John Jacob Factor was probably the most successful swindler of all time. He was born Iakow Factrowitz, the second son of a rabbiand the youngest of ten children. Jake, as he preferred to be called, was born in England and taken to Lodz, Poland before his first birthday, where he lived until he was eleven years old. In or about 1900, the family moved to St. Louis, Missouri and then 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.”
It was Factor’s mother who supported the des-perately poor family through various menial jobs, mostly as a street peddler. Jake’s half brother, Max Factor, eventually made his way to California and settled in West Los Angeles. He found work as a make-up artist with the major studios where he helped to create pancake make-up. Pancake is com-posed of special creams used for Technicolor filming, which kept the actors’ faces from appearing green on film. Factor made a few changes to the formula and started to mass market the finished product to department stores, but met with only moderate suc-cess. His real success came with the second World War, when the United States Marines ordered mas-sive quantities of his makeup in several shades to use as camouflage.
With money from that order, Max Factor created a product called Long-lasting Lipstick and Water Resistant Mascara, which didn’t smear or lose color; his timing could not have been more perfect. The war had pushed women into the work force and they were flush with cash to spend on themselves. As a result, Max Factor Cosmetics became the first suc-cessful mass marketed make-up business in America.
Jake Factor took a different route to success. While still a teenager, he went to work as a barber in one of his brother’s shops. He used most of the money he earned to support his parents. From that job, Factor picked up the name that would haunt him the rest of his life, a name he hated so much he sometimes paid newspaper people not to use: “Jake the Barber.”
Jake left the shop to sell securities in the boom market. He was indicted under a federal warrant for stock fraud in 1919. The case was closed after he returned the funds, only to be indicted again in Florida in 1922 and 1923 for land fraud.2
2. According to federal documents, the Florida land was sold as "improved lots" when most of the lots were not only unimproved, they were under water.
There were two more indictments for mail fraud, a gold mine stock swindle in Canada and another in Rhodesia, but the government was never able to obtain a conviction in the cases and Jake the Barber returned to Chicago, rich enough to live in a 14- room apartment on the Gold Coast and employ a chauffeur, but still he wanted more.3
3. Jake was married by then and the father of one child, Jerome. In all Jake would marry three times. In 1925 he married Helen Stoddard who worked at the notorious Freiberg’s Dance Hall, one of Chicago’s more legendary whore¬houses.
Sometime in late 1923, Factor convinced New York’s master criminal, Arnold Rothstein, 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 likeable, Factor arrived in England in early 1924 and began successfully selling worthless penny stocks.
As it is in any good scam, greed was the hook. Factor assured the investors a guaranteed return of 7 to 12 percent on their initial investments, an enor-mous sum compared to the one to three percent nor¬mally paid out by banks and brokerage houses. Factor was careful about paying each dividend on schedule, but only because it convinced investors to spread the news about their wise investment which brought in even more investors. When enough money was in the till, about 1.5 million, Factor left the country. He left knowing that most of the vic-tims wouldn’t file a formal complaint since that would entail revealing both their stupidity and their greed. It proved true. No formal complaint was filed against him.
In early 1925, Factor returned to England, again financed by Rothstein, and planned a second, larger scam. At the heart of the swindle was a stock bro-kerage firm Factor invented called Tyler Wilson and Company and again, greed was the hook. After offer-ing a carefully compiled list of clients a legitimate stock called Triplex at four dollars a share, Factor, working through the Tyler Wilson name, offered to buy the stock back at six dollars a share, earning his victims a quick fifty percent profit.
A month later, Factor, through Tyler Wilson, offered another stock called Edison-Bell, at $3 a share and quickly bought the stock back at $6 a share, careful never to actually deliver the stock cer-tificates to the buyers, meaning that the transaction had only happened on paper. Had the transactions been real, Factor would have lost $750,000.
When the investors were hungry for another deal, Factor sent them another offer for two unlist¬ed stocks named Vulcan Mines and Rhodesian Border Minerals, both of which were supposed to be South African gold mining companies, which Factor hinted, were on the verge of a major expansion. The Barber sold shares in the companies for as low as twenty-five cents each, allowing thousands more to enter the scam, and then pumped the earnings up to as much as $2.50 a share.
