The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.: The St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Real-Life and ...: Tony Sokol We have a history of the real St. Valentine's Day Massacre for you, as well as its impact on film and p...
Miller drove quickly to Touhy's sister's house. He was worried about making the curfew so he didn't take the precaution of driving around the block as he usually did. They were running late and it was a bitter eight degrees outside with an ugly wind whipping across the street.
He parked and the two men slowly walked up the six steps of Ethel's porch, Miller's hulking frame towering over the limping and bent Touhy. The only sound that could be heard was the occasional passing traffic on Washington Boulevard a half a block away. Then Roger heard a call from one of two men running toward him. "Wait, hold on, we're police officers!"
Roger and Miller turned their heads as one. Instinctively, Miller reached for his service revolver but it was too late. The men were running toward them, leveling their shotguns as they sprinted across the frozen street. With a policeman's eye, Miller noticed that one of the killers stood at least six feet tall. He was wearing a topcoat. The other was perhaps three inches shorter. Miller aimed at him and fired.
The killers fired back. Miller raised his left arm to cover his face and nearly had it blown off at the elbow. Dozens of pellets lodged into his back and legs. The transom over the door was shredded by shot pellets and the vibration from the blasts had shattered the glass in the front door.
Before the blasts knocked him to the ground, Miller was able to get off a total of five shots. Two shots landed in the windshield of a car parked on the opposite side of the street, two more grounded themselves into the front lawn and one found its way into the leg of one of the assassins.13
Almost at the exact moment that Miller was blown backward, two huge blasts from the killers' shotguns knocked Roger across the porch and then smashed him face first into the ground. Pellets tore a hole in Touhy's inner left leg, the other pellets dug into his right upper rib cage. His leg was barely attached to his body.14
In all, the killers fired at least seven blasts with their shotguns and probably three more with an automatic pistol and then they were gone.
The murder had taken less than forty-five seconds.
Miller crawled over to Touhy and said, "Say an act of contrition, Rog."
Ethel was in the kitchen drying the dinner dishes when she heard the blasts. She had been half listening for her brother's footsteps on the front porch, but when she heard the blasts, she knew he was dead. She had been expecting it.
She ran out to the front steps and saw Roger, twitching violently in a massive pool of his and Miller's blood.
She bent down over her brother and tried to pick up his head.
Roger held her hand and moaned, "It was two cops."
Patrolmen Robert Peters, Henry Sullivan and Daniel Stillwagon were the first on the scene. They didn't try to stop the blood because it didn't seem possible. Their only thought was to rush Touhy to a hospital.
Two ambulances were called, but there wasn't enough time to wait; Peters could see that Touhy was bleeding to death in front of his eyes.
When a third squad car pulled up, Peters placed Roger in the back seat and drove him to nearby Saint Anne's hospital.
Miller, who was conscious but in agony, volunteered to wait for an ambulance and told the cops to get Roger to a hospital.
Peters rode in the back seat with Touhy, holding his hand and making a valiant but hopeless effort to stop the gush of blood from the gaping holes in the dying old man's legs.
Roger kept nodding his head at the cop and saying, "I'm all right, I'm okay."
But he wasn't. He was losing too much blood from the shotgun pellets drilled into his leg, in the place where his knee had been just a few minutes before. They arrived at the emergency room at 10:35 P.M. where a shock trauma team headed by Dr.
Patrick Vitullo placed Roger under an oxygen tent and wheeled him into an operating room.
Dr. Vitullo applied a tourniquet to the upper portions of Touhy's legs in a fruitless effort to stop the bleeding just as Chief of Detectives John Archer stepped into the room, slipping and almost falling to the floor that was slippery with Touhy's blood.
Dr. Vitullo leaned over Roger's face to check his breathing.
"Mr. Touhy, who shot you?"
"Do you know them?"
"Where is your identification?"
"I never carry any."
"Do you have any money on you?"
"Where is it?"
"Right front pocket."
Then he faded.
"Mr. Touhy, you must try to stay awake."
There was no reply. A nurse rifled through Roger's bloody pants' pockets and found $240, a pack of non-filtered cigarettes, a pair of reading glasses and two drawings from his sons, done twenty-six years before.
The doctor worked frantically, but knew his patient would never survive the massive loss of blood. Father Richard Birmingham was brought into the room and gave Roger Touhy the last rites of the Catholic Church which he completed at 11:23 P.M. Two minutes later, at 11:25, Roger Touhy expired.
Ray Brennan came into the emergency room just as the nurse pressed down Roger's eyelids for the final time and pulled the sheet up over his head. "Rotten bastards,"he whispered over and again. The killing shook Chicago and the question all
over town was "Why?"...Why kill a rumpled, halfcrippled old man? Why, as Newsweek put it, kill the "not so Terrible Touhy"?
Nobody in Chicago really wanted an answer, but they had to make it look as though they did. By now, 701 mob murders later, going through the motions of showing outrage, was standard practice.
Mayor Daly was awakened by his aides who told him that Roger Touhy had been killed. Daly climbed out of bed and ordered Police Commissioner O'Connor to personally investigate the killing.
