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The Chicago Outfit, also known as The Outfit, Chicago Syndicate and Chicago Mob, is a crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinoismarker, USAmarker. Dating back to the 1910s, it is part of the American Mafia; however, the Chicago Outfit is distinct from the "Five Families" of New York Citymarker, though all Italian-American crime families are ruled by The Commission.

The Outfit in the city of Chicago is the only criminal organization that has a monopoly on traditional organized crime, whereas the Five Families compete with each other for control of racketeering activities in New York. The Outfit's control reportedly reaches throughout the western United States to places as far away as Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker and parts of Floridamarker. The Chicago Outfit is also known to have large control over neighboring states including Iowamarker, Wisconsinmarker and other areas of the Midwest. They also have satellite families, or crime families that answer to or are under Outfit control. These include: the Iowa family, the Las Vegas family, the Los Angeles family, the Nebraskamarker family, and the San Diegomarker family.

Unlike the "Five Families," the Outfit has had other ethnic groups besides Italian Americans in its upper echelons since its earliest days. A prime example of this was the Jake Guzik ("Greasy Thumb") who was the top "bagman" and "accountant" for decades until his death. He was Jewish and either Polish or Russian depending on the source. Another mobster was Japanese-American Ken Eto. More prominently was Murray Humphreys, who was of Welsh descent. To this day, the Outfit bears the influence of its best-known leader, Al Capone. In fact for decades after Capone had left the scene, the Outfit was known as "the Capone Gang" or "the Capones" to outsiders. The Outfit's membership is moderately estimated to be between 250-300 "made" members comprising a core group with more than 1,000 associates estimated.


Since its founding, the Chicago Outfit has been operating in order to keep and expand its status and profit throughout the Chicago areamarker among others. During the Prohibition era, its leader at that time Al Capone competed with other gangsters like George "Bugs" Moran for the bootlegging business and as well as other rivalries. Because of this there appears to be a business and personal rivalry between the Northside (North Side Mob) and Southside Chicago gangs of which Al Capone was the southern and George Moran was the northern.

There also appear to be cultural differences between the two sides since the North-Sider was more Irish-American and the South-Sider was more Italian-American. This conflict led to numerous crimes such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacremarker and numerous drive-by shootings resulting in the death of George Moran's associates and others on both sides. The Thompson machine gun played a significant role in these. In the early 1940s, a handful of top Outfit leaders went to prison because they were found to be extorting Hollywood by controlling the unions that comprise Hollywood's movie industry. The manipulation and misuse of the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. There were also allegations that The Outfit was involved in strong-arm tactics and voter fraud at polling places, under Salvatore Giancana in the 1960 presidential election. Along with the voting allegations, The Outfit was involved in a Central Intelligence Agency-Mafia collusion during Castro's overthrow of the Cuban government. In exchange for their help, the Outfit would be given access to their former casinos if they helped overthrow Fidel Castro (Operation Mongoose or Operation Family Jewels). Having failed in that endeavor, and facing increasing indictments under the administration of President John F. Kennedy (JFK), they are subjects of conspiracy theories regarding the JFK assassinationmarker, and that of JFK's brother Robert Kennedy. The Outfit controlled casinos in Las Vegasmarker and "skim" millions of dollars over the course of several decades. Most recently, top mob figures have been found guilty of crimes dating back to as early as the mid 1960s.



The early years of organized crime in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were marked by the division of various street gangs controlling the South Side and North Side as well as the Black Hand organizations of Little Italy.

Giacomo Colosimo ("James," "Big Jim") centralized control in the early 20th century. Colosimo was born in Calabria, Italymarker, in 1877, emigrating to Chicago in 1895, where he established himself as a criminal. By 1909 he was successful enough that he was encroaching on the criminal activity of the Black Hand organization.

His expanding organization required the procurement of extra muscle. This came in the form of Colosimo's nephew Giovanni Torrio ("Johnny the Fox") from New York. In 1919, Torrio brought in Al Capone, thus providing Capone's entrance to Chicago. In time, Colosimo and Torrio had a falling out over Torrio's insistence that they expand into rum-running, which Colosimo staunchly opposed. In 1920, Colosimo was killed by Frankie Yale allegedly on Torrio's orders, ending the argument.

Torrio brought together different parts of Chicago criminal activity, with a lasting effect on Chicago in general, and Chicago crime in particular.

