The Chicago Outfit (also known as the Outfit, the Chicago Mafia, the Chicago crime family) is an Italian-American organized crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois, which dates from the 1910s. It is part of the larger Italian-American Mafia and originated in South Side, Chicago.
The Outfit rose to power in the 1920s under the control of Johnny Torrio and Al Capone and the period was marked by bloody gang wars for control of the distribution of illegal alcohol during Prohibition. Since then, the Outfit has been involved in a wide range of criminal activities, including loansharking, illegal gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murder. Capone was convicted of income tax evasion in 1931 and the Outfit was next run by Paul Ricca. He shared power with Tony Accardo from 1943 until his death in 1972; Accardo became the sole power in the Outfit upon Ricca's death and was one of the longest sitting bosses of all time upon his death in the early 1990s.
Though it has never had a complete monopoly on organized crime in Chicago, the Outfit has long been the most powerful, violent and largest criminal organization in Chicago and the Midwest in general. Its influence at its peak stretched as far as California, Florida and Nevada and it continues to operate throughout the Midwestern United States and Southern Florida, as well as Las Vegas and other parts of the Southwestern United States. Higher law enforcement attention and general attrition has led to its gradual decline since the late 20th century, though it continues to be one of the major and most active organized crime groups in the Chicago metropolitan area and Midwest.
- 1 Origins
- 2 History
- 3 Pre-Prohibition
- 4 Outfit development with Al Capone
- 5 1930s–1950s
- 6 From Nitti through Paul Ricca & Tony Accardo
- 7 1960s
- 8 1960s–1990s
- 9 In popular culture
- 10 Chicago Outfit Bosses
- 11 Front Bosses
- 12 Underboss
- 13 Consigliere
- 14 Capos (Street bosses)
- 15 Known Soldiers
- 16 Past Members and associates
- 17 External links
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.
Big Jim Colosimo centralized control in the early 20th century. Colosimo was born in Calabria, Italy, in 1878, immigrated to Chicago in 1895, where he established himself as a criminal. By 1909, with the help of bringing Johnny Torrio from New York to Chicago, he was successful enough that he was encroaching on the criminal activity of the Black Hand organization.
Since its founding, the Chicago Outfit has been operating in order to keep and expand its status and profit throughout the Chicago area 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 appears to be cultural differences between the two sides since the northsider was more Irish-American and the southsider was more Italian-American. This conflict lead to numerous crimes such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre 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. 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 CIA-Mafia collusion during Castro's overthrow of the uban government. In exchange for their help, the Outfit would be given access to their former casinos if they helped overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (Operation Mongoose or (Operation Family Jewels)). Having failed in that endeavor, and facing increasing indictments under the Kennedy administration, Mafia bosses Sam Giancana, Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante, Jr. allegedly ordered the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy, as well as the assassination of his brother Robert Kennedy. The Outfit controlled dozens of major casinos in Las Vegas and "skimmed" more than $50 billion over the course of four decades.
The early years of organized crime in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was 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. James Colosimo centralized control in the early 20th century. Colosimo was born in Calabria, Italy, 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 Johnny Torrio 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, Torrio arranged for Frankie Yale to kill Colosimo, ending the argument.
Torrio brought together the different parts of Chicago criminal activity, with a lasting effect on Chicago in general, and Chicago crime in particular.
