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The Chicago Tribune and the Mob



The Chicago Tribune and other media often reminisce about the past history of the mob and Chicagoland, regaling in stories about mob influence in communities like Melrose Park, Cicero, Oak Brook and so many others. But you rarely read a story in the Tribune about its own ties to the Chicago Outfit. And those ties ran deep.

By Ray Hanania

The legendary mobster Al Capone was sent away to an 11 year prison incarceration in May of 1932 after a long battle with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and special agents who had been involved in fighting the sale of alcohol in violation of prohibition laws.
Capone was charged with income tax evasion following an investigation by the IRS, ironically the same year that prohibition was ended. He was paroled and released from prison on Nov. 16, 1939, but he spent the remaining years battling his disease, dying on January 25, 1947.
Capone’s mob influence ended with his jailing and his physical ailments. But despite Capones incarceration in 1932 and his death in 1947, the Chicago Tribune and other media have continued to publish stories about Capone’s ties to suburban communities back in the 1920s.
Nearly 100 years after Capone’s fall, the news media continues to hold Capone up as a symbol to imply government corruption lingering in many suburbs. But what the news media doesn’t like to discuss is its own ties to Organized Crime that surpassed the crimes of even Al Capone.
About a year before Capone was sent to the hoosegow, the Chicago Tribune’s pre-eminent crime beat reporter, Alfred “Jake” Lingle Jr., was just enjoying what he thought would be another leisurely stroll to the Illinois Central (IC) terminal at Randolph Street downtown.
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Al Capone’s reign as a mobster ended in 1930 and he was sent to jail in 1932. At the same time, Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle was murdered in 1930 and pulled the covers off of his close ties to Chicago’s Organized Crime. So why does the Tribune spend so much time writing about Al Capone and so little time exploring their own mobster connections?
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Lingle had much to celebrate. He had just left the old Sherman House Hotel where he had received some inside racing tips from his mobster pals about horses at Homewood, a racetrack that had opened only a few years early at 17800 S. Halsted Street. The Homewood racetrack was popular through 1977 until it burned down in a fire.
But Lingle wasn’t think about the historic racetrack, where he would often consort with prostitutes and spend the late afternoon and evening boozing it up with bookies and bagmen he knew from Chicago’s seedy streets. It was his favorite place to go. The racetrack opened in 1926 the day after his birthday on July 2, and Lingle would often brag to his journalism colleagues that the track was built as a present just for him.
He’d go there often. And he had a lot of cash to burn on horse racing longshots. Although he only earned $65 a week in salary from the Chicago Tribune, clearing about $48 a week, Lingle enjoyed a disclosed annual income of more than $60,000 and some speculated even more that was not reported to the IRS.
[Editor’s Note: $60,000 in 1930 is the equivalent of just over $840,000 in today’s dollars.]
On June 9, 1930, as Lingle walked down the marbled staircase into the station, two men, one of whom described as a tall blond haired thug, raised a .38 calibre handgun to the back of Lingle’s head and blew his brains out along the foyer’s walls.
Some argue that Lingle technically was not a true reporter, but more of a “legman,” someone who “found” stories for the Tribune editors who assigned them to writers. But it was Lingle’s reporting that was carried in the newspaper articles that carried his byline and the byline often of another crime writer. Lingle would call in his stories by telephone and they were published as he reported the information to the desk.
Lingle’s killing was reportedly ordered by Al Capone, but the truth may be that Lingle had abandoned Capone when the heat increased and he began working for Bugs Moran. Although police questioned 664 suspects — more suspects questioned than in any previous murder at the time in part because of the heightened attention Lingle’s career as a journalist had raised among an outraged public — the culprit who ordered the hit was Moran’s “greaser” Jack Zuta — a “greaser” was someone who handed out money or “greased” the palms of sources for information or favors.
Several of Zuta’s colleagues were in the station when the Chicago Tribune’s celebrated crime writer had been gunned down in front of a dozen witnesses.
Zuta fled to Wisconsin to a resort lodge that was also a frequent host to several close associates of Chicago Tribune owner Col. Robert Rutherford McCormick. McCormick was a crusading publisher when it came to international affairs and championed wars and warriors internationally. But he coveted the power of his newspaper base in Chicago and exploited reporters like Lingle, who used his ties to muscle competition from stories and popular newsstand locations.
The Zuta-Lingle connection was ironic. Zuta was Jewish and so was Lingle, until he converted to Catholicism to strengthen his ties to the mainly Catholic mafiosa in Chicago.
It’s not a story the Tribune likes to showcase. In fact, so little has been written about the seedy years of Chicago’s largest and longest surviving daily print publication or the longstanding ties that the Chicago Outfit had with some journalists over the years.
But the Lingle connection to mobster corruption peeled back a little of the onion skin that supplied the mettle to the true face of Chicago’s journalism history.