Torrio-Capone and the birth of the Chicago Outfit

Severely injured in an assassination attempt by the North Side Mob in January 1925, the shaken Torrio returned to Italy and handed over control of the business to Capone. Capone was notorious during Prohibition for his control of the Chicago underworld and his bitter rivalries with gangsters such as George "Bugs" Moran and Earl "Hymie" Weiss. Raking in vast amounts of money (some estimates were that between 1925 and 1930 Capone was making $100 million a year), the Chicago kingpin was largely immune to prosecution because of witness intimidation and the bribing of city officials.

While Eliot Ness of the Bureau of Prohibition concentrated on trying to dry up the flow of the illegal liquor to Chicago, the United States Department of the Treasurymarker was devising a strategy of using the Supreme Courtmarker's 1927 decision on bootlegger Manny Sullivan to bring down Capone. Sullivan had argued that the Fifth Amendment prevented him from reporting how much income tax evasion he had engaged in. Al Capone and a number of the other Outfit members were soon indicted, but Capone went unscathed until February 1931, when he was convicted for owing more than $215,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), according to a Capone biography on the website of the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker (FBI).

From Nitti through Accardo

After Capone was jailed for tax evasion, his hand-picked successor, Francesco Nitto (also known as "Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti"), a former barber and small-time jewel thief, only nominally assumed power. In truth, power was seized by Nitti's underboss, Felice DeLucia (also known as "Paul 'The Waiter' Ricca"), who was acknowledged as "boss" by the leaders of the growing National Crime Syndicate. Over the next decade, The Outfit moved into labor racketeering, gambling, and loan sharking. Geographically, this was the period when Outfit muscle extended its tendrils to Milwaukeemarker and Madison, Wisconsinmarker, Kansas Citymarker, and especially to Hollywood and other California cities, where The Outfit's extortion of labor unions gave it leverage over the motion picture industry.

Nitti committed suicide in 1943 after refusing to take the "fall" for the Outfit getting caught red-handed extorting the Hollywood movie industry. He had found years earlier while in jail (for tax evasion) for 18 months that he was claustrophobic, and he decided to end his life rather than face more imprisonment. Ricca then became the boss in name as well as in fact, with enforcement chief Tony Accardo (also known as "Joe Batters" and "The Big Tuna") as underboss.

However, later in 1943, following the "Hollywood Scandal" trial, Ricca was sent to prison for his part in The Outfit plot to control Hollywood. He, along with a number of other mobsters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, through the "magic" of political connections, the whole group of Outfit mobsters was released after three years, largely due to the efforts of Outfit "fixer," Murray "The Camel" Humphreys. However, as a condition of his parole, Ricca could not associate with mobsters. While Accardo theoretically took over as day-to-day boss, by all indications Ricca continued behind the scenes as a senior consultant. He and Accardo would share de facto power for the next 30 years, but with Ricca staying in the shadows. When he died in 1972, Accardo (who had joined Ricca in semi-retirement in 1957), was the sole power behind the throne for another 20 years until his death, in 1992.

Beginning in 1957, Ricca and Accardo allowed several others, such as Giancana, Joseph Aiuppa (also known as "Joey Doves"), William Daddano (also kown as "Willie Potatoes"), Felix Alderisio ("Milwaukee Phil"), Jackie Cerone ("Jackie the Lackey"), to serve as front men over the years, this due to some "heat" that Accardo was originally getting from the IRS, in the 1950s. Most of the front bosses originated from the Forty-Two Gang. However, no major business transactions, and certainly no "hits," took place without Ricca's and Accardo's knowledge and approval.

The Outfit reached the height of its power in the 1960s. With the aid of Meyer Lansky, Accardo used the Teamsters pension fund to engage in massive money laundering through the Outfit's casinos, aided by the likes of Sidney Korshak and Jimmy Hoffa. The 1970s and 1980s were a hard time for the Outfit, as law enforcement continued to penetrate the organization, spurred by poll-watching politicians. Off-track betting reduced bookmaking profits and illicit casinos withered under competition from legitimate casinos. Replacement activities like auto theft and professional sports betting did not replace the lost profits.

Operation PENDORF (codenamed for penetrate Allen Dorfman) and the "Strawman" case ended the Outfit's skimming and control of their Las Vegas casinos. These events are fictionalized in the film Casino.

In May 1992, Tony Accardo, Chicago's one-time crime boss and consigliere of close to half-a-century, died. However, compared to how organized crime power struggles emerge in New York City, Chicago's transition from Accardo to the next generation of Outfit bosses has run rather smoothly.