Outfit development with Al Capone
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 entire empire 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 Hymie Weiss. Raking in vast amounts of money (some estimates were that between 1925 and 1931 Capone was making a personal annual income of more than $1 billion), the invincible Chicago kingpin was largely immune to prosecution due to witness intimidation and the bribing of police, judges, politicians, mayors, federal prosectors, federal agents, city officials and government officials. For years, Capone was literally untouchable and virtually invincible due to paying off almost all of the politicians, law enforcement and government officials in Chicago, and during his regime, Capone ruled Chicago with an iron fist, and controlled the entire city. Capone ruled thru viciousness, ferocity, brute force, intimidation and fear. He ordered bombings and public executions to create a large atmosphere of fear and terror that way he can maintain control of the city and his organization. Capone was widely notorious for killing anyone who crossed him or threatened his reign. He killed thousands of people, (some estimates the number of people that he killed was somewhere between 10,000 to 25,000) Capone turned the Outfit into a multi-billion dollar criminal empire, making a staggering $20 billion a year (which is equivalent to an estimated $310 billion as of 2020) thru extortion, illegal gambling, prostitution, loan sharking and alcohol bootlegging. For over seven years, Capone was the most powerful, notorious and feared crime lord in the world, as well as the richest crime lord in the world. As of 1929, he had a jaw dropping net worth of over $10 billion, Capone was of the few billionaires of the early 20th century. During his years as boss of the Chicago Outfit. Capone became the most famous man in the world, and the most famous gangster of all time.
In 1931, Nitti was also convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison, however, Nitti received an 18-month sentence. When Nitti was released on March 25, 1932, he took his place as the new boss of the Capone Gang. Some revisionist historians claim that Nitti was a mere "front boss" while Paul "The Waiter" Ricca was the actual boss of the Chicago Outfit.
Over the next decade, The Outfit moved into labor racketeering, gambling, and loan sharking. Geographically, this was the period when Outfit muscle extended to Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, Kansas City, and especially to Hollywood and other California cities, where The Outfit's extortion of labor unions gave it leverage over the motion picture industry.
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 compose Hollywood's movie industry, and manipulating and misusing the Teamsters Central States Pension fund. In 1943, the Outfit was caught red-handed shaking down the Hollywood movie industry. Ricca wanted Nitti to take the fall. However, Nitti had found that he was claustrophobic, years earlier while in jail for 18 months (for tax evasion), and he decided to end his life rather than face more imprisonment for extorting Hollywood. Ricca then became the boss in name as well as in fact, with enforcement chief Tony Accardo as underboss—the start of a partnership that lasted for almost 30 years. Around this time, the Outfit began bringing in members of the Forty-Two Gang, a notoriously violent youth gang. Among them were Sam "Momo" Giancana, Sam "Mad Sam" DeStefano, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, and Fiore "Fifi" Buccieri.
Ricca was sent to prison later in 1943 for his part in The Outfit plot to control Hollywood. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, along with a number of other mobsters. 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. Ricca could not associate with mobsters as a condition of his parole. Accardo nominally took power as boss, but actually shared power with Ricca, who continued behind the scenes as a senior consultant—one of the few instances of shared power in organized crime.
Accardo joined Ricca in semi-retirement in 1957 due to some "heat" that he was getting from the IRS. From then on, Ricca and Accardo allowed several others to nominally serve as boss, such as Giancana, Alderisio, Joey Aiuppa, William "Willie Potatoes" Daddano, and Jackie "the Lackey" Cerone. Most of the front bosses originated from the Forty-Two Gang. However, no major business transactions took place without Ricca and Accardo's knowledge and approval, and certainly no "hits." By staying behind the scenes, Ricca and Accardo lasted far longer than Capone. Ricca died in 1972, leaving Accardo as the sole power behind the scenes.
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 Treasury was devising a strategy of using the Supreme Court'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, according to a Capone biography on the FBI's website.
After Capone was jailed for tax evasion, his hand-picked successor, Frank Nitti, a former barber and small-time jewel thief, only nominally assumed power. In truth, power was seized by Nitti's underboss, 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 Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, Kansas City, and especially to Hollywood and other California cities, where The Outfit's extortion of labor unions gave it leverage over the motion picture industry.
From Nitti through Paul Ricca & Tony Accardo
Nitti had nominal control of The Outfit until he committed suicide in 1943 after refusing to take the "fall" for The Oufit getting caught red-handed extorting the Hollywood movie industry. He had found years earlier being in jail for tax evasion for 18 months to be 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 as underboss.