It worked. Tens of thousands of money-hungry buyers flooded in, and Jake made sure that each of them got something for their money—an unspeci-fied plot of land in Africa in exchange for their investments—making fraud difficult to prove.
In 1930, England’s newspapers started to run articles about Factor and his schemes and there was a persistent rumor that even members of the royal family had invested hundreds of thousands of dol-lars in his fake stocks. Suddenly, Jake the Barber closed Tyler Wilson and company and fled England with an estimated £1,619,726 or about $8,000,000, an incredible sum of money in 1930. Then, Jake made the one big mistake that would haunt him years later. In December of 1930 he returned to the United States from England, by way of Mexico and up through El Paso, Texas. Factor was admitted back into the United States as a visiting immigrant and swore out a statement that he had been born in Hull, England on October 8, 1892.
The problem was that the United States Immigration Department already had papers on Jake, sworn out by his parents upon their arrival in the States in 1905, that John Factor was a Russian national, born in Lodz, Poland on January 10, 1889. At that point, the immigration service opened an investigatory file on Factor which they would later use to deport him from the country.
New York underworld figure “Legs” Diamond (John Nolan), following Jake the Barber’s adven-tures in England, decided he needed every penny Factor’s scam had earned for his narcotics business.
Arnold Rothstein had taught Diamond every-thing there was to know about the narcotics busi-ness, molding him into an expert in heroin imports. Diamond had a knack for the business which in turn made Rothstein, already America’s foremost nar-cotics peddler, a very rich man. But big drug money made Rothstein careless and lazy, which are dan-gerous traits to have in the volatile world of drug smuggling. Soon others saw the profits from the dope trail that Rothstein had blazed and started to invade his territory. What Rothstein wouldn’t give, they took by force.
After Rothstein’s death, the remnants of his once vast criminal empire were up for grabs. Diamond quickly laid claim to the European drug importing routes and contacts. But claiming the routes and controlling them were two different things. Command of the U.S. side of the narcotics market hinged on earning money for the European dealers who needed to export their dope into the lucrative and insatiable American market. They wanted to do business with someone who had the cash to flood the States with low cost, high quality drugs on a contin-uous basis which would lead to a steady market.
Legs Diamond had the money and the connec-tions. Prohibition had made him rich, but all of his cash was tied up in yet another street war over con-trol of bootleg beer outlets. He tried to raise more money to expand the narcotics market from differ-ent sources, mostly from the Mafia. But the under-world knew and understood that he lacked any real organizational ability, that he drank too much too often, that he was too violent and far too mentally unstable to deal in the sedate and shadowy world of international drug trafficking.
With nowhere else to turn, Diamond sent word to John Factor over in England that he was taking over all of Rothstein’s rackets, including the Factor relationship, and wanted his share of the take from the stock swindles.
Factor never responded, probably assuming that once Arnold Rothstein, his original financier, was dead, that the proceeds from the swindle were his and his alone. But Diamond disagreed, and took a luxury liner to England to find the Barber, but Factor avoided him by simply returning to the United States and hiding out in Chicago, probably cutting in Chicago hoodlum Murray Humpreys for a percentage of his take. Factor knew that a killer like Diamond didn’t give up easily, especially when mil-lions were involved, and, never a violent man, Jake the Barber had enough sense to partner with those who had no aversion to violence.
Legs Diamond gave up chasing Jake to attend his own trial in New York State for the attempted murder of a competitor in the bootleg beer business, for which the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The night after the decision Diamond went out with friends on a drinking binge. He returned to his room in a boarding house in the early morning hours and fell into an alcoholic stupor. A half an hour later, two well-dressed men entered Diamond’s room and fired three .38 caliber slugs into his head, killing him.
Murray Humpreys was suspected of engineering the murder, if not committing it himself, on behalf of his new best friend and business partner, Jake Factor but the suspicions were never proven nor was there an investigation into the murder. No one cared. Legs Diamond was dead and that’s all that most really wanted.
