Roger Touhy’s trial for kidnapping Jake Factor was scheduled for November of 1933.William Scott Stewart would again be defending Roger and the others. Heading the prosecution’s team was Thomas J. Courtney, a tall, handsome Irishman with an easy smile who had recently been swept into office as the Cook County States Attorney in the 1932 Democratic landslide. Courtney was a man with a background. He was a lawman who had operated a speakeasy and book- making joint. He was a man who bought his booze and protection from Frank Nitti just like everyone else in Chicago. Inside Chicago City Hall, Courtney was widely considered something of a bumbler. Though handsome, he was a dim-witted figurehead who was intimidated by the older and tougher Tubbo Gilbert who, although he was supposed to work under Courtney’s direction, virtually ran the office. As for Gilbert, to prepare for the Factor kid¬napping trial, he bugged Touhy’s lawyer’s phones and kept them bugged until 1936, well after the trial had ended.
If Tubbo Gilbert was the muscle behind the States Attorney, the brain was a first rate lawyer named Wilbert Francis Crowley, acting as Courtney’s first assistant. Unlike Courtney or Gilbert, Crowley wasn’t a professional politico with higher political goals or a driving greed. He was a former public defender who was so good at what he did—defeating the States Attorney’s Office—that he was offered the position as Courtney’s assistant, where he virtually ran the judicial side of the office.
To have a trial, the prosecution would need a vic-tim, so with the assistance of States Attorney Courtney, U.S. Secretary of State Cordull Hull and the Justice Department, Jake Factor’s deportation hearing was postponed since he would be needed as a witness for the prosecution. After the hearing was postponed, Factor’s image in the press changed for the better, literally, overnight. Reporter Milton Mayer recalled being surprised to read in his paper that Factor was now “John Factor, wealthy speculator. ”
“I kept filing the story as Jake the Barber but it kept coming out John Factor, wealthy speculator.” Mayer went to see his editor who said that “States Attorney Courtney was up here and he’s asked the papers to use the expression ‘John Factor, wealthy speculator’ so as not to prejudice prospec¬tive jurors in the Touhy trial.”
Touhy’s image in the newspapers suffered. “The stories in the Chicago papers irked me a little,” he said. “The news stories now were calling me ‘Black Roger’ and ‘Terrible Touhy.’ I discovered that I was a machine gunner, a bomber, a probable murderer and a few other things about myself I didn’t know.” The trial was presided over by Michael Feinberg, who had earned a reputation as one of Chicago’s least qualified judges. In 1932, Feinberg ran in the Republican primary against John Swansa for the position of chief judge, but the Chicago Bar Association refused to endorse him, stating “He has used his judicial position to further his campaign for state’s attorney. In this he has shown a lack of appreciation of obligations of judicial office.” The Chicago Tribune went a step further and flatly advised the public against voting for Feinberg at all.
After he lost the primary, Feinberg resigned from the Bar Association and ordered a special grand jury to look into fraud in the elections. The grand jury was disbanded by the Illinois Supreme Court who wrote that Feinberg had no such right to call the jury in the first place and that “he has demonstrat¬ed a lack of qualifications essential to the holding of judicial office.”
In as far as the Touhy case was concerned, Feinberg saw it as a waste of the taxpayers’ money. Touhy was, in Feinberg’s eyes, guilty of something; if it wasn’t kidnapping John Factor, then it was something else. As Roger wrote, “Feinberg wanted a trial right now—or sooner, if possible. There would be no delays, which left us little time to locate wit-nesses or prepare a defense.”
Several days before the trial began Touhy wrote that “an emissary came to me in the jail with a proposition. A message had been sent to him that [we] would go free for a pay-off of $25,000 to a politi¬cian. I said the hell with it. I was innocent and no politician was going to get fat off of me.”
Years later, Roger told newsman Ray Brennan that the politician who wanted the kickback was actually Judge Feinberg, and that the reason he refused to pay was that his own sources in City Hall told him that Feinberg had already shaken down Jake Factor for $25,000 assuring him of a conviction.
Jake the Barber was the first witness called to the stand. One of the questions Crowley asked him was if he was allowed to use the bathroom while he was being held captive by Roger Touhy. Factor said that he was.
