a hotel under a false name, their rooms having been booked under Touhy's lawyer's name.
     FBI agents went to an Indianapolis hotel where Touhy had stayed for one night during the time Hamm was kidnapped, confiscated Touhy's registration card, and destroyed it.
     But none of it mattered, the case was lost from the start and everyone involved knew it.
     In his summary of the state's case, US Deputy Attorney General George F. Sullivan, mispronounced names, confused dates and lost his place and accused his opponent, William Scott Stewart, of "vituperation, sarcasm, and abuse heaped upon the prosecution."
     Stewart rose slightly from his chair, smiled, and took a small bow.
     The Hamm jury, which consisted of ten men and two women, decided 8 to 4 for an acquittal, stating that William Hamm's inability to identify the kidnappers was the main reason behind their decision.
     For the federal government, whose convictions had been coming rapidly since passage of the Lindbergh law, the acquittal was the first setback for the government's war on kidnapping.
     That night, Chief of Police Dahill went on national radio and said: "If this is the attitude that the citizens take toward justice and kidnappers, then I applaud the San Jose citizens for taking justice into their own hands."
     Dahill was referring to the case of a California college student named Brooke Hart, who was kidnapped, held for a $40,000 ransom and then killed.
     Police arrested the kidnappers, and a few days later, an angry mob, mostly made up of friends of the dead man, stormed the jail, overpowered the police, and hung the kidnappers by their necks to telephone poles until they were dead.
     Although an angry crowd did gather around the County jail in St. Paul, there was no violence.
     There was no rest for the wicked after the trial ended.
     A few moments after they found not guilty of kidnapping William Hamm, gunman Willie Sharky turned to Touhy and said: "Well they went through a lot of trouble to get $22.50 for that goddamned telephone pole."
     A few days later, Sharky hung himself to death in his cell using his necktie. Sharky had been collapsing for weeks. He slept through most of the trial, but awoke once, stood from his chair and said: "Well, I got to go," and tried to stroll out of the courtroom only to be pulled back by deputies. He also shouted to the judge once, "My hair is full of electricity, I guess that's a sign."
     As for the others, on November 29, 1933, Roger Touhy, Gus Schafer and Eddie McFadden, were arraigned in Municipal court in St. Paul for kidnapping John Factor, brother to the cosmetic king Max Factor, and an international con artist with deep ties to the Mafia.
     The charges against McFadden were dropped, but Touhy and Schafer were convicted on kidnapping charges and served a total of 26 years in prison before a federal judge overturned the conviction on the grounds that Factor and the Chicago mob had arranged the kidnapping.
     Touhy was released from prison in 1959 and announced that he intended to enter a 300 million dollar suit against John Factor and key members of the Chicago outfit.
     He never had time. He was shotgunned to death as he stepped into his sister's home on a frigid December night, after only 28 days of freedom.
     Gus Schafer was released from prison in 1960 and retired to San Francisco, where he died of old age, several years later.
     Ma Barker and her boys were either shot and killed by federal agents or died in prison.
     The gang's leader, Alvin Karpis, was eventually tried and convicted for kidnapping William Hamm. He served two decades in Alcatraz prison and lesser institutions where he befriended a young hood named Charlie Manson, whom Karpis taught to play the guitar. He was deported to his native Canada after his parole and died several years later, while playing golf in Spain.

"Jake the Barber" The Story of a Successful Conman

With apologies to Joseph "the Yellow Kid" Weil, John Jacob Factor ranks as one of the most successful swindlers of all time. In his heyday, which spanned the era of the Roaring Twenties through the 1960s, Factor engineered frauds on both sides of the Atlantic, consorted with the Chicago mob, and charmed President John F. Kennedy and his "Rat Pack" pals during the golden age of JFK's self-styled "Camelot" regime.
He was a rabbi's son, born Lakow Factrowitz, the youngest of ten children. Jake, as he preferred to be called, was born in England but was taken to Lodz, Poland before his first birthday where he lived until he was 11 years old.
At the turn of the last century, the family emigrated to St. Louis, Missouri and then on to Chicago. Although not illiterate, Factor could barely read or write. "I have," he said, "a hazy recollection of several months of schooling in Poland."
The family was desperately poor and it was Factor's mother who supported the family in hard times through various menial jobs, mostly as a street peddler.
Jake's half brother, Max Factor, eventually made his way out to California and settled in West Los Angeles where he found work as a makeup artist with the major studios. Max Factor helped invent pancake make-up.