However, later in '43, 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, due to the "magic" of political connections the whole group of Outfit mobsters was released after three years, largely due to the efforts of Outfit "fixer," "The Camel" Murray Humphreys. However, as a condition of his parole, Ricca could not associate with mobsters. At this time Accardo theoretically took over as day-to-day boss, but 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 and Accardo eventually joining him. 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 Sam Giancana, "Joey Doves" Joseph Aiuppa, "Willie Potatoes" William Daddano, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, Jackie Cerone, to serve as front men over the years, this due to some "heat" that Accardo was originally getting from the IRS, in the '50s. During this time the Front Bosses ran the day to day operations of the family, keeping Ricca and Accardo insulated from law enforcement. However, no major business transactions, and certainly no "hits," took place without Ricca's and Accardo's knowledge and approval.
The Chicago Outfit (Chicago Mob) also had interests in Las Vegas and they were represented there by Tony "The Ant" Spilotro. Spilotro was known to be a ruthless gangster and was credited with organizing the underworld in Vegas. Spilotro's main job in Vegas was to supervise "the skim", a very lucrative racket for The Outfit as well as several other Midwestern Families. The casinos were run by Outfit Associate Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who's exploits in Vegas were turned into a Hollywood movie called Casino. After a car bomb caused Rosenthal to retire, the Bosses eventually grew tired of Spilotro's wild ways and decided to kill him and his brother Michael.
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 1990s 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. In May 1992, Tony Accardo, Chicago's one-time crime boss and ultimate 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.
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 its help, the Outfit was to be given access to its former casinos if it helped overthrow Fidel Castro in Operation Mongoose or Operation Family Jewels. The Outfit failed in that endeavor and faced increasing indictments under the administration of President John F. Kennedy (JFK). The Outfit is the subject of some theories regarding the JFK assassination and that of JFK's brother Robert Kennedy.
The Outfit reached the height of its power in the early 1960s. Accardo used the Teamsters pension fund, with the aid of Meyer Lansky, Sidney Korshak, and Jimmy Hoffa, to engage in massive money laundering through the Outfit's casinos. 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. Activities such as auto theft and professional sports betting did not replace the lost profits.
The Outfit controlled casinos in Las Vegas and "skimmed" 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. It has been rumored that the $2 million skimmed from the casinos in the Court case of 1986 was used to build the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, the founder of which was Angelo J. "The Hook" LaPietra.
Allen Dorfman, a key figure in the Outfit's money embezzlement operations, was investigated by the Department of Justice. In 1982, the FBI wire-tapped Dorfman's personal and company phone lines and was able to gather the evidence needed to convict Dorfman and several of his associates on attempts to bribe a state senator to get rid of the trucking industry rates. If Dorfman succeeded, the Outfit would have seen a huge gain of profit. This was known as Operation Pendorf and was a huge blow to the Chicago crime syndicate.
Operation GAMBAT (Gambling Attorney) proved to be a crippling blow to the Outfit's tight grip on the Chicago political machine. Pat Marcy, a made man in the Outfit, ran the city's First Ward, which represented most of downtown Chicago. Marcy and company controlled the circuit courts from the 1950s until the late 1980s with the help of Alderman Fred Roti and Democratic Committeeman John D'Arco Sr. Together, the First Ward fixed cases involving everything from minor traffic violations to murder.
Attorney and First Ward associate Robert Cooley was one of the lawyers who represented many mafiosi and associates in which cases were fixed. As a trusted man within the First Ward, Cooley was asked to "take out" a city police officer. Cooley was also an addicted gambler and in debt, so he approached the U.S. Justice Department's Organized Crime Strike Force, declaring that he wanted to "destroy Marcy and the First Ward".
Cooley was soon in touch with the FBI and began cooperating as a federal informant. Through the years, he maintained close ties to Marcy and the big shots of the First Ward. He wore an electronic surveillance device, recording valuable conversations at the notorious "First Ward Table", located at "Counselor's Row" across the street from Chicago City Hall. The results in Operation Gambat (Gambling Attorney) were convictions of 24 corrupt judges, lawyers, and cops.