O'Connor ordered his police to pick up Marshal Ciafano and Sam Teets Battaglia. Ciafano and Battaglia were the mob's favorite hit men, both were former 42 Gang members who had fought against Touhy in 1932, and both had been arrested by Walter Miller a few years before on armed robbery charges.
Marshal Ciafano was found at the Trade Winds bar by detectives who dragged him screaming, off his bar stool and carried him by his arms and legs to a waiting squad car, tossed him into the back seat and drove him to police headquarters for questioning.
They found Battaglia in his expensive home in Oak Park and hauled him in for questioning but then let him go.
Neither Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo, Murray Humpreys15 nor Sam Giancana were ever questioned for their role in Touhy's murder.
Several days after the murder, John Factor testified at the coroner's inquest with an enormous diamond ring glittering from his pinky finger. Police ushered him into a waiting room where Ethel sat in a corner with Tommy Touhy Jr., her face buried in a Persian lamb coat, her eyes hidden by dark glasses. The room was small. Factor, always amiable, turned to the Touhys and nodded and smiled. They glared at him. Then he realized who they were. He turned his face to the wall and waited for police officers to move him to another room.
Before he left Chicago for Los Angeles, Factor was allowed to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence. This was the same type of test Touhy wasn't allowed to take to prove his own innocence more than twenty-four years earlier. Chief of Detectives Archer watched the test being administered and announced to the press mob waiting on the street, "Factor had nothing to do with the shooting and no knowledge of the participants or the reasons. We have no further reasons to question him." Reporters tracked down Tubbo Gilbert who met them with his standard, "I have no comment," but then, as always, he talked anyway; "I have no idea who would want to do this either."
Perhaps not realizing the blatant stupidity of the question, Tubbo asked "I'll say this, if Touhy was so innocent, why did he need a bodyguard?"
Roger's body traveled from the Alexian Brothers Hospital to the Cook County Morgue-the same route that John Dillinger's and Frank Gusenberg's gunned down bodies had taken back in 1936.
While Touhy's dead body was waiting for transport to the morgue, a scant two blocks from his childhood home on South Robie Street, a photographer snapped a photo of the corpse, his face frozen in terror and pain, the mouth pried open in one last frantic breath for life.
Roger's grief-stricken sister was left with the awful task of identifying her brother's body a few hours later.
The next morning, at 8:30 A.M., a solitary hearse bearing Touhy's body in its coffin, slowly pulled out of the back alley of the funeral parlor. It was decided Touhy would be buried at the family grave at Chicago's Boot Hill Cemetery, Mount Carmel. Not far from his gravesite were the tombs of Dion O'Bannion, Frank Nitti, the Genna Brothers, Paul "Needle Nose" La Briola, A1 Capone and by 1992, Tony Accardo. The tombstone would bear the name TOWEY, the Anglo-Irish spelling of his family name, in the northwest corner of the burial ground where his brothers Johnny, Joe, James and Eddie were entombed.
Secrecy surrounded the funeral. Chief of Detectives Archer, who had been planning an observation detail for the funeral which he expected to take place the following week, was caught completely off guard and was told about it by a Chicago Tribune reporter.
Arriving at the site only minutes after the coffin, Archer watched from the warmth of his car as Clara and her sons, Roger Jr. and Tommy, stood in the bitter winter cold while the funeral director recited Roman Catholic prayers over the coffin. Nearby, six workmen stood by with their shovels at ready. There were no other mourners, no flowers, no pallbearers. The service ended in seven minutes and a weeping Clara was led away to a car by Tommy. A freezing wind picked up and swept across the yard as the workmen lowered Roger Touhy's coffin in its grave.
Archer walked up to the gravesite and one of the workmen paused from shoveling dirt and asked, "Is it true they only gave him twenty-eight days of freedom?"
Archer nodded, that it was.
"That hardly seems enough,"the workman said. "Just doesn't seem right."
13. The Chicago Police had been telling reporters that they "were searching high and low" for Giancana, to question him about the Touhy murder, but were unable to find him. Several days later, reporter Sandy Smith went to the home of Sam Giancana and interviewed the crime boss about the killing. Smith, who interviewed Giancana on his front lawn, noted that the gangster's foot was wrapped in bandages and he limped. It's possible that Giancana, a former 42 Gang member who was noted for his fantastic driving skills, may have been the third gunman that Miller saw and Touhy hadn't seen. Miller reported that he shot at least one of the gunmen and heard him scream out "Son of bitch!"
14. Police officer Daniel Stillwagon said later, "They blew that guy apart; you could see that the leg was just hanging on by some veins and some skin."
15. A recently declassified FBI document reveals that on January 28, 1960, Humpreys discussed Touhy's killing with labor goon Joey Glimco. The informant who reported the conversation said it was conducted mostly in whispers. Suspecting that he would be arrested by the U.S. Treasury, which was investigating Touhy's murder, for his role in the killing, Humpreys said, "Dirty bastards, if I ever want to dispute them, I didn't keep it all to myself, see?... I figure, if they're gonna get real hot on me, they want to fuck with me like they did on that shit, they're not gonna give me shit. So, I just keep still, 'cause I got the answers for them
He also added that, "He (Touhy?) was dying a long time ago. He was on a stretcher, you know?"
