Samuel "Teets" Battaglia

Samuel "Teets" Battaglia (November 5, 1906 - January 8, 1973) also known as "Joe Rock" and "Sam Rice", was a Chicago mobster and high-level member of the Chicago Outfit criminal organization. In 1928, Battaglia was a young, ambitious, and fearless gangster, at 19 years old, he worked for Chicago overlord Al Capone as a getaway driver, gunmen and enforcer. Battaglia was immensely loyal to Capone, he would often tell other people and fellow Outfit members that "I'd die for Al Capone." He allegedly once killed an older woman for accidentally bumping into Capone, and he even killed over three members of the North Side Gang even before he became affiliated with Capone to prove his loyalty to him. After Capone died, Battaglia allegedly became very depressed and frequently would visit his grave with flowers, and would even occasionally check on his wife and children to see if they needed anything.

Biography

Born in Chicago,Illinois Battaglia became a member of the Chicago 42 Gang along with Sam Giancana. In 1924, Battaglia joined bosses Johnny Torrio and Al Capone in the Chicago Outfit at the start of the gang war against the mostly Irish North Side Gang, which was under boss Dean O'Banion. By the late 1930s, Battaglia had become a high ranking member of The Outfit and a formidable loan shark. Debtors behind in their payments would be brought to Battaglia in the back room of the Casa Madrid restaurant, in Chicago, where they would be severely beaten or killed. Supposedly Battaglia's nickname "Teets" came from one such encounter. Another mobster was questioning Battaglia's handling of a debtor and Battaglia yelled back at him, "Shaddup, or I'll bust ya in da teets!"

By 1950, Battaglia had an extensive criminal record that included over 12 counts of burglary, robbery, and murder (he was a suspect in seven homicides). A close associate of Outfit boss Giancana, Battaglia was considered as Giancana's successor once he stepped down. While testifying before the U.S. Senate McClellan Committee investigations on organized crime, Battaglia pleaded the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution over 60 times.

Battaglia was figure in the Outfit's gambling activities on Chicago's West Side. As long-time Outfit leader Tony Accardo's stepped away from the limelight to shield himself during the 1960s, Battaglia struggled for power along with rivals Giancana and Fiore Buccieri. However in 1967, Battaglia was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 15 years in prison. With Battaglia in prison and Giancana, "ex-communicated," and in exile in Mexico, Felix Alderisio took over as day-to-day boss of the Outfit.

In 1973, Samuel Battaglia was released from prison; he died soon after of natural causes at his Oak Park, Illinois home.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.