“And how many times,” Crowley asked, “while you were in the basement, did you use the lavatory?”
“Very often, that night,” Jake replied.
At that point, Chicken McFadden leaned over to Touhy and said in a voice loud enough for the jury to hear, “He’s trying to get it across that Jake had the shit scared out of him.”
Factor said that right after he was kidnapped, he was blindfolded and tied, brought to a house and walked down to a basement where he was tied to a wooden chair. He said he could sense “several men around me, a single light bulb burning over my head.”
He said that the kidnappers demanded that he give them the name of a person he could trust as a contact and Factor said he suggested Joe Silvers or Sam Hare, owners of The Dells, where Factor had been gambling just before he was kidnapped.
But Joe Silvers would never get to testify and Factor probably knew that when he gave his name from the witness stand. Silvers was facing federal charges for mail robbery and decided to turn infor-mant rather than do time. Perhaps fearing that he would tell what he knew about the Factor disap-pearance, Murray Humpreys’ boys had followed Silvers down to Florida, kidnapped him, took him out on a boat, shot him and threw him overboard.
Silvers’ partner in The Dells, Sam Hare, would¬n’t fare much better. Somebody pulled up alongside his car as he was driving along on a Chicago high¬way and shot him.
Factor went on to say that right after he gave their names as contacts, he was left alone with two men whom he dubbed “the good man” and “the bad man. ” The bad man was the one who slapped him around, robbed him of his rings and watch and threatened to cut off his ears “and send them to your wife as souvenirs.”
However, when he complained that the blindfold around his head was too tight, Factor said that the “good man” removed it from his eyes, cut it into pieces and then pasted it back over his eyes with adhesive tape.
Factor said that while his eyes were uncovered he looked up and saw Roger Touhy whom he now identified as the “bad man.”
Factor said that the next day he was told by the bad man “You’re going for a ride,” and assumed that meant he was going to be killed and wept for his life.
Factor claimed that at this point he was driven to another house. There he was forced to write a ransom note while someone held a machine gun to the back of his head. The ever astute Stewart asked Factor “How did you know it was a machine gun? Do you have eyes in the back of your head?”
Crowley objected to the question and the objec-tion was upheld by Judge Feinberg. “Crowley object-ed to every question asked of Factor,” Touhy said, “and Judge Feinberg upheld the prosecution most of the time.”
Despite the judge’s apparent predisposition toward the prosecution, Stewart’s cross-examina¬tion of Factor was brutal and relentless. Though he managed to cause Factor to confuse his story, it was clear he was fighting an uphill battle.
Next, the state called Eddie Schwabauer to the stand. Tubbo Gilbert, of the Cook County States Attorney’s Office, and Jake the Barber had long since gotten to Schwabauer and bribed him to lie on the witness stand, which he did and did well. He tes¬tified that on the night Factor was kidnapped he was doing guard duty in Touhy’s yard. This wasn’t true. Weeks earlier Touhy had fired him for being drunk on duty. Still, Schwabauer said that on the night in question that the Touhy household was uninhabited all night. Schwabauer’s testimony directly contradicted Touhy’s defense that he had spent most of the night sitting on his front porch with his wife and her girlfriend, Emily Ivins.
Schwabauer’s mother, Mrs. Clara Sczech, who according to Touhy was “a poor, middle aged, bedev-iled, bewildered woman,” testified next. Sczech was a maid in a house in Glenview, Illinois rented in Eddie McFadden’s name for one of the union bosses. There, she claimed she saw Basil Banghart and someone who looked like Roger Touhy. Her precise words were, “I’m not sure whether I seen him there or not.” Then, pointing at Touhy, a man she had known for at least five years, she said “This here fel-low looks quite a lot like him, still there is not quite so much resemblance.”
She ended her testimony with a lie, saying that after Factor was released by his kidnappers, McFadden told her that she was no longer needed to clean the house. The implication being that the house was where Factor was held during his kid-napping.
Buck Henrichsen testified next. He appeared completely relaxed, having spent the past seven weeks before the trial living in protective custody at Chicago’s finest hotel, the Palmer House, courtesy of the States Attorney.