Accardo died in 1992. In a measure of how successfully he had managed to stay out of the limelight, he never spent a day in jail (or only spent one day, depending on the source) despite an arrest record dating to 1922. Chicago's transition from Accardo to the next generation of Outfit bosses has been more of an administrative change than a power struggle, distinct from the way that organized crime leadership transitions take place in New York City.
In popular culture
The Chicago Outfit has a long history of portrayal in Hollywood as the subject of film and television.
Films and TV Shows
Little Caesar (1931)
Chicago Syndicate (1955)
The Scarface Mob (television film, 1959)
Al Capone (1959)
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)
Point Blank (1967)
The Outfit (1973)
Raw Deal (1986)
The Untouchables (1987)
Midnight Run (1988)
Next of Kin (1989)
The Firm (1993)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Public Enemies (2009)
Chicago Overcoat (2009)
Gangster Land (2017)
The Untouchables (1959–1963)
The F.B.I. (1965–1974)
Crime Story (1986–1988)
The Untouchables (1993–1994)
Sugartime (TV film) (1995)
The Rat Pack (1998)
Prison Break (2005–2009)
The Chicago Code (2011)
The Firm (2012)
Mob Wives: Chicago (2012)
The Mob Doctor (2012–2013)
Boardwalk Empire (2010–2014)
The Making of the Mob: Chicago (2016)
Chicago Outfit Bosses
- 1910–1920 — James Colosimo (Big Jim) — murdered in 1920.
- 1920–1925 — John Torrio (Papa Johnny) — retired in 1925.
- 1931–1947 — Paul Ricca (The Waiter)— stepped down in 1947, deceased in 1972.
- 1947–1992 — Anthony J. Accardo (Joe Batters)— died of natural causes in 1992.
- 1992-1996 — Samuel Carlisi (Sam Wings)— arrested in 1996, deceased in 1997.
- 1996–2014 — John DiFronzo (No Nose)--- On day to day retirement
- Acting boss -2012 Michael Sarno Arrested in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years in 2012.
- 2014-present Salvatore DeLaurentis (Solly D)
-The position of "front boss" was created by boss Paul Ricca in efforts to divert law enforcement attention from himself. The family maintained this "front boss" deception for the next 60 years.
- 1931–1943 — Frank Nitti (The Enforcer)— imprisoned and committed suicide in 1943.
- 1957–1966 — Sam Giancana (Mooney Sam or MoMo) — fled in Mexico in 1966, murdered in 1975.
- 1966–1967 — Samuel Battaglia (Teets)— arrested in 1967, deceased in 1973.
- 1967–1971 — Felix Alderisio (Milwaukee Phil)— imprisoned in 1967-1969, deceased in 1971.
- 1971–1986 — Joseph Aiuppa (Joey Doves)— imprisoned in 1986, deceased in 1997.
- 1986–1989 — Joseph Ferriola (Joe Nagall)— deceased for natural causes in 1989.
- 1989–1992 — Samuel Carlisi (Sam Wings)— became official boss in 1992.
- 1996-2005 — James Marcello (Jimmy the Man)— sentenced in 2007, imprisoned for life in 2009.
- 2005-2010--- Michael Sarno (Fat Mike) Sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012
- 1910-1920 — Johnny Torrio (The Immune) — became boss in 1920.
- 1920–1925 — Al Capone (Scarface Al)— became boss in 1925.
- 1925-1931 — Frank Nitti (The Enforcer)— became "front boss" in 1931.
- 1931-1943 — Louis Campagna (The Little New York)— arrested in 1943, deceased in 1955.
- 1943–1947 — Anthony J. Accardo (Joe Batters)— became boss in 1947.
- 1947-1957 — Sam Giancana (MoMo)— became "front boss" in 1957, murdered in 1975.