After three years of exhausting legal maneuvering, in late 1957 Roger Touhy and Bob Johnstone stood before the State of Illinois Pardon and Parole Board and Roger told his story.
After three years of exhausting legal maneuvering, in late 1957 Roger Touhy and Bob Johnstone stood before the State of Illinois Pardon and Parole Board and Roger told his story.
When he was finished speaking, Benjamin Adamowski, the States Attorney for Cook County who had successfully tossed him back into Stateville on the aiding and abetting technicality, strode into the room and asked to be heard.
"My hopes sank," Touhy said, "...his words could condemn me."
But what Adamowski said surprised everyone. "My office has no objection to the release from prison of Mr. Touhy...in fact, I would urge it."
Eventually, and again with Robert Johnstone's help, Roger's 199-year term was reduced to three years on institutional parole, reducing his kidnapping sentence to six months. After that, he was to begin the commuted jail break sentence which was to expire April 27, 1961.
On November 13, 1959, Roger Touhy, a greying man of sixty-one, was paroled from prison after serving twenty-five years, nine months and thirteen days for a crime of which he was innocent. His health was gone and so was his money. He had been bled dry by the legal fees incurred from his seventeen denied petitions for freedom, which included four denials by the United States Supreme Court.
As he walked from the prison for the last time, he was draped in a gray overcoat that had been purchased for him in 1958 for his court appearances and a blue suit made in the prison tailor shop. He had the $600 which had remained on deposit in the prison before his 1942 escape.
Clara waited at the gates for him. They hugged for several minutes and whispered to each other through tears, and then walked, hand in hand, out of the prison. Bent and limping slightly, Touhy gave his first and last press conference on television as well as talking to print reporters at the Stateville guard house. He told the reporters that there was a gag order imposed on him. He disagreed with the order "since they didn't put one on Factor" but told reporters that he would have to be careful which questions he answered nonetheless.
There was an awkward silence for a moment which Roger broke. Referring to his first release several years before he said, "Any you guys get the feeling we've been through this before?"
That loosened things up.
He looked up at the grey skies and held his hand out to feel the mixture of light rain and snow falling around him.
"You know, it's funny. It was the same kind of day when I entered this place way back then."
"What are you going to do now, Mr. Touhy?" "Please call me Roger...I've invented a lure for fresh water fishing; I'm going to manufacture it."
"Ever manufacture anything before, Rog?" Touhy's eyes lit up. "Beer!"
"Do you hold any grudges, Mr. Touhy?"
"No. They have to live with their consciences." "Who are they? Who do you mean by they?" Johnstone leaned forward and whispered for his client not to reply.
"Roger, are you looking for Factor?"
"No. I'm not looking for anyone. I'm just going to take it easy for a while and see my wife and my two sons."
"Why did you lead the prison breakout?"
"I didn't plan it, I didn't lead it, I just went along." "Did you learn anything in prison?"
"Nope. Not a goddamn thing."
Johnstone broke in "Well you learned patience, Roger. "
Always a proud man, Roger fought back tears and said with a trembling chin, "You know, I never gave up hope that one day I would be standing here a free man."
He said he planned to move to Florida with his sons Roger Jr. and Tommy who were now in their mid-thirties with families of their own.
For the time being, he would live with his sister Ethel11, who had made more than two thousand visits to her brother over the past quarter of a century and had appeared at seemingly endless hearings. During his internment she had worked her way, alone for the most part, through a maze of legal avenues in numerous attempts to free her brother from prison.
As he was driven back to Chicago in his nephew's cramped sports car, he thumbed through his personal belongings. There were two pictures drawn by his sons. He chuckled when he came across his 1942
draft card and a tiny black notebook with entries going back to 1919 when he was in the Navy. "I kept my telephone numbers and addresses of all my beer stops in code all through Prohibition. Nobody knew the code but me."
His color was pale and his hands shook as he thumbed through the book. Like his brothers, Roger suffered from the ravages of Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative disease of the nervous system then called "the shaking palsy."
As ordered, Roger went to the parole office in Chicago where he was given the details of the gag order he was under. Conversations with the media about the case were absolutely forbidden. An hour later, the ex-prisoner was dining on brisket of beef and hash brown potatoes in a west side restaurant with Ethel and Mike.11 "Delicious, delicious" he muttered over and over again.
He would be dead within forty-nine hours.
Tony Accardo, Chicago's new underworld boss, telephoned Johnny Rosselli, his man on the west coast, and told him he wanted him back in Chicago for a meeting at Meo's Restaurant with Murray Humpreys and Paul Ricca.
Always the hustler, Rosselli knew that the bosses were worried because they were losing what little presence they had in Las Vegas. As the self-declared power west of New York they felt, as a matter of mob pride, that they should have a major presence on the strip.