Roger didn’t know anything about Henrichsen’s testimony until the day he took the witness stand. Of this unexpected testimony Touhy wrote, “I didn’t expect Buck Henrichsen to shove a knife between my ribs and twist it. I had never done anything but good for him....Henrichsen couldn’t meet my eyes when Crowley called him to the witness stand. He was ashamed.”
Henrichsen testified that Roger ordered him to find a house in Glenview for Eddie McFadden to rent, and that on the night Factor was kidnapped, he had seen Touhy at Jim Wagner’s saloon drinking with Schafer, Kator, Banghart and the others who were now accused of the kidnapping.
His testimony of course was false. Regardless of their validity his words proved to be very damaging to Roger’s case. As far as the jury knew Henrichsen was a former police officer and simple night watch-man around Roger’s home who had no reason to lie about his employer on the witness stand.
After Henrichsen’s testimony, Roger demanded that his lawyer, William Scott Stewart, place him on the stand. Stewart refused. This led Roger to sign an affidavit requesting a new lawyer. Insulted, Stewart refused to go on with the trial. Eventually he resumed but only after Judge Feinberg threat¬ened to jail him. When Stewart refused Feinberg’s order and simply didn’t show up for court the judge sent his bailiff to Stewart’s home and escorted him back to the courtroom in handcuffs.
Touhy recalls, As the trial moved toward a close, I was fed up to the Adam’s Apple with our lawyer. So were Kator and (Schafer). Somebody had told me that Stewart had gone to lunch with Crowley and that he had chatted with Tubbo Gilbert during a court recess....Stewart, although he knew I was innocent, wouldn’t listen to me...the squabbling between us was endless.
His fate was now in the hands of a man he didn’t trust.
After three weeks of testimony, the jury retired. After only one day’s deliberation the trial was dis-missed by Judge Feinberg as deadlocked. A second trial was to begin in eleven days.
The second trial was almost a duplicate of the first. The only exception was the testimony of Ike Costner and Basil Banghart whom Factor called to build up his story.
Costner’s testimony was part of a deal he made following his arrest in Baltimore in February of 1933 along with Basil Banghart for their part in a $105,000 mail truck robbery in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Upon learning of Costner and Banghart’s arrest, Tubbo Gilbert, Jake Factor and six deputies trav¬eled by train to Maryland. Also joining them was Joseph P. Keenan, the Special U.S. Attorney charged by the Attorney General with stopping the rash of kidnappings that were plaguing the country. With Keenan’s help, Costner and Banghart were released in Gilbert’s custody and somewhere along the train ride back to Chicago, Ike Costner agreed to lie on the witness stand in return for a lighter sen¬tence in the mail robbery case.
“On the day that Factor and Gilbert brought the two witnesses back from Baltimore,” Touhy wrote, “I was walking in the corridor leading from Judge Feinberg’s courtroom to the prisoner’s elevator dur-ing a recess. Ahead of me, I spotted Tubbo Gilbert and a man I never had seen before. I figured it might be another fake finger, so I hunched down my head and hid my face with my coat collar. I heard Tubbo say ‘The guy in the light suit, that’s Touhy’...in my cell, I got the hell out of that light suit and put on a dark blue one. When I got back to the court, Costner was the first witness.”
Crowley asked Costner “And did you know Roger Touhy?”
Costner went blank and didn’t answer. Crowley asked again and Costner mumbled “Yes.”
“Please point to Mr. Touhy. He is present in the courtroom.”
Costner looked around the room desperately. He didn’t have a clue as to what Roger Touhy looked like.
Ray Brennan, who covered parts of the trial for the Associated Press, later said that Costner looked over at the defense table and stared at one of the Cook County deputies guarding the Touhys and was about to point to him as the man he suspected of being Roger when Stewart said very loudly, “Stand up, Roger.”
Touhy was mortified but stood up, expression¬less.
‘Yeah, that’s him,” said a relieved Costner.
“Did you know Gus Schafer?” Crowley continued.
Again Costner went blank and again, remark¬ably, Stewart shouted “Stand up Gus,” and Schafer stood up, a look of complete disbelief on his face.
“Did you know Kator? Albert Kator?” Crowley asked.
Stewart told Kator to stand which he did.
Crowley asked Costner if he saw all three men at the apartment house and Costner said he had seen them there.