Jake Factor took the low road to success. While still a teenager in the early years of the century, he went to work as a barber in his brother's West Side shop, using the money he earned to support his parents. Then later, he took at job at Chicago's elegant Morrison Hotel, trimming the sideburns of the rich and well born while making important contacts that would prove useful to him later in life.
From these humble beginnings, Factor acquired a nickname that would haunt him for the rest of his life, a name he hated so much he sometimes paid reporters not to call him "Jake the Barber" Jake abandoned the shop in order to peddle securities in the stock market but he was indicted under a federal warrant for stock fraud in 1919. The case was closed after he agreed to return the funds, but Factor was indicted again in Florida in 1922 and 1923, this time for land fraud.
In the next few years there were additional indictments for mail fraud and larceny. He participated in a gold mine stock swindle in Canada and another in Rhodesia, but the government was never able to seal a conviction in these cases. Jake the Barber returned to Chicago, rich enough to live in a 14 room Gold Coast apartment, but still he wanted more.
In late 1923, Factor convinced New York's master criminal, Arnold "the Brain" Rothstein (the gambling boss who fixed the 1919 World Series), to put up an initial cash investment of $50,000 that Factor needed to pull off the largest stock swindle in European history.
Handsome, relaxed and a pleasant sort of man, Factor arrived in London, England in early 1924 and began selling worthless penny stocks to gullible British investors with great success. He advertised his operation in a publishing venture known as the Broad Street Press, which were edited and distributed by Factor's henchmen.
In any successful scam, greed is always the hook. Factor assured the investors a guaranteed return of between seven and 12 percent on their initial investments, an enormous sum of money in those days compared to the one and two percent normally paid out by banks and brokerage houses.
Factor was careful to pay each dividend on demand, but only because he knew his trusting investors would generate additional business by spreading the news among their friends.
Factor accumulated $1.5 million and skipped town secure in the certain knowledge that the bilked victims would not dare file a formal complaint. To do so would reveal their stupidity and avarice. Not a single charge was filed against Factor.
Bankrolled by Rothstein, Factor returned to England in early 1925, to pull a second deadly scam. At the heart of the swindle was the Tyler Wilson and Company stock brokerage firm Factor had invented. After presenting his client list a legitimate stock offering called Triplex which sold at $4.00 a share, Factor offered to buy the stock back at $6.00 a share, thus earning his victims a quick 50% profit. A month later, Factor, operating through Tyler Wilson, offered another stock called Edison-Bell at $3 a share. He quickly bought it back at $6 a share, always careful never to actually deliver the stocks certificates to the buyers, because he knew it was a worthless paper transaction. If the transactions had been real, Factor stood to lose $750,000.
Established in a luxury suite of rooms in Grosvenor Square, London, Factor sent his investors information about two worthless stock certificates, Vulcan Mines and Rhodesian Border Minerals, reputed to be lucrative South African gold mining companies, which Factor hinted, were on the verge of a big hit.
The Barber sold shares in the companies for as low as 25 cents each, allowing thousands of new investors to enter the scam. He then pumped up the earnings up to $2.50 a share.
Tens of thousands of money hungry buyers flooded in, and Jake made sure that each one received an unspecified plot of land in Africa, making fraud difficult to detect and prove.
In 1930, English newspapers took note of Factor and his "Ponzi" schemes. There were persistent rumors that members of the royal family had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his phony stocks.
Then, without warning, Jake the Barber closed Tyler Wilson & Co and fled England with an estimated 1,619,726 pounds, or about $8,000,000 U.S. dollars, an incredible sum of money in the Depression. Jake made one big mistake that would come back to haunt him in later years. He returned to the United States by way of Mexico through El Paso, Texas, in December of 1930. Factor was admitted back into the United States as a visiting immigrant. He swore out a statement that he was born in Hull, England on October 8, 1892.
The United States Immigration Department already had papers on Jake, sworn out by his parents upon their arrival to the States in 1905, that Jake the Barber was a Russian national, born in Lodz, Poland on January 10, 1889.
Immigration officials opened a "Factor file," which they later used to deport him from the country. Meanwhile, the notorious New York beer runner and gangster Jack "Legs" Diamond followed Factor's adventures in England with interest, and decided he wanted every penny the scam had earned for his narcotics business.