Rosselli filled them in on the situation at the Stardust. It was aimed at being, as he dubbed it, a "grind joint," a paradise for the low rollers, located right at the heart of the strip. If they wanted it, the bosses would have to pour a couple of hundred thousand dollars into the place to get it completed, but otherwise it was theirs. But first they had to deal with Tony Cornero, aka "Tony the Hat."
Las Vegas wasn't built by gangsters alone, and no matter how often it is written, Ben Siegel didn't build the first casino there, either. If any one hoodlum could take credit for inventing Las Vegas, it was Tony Cornero.
While it lasted, Cornero had an amazing life. He was born Anthony Cornero Stralla in an Italian village near the Swiss border in 1895. The Cornero family had owned a large farm there but his father lost it in a card game. More bad luck came when young Tony Cornero accidentally set fire to the family harvest, breaking them financially and forcing them to immigrate to San Francisco in the early 1920s.
At age sixteen, Tony pleaded guilty to robbery and did ten months in reform school. He moved to southern California and racked up another ten arrests in ten years which included three for bootlegging and three for attempted murder.
He was ambitious, but as late as 1922, Cornero was still driving a cab. Eventually he decided to branch off into the rum-running business. Starting with a string of small boats he smuggled high-priced whisky over the Canadian border and sold it to the better clubs in Los Angeles. At the same time, Cornero ran rum from Mexico to Los Angeles, his freighters easily avoiding the understaffed Coast Guard. Next, Tony purchased a merchant ship, the SS Lily, which he stocked with 4,000 cases of the best booze money could buy and ran the illicit alcohol into Los Angeles under cover of moonlight.
In 1931, Cornero decided to switch his effort to gambling. He and his brothers moved to Las Vegas and opened one of the town's first major casinos, the Green Meadows, which was known for its staff of attractive and friendly waitresses.
The Meadows turned a small, but healthy profit, and soon Cornero was investing his returns into other casinos in the state, mostly in Las Vegas. The
money started to pour in and before long New York's Luciano, Lansky, and Frank Costello sent their representatives and demanded a cut of Cornero's action. Cornero who had always operated on the fringe of the national syndicate, refused to pay. Instead he had built up his own organization and was strong enough to turn the syndicate bosses down.
The syndicate, which had a small but powerful presence on the West Coast, prepared for war and started by burning Cornero's Green Meadows casino to the ground. Realizing he could never win the fight, Cornero sold out his interest in Nevada and returned to Los Angeles.
In 1938 Cornero bought several large ships and refurbished them into luxury casinos at a cost of more than $300,000. He anchored the ships three miles off the coast of Santa Monica and had gamblers shuttled from shore by way of motorboats. Cornero's lead ship, the Rex, had a crew of 350 waiters, waitresses, cooks, a full orchestra, and an entourage of enforcers. The first class dining room served superb French cuisine and on most nights some 2,000 patrons flooded onto the ship to gamble, dance and drink the night away. Tony was hauling in an estimated $300,000 a night after expenses, and the money would have continued to pour in had he not become the center of a reform movement in Los Angeles County.
State Attorney General Earl Warren ordered a raid on the Rex and several other of Cornero's off- coast ships. Cornero and the California government fought a series of battles, with Tony's lawyers arguing that his ships were operating in international waters, and the California government taking the indefensible stance that it didn't care where they were, they were still illegal.
Back and forth it went, until Cornero decided to fight back after raiders had smashed almost half a million dollars worth of gambling equipment on one of his ships,. When the law men came to raid his ships, Cornero ordered his men to repel the attackers with water hoses. A sea battle went on for nine hours and the lawmen finally gave up. But Cornero was beaten and he knew it; he closed his offshore operations.
Tony tried to open a few gambling houses inside Los Angeles, but Micky Cohen, the ruling bookie and drug dealer in the town, shut him down. When Cornero refused to back down, Cohen had his boys bomb Cornero's Beverly Hills estate. Fearing for his life, Cornero took his fortune and moved back to Las Vegas.
After several years in Vegas, Cornero undertook his dream to build the largest gambling casino-hotel in the world, the Stardust. To finance the construction of the Stardust Tony had borrowed $6,000,000 from the mob. As the casino neared completion Cornero couldn't account for half of the borrowed cash. The word on the street was that the bosses back east were whining that it had been a mistake to give him the money in the first place, because Tony the Hat was no businessman, just a dice jockey with high ambitions.
The truth is that the syndicate had probably set Tony up to fail from the very beginning. He never would have gotten a license to run the place because he had a long criminal record and an even longer list of powerful political enemies made across the state. And he had his enemies in the underworld as well. His endless arguments with the New York syndicates over the size of the Stardust-five hundred rooms-were legendary.
Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello were both positive that Las Vegas would never be able to attract enough gamblers to fill all of those rooms and the Stardust would cause a glut on the market, reducing prices for all the other casino rooms.
Cornero knew about the license problem, of course, but it didn't concern him. He believed he could get a license anyway. A few hundred grand went a long way in Nevada in the 1950s. But the word was that Moe Dalitz had already taken care of that and there was absolutely no way that Tony Cornero was going to get a gaming license in Nevada or anywhere else.