“I have always been bitter,” Roger wrote, “and always will be about Stewart’s making me a clay pigeon for Costner to shoot down....Stewart said he regarded it as psychologically important with the jury to have a defendant admit his identity at once, rather than wait to be pointed out. Maybe so, but I don’t believe Costner could have identified me with-out my own lawyer’s help.”
Costner testified that he had come to Chicago at Basil Banghart’s request because Banghart was eager to get money for Touhy’s defense in St. Paul against the Hamm kidnapping charges.
Stewart leaped to his feet and shouted “What! What lawyer?”
“I don’t remember, Banghart never told me his name.”
Costner said that it was Touhy’s enforcer James Tribbles who pulled him into the Factor kidnapping in the first place.
It was safe to accuse Tribbles because he was dead. They found him almost the same way they found Teddy Newberry, tied with chicken wire, beat-en to a purple pulp and shot in the head and dumped alongside a ditch. Everybody blamed Tommy Touhy for the murder, but by then Tommy’s legs had given out and he was confined to bed in a log cabin hidden away on Joe Saltis’ estate in rural Wisconsin.
Costner said that on the night Factor was kid-napped, Tribbles took him to a lonely, rural side road near The Dells where Roger Touhy, Kator, Schafer and Banghart were waiting. When Factor pulled out of The Dells’ parking lot, Costner said that the club owner, Joe Silvers “put the finger on Factor.”
Costner went on to admit that he was “the good man” that Factor had spoken of during his testimony.
When called to the witness stand again to face a grilling by William Scott Stewart, Costner was made to look like the liar that he was. His eyes dart¬ed from left to right and he rubbed his hands togeth¬er and perspired profusely.
Stewart asked Costner for the address of the apartment house in which he lived but he said he couldn’t remember what it was.
“Ok, can you tell us what city or town place it was in?”
“No, I forget.”
“So you don’t know the address, or street name or city name of the place where you lived for eigh-teen months, is that correct?”
“I think it is.” Costner said.
To the rest of Stewart’s questions Costner’s replies were similar. His refrain was “I don’t know,” and “I don’t recall right at this moment.”
When Basil Banghart was called to the stand, Crowley asked,
“What is your occupation, Mr. Banghart?” “Thief.”
The jury laughed but Crowley was confused. “What?”
“I’m a thief. I steal...that’s how I make my living.” “And you’re proud of that?”
“Why not? You’re a lawyer, lots of people say you people steal, I don’t hear you apologizing to nobody.” “I am not on trial here, sir.”
“Well, neither am I, son.”
“What was the last place of your residence?”
“601 McDonough Boulevard South East, Atlanta, Georgia, but it wasn’t permanent.”
Later in the day Crowley found out that 601 McDonough was the address for the Atlanta Federal prison and called Banghart back to the witness stand to explain himself.
“Why didn’t you tell us,” Crowley demanded, “that you were in prison?”
“Four walls and iron bars,” Banghart replied, “do not a prison make.”
Crowley said, “So you escaped from prison, isn’t that correct?”
Banghart answered, “No. The warden says I escaped from prison.”
“And,” Crowley asked, “What do you say?”
“I say,” replied Banghart, “that I left without per-mission.”
“The point is, Mr. Banghart, is that you are a fugitive, are you not?”
‘Yes I am. I am a fugitive.”
Despite the fact that the only new testimony was shaky at best, the jury took less than four hours to decide their guilt and six hours to decide the penal-ty. Half the jurors wanted to impose the death penalty and half wanted life in prison. Ultimately Roger was sentenced to ninety-nine years in Joliet State Prison.
When the verdict was read, Roger gagged, coughed violently, vomited, and had to be carried out by deputies while the courtroom exploded in cheers.
In a separate trial, Isaac Costner and Basil Banghart were also found guilty for their role in the Factor kidnapping and given ninety-nine years each. Costner screamed double-cross and said that the federal government promised to let him off with five years if he testified against the Touhys in the Factor case. The government denied any such promise, saying that they had no interest in making deals for the Cook County States Attorney’s Office. The day Roger Touhy went to prison, the syndicate, led by Rocco DeGrazio, moved into his section of Cook County and never moved out again.