Arnold Rothstein taught Legs Diamond everything there was to know about the narcotics racket, molding him into an expert heroin importer.
The drug money made Rothstein careless and lazy, and that was a dangerous position to be in, in the volatile world of narcotics smuggling.
Soon others began following the dope trail that Rothstein had blazed. They started to hedge in on his territory. What Rothstein refused to surrender to rivals, they took by force. One of those takers was Legs Diamond, alleged to have participated in the murder of Rothstein at a New York card game in 1928.
With Rothstein disposed, the remnants of his once vast criminal empire were up for grabs. Legs Diamond laid claim to Rothstein's European drug smuggling operation, import routes and contacts. But laying claim to the routes and controlling them were two different issues. Control of the U.S. side of the narcotics market hinged on the money-earning European hoods that needed to export their dope into the lucrative and insatiable American markets.
They wanted to do business with someone who had the cash flow to saturate the states with low cost, high quality dope on a continuous basis.
Legs Diamond had the money, in theory, at least. Prohibition had made him rich, but all of his cash was tied up in a street war for control of the Manhattan bootleg beer outlets. He tried to raise the seed money to enter the narcotics market from different sources, including the Mafia. The underworld also knew and understood that Diamond lacked real organizational ability and that he drank to excess, and was violent and mentally unstable to effectively deal in the sedate and shadowy world of international narcotics trafficking.
With no where else to turn, Diamond sent word to John Factor over in England that he was assuming control of all of Rothstein's rackets and demanded his share of the take from the stock swindles. Factor never responded, assuming that once Arnold Rothstein, his original financier in the scheme was dead and buried, that the proceeds from the swindle were his and his alone. Diamond disagreed, and took a luxury liner to England to meet with the Barber, but Factor avoided his own execution by simply returning to the United States and hiding out in Chicago, enjoying the hospitality of Murray "the Camel" Humphreys whom he cut in for a percentage of the take. Factor knew that a killer like Legs Diamond didn't give up that easily, especially when millions were at stake. Never a violent man, Jake the Barber had enough sense to partner with those who had no aversion to violence.
Legs Diamond gave up the chase to attend to his own trial in New York State for attempted murder of a competitor. The jury found him not guilty, and that night Diamond went out with friends to celebrate. Returning to his room in an Albany, New York boarding house in the early morning hours of December 17, 1931, Legs fell into a drunken stupor. A half an hour later, two well-dressed men entered Diamond's room and pumped three .38 slugs into his head at point-blank range, instantly killing him.
Murray Humphreys was suspected of engineering the murder, if not committing it himself, on behalf of his new business partner, Jake Factor, but the suspicions were never proven, nor was there an investigation into the murder. No one seemed to care.
With Diamond out of the way, Jake the Barber emerged from hiding, only to be arrested in Chicago on demand of the English government for receiving property known to be fraudulently obtained. Factor was freed on a $50,000 bond.
On December 28 1931, the United States Commissioner in Chicago ruled that Factor should be extradited to England, where he had already been tried, convicted, and sentenced to eight years at hard labor (in absentia).
Factor's lawyers argued unconvincingly that each of his victims had received a small plot of land in South Africa, or at least the deed to one, and therefore, no one was swindled.
A federal judge agreed with Factor and over-ruled the Commissioner. The Justice Department appealed and the case was on its way for review to the Supreme Court in Washington.
It was generally agreed in legal circles that Factor had a weak case and would be extradited before the spring. Armed with several million in cash and the best lawyers money could buy, the Barber managed to delay his hearing until April of 1933.
Two days before Factor was due to appear before the Supreme Court Jake the Barber's son Jerome, was kidnapped in Chicago. A ransom note arrived asking for $50,000. Murray Humphreys, the syndicate labor plunderer and Jake the Barber's close friend, led the negotiations with the kidnappers from a suite adjoining Factor's room.
Humphreys' role in the kidnapping would have gone unnoticed but the messenger who delivered the ransom note was hauled into detective headquarters for questioning and was grilled for 45 minutes. When he was released, the young man was swarmed by news reporters "I can't talk to you guys," he said "Murray Humphreys told me to keep my mouth shut"
Chicago police raided a suite at the Congress Hotel, which the press dubbed "the Hoodlum detective agency," and arrested the heirs to the Capone syndicate; Murray Humphreys, "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, Sam "Golf Bag" Hunt, Tony Accardo, Frankie Rio, Phil D'Andrea, Rocco Di Grazio and a half dozen other mob hangers-on, all of whom told the police the same thing: they were there because they had been brought in by Murray Humphreys to secure Jerome Factor's safe returned.