So, as the opening day drew closer, Cornero entered talks with Dalitz about leasing the place to the Dalitz operation. Dalitz was interested, but the terms that Cornero wanted were steep: a half a million a month. So Dalitz bided his time because he knew Cornero was broke and would have to come crawling back to him, and when he did they'd handle him.
As fate would have it, Tony not only helped build the Vegas that we know today but fittingly he died there, too. He dropped dead while gambling at the Desert Inn, with Moe Dalitz, the Godfather of Sin City, looking on with his fat arm draped around the waist of his slim and much younger wife.
Cornero had gone to the Desert Inn for a last chance meeting with Dalitz to beg the mob's favorite front man for financing to help him complete construction on his casino-the forever troubled Stardust. The place was scheduled to open in just two weeks, on July 13, 1955, and Cornero didn't have the cash to pay the staff or supply the house tables. He was in over his head-Dalitz and everybody else knew it
Cornero and Dalitz met for several long hours in a conference that went nowhere. Cornero wanted the mob's money and the mob wanted Cornero's casino. Neither party had any intention of giving anything to the other. During a break in the meeting, Cornero went out to the floor of the Desert Inn and gambled at the craps table and quickly fell into the hole for $10,000. Then a waitress came and handed him a tab for twenty-five dollars for the food and drinks he had. Cornero went ballistic. He was a guest of Moe Dalitz. The waitress didn't care; she wanted the money. Dalitz stood by and watched as Tony Cornero suffered through the ultimate insult to a big timer in Vegas.
Cornero screamed, ranted and raved and then grabbed his chest and fell forward on the table, desperately clutching his heart through his shirt, the dice still wrapped in his hands.
For decades the story circulated in the underworld that Cornero didn't die of a heart attack, that his drink had been poisoned. If he had been poisoned, the truth went with him to the grave. An autopsy was never performed. His body was shipped off to Los Angeles for a quick funeral where an organist from the Desert Inn knocked out a rendition of his favorite song, "The Wabash Cannonball Express" and eight hours after he hit the cold floor of the Desert Inn, Tony the Hat was eight feet under the ground.
Tony went out like the gambler he was. Of the estimated $25 million he had earned in his career as a gambler, Tony Cornero had less than $800 in his pockets when he died.
Nobody checked the contents of the drink he had been sipping before he dropped dead. No one cared enough to ask any serious questions. The important
thing was that Tony Cornero was dead. Jake the Barber Factor, a Chicago favorite, was moved into position as the Stardust's new owner of record, and everybody in mobdom was happy.
Well, everybody except Tony Cornero.
A few weeks after Tony's death, Jake the Barber announced that he had just purchased the Stardust.
Factor was released from Sandstone Prison in February of 1948. He was sentenced to parole for the remaining four years of his ten-year sentence. In 1954, at the end of his parole sentence, he told the parole board he was broke. In 1955, one year after his final meeting with the parole board, and six years since he last held a job, convicted felon John Factor announced that he had purchased the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas. Jake the Barber was now the owner and operator of one of the largest casinos in the world.
It was Murray Humpreys who decided that Jake the Barber would buy the Stardust with the only explanation out of the mob being that "Jake owes Chicago a big one."
Humpreys must have put up the money to buy the casino. From that point on, Jake the Barber was Chicago's front man in the Stardust, and it was a mob gold mine.
At first the outfit was excited at the prospect of having John Factor as its head man. He was, at least by mob standards, trustworthy. He was smart enough to know the outfit would kill him in a heartbeat if he tried anything creative.
The problem with Factor was that he, like Cornero, couldn't get a liquor license. As Hank Messick wrote, "...much to the disgust of the Chicago boys. The Barber tried everything he could to get a license but there was no way it was going to happen. He finally bowed to reality and announced that he would lease to the Desert Inn Group....It took a western Appalachian to solve the matter."
In a meeting held in mob lawyer Sidney Korshak's Beverly Hills office, Meyer Lansky, Longy Zwillman, Doc Stacher (representing New York and New Jersey), Moe Dalitz and Morris Kleinman decided that Dalitz would lease the casino operation. Dalitz represented the Desert Inn. All involved agreed that Dalitz's Desert Inn would pay $100,000 a month-a low figure for the second largest money maker in Las Vegas-to operate the casino part of the Stardust. Factor would, at least on paper, still own the building, the grounds and the hotel operation.
Dalitz, who was one of the founding members of the national crime syndicate, would run the day-to- day operation and Johnny Rosselli-Brian Foy's old pal-would be off in the shadows, representing the true owners of the Stardust: Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo, Sam Giancana and Murray Humpreys.
Everybody was making money off the Stardust. Carl Thomas, the master of the Las Vegas skim, estimated that the Chicago mob was skimming $400,000 a month from the Stardust in the early sixties, and that was only for the one arm bandits. Blackjack, craps, keno, roulette and poker yielded a different skim.
It was more money then they had ever dreamed of and nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to prevent them from taking it.
And then Roger Touhy was released from prison.
A few days before Roger was released from prison, retired Rabbi Harry Zinn walked the few blocks from his home to the rental apartment building he owned, directly across the street from Roger's sister's house.