Ray Hanania
Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com. Email him at: RayHanania@IllinoisNewsNetwork.com.









One of Al Capone's Old Brooklyn Haunts to Be Demolished for Condo Project



March 11, 2015 — Before a young Al Capone packed his bags and headed to the Windy City to make a name for himself in Chicago's organized crime circuit, he cut his teeth in Brooklyn, where he was born and bred. Capone and his family lived at 21 Garfield Place. He would go across the street to the poolroom at 20 Garfield Place, where his dad taught him how to play. That building still stands today, but not for long. DNAinfo reports that "plans are underway to build a four-story, eight-unit apartment building with a penthouse on Garfield Place between Fourth and Fifth avenues." Yep, we're losing another colorful piece of New York history, even if it’s a little notorious, because the buildings at 20 Garfield Place as well as 18 Garfield Place are going to be demolished to make way for the condo project. DNAinfo references an urban legend that claims Capone hid "riches inside the walls of one of his homes on the block." Nothing's ever come of it, but on the off chance no one has checked the poolroom, well, the demolition crew may have a shot at finding a nice surprise! Who doesn't love a bit of treasure?



Al Capone Hangout To Be Replaced by Condos
By Leslie Albrecht
PARK SLOPE — A Garfield Place condo development will knock down a building where notorious gangster Al Capone hung out as a young man.
Plans are underway to build a four-story, eight-unit apartment building with a penthouse on Garfield Place between Fourth and Fifth avenues. The project will demolish 18 Garfield Place and 20 Garfield Place, which was once a poolroom frequented by Capone, according to biographies of the Prohibition era's "Public Enemy No. 1."
Developer Farhad Bokhour, who filed permits for the project this week, said he knew of the Capone connection and joked that "Al Capone Condos" could be a fitting name for the development.
“Do you think we could get more money by connecting Al Capone to the project?” Bokhour asked with a laugh. "Maybe people can play pool with his ghost."
Though he was known as a Chicago organized crime figure, Capone was born in Brooklyn in 1899 and spent his formative years in the neighborhood. His family was among the waves of Italian immigrants who came to America to make a better life, said biographer Laurence Bergreen, author of "Capone: The Man and the Era."
The poolroom at 20 Garfield Place was a haunt of Capone's because his family lived across the street, at 21 Garfield Place. The Capones also resided at 46 Garfield Place, and, as a family of eight, they crammed into the second floor of a "cold-water tenement" at 38 Garfield, according to "Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone" by John Kobler.
Though the future bootlegger ran with street gangs such as the South Brooklyn Rippers and Five Points Juniors, his evolution into Scarface wasn't inevitable, Bergreen said.
“He was not a boy criminal or part of a crime dynasty or anything like it,” Bergreen told DNAinfo New York. “His family was honest and hardworking. It wasn’t like a 'Godfather' movie where you’re born into this tradition.”
Capone went to school at nearby P.S. 133, at Fourth Avenue and Butler Street, and earned B's until the sixth grade, when his academic performance and attendance plummeted so much that he was forced to repeat the grade. After a teacher hit him — corporal punishment was then a common occurrence at P.S. 133, Bergreen wrote — Capone fought back and landed in the principal's office.
The principal beat him too.
"Afterward, the boy vowed never to return to P.S. 133, and he never did,” according to Bergreen’s book.
Capone's father, Gabriele, played pool at the 20 Garfield Place club, and taught young Alphonse the game. Al eventually became a "neighborhood champion," Kobler wrote. The spot later played a pivotal role in young Capone's life. In 1920, Gabriele Capone collapsed in the poolroom after suffering a heart attack. He was carried to 38 Garfield, where he died. The loss may have helped propel Capone on the road to crime, Bergreen wrote.
Capone had so many connections to Garfield Place that an urban myth persisted for years about the gangster stashing some of his riches inside the walls of one of his homes on the block, Bergreen said.
“People were going back there to try to find it,” Bergreen said. “I got asked about it several times. [But] Capone lived there when he was a kid, before he had any riches.”
If it turns out Capone hid any ill-gotten gains inside his old poolroom, Bokhour isn't hopeful about finding the hidden treasure.
“If anybody is going to find anything, it’s going to be the demolition people, and they probably wouldn’t give it to us,” Bokhour said.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the location of the former pool hall is within the area generally regarded as Park Slope.