With Diamond out of the way, Jake the Barber emerged from hiding and when he did, he was arrested in Chicago on the demand of the British government for receiving property knowing it to be fraudulently obtained, but was released 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 and convicted, in absentia, and sentenced to eight years at hard labor. Factor’s lawyers appealed on the grounds 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 swin¬dled. A federal judge agreed with Factor and over¬ruled the Commissioner. The Justice Department appealed and the case was headed for 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, but armed with several million in cash and the best lawyers money could buy the Barber managed to delay his hearing until April of 1933.
As usual, Buck Henrichsen, one of Roger Touhy’s bodyguards, was having money troubles. A former Cook County Highway patrolman, Henrichsen was a gambler who lost often and lost big; drank too much, and was held in low regard by both Roger and Tommy Touhy.
In April of 1933, Henrichsen and his wife had come to Roger’s house and asked Clara Touhy for help. They had fallen behind on all of their pay¬ments and their furniture was about to be repos¬sessed. Clara was always more approachable about money than Roger was and after hearing the Henrichsens out, Clara told Roger to pay off their furniture bills, a total of $300, which he did.
Perhaps, thinking that he was now one of Roger’s confidants, Henrichsen approached Roger and Tommy Touhy, who was still recuperating from his shooting at the hands of Fur Sammons, and said that he had heard that they were involved in some “easy money deals” (meaning the mail robberies) and he wanted to be in on it.
Roger, always careful, told Henrichsen, “If you know where there’s easy money to be made, let me know because I’d like to get in on it.”
Henrichsen was insulted and later that day told George Wilke, Touhy’s business manager, that there was “easy money being made by the Touhys, but we ain’t never going to see none of that. We risk our lives for these people, but we don’t never get near the big money.”
Wilke agreed. He, Henrichsen and Jim Wagner, who was Touhy’s bookkeeper, began to meet private-ly and talked about ways to make money with or without Roger Touhy.
It was at that point that John Factor came to their attention. Of course Factor wasn’t hard to miss. He lived the good life with his stolen loot. He and his wife were seen in the smartest restaurants, chauffeured around Chicago in a silver and gold Deusenberg that cost more then most Chicagoans would earn in a lifetime. He lived in a roof-top bun-galow at the Morrison Hotel where he also rented several suites as well as six additional rooms that he used as offices for $1,000 a week. He did all of this at a time when the national income was $6,500 a year and one out of every three Americans was unemployed. Jake’s wife—his second—was living at another set of suites at the Hotel Pearson with their six-year-old son Alvin and as always, Jake was sup-porting his mother and father and relatives in Poland.
The newspaper reported that between his land deal in Florida and his stock scams in England, Jake the Barber had a net worth of at least $20,000,000 and although his actual wealth was probably a fraction of that amount, Jake never denied it.
Buck Henrichsen told the others that he had checked and as far as he could determine, Jake the Barber wasn’t connected to anyone—not to the Touhys or the syndicate. In the psychology of the small time operator like Henrichsen he was fair game and so was the Factor family.
Two days before Factor was due to appear before the Supreme Court, his elder son, Jerome, was kid-napped off the streets of Chicago. A ransom note arrived asking for $50,000 and Murray Humpreys the syndicate labor plunderer and Jake the Barber’s close friend was heading private negotiations with the kidnappers from a suite adjoining Factor’s.
Humpreys’ role in the kidnapping would have gone unnoticed but the messenger who delivered the ransom note was hauled into the police station for questioning and grilled for forty-five minutes.
When he was released, the young man was swarmed by news reporters, “I can’t talk to you guys,” he said, “Murray Humpreys told me to keep my mouth shut.”
Chicago police, incensed at being left out of the investigation, raided a suite at the Congress Hotel, the site of what the press dubbed “the hoodlum detective agency” and arrested a virtual who’s who of organized crime in 1933: Murray Humpreys, Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Sam Hunt, Tony Accardo, Frankie Rio, Phil D’Andrea, Rocco DeGrazio and a half dozen other mob bigwigs, all of whom told the police the same story; they were there because they had been brought in by Murray Humpreys to secure Jerome Factor’s safe return.