A few days before Roger was released from prison, retired Rabbi Harry Zinn walked the few blocks from his home to the rental apartment building he owned, directly across the street from Roger's sister's house.
Zinn was there because one of his tenants said that she had seen a rough-looking man loitering in the building over the past several days and the Rabbi should come over and investigate. He walked around the property and then went down into the building's basement to check the boilers. As he rounded a corner in the dark cellar, he spotted a rough-looking man, with a dark complexion, staring out of a basement window at Touhy's sister's house. Zinn noted the expensive fur-lined tan-colored winter waist coat and knew it wasn't a street bum who had come in out of the cold.
Sensing Zinn's presence the man spun around, glared at the old rabbi and said, "What are you doing here?"
Zinn asked, "Who are you?"
The stranger was flushed. "I'm just checking on my kid, my son, he's running around with some broad in this neighborhood."
Even as he spoke, the stranger was walking toward Zinn and then suddenly brushed past him, almost knocking the old man over as he ran up the stairs to the front door of the building with Zinn in pursuit. By the time Zinn made it to the street, the stranger had disappeared. If the hit men had learned anything from watching Ethel's house, it was that killing Roger Touhy wouldn't be easy. The old bootlegger had taken precautions. He refused to leave home unless he had one of his two "watchdogs," as he called them, with him, and both of those watchdogs were cops.
Ethel's son, Mike, was a twenty-three-year-old policeman and part-time law student who traveled around town with his uncle when time allowed.
The other problem was the other cop-Walter J. Miller-then sixty-two years old. Back in 1932, Tubbo Gilbert assigned Miller to guard Factor for three months after Jake appeared on the streets of LaSalle.
So if they were going to kill Touhy, they would probably have to kill one of the two cops with him, the old one would be easier, but if they had to kill the young one, well so be it. But still, even for the Chicago outfit, cop killing was more or less a forbidden act. Touhy's suit threatened the whole casino operation and his death warranted bringing down the risk of killing a cop.
Roger never feared for his life; that wasn't why he had the two men travel with him. "If I have Mike and Walter with me," he told Ray Brennan, "they won't be able to pin a phoney parole violation on me. They'll never hit me. They'll try to frame me for a parole violation probably, but they'll never hit me."
• • •
"In a world where there are few roses, Roger Touhy never pretended to be one but his finish emphasizes that even a man who was not so good may be the victim of men who are worse." -Chicago Sun Times
In the early evening of the night he died, Roger Touhy prepared to drive to a meeting at the Chicago Press Club with Ray Brennan and their book publisher to discuss Factor's suit against them.
At the same time, across town, John Factor dined at the Singapore Steak House on Rush street. The place was owned by two old saloon keepers named Fritzel and Jacobson, whom Jake had known from Prohibition days. Tommy Downs managed the restaurant which was popular with the mob in the 1950s. Downs was once in charge of security at the Sportsman Park Race Track which was previously owned by Bugs Moran and later by Frank Nitti. In 1959 the Singapore Steak House was secretly owned by Chuckie English, a former member of the 42 Gang and right-hand man of Sam Giancana, and it
remained one of Chicago's celebrity hangouts despite the mob connections.
Jake said he had flown in from Los Angeles to spend the holidays with his son Jerome and to press his suit against Touhy and Brennan over The Stolen Years.
Also seen in the Singapore that night was Murray Humpreys, who had helped Factor rig his own kidnapping almost three decades before. As always, Humpreys sat with a glass of whisky in front of him. The Hump put it there to impress the others and nothing more, since he never drank.
During the rest of the evening, the normally low profile Humpreys made sure of accounting for his whereabouts. He left the Singapore and strolled down Clark Street where he was seen at Fritzels, a fashionable restaurant and later at L'Escarot, another restaurant, returning home he said at 3:00 A.M.
Tubbo Gilbert left his palatial homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs where he lived in semi- retirement, and was in town overseeing his extensive real estate and contracting interests. He would later tell reporters that he had flown into Chicago to spend the holidays with his grandchildren.
At 5:00 RM. sharp, Walter Miller pulled his car up to the front of Roger's sister's home to take Touhy to his meeting with Brennan and the publisher. At 5:55, they pulled into the Sheraton Towers Hotel garage and took the elevator to the top floor to the wood-paneled press club. Brennan, customary scotch in hand, greeted them at the door. They hung up their winter coats and walked to a round table in the middle of the room where Richard H. Brown, a New York lawyer representing the book's publisher, Pennington Press, was seated.
Brennan ordered appetizers and a German beer for Touhy. They talked for three hours about the book. It was a grim conversation. Factor's suit had hurt the book's sales because the big chain department stores fearing a suit from Factor, refused to carry it. As if that wasn't bad enough the Teamsters had refused to load and carry copies on their trucks.
At 9:15 Miller said they had to leave because Roger was on an 11:00 P.M. curfew. Brennan helped his two guests on with their topcoats. Miller's coat sagged from the heavy .38 caliber in his right pocket.
