Joseph John Aiuppa (December 1, 1907 – February 22, 1997) also known as "Joey Doves", "Mourning Doves", and "Joey O'Brien", was a powerful Chicago mobster who became the top boss of the Chicago Outfit. Under his leadership, Aiuppa created a Commission-like governing body of the Chicago Outfit.
got his "Doves" nickname after being arrested for unlawfully transporting mourning doves across state lines. He was notorious for being one of the ringleaders of the Mafia's Las Vegas casino skimming operation. He was portrayed in the 1995 film 'Casino' by actor Pasquale Cajano as "Remo Gaggi".
Aiuppa was born in Melrose Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His parents were immigrants from Lascari, Province of Palermo, Sicily. In 1918 an eleven year old Aiuppa dropped out of school and started working as a gardener. After that he worked several years as a laborer and in 1925 he became a truck driver for Midwest Cartage Company. He was first linked with John Dillinger and the Alvin Karpis gang (it was rumored that Aiuppa supplied guns to Dillinger's gang and even helped bury slain bank robber John "Red" Hamilton) before hooking up with the Italian mob, Al Capone's gang in which he started off as a driver and enforcer before being given the Outfit's Cicero territory to run. During the 1920s, Aiuppa rose through the ranks of the Outfit, operating several gambling establishments in Cicero, Illinois. In 1930 he bought the Turf Lounge, which would become his headquarters for several decades. Through the years he would buy several more clubs including the Frolics, and the Magic Lounge. He also owned the Towne Hotel in Cicero. These clubs included bookmaking establishments and underground casinos with secret entrances. Aiuppa eventually became one of the top three leaders in the Outfit, working out of the spotlight under bosses such as Sam "Momo" Giancana and Tony Accardo. Aiuppa's rap sheet dated back to the 1930s and included arrests for assault to kill, interstate shipping of gambling devices and for refusal to testify before a Senate Committee. He owned a company that manufactured gambling equipment, owned taxi firms and was a director of Local 450 of the Bartender's union of Cicero, Illinois where he also controlled gambling operations for the Outfit.
Boss of the Outfit
Aiuppa was convicted in 1966 for the unlawful possession and transportation of mourning doves across state lines. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 it is illegal to possess more than 24 doves per person outside of hunting season; however, in September 1962, as part of Robert Kennedy's crackdown on the Chicago Outfit, FBI agents in Kansas searching Aiuppa's car discovered 563 frozen doves. Following a series of appeals, Aiuppa was eventually sentenced in August 1966, and received a 3-month jail sentence and a $1000 fine. For this he got the nickname "Joey Doves".
In 1971, Aiuppa succeeded Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio as boss of the Chicago Outfit, a position he would hold until his 1986 conviction. By the time Aiuppa became boss the FBI alleged he amassed a fortune worth millions. In June 1975, Aiuppa allegedly participated in the Outfit decision to kill Giancana. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suspected that the Outfit killed Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico. Other Giancana allies, such as Johnny Roselli, were also killed around the time of Giancana's death. Sometime following the murder, Aiuppa had bought a house in Palm Springs, California.
Santo Trafficante, Jr. may have requested that Giancana be killed because he feared Giancana would testify about Mafia and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plots to kill Fidel Castro. If so, Trafficante, probably got permission to kill Giancana from Chicago bosses Tony Accardo and Joseph Aiuppa. Some crime figures claimed that the CIA killed Giancana due to the failed Castro assassination plots, but there is no evidence to substantiate those claims other than reports in a documentary saying the authorities watching over him were "called off" long enough to allow an assassin to kill Giancana.
In 1986, Aiuppa and other mobsters were convicted of skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos and received 28 years in prison. In June 1986, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael Spilotro were found beaten and buried alive in a cornfield five miles away from Aiuppa property near Morocco, Indiana. It was commonly assumed that the Outfit ordered Spilotro's murder because of his misbehavior in Las Vegas. However, it was also rumored that Aiuppa ordered the executions because he blamed Spilotro for the lose of the profitable skim racket and for his conviction.
On January 19, 1996, Aiuppa was released from prison. On February 22, 1997, Joseph Aiuppa died of natural causes at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in Illinois.