21st century

On April 25, 2005, the U.S.marker Department of Justicemarker launched Operation Family Secrets, which indicted 14 Outfit members and associates under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel presided over the Family Secrets trial. The federal prosecutors were Mitchell A. Mars, Markus Funk, and John Scully. Scully delivered the opening statement on June 21, 2007. The jury found James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Frank Calabrese, Sr., Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle guilty of all counts, which included extortion, illegal gambling, tax fraud, loan sharking, and murder (Doyle was not found guilt of murder) on September 10, 2007. Paul Schiro was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Frank Calabrese, Sr. was sentenced to life in prison on January 28, 2009. On February 2, 2009, Joseph Lombardo was sentenced to life imprisonment. James Marcello also received life imprisonment on February 5, 2009. March 12, 2009, Anthony Doyle received 12 years of prison. Nicholas Calabrese was sentenced to 12 years, 4 months of imprisonment. This lenient sentence was due in part to Calabrese's cooperation with the government. Nick Calabrese turned government witness in the early 2000s and was the star witness at the Family Secrets trial. Additional punishment was added on April 6, 2009. to the five guilty men, over $24 million in fines and restitutions to be paid. Also, $4.3 million to the relatives of the 14 men murdered by the Outfit. The five would split the restitution cost, but Doyle has to pay the least. Zagel's words, "...I hold Defendants Calabrese, Sr., Marcello, Lombardo, and Schiro jointly and severally liable."

However, during the Family Secrets' trial, it was found that a Deputy U.S. Marshal named John Thomas Ambrose had leaked information on Nicholas Calabrese that led back to the Chicago mob as early as 2002. Ambrose would eventually be put on a Mob Leak trial himself and a jury would find him guilty on April 28, 2009. He was charged with theft of Justice Department property, disclosing confidential information and lying to federal agents who questioned him about the leak. He was however acquitted of two charges of lying to federal agents. The information went to William Guide, a father figure to Ambrose and an officer convicted in the Marquettemarker 10, and then to the mob. This is noteworthy as the first ever breach in the Witness Protection Program.

Document's revealed at John Ambrose's trial show that the Justice Department's Family Secrets also intended to indict and convict Alfonso "Pizza Al" Tornabene and John DiFronzo.


Present Area Bosses/Street Crews

Members past and current ("made men")

Outfit associates past and current

In popular culture

The Chicago Outfit has a long history of portrayal in Hollywood as the subject of films and television, including the highly fictionalized Scarface (1932), Chicago Syndicate (1955), The Scarface Mob (1957), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), The Outfit (1973), The Untouchables (1987) as well as both the The Untouchables television series (1959-63; 1993-94). During the 1960s and in to the 1970s The F.B.I. showcased numerous, fictionalized, real Outfit cases on its television program. The television series Crime Story, which ran on NBC from 1986-1988, also portrayed a fictional syndicate mobster rising through the ranks of the Chicago Outfit.

Martin Scorsese's 1995 film Casino is a fictionalized depiction of the Chicago Outfit's skimming operations in Las Vegas. In The Simpsons episode "Viva Ned Flanders" the Las Vegasmarker wedding-chapel priest cites the Chicago Outfit for vesting the power in him to marry. In FOX's Prison Break, character John Abruzzi is the incarcerated boss of the "Chicago Outfit." In the movie Payback, Mel Gibson fights against the crime organization firstly called, "The Syndicate," later in the movie called, "The Outfit."

In the Star Trek episode, "A Piece of the Action", the Enterprise visits Sigma Iotia II, a planet that based its culture on the Chicago Outfit (specifically the book Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, which in the episode was a work of nonfiction published in 1992).

Road to Perdition (2002) was a film in which Al Capone and Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti were depicted acting in concert with an Irish gang in lower Illinois during prohibition.

Public Enemies

See also



  • Binder, John. The Chicago Outfit. Arcadia Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7385-2326-7
  • Russo, Gus. The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America, Bloomsbury USA, 2002.
  • Mark Lombardi: Global Networks. Mark Lombardi, Robert Carleton Hobbs, Judith Richards; Independent Curators, 2003. (published for the travelling exhibition of his work, "Mark Lombardi Global Networks"). ISBN 0-916365-67-0
  • The F.B.I. (historical archives)
  • The Chicago Syndicate

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