The last thing Touhy said to Brennan was, "Factor goes around calling me every vile name in the book. I'm going to Springfield on Friday to ask Governor Stratton for a full pardon. Goodnight, kid."
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.
After Roger Touhy was tried and convicted of kidnapping him, life for Jake the Barber remained interesting. He got involved in some questionable oil leases in Arkansas and had settled a federal income tax charge against him with a cash payment of $120,000, but otherwise life was good.
However, trouble was never far from Factor and on August 22, 1942, Jake the Barber and eleven others were indicted by an Iowa grand jury for their part in the whisky swindle that conned a total of $459,000 out of some 300 victims in a twelve-state area.
Factor was tried and found guilty.
On February 3, 1943, the court was called to order. Judge John Bell-the same Judge who had heard the Hamm kidnapping case a decade before- sentenced Factor to ten years at hard labor plus a $10,000 fine. When Factor heard the sentence, he dropped down in his chair and covered his head as if the ceiling were falling in on him. His attorney, Thomas McMeeken, one of Roger Touhy's lawyers at
the Hamm trial, had to pull Factor up to his feet so the court could continue reading the sentence. While the judge was in mid-sentence, Factor broke down and begged loudly for the judge to listen to him. All he wanted, he said, was not to go to jail. He sobbed through the rest of the proceedings. When asked by the court if he had anything else to say, Factor nodded his head and muttered something unintelligible through his tears.
When he gained control of himself, he whimpered something about how he had helped the government put away the Touhy gang and how he feared for his life. His story fell on deaf ears. No one wanted to hear about threats on Factor's life from a gangster grown old and gray long ago; there was no Tubbo Gilbert or States Attorney's Office around to run interference for him. Jake the Barber was going to prison.
• • •
When the hearings started, Johnstone fired off the first volley by getting a subpoena for all of the States Attorney's office records on the Factor case, but to his disappointment, the records didn't include a statement that Factor had given in which he said he could not identify any of his kidnappers.
When the hearings started, Johnstone fired off the first volley by getting a subpoena for all of the States Attorney's office records on the Factor case, but to his disappointment, the records didn't include a statement that Factor had given in which he said he could not identify any of his kidnappers. Also missing from the files were copies of the transcripts of Touhy's lawyer's conversations that were illegally recorded by Tubbo Gilbert during the Hamm and Factor kidnapping trials.
Johnstone called fifty-seven witnesses, including private detective Morrie Green, and Walter Miller and John Maloney-the two Chicago policemen assigned to protect Factor during the two kidnapping trials. Gus Schafer9 was summoned, Albert Kator's10 testimony was read. Basil Banghart gave his version of the events as did Isaac Costner.
Buck Henrichsen, Factor's probable kidnapper, couldn't be called to testify. He had died in 1943 while Touhy was on the loose from Stateville prison. A heart attack killed him just two hours before Touhy and Banghart, the men he had sent to jail, were recaptured by the FBI. He was forty-three years old. His family blamed the stress of Touhy's escape and the lack of protection offered to him by the Cook County States Attorney's office for his death.
Robert Johnstone was an intense man and the case was all consuming for him. Soon his health and mental state had deteriorated to the point where it concerned Touhy. "He was as tense as a spring that had been coiled to the breaking point. He was edgy, so full of the Touhy case and so outraged by the injustice that he seemed ready to explode at any time. I tried to warn him to relax a little. The only result was that he lost his temper."
One day, during a break in the hearing, Johnstone collapsed in the hall and had to be hospitalized for a nervous condition. His condition delayed Roger's case by eight months. The initial delay was followed by almost two years of legal maneuvering by the state. Finally, in the spring of 1954, Barnes heard the last testimony in the case and drew it to a close.
On August 9, 1954, a cool summer day, Judge Barnes ordered Roger brought before the court to hear a summary of his decision. The decision was 1,556 pages long and included 216 pages of notes. Roger's wife Clara sat with a press corps that had suddenly decided to take up Roger's cause to hear the summary. She watched Roger being escorted into the courtroom in leg irons and handcuffs and heard Johnstone remark "You know Rog, I don't think you'll be wearing those things again."
Barnes entered the courtroom and seated himself behind the elevated bench and stared out over the room. "In his own dignified way," Roger noted, "he had a fine sense of timing and dramatics."
Finally, Barnes spoke. Roger remembered later that he was listening so intently to the judge's every word that he had blocked out the sounds of the traffic on the street below. He started his summary by reading that he had reached the conclusions that Roger Touhy had not kidnapped John Factor but rather that "John Factor was not kidnapped for ransom or otherwise on the nights of June 30-July 1, 1933, but was taken as a result of his own convenience, that John Factor's disappearance was a hoax meant only to forestall his extradition to Europe to avoid prosecution there."
Furthermore, Barnes ruled that Roger's conviction was procured on perjured testimony with the full knowledge of Captain Daniel Gilbert and States Attorney Courtney. He did spare Crowley, saying that he believed he had presented the evidence without knowing it was perjured.
Barnes also found that Gilbert's power in the office far exceeded that of any other law enforcement official before or since. He also found that Gilbert's boss Thomas Courtney was to be held responsible for Gilbert's actions.