Now that Roger and the others were convicted, John Factor had a problem; he was going to be extradited, or so he thought.
But the U.S. Department of State made no moves to extradite him and Factor was free. He had beaten deportation. However, the conviction against him by the English courts was ordered to remain in effect until he was tried before a Royal Bench in England and that day would come sooner than he or anyone else realized.
Despite his conviction, Touhy was not giving up his fight. From prison, in 1938, Rogerretained Thomas Marshall as counsel with his last $50,000. Marshall was one of the nation’s leading criminal lawyers. After sifting through the evidence, Marshall was convinced of Roger’s innocence, but decided that what was needed was a complete reinvestigation of the case. With Touhy’s approval, Marshal brought in a private detective named Morrie Green, a disbarred lawyer who had once represented most of the Chicago underworld, including the Moran Gang’s leader, Schemer Drucci.
Green had also been the lawyer for super pimp and political pay-off expert Jake Zuta. In fact in that case, Green may have overstepped the fine line between lawyer and partner when Green’s signature was found on several checks written from Jake Zuta to himself, and then signed over to a judge Joseph Schulman of the municipal bench. The judge said that he had business dealings with Morrie Green and that was why Zuta had the checks. Disbarred, Green spent the last part of his career as a private detective.
An interesting note on Green—in 1959, long after the Touhy case, he would make the newspa¬pers again when the underworld murdered Fred Evans. Evans and Murray Humpreys had started their criminal careers together back in the Roaring Twenties and by 1959 both of them were powerful men. Evans’ loan-sharking operation eventually put him in touch with Lou Greenberg, a lowlife charac-ter who ran Capone’s Manhattan brewery and the Roosevelt Finance Company at 3159 Roosevelt Road. Greenberg had his life snuffed out after he cheated Frank Nitti’s adopted son out of his inheri¬tance which Greenberg had been entrusted to hold until the boy came of age. Eventually Evans and Greenberg’s widow, Esther, would become partners in a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills. Coincidentally, it was at that hotel in 1951 that wise guys from Chicago and St. Paul planned the execution of a Los Angeles reform mayor. Eventually the two made enough money to reinvest their profits into another hotel just inside Beverly Hills.
By 1959 Evans was a rich man. His fortune was at least eleven million dollars in cash. Most of that was made in the early 1940s when Evans worked the inroads that Humpreys and Teddy Newberry had made in their brokerage firm shakedown schemes in the late 1930s. With Humpreys’ muscle behind him, Evans ended up with part ownership of a discount brokerage corporation at 100 North La Salle Street in Chicago. By now Evans was consid¬ered to be the brains behind Humpreys’ financial success and was widely thought to be the fiscal genius behind Frank Nitti’s ability to wash the extortion money from Hollywood’s Bioff scandal.
The FBI made a customary stop at Evans’ office and briefly interviewed him. He consented to answer questions, but was guarded in his conversa-tion. While speaking with Evans, the agents weeded through a pile of useless information to find out that Morrie Green was a front for Humpreys in the Superior Laundry and Linen Supply Company which he owned lock, stock and barrel.
It seemed, to Evans anyway, to be a fairly worth-less piece of information—most law enforcement people and wise guys in Chicago already understood the relationship between Humpreys and Greenberg. However the FBI didn’t know it. In fact in 1959 the FBI knew very little about organized crime.
The agents took what they learned from Evans and confronted Morrie Green with the information and its source. Word got back to Ricca and Accardo and Giancana that Evans had talked to the federal government.
The bosses sat in judgement with the evidence before them and decided that Evans had to be elim-inated. It didn’t matter what he had said; the fact was that he had communicated with the FBI. As a courtesy to Humpreys, since he and Evans went back so far, the boys asked if the Hump could come up with a reason not to kill Evans. Humpreys shrugged and said he had nothing to say on the sub¬ject. That sealed Evans’ fate.
