The ringleaders of those who were making money hand-over-fist at the Stardust in the early sixties had all grown out of the old-time Chicago syndicate. Virtually all of them had been players in Capone's mob and its war against the Touhy organization.
When Roger entered prison in 1934, there was some question as to whether the Chicago syndicate, then under Frank Nitti's control, would make it into the next decade. The end of prohibition had taken away its beer money. Additionally, the Great Depression, which hit Chicago extremely hard, had hurt its traditional rackets like white slavery and prostitution. To top it off, the war with Touhy for control over labor unions had cost them dearly.
But when Touhy was defeated, Nitti did take control over most of Chicago's labor unions and even joined the New York and New Jersey mob in an ill- fated move on the Hollywood entertainment locals. That collapsed in 1942, when federal indictments locked up virtually all of the leaders of the Chicago mob. The indictments even caused Frank Nitti to fire a bullet through his own brain. But by 1959 the mob was under the firm leadership of Paul Ricca- the man who had murdered Matt Kolb-and Tony Accardo, who was just a small-time hood when Touhy had been locked away.
For appearances anyway, the outfit's official leader was Sam "Momo" Giancana, a merciless thug who had fought the Touhys as part of the 42 Gang under Rocco DeGrazio's command back in 1932.
But Giancana was nothing more then a lightning rod to keep the government away from Accardo and Ricca. The fact was that Accardo was the boss. In fact, he remains to this day the most powerful, successful and respected boss known by the Chicago syndicate, or probably any other criminal syndicate for that matter. He also had the distinction of being the mob leader with the longest-lived career. During his tenure, Accardo's power was long-reaching and frightfully vast.
He was so respected and feared in the national mafia that in 1948 when he declared himself the arbitrator for any mob problems west of Chicago- in effect proclaiming all of that territory as his-no one in the syndicate argued.
He was the boss pure and simple. Unlike Torrio, Nitti or Ricca, Tony Accardo looked exactly like what he was-a mob thug who could and did dispatch men and women to their death over money or disrespect. He was a self-professed peasant. But he was a reserved man and a thinker, unlike Colosimo, Capone, Giancana and all those who came after Giancana.
Unlike the other bosses, Accardo knew his limitations. He consulted often with Ricca, Murray the Camel Humpreys and Short Pants Campagna because he recognized their intelligence and wisdom and liked to use it.
He admitted lacking the crafty thinking ability of Ricca, Nitti or Torrio and the flair and self deprecating wit of Capone or Giancana. Despite his shortcomings, it was Accardo who expanded the outfit's activities into new rackets after the end of the prohibition era. It was Accardo who, recognizing the dangers of the white slave trade, streamlined the old prostitution racket during the war years into the new call girl service which was copied by New York families even though they laughed at the idea at first.
Two decades after prohibition was repealed Accardo introduced bootlegging to the dry states of Kansas and Oklahoma, flooding them with illegal whisky. He moved the outfit into slot and vending machines, counterfeiting cigarette and liquor tax stamps and expanding narcotics smuggling on a worldwide basis.
Watching someone as clever as Paul Ricca and as smart as Frank Nitti go to jail over the Bioff scandal, Accardo pulled the organization away from labor racketeering and extortion. Under Accardo's reign the Chicago mob exploded in growth and became increasingly wealthy.
The outfit grew because aside from the Kefauver committee, there wasn't a focused attempt on the part of any law enforcement agency to break it up. The FBI was busy catching Cold War spies and denied that the Mafia or even organized crime existed at all.
Under Accardo's leadership, the gang set its flag in Des Moines, Iowa; downstate Illinois; Southern California; Kentucky; Las Vegas; Indiana; Arizona; St. Louis, Missouri; Mexico; Central and South America. Accardo's long reign highlighted a golden era for the Chicago syndicate. But it also ushered in the near collapse of the outfit as well. In 1947, as Tony Accardo took the reigns of power from Paul Ricca, the outfit produced an estimated $300 million in business per year, with Accardo, Humpreys, Ricca and Giancana taking in an estimated forty to fifty million each per year.
Accardo pensioned off the older members of the mob and gave more authority to its younger soldiers, mostly former 42 Gang members like Sam Giancana, the Battaglias and Marshal Ciafano.
The money poured in. Hundreds of thousands of dollars rolled in everyday from all points where Chicago ruled. The hoods who had survived the shootouts, gang wars, purges, cop shootings, national exposes and the federal and state investigations now saw rewards for what they had so dilligently hustled for.
By 1959, the Chicago outfit was stealing millions of dollars from the Teamsters' pension fund, which they had more or less turned into their own piggy bank. The outfit was pouring much of that money into Las Vegas casinos, including The Stardust which Jake the Barber fronted.
It was all so easy, and then Roger Touhy announced that he intended to pursue a $300,000,000 lawsuit against John Factor and all the others-Ricca, Humpreys, Accardo-who had helped railroad him to prison for twenty-five years.
The bosses, Ricca and Accardo, watched and worried. They thought they had buried Touhy alive in Statesville but Johnstone got him out. This proved to the syndicate that Touhy's lawyer was no hack. When he sued, he meant business.
Worse yet, the word on the street was that Touhy was working with Ray Brennan, an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Brennan was
somebody to worry about. He knew what he was doing and he was honest. Brennan kept turning up asking the wrong questions about Teamster loans to the Stardust.
The way Ricca and Accardo saw it, there was only one answer. Roger Touhy had to die.