The cops locked them all up on vagrancy charges, but within an hour Factor posted their bail and they were released. While the police were in the apart-ment, they found a ransom note from Jerome’s kid-nappers. When questioned, Factor claimed that hehad written the note “to confuse the kidnappers. ”
After eight days of being held hostage, Jerome Factor was released unharmed on a Chicago street. Many people in Chicago simply assumed that Jerome, the good son, had agreed to a kidnapping rigged by his father and Murray Humpreys, to delay the Supreme Court hearing, which it did. However, interestingly enough that same week Buck Henrichsen left Roger Touhy’s operation, and he and Jim Wagner opened their own saloons. George Wilke, flush with cash, moved to Florida.
With Jerome Factor returned home safely, John Factor’s obligation to appear before the United States Supreme Court was back on schedule.
Factor was an exceptionally smart and practical man. He knew no matter how many shrewd lawyers he could buy with his illegal wealth, that he was going to lose his case before the court and be deported.
Perhaps while discussing his limited options with his attorneys, Factor may have mentioned the delay in the hearing brought about by Jerome’s kid-napping. If he, Jake, were kidnapped and then returned safely and his kidnappers were captured, then the ensuing trial would delay his hearings long enough for the statute of limitations against him to run out. It wasn’t a sure thing but unless drastic measures were taken his deportation to a jail cell in England, was.
Factor probably brought the idea to Murray Humpreys first, who brought the idea to his boss, Frank Nitti, who liked it. Humpreys and Nitti, and probably Paul 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 Touhy.
The shrewd and calculating Ricca was probably the one who decided they would blame Roger for Jake’s kidnapping. After all, the mob wasn’t having any luck shooting Touhy, or blowing him up, which they had tried several times 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’s own people were to be involved. Kidnapping without a long-term purpose wasn’t what the mob did; they were racketeers. Kidnapping was a separate profession, a high profile crime that brought in the headline-loving FBI.
The underworld is a small place where news travels quickly. Humpreys learned—probably through Sam Hare, owner of The Dells casino out in the country near Des Plains—that two of Roger’s men, Henrichsen and Wilke, not only were behind the Jerome Factor kidnapping, but had pulled it off without Touhy’s permission or knowledge.
After that, Humprey, may have approached Henrichsen himself or he may have had him brought to Chicago at gun point. Whichever way he got there, Humpreys threatened to tell Roger Touhy that Henrichsen was behind Jerome Factor’s kid-napping. The alternative was for Humpreys to arrange for the Cook County State Attorney’s Office to indict Henrichsen and Touhy for kidnapping.
One way or the other, the Touhys would seek revenge and if they didn’t, the mob would. It was mandatory. Jake the Barber and his family were under Humpreys’ protection, when Henrichsen snatched Jerome. He made Humpreys lose face, so Humpreys had, in the underworld anyway, a legiti-mate claim to eliminate him. Those were the rules and Henrichsen knew it.
However, always the master deal maker,Humpreys offered Henrichsen another choice; Jake the Barber wanted to kidnap himself and the syndi-cate wanted Roger Touhy to take the fall for the kid-napping. If Henrichsen helped them arrange for Jake’s disappearance and make it look like a kid-napping pulled off by Roger Touhy, not only would Henrichsen get to live: He could earn some easy money for himself.
Of course Henrichsen agreed to go along with the scheme. It was agreed that Factor would pay $70,000 to fake his kidnapping. With that money, Henrichsen would hire at least nine of Roger’s men to work on the scam.
They would fake the kidnapping, hold Factor in a safe house for two weeks, cater to his needs, and then release him safely back to the streets of Chicago where he would accuse Roger Touhy of kid-napping him.
On the afternoon of June 30, 1933 Buck Henrichsen called one of Roger Touhy’s former bodyguards, Eddie Schwabauer. Like Henrichsen, Schwabauer had a drinking and gambling problem. However, Schwabauer’s habits were so severe that they caused him to be fired by Roger several weeks earlier for being drunk at work.