Twenty-one days later, on August 22, 1959, Fred Evans finished up work at his desk. He had been going over his assets. Closing his books he scribbled “total resources eleven million dollars” on a paper which he left in the middle of his desk. He turned off his desk lights and left the office, walked to 5409 West Lake Drive, where his Cadillac was parked at a lot. As Evans walked across the lot, Mrs. Alice Griesemer of 328 North Lotus Avenue, saw a young man wearing a heavy winter coat, buttoned to the neck, who had been sitting on a step for over an hour on an extremely muggy Chicago evening. As Evans strolled in front of Mrs. Griesemer’s line of vision the young man in the winter coat leaped to his feet and ran across the street into the parking lot towards Evans. At the same time, another man holding a handkerchief across the lower part of his face ran out of an alley toward Evans. It took Evans and Mrs. Griesemer only a few seconds to see that both of the men had pistols in their hands. Evans stopped in his tracks and covered his face and yelled “No, don’t!”
The two men slammed Evans against a wall, searched him quickly and snatched an envelope from his back trouser pocket. Leaping backward they shot him twice in the head and twice in the throat. The shots in the throat were to let the under¬world know that they suspected Evans of being a stool pigeon.
The assailants leaped into a blue Chevrolet and vanished.
Evans staggered a few feet back to his car and collapsed across the front seat. The witness, Mrs. Griesemer, on North Lotus Avenue, said “It was like watching a movie or a television show.”
When the police arrived they found Evans’ body lying on an envelope that held a $5000 government bond. Further investigation of the contents on Evans’ desk showed that he held about $500,000 in cash, jewelry, stocks and bonds and part ownership of two apartment buildings. In the end he paid the ultimate price for committing the underworld’s one mortal sin—talking to the feds. It didn’t matter that the information he divulged about Morrie Green’s relationship with Murray Humpreys was old news to most; Evans sealed his fate by talking at all.
In the last months of 1938, before becoming embroiled in the Evans shooting, Morrie Green was working as a private investigator for Roger Touhy. There’s no doubt that the two men had known each other on the outside. Chicago’s underworld was too small for them not to have known each other. “Morris,” Roger said, “seemed a bit cynical when he first came to see me. He sat across the visitor’s table in the long, narrow room where fifty or more con-victs can talk with their lawyers or with their rela-tives on approved visiting days. I could see that Green wasn’t happy with his mission.” However, “Green surprised me,” Roger said. “He was a jewel, a really rich prize....Morrie turned out not to be real¬ly a cynic. He was a kind, considerate, conscientious man...who had bitter disappointments in his life, and he had an understanding for informants like me. People expect to be bled white by private detec¬tives. Although my legal expenses had been enor¬mous, I still had about $50,000 which my family had salvaged from my ruined beer business. But Green charged only reasonable fees and he didn’t pad his expense account.”
The first thing Green did was visit Buck Henrichsen, Touhy’s former bodyguard. With Touhy in prison, Henrichsen found full time work for him-self with Chicago’s gambling czar, Billy Skidmore, at the mob’s Bon Aire Country Club. The Bon Aire was¬n’t actually a country club at all. It was a posh casi¬no owned by the underworld—mostly by Tony Accardo—and run by Skidmore, the syndicate’s favorite front man. Each weekend buses owned by the mob delivered hundreds of gamblers to the club. Somehow, despite the casino’s high profile, it was never raided.
The fact that Henrichsen was working for Billy Skidmore was no small thing either. Roger had known Skidmore from his childhood when Skidmore ran a notorious saloon on West Lake and North Robey streets4 only a few doors down from the house where Roger had been born. Confidence men and petty criminals gathered at the saloon to divide their spoils, and gamblers and pimps arrived to pay their protection money. The place also served as headquarters for Valley pickpockets, sneak thieves and shoplifters of all sorts. Skidmore sold bail bonds to them all. But what Skidmore did best was to act as a go-between—firming up deals between gang-sters and politicians—ultimately serving as the bag man when a deal was worked out.