"To put it mildly, Touhy was not an acceptable person to Captain Gilbert," Barnes read, "Touhy and the opposition with which he was identified were obstacles in the drive of the politico-criminal Capone syndicate to control and dominate the labor unions during the period right after the Factor affair. The criminal syndicate could not operate without the approval of the prosecutor's office which at that time was controlled by Courtney and Gilbert. They did continue to operate and to thrive without interference from Courtney and Gilbert. That the arrangement between Gilbert and the syndicate was closer than a mere tolerance, is evident from his function as a go-between for Horan and Wallace surrenders and from the fact that his men were put in key positions in the Capone dominated unions."
He went on to say that "the Department of Justice showed an astounding disregard for Touhy's rights and indulged in practices which cannot be condoned."
Barnes further ruled that Touhy "was deprived of the effective assistance of council devoted exclusively to the protection of his interest and was compelled against his will to accept the services of a counsel who was compelled to serve adverse interests."
Barnes also said that the Illinois statute under which Roger was sentenced to an additional 100 years for aiding Eddie Darlak's escape back in 1942 was unconstitutional and that Touhy's sentence under that statute was void as a result. He ended the hearing by pointing out that Touhy had never been connected to a capital crime, nor was he listed with the Chicago Crime Commission. From there Barnes went on to broadside the FBI, the Chicago Police, the Cook County States Attorney's Office and the syndicate.
Stroking his beard, Barnes finished reading his decision in slow, flat midwestern tones, "This court finds that John Factor was not kidnapped for ransom, or otherwise, on the night of June 30 or July 1st 1933, though he was taken as a result of his own connivance....This court further finds that Roger Touhy did not kidnap John Factor and in fact had no part in the alleged kidnapping of John Factor."
When Roger heard Barnes read the words "the relator, Roger Touhy, should forthwith be discharged from custody" he stood bolt upright, trembling and wept.
An army of reporters dashed from the courtroom to the line of wooden phone booths that lined the lobby wall while dozens of people circled Roger to congratulate him as Johnstone tried to pull him from his seat.
Roger walked from the courtroom a free man. Bailiffs, sheriffs' deputies, courtroom employees and passersby crowded around him and shook his hand and slapped his back as he, Clara and Johnstone walked downstairs to the coffee shop. A few secretaries came out and asked for his autograph but he politely declined. "Oh please, not that, thank you, darling." In the coffee shop he remembered dropping a sugar bowl. He wrote, "The bowl broke and sugar cubes went all over the table. A waitress cleaned up the mess, gave me a smile and said, 'Don't worry Mr. Touhy, you can smash every sugar bowl in the place and everybody will understand.'"
As Touhy's luck would have it, that same week that he was released, Chicago hosted the National Conference of State Justices who had gathered in the Blackstone Hotel to discuss the encroaching power of the federal courts into their jurisdiction.
Barnes' ruling in the Touhy case was soundly condemned by these judges as a prime example of what they were talking about. It was their opinion that Federal Judge Barnes had overstepped his boundaries by hearing the Touhy case. They felt the issue should have remained on a state level. The Illinois State Attorney General's office agreed and filed a motion to have Roger returned to jail, arguing that Roger never challenged the aiding and abetting conviction in court and therefore accepted its terms. Johnstone would later argue that, at that point in 1943 when the aiding and abetting charge was added, Roger was financially strapped and unable to fight the case any farther.
It didn't matter, in the end the hearing judge held with the State of Illinois and issued a seizure writ directing the United States Marshal to arrest Touhy on sight.
A young reporter tracked Judge Barnes down to his farm and told him that his opinion on the Touhy case had been "reversed."
"Well, they can't do that, young man. They can't reverse my decision without a hearing."
The reporter, not really clear on the difference said, "Yeah, well, they did."
Word came to Roger Touhy while he was fishing at a resort in the Fox Lake area. He had just finished dinner when news came over the radio that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Accompanied by Johnstone, he surrendered to federal marshals on a dark, rain filled day, just before 4:00 P.M. He had tasted freedom for less than forty- eight hours. He was rather stoic about the entire thing, almost as though he had come to expect the worst possible event as inevitable. "The fickle finger of fate," he said, "was going to give me another jab between the ribs."
He was taken from the Cook County jail at ten the next morning in a five-car motorcade consisting of fifteen heavily armed Chicago detectives and federal marshals. Officially they said they weren't expecting any trouble but had taken along the extra four cars "in case one of them breaks down or something."
Warden Ragen met Touhy at the Statesville Prison gates and said "Well, you're back."
Touhy smiled and said “Yeah. Not very long out." Several hours later he was back to his old position, sweeping the jailhouse hallways as though nothing had happened.
Clara Touhy, her hair gone white, her face badly lined with age and worry, seemed to be in a state of shock over her husband's return to jail. "This is," she said, "a nightmare...this is all just a nightmare."
9. Schafer was still incarcerated at Stateville at the time, where he was a model prisoner and trustee.
10. Kator had died in Stateville in 1938 due to a long illness.