Henrichsen reached Schwabauer at his mother’s house where he was living with his children (his wife having left him a few months before) and told him “a guy with money, a rich guy...needs to disap-pear for a while. You interested? There’s money in it for you.”
Schwabauer, who was perpetually broke, said he was interested...very interested. Henrichsen asked if he could put Factor up at Schwabauer’s mother’s house for a few days and Schwabauer said “Sure, why not?” Before they parted, Henrichsen told Schwabauer to be sure and not say anything to Roger Touhy about it.
Later that same night Jake the Barber and a party of seven, including his wife and his son Jerome, spent the evening in a casino, The Dells, the same place where Roger’s men had murdered a syndicate hood a few months before. Factor and his guests drank and gambled until about 1:00 A.M., then piled into Jake’s Deusenberg to return to Chicago. As they drove down a narrow, darkened stretch of road, two cars roared up behind them and forced Factor’s Deusenberg off the road.
Buck Henrichsen, Eddie Schwabauer, Jimmy Tribbles and “Ice Wagon” Conners—all Touhy men—surrounded Factor’s car. With their guns drawn, they dragged Factor from the Deusenberg, tossed him into one of the waiting cars and sped away. An hour later Jake arrived safely at the house of Eddie Schwabauer’s mother, where he issued some orders to Henrichsen to get in touch with his family in Chicago and then asked Schwabauer’s mother to leave the kitchen while he made several phone calls. Afterward he asked for something to eat and then went to bed about 5:00 A.M.
The next morning, Schwabauer’s mother went shopping and saw Factor’s picture on the front page of several newspapers. The headlines screamed that Factor had been kidnapped at gunpoint while the British government’s representative in Chicago was calling it all a hoax. Outraged and scared, she rushed home and went into her son’s room and shook him awake “You tell that Buck Henrichsen that I want that man out of this house. I won’t have any part of this!”
An hour later, Henrichsen came to the house with Ice Wagon Connors. They collected Factor and drove him to a rented house in Bangs Lake, Illinois, where Henrichsen and several other Touhy gunmen took turns keeping Factor company. When Jake tired of them, Henrichsen hired the comedic vaude-ville team of Harry Geils and Frankie Brown to entertain Jake who spent the rest of his free time drinking and playing cards.
On July 12, 1933, Jake the Barber Factor showed up in La Grange, Illinois, flagged down a passing police car and announced, Tm Jake Factor, I was kidnapped!”
Framing Roger Touhy for the kidnapping began the very day that Jake the Barber reappeared. The Chicago newspapers were already quoting Captain Daniel Tubbo Gilbert, the powerful and notoriously corrupt chief investigator for the Cook County States Attorney’s Office who, without evidence was already accusing the Touhy gang of having kid¬napped Factor.
Gilbert’s accusation didn’t surprise Roger Touhy in the least; he knew Gilbert hated him. At one time, Gilbert, who was slightly older than Roger, had been close friends with Tommy Touhy. Gilbert and Tommy had known each other since their childhood in the Valley. There Gilbert’s upbringing was just as harsh as Tommy’s. At age eleven, Gilbert left gram-mar school and went to work as a wagon-boy at the train depot that once dominated the Valley’s center. Within a few years, Gilbert was elected Secretary of the Baggage and Parcel Delivery Union, local 725, when his opponent in the race withdrew after being shot between the legs in mid-election.
Ambitious, Gilbert went on to the governing council of the Chicago Teamsters Union and was then appointed to the Chicago police force on the day the United States entered the first World War. While on the force, Gilbert pursued a separate career in union politics, keeping his position as the Secretary Treasurer of the Baggage and Parcel Drivers Union which he ruled by brute force, fear and intimidation.
During one strike, called by the membership without his authority, Gilbert was so enraged he beat the strike leader so badly that he was indicted for assault with intent to kill. The indictment was later suspended with leave to reinstate. Mysteriously though the records disappeared from the criminal courts building when the Kefauver committee arrived in Chicago in 1951.
