Traveling with Roger Touhy, probably in the capacity of a bodyguard, was thirty-six year old Gustave Schactel, aka Gus Schafer. Jim Ryan, Touhy's top enforcer, had hired Schafer as a guard for his beer collectors in May of 1933 and before long Schafer was planning additional mail robberies for the gang. Schafer's brother, Joseph Schactel, was a Catholic priest and a Ph.D. candidate at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. For years, Gus had managed to keep his criminal life away from his brother.
And what a criminal life it was. Schafer was arrested in San Francisco on December 15, 1913 for burglary, and was sentenced to five years' probation. He was arrested again that same year and sent to prison for attempted larceny and released in 1916. He was arrested again on March 9, 1922, in Oakland for highway robbery and sent to Stillwater Prison in Minnesota on June 16, 1922. After his release he was arrested again on March 16, 1931, in Los Angeles on suspicion of robbery, grand theft auto and was sent to prison in Pontiac, Michigan.
Schafer did more time in the Stillwater, Minnesota prison for a jewelry store robbery. After that, Schafer had been working in San Francisco on gambling boats as "atmosphere" as he put it, from March of 1931 until March 1932 when he and his wife packed their Chevy and relocated to Chicago.
The marriage had problems since its inception in Oakland, California in 1920. When Gus went to prison in Minnesota his wife filed for divorce, but when he was released she dropped the proceedings. Schafer said he went to Chicago to make money on the World's Fair liquor business and felt that "if I didn't make some money my marriage would be on the rocks."
They settled in Oak Park and then Des Plains where they were put up by a German family who had known Schafer's parents in Europe. The family gave them a small apartment. Then in May of 1933 he was brought into the Touhy organization as a hired gun. Roger and Tommy Touhy liked Schafer's style. When they learned that he had been the prison movie projectionist they promoted him to a minor official status in Tommy Maloy's movie projectionists' union so he could explain his income.
The red-headed Schafer was a serious man by nature, seldom smiling. As Touhy said "a big guffaw or belly laugh for him was a slight twitch at the corners of the lips." But Schafer did have a dry, hangman's wit that Tommy and Roger enjoyed.
After Schafer moved to Illinois he brought in Patrick McDonald, a San Francisco gambler whom he had done time with. The two of them, with Touhy's permission, opened a handbook in the Montrose Apartments in Chicago.