The cops locked them up on vagrancy charges, but within an hour Factor posted their bail and all were released. While Police were in the apartment they found a ransom note from Jerome's kidnappers. When questioned, Factor claimed that he had written the note "to confuse the kidnappers" After eight days in captivity, Jerome Factor was released on a Chicago street unharmed. Many people in Chicago simply assumed that Jerome, the good son, had agreed to a kidnapping rigged by his father and Murray Humphreys to delay the Supreme Court hearing.
With Jerome Factor returned home safely, Jake's appointment to appear before the United States Supreme Court was put back on the docket.
Factor was an exceptionally smart and practical man, he knew no matter how many shrewd lawyers he could buy, he was going to lose his case before the court and would soon be deported.
While discussing his limited options with the attorneys, Factor mentioned the delay in the hearing brought about by Jerome's kidnapping.
They reasoned that if Jake were to be kidnapped, and then returned safely to his custody, following capture of the kidnappers, then the ensuing trial would be delayed long enough for the statute of limitations against him to run out. It wasn't a sure thing, but Jake's deportation to a jail cell in England appeared certain.
Factor presented the idea to Murray Humphreys. Frank Nitti signed off on the plan to help out his pal, Jake. Humphreys and Nitti, and Paul "the Waiter" Ricca, Nitti's lead counsel in the mob, may have already had information that Jerome's kidnapping had been pulled off by independents who were employed by Roger "the Terrible" Touhy, a bootlegger who was operating out in the Northwest suburbs of Cook County. The Touhy gang was small but persistent, and had waged a sporadic war of attrition against the Outfit since 1927.

The shrewd and calculating Ricca decided to blame Roger for the kidnapping. After all, the mob wasn't having any luck shooting Touhy to death, or blowing him up, which they had tried to do on several occasions in the past year. But framing Roger for a kidnapping might work, so Nitti gave his approval with the understanding that none of the syndicate people were to be involved. Kidnapping without a long-term goal wasn't what the Chicago outfit specialized in. They were racketeers by trade. Kidnapping was a dirty business, and a high profile crime sure to invite the headline-loving FBI.
In the latter part of August 1942, Roger Touhy, once an important Chicago bootlegger, was serving a life sentence for a crime he never committed. Touhy was framed by the Capone mob with the apparent connivance of a corrupt Cook County State's Attorney named Thomas Courtney, who made political hay out of this page-one conviction. At the end of his rope and out of aces, Touhy was desperate to take matters into his own hands.
In 1933, when the international con-man Jake "the Barber" Factor was on the verge of extradition back to Great Britain for a raft of stock swindles foisted on overseas investors in the 1920s, it was decided to arrange a bogus kidnapping with the help of Frank Nitti, boss of the Chicago mob, and heir to Al Capone's empire. Factor was "abducted" outside the Dells Roadhouse in suburban Morton Grove, taken to a safe house until a phony "ransom" was paid and his release assured.
With the connivance of the Nitti gang, Factor had "fingered" Touhy as his abductor. Factor was held by the government as a material witness, just long enough to ensure that he would be released under a writ of habeas corpus. U.S. laws required that a person who is not extradited within sixty days, be released. Factor's lawyers of course, played the percentages and were able to spring their client, who fled to Los Angeles where he invested his ill-gotten fortune in real estate.
Virtually every motion Touhy filed to have his case reopened was denied without a hearing, despite mounting evidence that proved his innocence.
"I stayed awake until dawn in my cell, thinking," Touhy wrote. "I was without hope. I was buried alive in prison and I would die there. I couldn't see a light ahead anywhere. Nothing but darkness, loneliness, and desperation. The world had forgotten me after eight years. I was a nothing. Well, there was one way I could focus public attention on my misery. I could escape. I would be caught of course but the break would show my terrible situation. What cockeyed thinking that was, my mental attitude was a mess, I later came to realize."
The convict who convinced Touhy to escape was Gene O'Connor, a.k.a "James O'Connor," which was another name he used in long criminal career. Actually, his real name was Eugene Lathorn, and he was serving a one to life sentence for a May 1932 robbery-slaying of a Chicago policeman. For O'Connor, prison escape was a way of life. By October of 1942 he had already scaled the walls twice.