On the force, Tubbo earned a reputation as a cop on the make, a thick-necked bully, quick with his fist. He rose through the ranks with lightning speed because he openly engaged in city politics. He was smart enough to surround himself with capable and bright underlings. But in 1923 Gilbert was still a beat cop supplementing his income by shaking down small time bootleggers like Roger Touhy.
One afternoon Gilbert called Roger into the sta-tion and told him he wanted $5 for every barrel that rolled through his district even if it was near beer, because the city’s biggest bootlegger, Johnny Torrio, had his breweries closed by federal order. As a result, payoff money had gotten tight. Roger told Gilbert that he assumed his friendship with his brother Tommy had taken care of finances but Gilbert made it clear that friendship and money were two different issues.
Roger, as cocky as ever, told Gilbert that he expected to pay for protection but that Gilbert’s ask-ing price was exorbitant since a single barrel cost Roger $12. If he had to pay Gilbert $5 on every bar-rel plus an additional $5 to his drivers, then he would have to go out of business. Gilbert held tight to his asking price and Roger refused to budge, so Gilbert had all of his trucks impounded. Roger walked over to the 27th Ward Democratic Club where he knew he would find Gilbert, and told him that the trucks he impounded were loaded with near beer and therefore legal, and that he wanted the trucks released.
Gilbert said he didn’t care if it was near beer or the real thing. He wanted $5 a barrel to release the trucks but again Roger refused to pay and, being on the right side of the law for once, threatened to take his complaint to Gilbert’s superiors.
Gilbert relented and accompanied Roger back to the police impound yard and while others watched and listened, Gilbert made a loud apology for what he termed “this unfortunate oversight”and assigned several policemen to reload the trucks. When the trucks were reloaded, Gilbert pulled Roger aside, his face red with fury, and said, “I don’t care what kind of beer comes into this district it’s a fin a bar¬rel or no beer comes into the district at all.”
Roger told Gilbert he would pay $1.50 a barrel for protection, the going rate, and that was all that he would pay. The argument went around and around and for the next six months. Gilbert contin¬ued to stop every Touhy truck that he could find and Touhy still refused to pay. Thus the lifelong feud between Tubbo Gilbert and Roger Touhy continued.
Now, in 1933, Tubbo Gilbert was sitting comfort-ably in the syndicate’s palm and was part of the con-spiracy to frame Roger Touhy for John Factor’s kid-napping. But, no matter how much Gilbert and the mob tried to build up the kidnapping tale, by the end of the summer of 1933, the story was starting to unravel. As more and more of the seamy details of his criminal career came out in the newspapers, the public was beginning to doubt that Factor had been abducted at all.
As the wall closed in on him, Factor’s only choice was to bring the public’s sympathies back to his side, while at the same time building a better case against Roger Touhy. Through his contacts within Touhy’s gang, Factor was able to get in touch with a Tennessee moonshiner turned mail bandit, Isaac Costner, who was loosely associated with one of Touhy’s top men, Basil Hugh Banghart.
Factor told Costner that he had kidnapped him-self to avoid extradition and that he needed to build up his story and that he would pay Costner a $25,000 fee to make the kidnapping look real. For this fee Factor insisted Costner would have to bring Basil Banghart into the deal. Costner assured him that he would.
Basil Hugh Banghart had been born in Berryville, Michigan in 1900 and finished one year of college before he became a professional car thief, stealing some 100 autos in Detroit in three months in 1926 before he was arrested and imprisoned. Sociologists rated him as “a professional, sophisti-cated criminal, who is astute, well poised, alert, but without social conscience or scruples. He used his IQ. of 117 to learn to drive a train and fly an air-plane...and steal cars.”
Assigned to a window-washing detail in Atlanta Federal Prison, Banghart made his first escape by leaping some twenty-five feet from a window into a marsh on the other side of the prison’s walls. He eventually made his way to Montana, but was re-captured and sent back to Atlanta.
His second escape from Atlanta was with the leg-endary mail robber Gerald Chapman in 1927, but again, he was re-captured. Banghart was escorted back to prison by a U.S. Marshal with a stop over at the Federal building in Baltimore where Banghart was left in an office alone for several minutes. Banghart used the time to call the local police,telling them he was an FBI agent who had been overpowered and handcuffed by the prisoner he was escorting back to prison, “a dangerous, armed felon and a police imposter” he said. The police rushed to the building, arrested the marshal and released Banghart who was re-captured once again in Knoxville a year later and returned to Atlanta.