Otherwise, Skidmore was a hustler. He ran gam-bling joints inside the Levee and was a regular visi-tor to Johnny Torrio’s Four Deuces saloon at 2222 South Wabash. In 1917 Skidmore had been indicted with seven others including Chicago Chief of Police Charles Healy for operating a graft connection between police and gamblers. Healy lost his job but neither he nor Skidmore did any jail time. When Anton Cermak took over the Cook County Board, Skidmore entered the junk business and received a lucrative county contract to handle scrap iron. He opened a junkyard at 2840 South Kedzie which became Skidmore’s new headquarters. Skidmore worked for Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzak as a con¬tact man with city hall, the Kelly-Nash machine, and later to the state legislature. He aligned himself with Jake Zuta but still it was understood that Skidmore worked best for himself and made no pre tenses that he could be trusted. In the early 1930s, he created a shakedown business where he approached the black policy kings like the Jones Brothers and assured them that for the paltry sum of $250 a week, the syndicate would not interfere in their operations. He would then go to the mob and offer them only half of the money he collected, keep-ing the rest for himself. By 1938, Skidmore had hun-dreds of deals in place with pimps, prostitutes, rogue cops and burglars.
4. Robey Street is no more, its name has been changed. Touhy’s house still stands in its original place, Paddy the Bear’s saloon is now a garage. Skidmore’s saloon is a residence.
Skidmore ran his operation out of his junkyard, the Lawndale Scrap Iron and Metal Company. It was there that Skidmore dispensed the mob’s graft to police and politicians and collected protection from pimps and loan sharks who worked the rackets that the mob chose to avoid. Skidmore’s other office, when he needed to speak to customers working out in the county, was the personal lair of Herbert Burns, the Chief of Cook County’s Highway Patrol. Burns owed Skidmore a small fortune for gambling debts.
However, most of Billy’s business was done at the junkyard, and it was here that newspaper reporters watched a Chicago police captain named Tom Harrison visit every Saturday morning for almost a year. Harrison said he went to buy fresh eggs for his family. Federal prosecutors said he owed Skidmore ten thousand dollars for gambling debts.
In 1939 the Cook County Chief of Police, Lester Laird, “declared war” on gambling. Needless to say, reporters from the Chicago Tribune were surprised to find the chief visiting Skidmore at his junk-yard/handbook operation the day after his declara-tion of war. As it turns out, the chief had been call-ing on Skidmore four to six times a month over a five year period. He was also a frequent visitor to Skidmore’s 260-acre estate in McHenry, Illinois. When confronted by reporters about his visits to the Skidmore place, the chief replied that he had gone to personally harass Skidmore into obeying the law. That same afternoon, reporters followed Laird to the Drake Hotel where he had dinner with Skidmore. When a photographer snapped a picture of the two of them together, Laird leaped up from his table and ran out of the hotel through the kitchen.
He resigned the next day.
On March 20, 1942, Skidmore was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to Terre Haute prison for two-and-a-half years, plus $5,000 in penalties. Skidmore’s cellmates were Sam Giancana and black policy king Edward Jones. Skidmore convinced Jones to acquaint Giancana with the numbers rack¬et on the mostly black south side. When Giancana was released from prison, he and the remnants of the old 42 Gang, invaded the south side and took over the policy racket, eventually banishing Jones to Mexico.
As for Billy Skidmore, he never saw the light of another free day again. He died of cancer while still in prison in 1943.
Green met Henrichsen at Skidmore’s junkyard. He knew that Henrichsen had landed the job with Skidmore through Tubbo Gilbert’s influence. In fact, years later Henrichsen’s widow swore out a state-ment that Gilbert had actually ordered Skidmore to give Henrichsen the job.
“He told me,” Green recalled, “Tubbo Gilbert and Assistant States Attorney Crowley told me I had a choice of being a defendant or eating steaks at the States Attorney’s expense. They said that if I ever got out of line they would indict me for kidnapping Factor and that I could get up there [on the stand] with Touhy and the others.”
Green pushed for more information and Henrichsen eventually admitted that he and Eddie Schwabauer had been paid off by John Factor to lie on the witness stand. He said that he went to the Sycamore jail, where Factor was temporarily held after the kidnap trial ended pending a decision on his immigration status, and “I would meet him on the stairs there, me and Eddie Schwabauer, and Factor would pay us.”
Green tried for the impossible. “Look, you know Touhy is innocent, I know Touhy’s innocent on this thing, now why don’t you do right by him and tell the truth about this to a judge?”