Touhy and Banghart were released from prison in 1959 and 1960 respectively. Roger Touhy was murdered by vengeful mob assassins on the front porch of his sister's house in Chicago's Austin community just twenty-five days after walking through the prison gates. Jake Factor was in Chicago at the time, wining and dining his entourage on Rush Street when he heard the news. Factor expressed false sympathy when questioned by reporters.
Basil Banghart retired to Washington where he lived out the remainder of his life in relative comfort, after inheriting a small fortune from a widowed aunt.
As to the man most responsible for Roger Touhy's collective misfortunes, American justice finally played its hand in 1943, though it was probably a moot point to Touhy by this time. Jake "the Barber" Factor was sentenced to six years in prison for mail fraud. He served his time and was released in 1948. He returned to the West Coast where he made a fortune in questionable real estate deals.
In the 1950s, Chicago mob moss Tony Accardo installed Factor as Chicago's "front man" at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas, a "low roller" casino that was the place to go for sports betting. It was an ideal marriage. Factor hustled the celebrities and made his bones with the movers and shakers of the nation who passed through Las Vegas.
In 1960 Factor donated a considerable sum to John F. Kennedy's political war chest, which earned him a full presidential pardon in 1962 from the grateful Kennedys. Factor continued to curry the favor of national political leaders like Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon up until the moment of his death in 1984. He is buried in Hollywood not far from the show business celebrities he had entertained in real life.
John "Jake the Barber" Factor was a Prohibition-era gangster. He was the brother of prominent businessman Max Factor, Sr., the founder of Max Factor, a makeup company.

Early years

Born Iakov Factorowitz or Faktorowicz, the son of a rabbi, he and his family left England, returning to Lodz, Poland, not long after his birth. He claimed he was born in Hull, Yorkshire, when he later faced prosecution in the United States. According the LA Times of the day, he produced an affidavit in court said to be from the rabbi who circumcised him to confirm his birth place. He could not produce a birth certificate. The family immigrated to the United States in 1904, settling in St. Louis, Missouri. Even though he was poorly educated, Factor had a sharp mind and by the early 1920s was becoming known as a successful confidence man. In 1923, after moving into stock fraud and selling worthless real estate during Florida's "land boom" during the early 1920s, he was loaned $50,000 by mobster Arnold Rothstein to pull off what was then considered the largest stock swindle in European history.
Jake Factor's "kidnapping"
In 1933, Factor was on the run from England, where he had been sentenced to a total of twenty-four years. Factor worked a deal with Al Capone to fake a kidnapping and blame it on Roger "Terrible" Touhy. Touhy was convicted on false evidence and sentenced to 99 years in prison. The kidnapping had been set up to eliminate Touhy from competition in Chicago.

Touhy, Factor's wrongly accused kidnapper, escaped from prison in 1942, but was soon recaptured. He was finally found innocent of all charges and released on November 25, 1959. Touhy was shot to death while visiting his sister on December 17. He was probably murdered on the orders of Murray "The Camel" Humphreys, whom he had humiliated many years earlier, and who was acting on behalf of Jake Factor. Touhy had written a book about his false imprisonment, The Stolen Years.
Later years
At the time of Roger Touhy's death, Factor, now well involved with mob interests in California and Las Vegas, was in Chicago, enjoying a steak at The Singapore, a Mob-controlled restaurant on Rush Street. He later became the front man for Chicago at The Stardust Casino, after its creator, Los Angeles gambler and crime figure Tony Cornero, died in 1955, shortly before the casino was finished being constructed. On December 3, 1962, when Factor was finally about to be deported back to England, he was given a Presidential pardon by John F. Kennedy. In exchange, Jake gave Kennedy $25,000 in cash to help fund the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He sold the Stardust Casino for $14 million and then claimed bankruptcy.
The IRS looked into Factor's financial records and found that Jake had not paid taxes from 1935 to 1939. He was also found to have the lump sum of $479,093.27 in his name. When the government asked Jake how he got the money, he claimed he could not remember. Later, Jake tried to bail out Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa of his financial Florida real estate problems. He was also involved in a questionable stock transaction with Murray Humphreys.
Jake spent the last twenty years of his life as a benefactor to California's black ghettos. He spent millions of dollars building churches, gyms, parks and low-cost housing in poverty stricken black ghettos. When Jake Factor died, three U.S. senators, the mayor of Los Angeles and several hundred African-Americans attended his funeral.