He escaped yet again and was arrested in Detroit for armed robbery and was being held in the South Bend, Indiana jail when he escaped one more time by throwing pepper in a guard’s face, grabbing his machine gun and shooting his way to freedom. This time Banghart successfully made his way to Chicago and went to work for Roger Touhy as a gun¬ner and mail robber.
Now, in the summer of 1933 Basil Banghart and Isaac Costner met Jake the Barber in suburban Maywood, Illinois to discuss Factor’s kidnapping. Banghart was suspicious, so Factor explained that there were too many holes in his kidnapping story and that too many people were starting to doubt the whole thing. The British government wouldn’t let up on its demands to have him extradited. He said he was willing to pay them $25,000 in cash if they would call him and demand more money while the FBI and police listened in on the line.
After a few demands from them, Factor said he would arrange a time and place for the additional ransom money, $25,000, to be paid. Then Factor gave Costner $5,000 as a down payment and Banghart agreed to go into the deal. A day later, Costner placed the call to Factor’s hotel suite while Tubbo Gilbert and Special Agent Melvin Purvis of the FBI listened in on the call. Costner identified himself as one of the kidnappers and demanded to know when the second half of the ransom would be paid. Factor replied that he was having difficulty raising the money and that Costner should call back in a day or two.
Then, to the absolute horror of police profession-als, after the call had ended Factor called a press conference and said that he had received a tele¬phone demand for more money from the kidnappers and that Chief of States Attorney’s Investigators Tubbo Gilbert and Special Agent Melvin Purvis were listening in on the line at the time. The papers ran with the story and suddenly Jake the Barber’s kidnapping story was credible again.
Eventually Costner and Banghart arranged to pick up the additional ransom on the corner of Wolf and Ogden Roads, just outside the forest preserves.
In preparation, Chicago Chief of Detectives William Shoemaker rounded up 250 heavily armed policemen, police cadets, sheriffs, deputies and FBI agents, two airplanes and sixty-two squad cars, ten machine guns and a dozen drop bombs and then huddled with Melvin Purvis and Tubbo Gilbert for three days to plan the kidnappers’ capture.
It had been agreed that the money would be dropped off by a messenger in a taxi cab and the police commandeered a cab that they filled with two officers, armed with machine guns and pistols, drove to the pick up point and waited. Banghart was late picking up the money and sped onto the road where the cab was waiting and pulled up to the taxi’s fender, screeching to a halt, just barely avoid¬ing an accident. He stepped out and walked over to the cab and looked at plainclothes officer Patrick McKenna in the back seat.
“You got a package, a package for Smith?” he asked.
McKenna nodded “Yes. It’s here.” At that, McKenna climbed out of the car, looked up at the two police airplanes circling above them and waved his arms to signal that the pickup had been made.
Banghart saw the set up, if in fact he hadn’t already been told about it by Gilbert, and floored his car down the road only to find it blocked by a dozen squad cars. Throwing the car in reverse, he raced down to the other end of the road to find another road block. He threw the car in reverse again and dodged back and forth between the roadblocks look-ing for an opening. At one point the two cops in the taxi, McKenna and Meyers, drove up behind Banghart’s car and fired a machine gun at the gang-ster, missing every shot. In frustration, Meyers pulled the cab up alongside Banghart’s car to give McKenna a better target. McKenna let a burst go from the Tommy gun but missed again.
This time, Banghart drove straight at the roadblock in front of him and the cops, not really sure if he would stop or not, moved out of his way. Banghart drove into the forest preserve to get out of the view of the airplanes above him. With the police only yards behind him, Banghart leaped out of the car, let it smash into a tree and ran away on foot into a rain gully that led to a state highway. From there, he hitchhiked back to Chicago, $25,000 richer, or so he thought. When Banghart opened the package, he found only $500 and stacks of cut up newspapers.