Henrichsen laughed it off. “Look, I got a wife and four kids and I got to provide for them, and I’m not going to do nothing that gets on the wrong side of Tubbo [Gilbert]...look, I got a choice here, I mean I could have testified the way I did and eat steaks at the County’s expense or I could have been a defen-dant. They, Tubbo and Crowley and them, they told me real, real clear, they said I would be indicted right along with Roger and those fellows if I didn’t testify the way they wanted.”
Next, Green went to see Mrs. Sczech and her son, Eddie Schwabauer. It was Schwabauer who agreed to hide Factor in his mother’s house on the night Factor kidnapped himself. Green pegged the pair the same way that Tubbo Gilbert did, as pushovers, so he took a gamble. He told them that he had absolute proof that Touhy was innocent and that it was only a matter of time before Buck Henrichsen swore out an affidavit stating that the mother and son had lied on the witness stand at the Factor kidnapping trials. It worked because they knew that Buck Henrichsen was a man who could not be trusted.
On advice from Touhy’s lawyers, Green took Mrs. Sczech and Eddie Schwabauer to South Bend, Indiana to the office of a former U.S. Congressman where they confirmed a statement that laid out the kidnapping plan. They admitted lying on the wit¬ness stand, and their statement said that less than an hour after Factor’s car was run off the road that Jake Factor appeared at Mrs. Sczech’s home, not blindfolded or bound in any manner, and made sev-eral phone calls before retiring for the night.
When Mrs. Sczech and Schwabauer learned that Touhy’s lawyers would have to file their statements as affidavits to the U.S. Supreme Court, they insist¬ed on being moved to Canada for their own protec¬tion though Roger said, “few, if any, terrorists have the courage to harm or murder witnesses in United States Supreme Court cases.”
Unfortunately, the Canadians turned the party around at the border, denying them entry. Instead Green hid them in a rented house in Kankakee until the papers were before the court.
Then Green went to Manard Prison and inter-viewed Touhy gang members Gus Schafer and Albert Kator, both of whom had been convicted with Touhy. “I was,” Roger said, “a little hurt by what Morrie learned from them. They had in fact been in on the Factor hoax. Buck Henrichsen had brought them into the deal. They had shared in the $70,000 pay-off.”
Years later in court, Schafer told Roger, “We were afraid to let you know. Anyway what in the by jesus good would it have done?”
Schafer and Kator told him that Buck Henrichsen had cut them in on the Factor kidnap-ping and had taken turns keeping Factor company at a house at Bangs Lake in Wauconda, Illinois.
Green found the house, and both its owner and the yardman gave sworn testimony that they had seen Factor around the property during the time that he was missing. They even went so far as to say that they had seen him taking walks around the lake alone on several occasions.
Next, Green found Harry Geils and Frankie Brown, the comedy team hired by Henrichsen to entertain Factor while he was in hiding. Each gave their statements that Factor wasn’t tied up when they saw him. In fact, they had shared drinks together.
Green interviewed Chicago policemen Walter Miller and Lieutenant Thomas J. Maloney who had worked for Tubbo Gilbert and had been assigned to guard Factor after his reappearance in La Grange. Factor had told both of them that he never saw his kidnappers and had no idea what they looked like.
Green then traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee, and picked up sworn statements from a woman who tes-tified that on the night Factor was kidnapped she had been out to the wrestling matches with Ike Costner and Basil Banghart at the Lyric Theater in Knoxville.
Green returned to Statesville and reported everything to Roger who doubled over with joy. Based on the evidence that Green had uncovered, Roger’s lawyers prepared a brilliant appeal for the Illinois State Supreme Court. But their appeal was denied without a hearing, as was another appeal placed before the United States Supreme Court. Then, Robert Lally, a newspaper reporter with the once powerful Chicago Daily News who had taken up Roger’s cause, died of cancer. Lally had worked closely with Morrie Green and had even developed his own information which he assured Roger would get him out of jail.
“His death,” Roger said, “saddened and shocked me, partly for selfish reasons, I’ll admit...Lally kept telling me that he had proof to get me out, that I would never spend another Christmas in Stateville. I believed him and I still think he had something big, although I never learned what it was...I was now as dead, legally speaking, as the old broken-down cons who get a $27 funeral at the state’s expense, in a prison made burial suit, out of Stateville. The differ-ence was that I hadn’t been embalmed.”
It was at that point Roger decided to escape from Stateville.