Condos Shall Eat Up Mobster Al Capone's Childhood Pool Hall
Hana R. Alberts
Chicago's most famous gangster, Al Capone, spent his earliest years on the streets of Gowanus. Along with his Italian-immigrant family, he lived in a few different places along Garfield Place, including No. 21. (It was up for sale in 2006.) Across the street at No. 20, according to author Troy Taylor, was a poolroom "where Capone and his father both played and Al became the neighborhood champion." Fast forward about a century. Now that quaint clapboard building, along with its neighbor No. 18, will be demolished to make way for a new batch o' condos.
Of coruse, the developer hopes it will help sales
The new building will is slated to rise four stories and have eight units. Developer Farhad Bokhour says he knows about the Capone connection. Naturally he hopes it'll help sell the apartments.
Developer Farhad Bokhour, who filed permits for the project this week, said he knew of the Capone connection and joked that "Al Capone Condos" could be a fitting name for the development.
"Do you think we could get more money by connecting Al Capone to the project?" he told DNAinfo. "Maybe people can play pool with his ghost."
Bokhour also joked about calling them the Al Capone Condos. Please don't.

Chasing Capone's Canadian connection


Mickey Djuric
Travelling from the Friendly City to Chicago, Riess and her crew of six rode the same railway line Capone would have taken in the 1920s if he was an actual bootlegger smuggling alcohol into America during prohibition.
The director and producer of the film, Finding Al - A Documentary, talked to people in the towns along the railway line and was shocked with the stories she heard.
"I was expecting small stories to pop up like Capone getting his haircut in Moose Jaw. There were stories like that circulating, but then stories started coming out of other places in the province," said Riess.
"There might have been this triangle where he was working in the prairies from Winnipeg to Moose Jaw to Estevan."
The most shocking story Riess discovered was about a Moose Jaw woman who once dated Capone and possibly bore his child.
"She was living in Moose Jaw and she decided she wanted to be a dancing girl. Kind of like a Vegas showgirl, but in Chicago. According to the woman's family story, she moved to Chicago and started dating him."
The director worked with a genealogist to prove the validity of claims and has spent countless hours going through archives and reading books. She even interviewed Capone's family.
"A lot of times there are truth to these stories," said Riess. "The thing is, nobody has ever looked beyond Moose Jaw before and now we have all these stories coming forward of Capone being all over Saskatchewan and there does seem to be some truth to them."
Riess hasn't been able to find hard evidence, like a photo, but then again, he was a wanted criminal during his bootlegging days.
"He was a gangster and he wouldn't be announcing the fact that he was here. Without these photos, there will never be 100 per cent certainty. The more I've been working on this and the more research I've done, I definitely believe he had a strong business connection with Saskatchewan and it is likely he would have come here to meet his business partners."
Production of Finding Al - A Documentary is currently wrapping up and will air on CBC this summer. An extended cut version will also be available on Video On Demand.
In addition, a special screening will be shown in Moose Jaw including a Q&A session with the director.
To view the trailer of the upcoming documentary go to www.findingaldocumentary.com.
Mickey Djuric can be reached at 306-691-1263 or on Twitter @MickeyDjuric