- 1957-1967 — Felix Alderisio (Milwaukee Phil)— imprisoned in 1967-1969, deceased in 1971.
- 1967-1986 — Jackie Cerone (Jackie the Lackey)— imprisoned in 1986, deceased in 1996.
- 1986-1992 — Rocco Infelise (Rocky)— arrested in 1992, deceased in 2005.
- 1992-1996 — James Marcello (Jimmy the Man)— became front boss in 1996.
- 1996-2006 — Anthony Zizzo (Little Tony)— disappeared and probably murdered in 2006.
- 2006–2009 — Joseph Andriacchi (The Builder)—Retired briefly due to illness. Would later become consigliere in 2012.
- 2009-Present--- Salvatore Cataudella (Sammy Cards)
- 1925-1928 — Antonio Lombardo (The Scourage)— murdered in 1928.
- 1928-1947 — Charles Fischetti (Trigger Happy)— retired in 1947, deceased in 1951.
- 1947-1957 — Paul Ricca (The Waiter)— retired in 1957, deceased in 1972.
- 1957-1992 — Anthony J. Accardo (Joe Batters)— deceased for natural causes in 1992.
- 1992-1999 — Angelo J. LaPietra (The Hook)— deceased for natural causes in 1999.
- 1999-2007 — Joseph Lombardo (Joey the Cown)— sentenced in 2007, imprisoned for life in 2009.
- 2007-2009 – Alfonso Tornabene (Al the Pizza Man)— deceased in 2009.
- 2009–2012 - Marco D'Amico (The Mover) Asked to step down so that Andriacchi could help advise the power shift from DiFronzo to DeLaurentis.
- 2012-2015 Joseph Andriacchi (The Builder) Retired
- 2015-2020 Marco D'Amico (The Mover) Was given his old position to make sure things ran smoothly for the new boss.
--Acting consigliere -2015-Present- John Matassa Jr. (Pudgy) Set to be the next consigliere.
Capos (Street bosses)
- Paul Carparelli- leader of the Lake County crew
- John Lohden - south side enforcer
- Frank Caruso (Tootsie) -in charge of the south side-Chinatown crew
- Peter DiFronzo (Greedy Petey)- Elmwood crew (semi retired)
- Rudy Fratto (The Chin)- the reputed capo of Elmwood Park
- James Inendino (Jimmy I)- is alleged to be the capo the Cicero crew and a “de-facto underboss
- Louis Marino (Louie Tomatoes)-in charge of the rackets in Lake and McHenry Counties
- Michael Sarno (Fat Mike) -leader of the Grand Avenue street crew
- Michael Spano (Big Mike)
- Marco Zanussi (MZ) - Melrose crew, alleged Street Boss/Number 2.
- Albert Vena (Albie the Falcon)- is alleged to have assumed command of the Chicago mob’s Westside-Grand Ave. crew.
- Joseph DiFronzo (Joe Chong)
- Dino Marino
- Marco Zanussi (MZ)
- Robert Panozzo (Bobby Pinocchio)- currently behind bars awaiting trial on federal racketeering charges of leading an Outfit robbery ring that targeted drug dealers and tried to execute a witness.
- Louie Capuzi
- Mario “The Arm” Rainone
- Frank “Littler Frankie” Caruso Jr.
- James DiForti
- Joseph “Witherhand” Scalise
- Nicholas “Nicky C” Cataudella
- Nicholas Ferriola
- Dino Marino
- Emil “Nick the Badge” Schullo
- John LaGiglio
- Louis “Louie Lips” Daddono
- Robert “Bobby the Gabeet” Bellavia
- Ricardo “Rick the Enforcer” lentini
- Robert “Bobby the Boxer” Salerno
- Anthony “Tony D” Dote
- Carlo ''Duke'' Olandese
- Francis “Patty May” Mazza (IP)
- Joseph “Joe the Builder” Andriacchi (Semi-retired)
- Robert “Bobby the Boxer” Abbinanti
- John " JV " Valerio