Capone's last car to be shown at local car show March 15


By MARK DUBOVEC
On Nov. 29, 1979, the day after his middle daughter was born, George Holinga received an offer he couldn't refuse from the personal chauffeur of Al Capone.
That was the day Holinga received a phone call from Herman David, aka "Motorcycle Mike."
Then in his 90s and living in Dalton, Ill., Motorcycle Mike owned Capone's last car: a 1947 Packard Custom Super 8 Sedan.
"He said, 'I decided to sell you my car,' " Holinga said.
At 2 p.m. March 15, Holinga, a Grove City resident since 2008, will show the car and discuss its history, and the story of how he bought it, at a joint meeting of the Buckeye Packard Club, the Lancaster Car Club and the Mid-Ohio Chevrolet Club.
The meeting, to be held at the new Grove City Byers Chevrolet, 5887 N. Meadows Drive, is open to the public.
Holinga said his interest in classic automobiles goes all the way back to his childhood. When he was 13, he and his father rebuilt the engine of the family vehicle, a 1955 Chevy.
"All through high school and college, I bought repossessed cars, rebuilt them, sold them," he said.
Originally from Highland, Ind., Holinga was at a body shop in Hessville when he first heard about Motorcycle Mike and Capone's last car. Capone, he said, was flamboyant and loved Packards.
"They were the American Rolls Royce," Holinga said. "They were big, impressive cars."
Holinga was not able to see the car until 1977 because Motorcycle Mike was in prison. Holinga said Motorcycle Mike claimed to be part of Capone's inner circle and to have participated in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. He was released from prison for good behavior. Motorcycle Mike always kept a Luger pistol on his belt, which he told Holinga was his "insurance."
"He sounded just like the guy from The Untouchables," Holinga said. "Whenever I talked to him, every third or fourth word was a four-letter word. ... He was really concerned I was part of the FBI."
Over the next few years, "George from Ohio," as Motorcycle Mike knew Holinga, visited him at his home.
"Every time I visited him, it was fascinating," Holinga said. "He went through a number of stories."
When he decided to sell the car, Motorcycle Mike let Holinga have it for $3,000. In their talks, Motorcycle Mike promised him first right of refusal and even turned down a $75,000 offer from a pilot who also offered to fly him anywhere in the world, Holinga said. But, Holinga said, Motorcycle Mike told him he didn't need the money.
"You don't want to negotiate with a guy from the Mafia with a Luger in his belt," Holinga said. "I brought the cash. He's not a check kind of guy."
The car itself was in pretty good shape and didn't have many miles on it, Holinga said, having spent many years in Motorcycle Mike's basement while he was in prison. The interior had custom silk seat covers and door panels. When he took the covers off, Holinga said he could see the original chalk lines from the factory.
"Capone hated the feel of wool but loved the feel of silk," Holinga said.
The car also had something under the front seat: a "persuader" rod with dried blood on it.
"They used that to break kneecaps or skulls," Holinga said. The Capone car currently is on loan to a museum in Dayton.
Holinga's restoration of the car, and other vehicles he owns, has won awards and recognition across the country.
"I've restored eight Packards and an old Corvette," he said. "I restore them myself."
And he still drives all of them.
"They keep up with anything on the highway," Holinga said.


Capone Looking for a legend, finding the man




Capone: Looking for a legend, finding the man BY JONATHAN EIG  |
I LIVE IN Chicago, which means I’ve heard a lot of stories about Al Capone.
Al Capone had a hideout in the apartment building on Surf Street, around the corner from my house. Al Capone and his brother Ralph ran a casino on Broadway, where the eyeglass shop sits today. Al Capone used to get his hats from my friend Jim’s grandfather. The Green Mill jazz club has secret tunnels that Al Capone used to escape enemies. Al Capone was the first person to suggest putting expiration dates on milk.
I could go on.
I spent years researching Capone’s life, and while I would never call my friend Jim a liar, I have no idea if any of the above claims are true. That’s the trouble with Capone: He was so big, so famous, and he mingled so thoroughly and so casually with the people of Chicago during his 10-year run as the city’s leading bootlegger that it’s difficult if not impossible to disprove claims such as these. Capone really did get around.
Capone represented a special kind of challenge to me as a biographer. On the one hand, everybody has a story about him. On the other hand, many of those stories were patently false.
When I began researching the life of this notorious criminal, I applied the same techniques and standards I’d used throughout my career as a newspaper reporter. I would write only what I could confirm from primary sources. And if primary sources were not good enough, I would admit my gaps in knowledge, present whatever information I could and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions.
I discovered quickly that Capone had become an almost mythological figure in American lore. We picture him with cigar stuck in his mouth and a Tommy gun in his hand, spraying bullets into his enemy. In truth, Capone was almost never seen holding a gun. After a violent incident early in his career, he was always careful to delegate his dirty work.
We also blame Capone for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when seven men were brutally gunned town in 1929 in a parking garage on Chicago’s North Side. It turns out Capone was out of town when the attack occurred. Moreover, my research suggests he probably had nothing to do with it.
One more example: Most people think Eliot Ness was responsible for the arrest and imprisonment of Capone. In fact, he had almost nothing to do with it. My hunch is that Capone never heard of Eliot Ness. It was a mild-mannered attorney and a bunch of accountants who put Capone behind bars.
Just a businessman
I was disappointed at times while writing this book that I couldn’t describe some of the brutal scenes depicted in movies like “The Untouchables,” starring Kevin Costner. But once I got over that disappointment, I discovered that the true story of Capone’s career was more interesting than the film version. In “The Untouchables,” Robert DeNiro portrays Capone as a snarling psychopath. He was no such thing. Capone was capable of brutality, but he saw himself as a businessman first, and so did many of the people with whom he worked. It just so happened that his business involved the murder of rivals from time to time, but Capone believed that he was worthy of respect. He believed that the ban on booze was a flawed law and that he was merely providing a commodity that the vast majority of Americans continued to crave. He traveled safely throughout the city and mingled with ordinary citizens because he was a friendly, gregarious man, not a sneering monster.
To understand how Capone could have been both a criminal and a part of the Chicago community, one must understand American culture in the 1920s, when lawlessness became sexy and when everyone—even criminals—craved celebrity.
After the Valentine’s Day Massacre, President Herbert Hoover told members of his Cabinet that he wanted to send a message to Americans that even unpopular laws would be enforced. To make the point most forcefully, he wanted Capone jailed. When it became clear that there was no way to build a strong case against Capone for murder or bootlegging, the U.S. Attorney for Chicago, George E.Q. Johnson, made the difficult decision to pursue charges of income-tax evasion.
Some government officials didn’t care much for Johnson’s approach. They worried that going after Capone on something as mundane as an income-tax charge would be to admit their own failure. It was not the way to make Hoover look tough on crime.
But Johnson argued that the most important thing was getting Capone off the streets. Once he was gone, his organization would fall apart. It would send the message that no one was above the law in the United States, and that criminals weren’t the only ones capable of cunning.
In the course of my research, I found thousands of pages of George Johnson’s original working papers, including his memos to the White House, wiretaps of the Capone gang recorded by Eliot Ness and Johnson’s handwritten notes on Capone’s trial.
Was all of it thrilling? No, in fact, most of it was duller than U.S. tax code. Come to think of it, some of it was U.S. tax code.
But I loved getting my hands on it, touching and smelling the same pieces of paper that Johnson scattered across his desk as he prepared for Capone’s trial. I may never know where Capone bought his hats or whether he sneaked through tunnels at the Green Mill. But that’s fine. I don’t need the myths. The real Capone is good enough for me.

Jonathan Eig is the author of “Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster.” He’ll be speaking about Capone this Tuesday at UMW.

Q: When Al Capone was serving time in the Atlanta federal pen, did his wife live in a pink stucco house on West Paces Ferry Road?


By Andy Johnson

A: There are stories about Mae Capone staying at the Briarcliff Summit, which was a hotel in those days, while her husband, the notorious Chicago mob boss, was locked up (or was he?) at Atlanta’s imposing penitentiary from May 1932 until August 1934. I couldn’t find anyone who could confirm if she stayed at a pink house on West Paces Ferry Road, but the Capones never bought a home in Atlanta during that time, with Capone expert Mario Gomes calling that a “myth.” I discovered there’s more myths to the Capone legend while researching where Mae might have stayed while standing by her man. There are rumors of the him living it up along Ponce de Leon or Peachtree while he was supposed to be behind bars. You might have heard them. Capone stayed at the infamous Clermont Hotel or was spotted at the Woodruff Inn or had a suite at the Briarcliff Summit. He was so powerful, it seems, he could come and go between the pen and penthouse. This legend became so widespread that it began being accepted as fact. WABE producer Myke Johns shot down the stories of Capone carousing around town in recent articles for the Bitter Southerner (BitterSoutherner.com) and WABE.org. “As far as I can tell, any story about Capone being anywhere in Atlanta but inside the prison is entirely fabricated,” Johns wrote in an email to me last week. Capone’s time here ended when he was transferred to Alcatraz, where he was jailed until his release in 1939.


A close call with Al Capone


A close call with Al Capone By Rev. John Lutton 
I invited readers to send me stories of famous people in their family tree last week, and I received one I would like to share with you.
First of all, I wish to introduce the writer: James Alan Cox. Jim and I grew up together in Muncie and have been lifetime friends. He introduced me to guitar playing and singing. He still calls Muncie Home.
 Jim has been a performer and writer of country music for nearly all of his adult life. His website is jamesalancoxmusic.com.
Here is his story:
“Dad was a Western Union messenger in Chicago in the ’30s, and used to deliver messages to Al Capone, who rented several suites of one of the better hotels. Instructed that the message was for ‘Al Capone’s eyes only,’ several times he directly handed the telegram to the man himself, after being filtered through several body guards. As a result, he and Mr. Capone almost became friends.
“According to Dad, after delivering a message one afternoon, Al Capone told my Dad he liked him and offered him a job as a driver, figuring that Dad, being a messenger, probably knew the city well.”
“Dad had to make a quick decision and, of course, it was in the negative. From then on, my Dad said when he delivered a cable to him, Capone treated him like a complete stranger and never spoke to him or acknowledged him again.”
“In ‘43, when I was two years old, Dad moved us back to his hometown of Marion, and later to Mom’s hometown of Muncie. I’ve wondered if his leaving Chicago wasn’t smarter than he imagined, having rejected what I’m sure was a handsome offer from one of the top gangsters in the country.”
Something that might be of interest to amateur radio operators, or Morse Code buffs, Jim’s Dad could copy the Morse Code in his head at 35 wpm.
Jim and his wife, Sandy, are both amateur radio operators: His call is KA9PBO and hers is N9XYN.
If you get a chance, be sure and check out some of Jim’s tunes on his web page.
If anyone else has a story or name of fame to share, send it to me at my Gmail account listed below and we will see what we can do with it.
We pray God’s richest blessings to all.