Frank Nitti, Capone gang's boss killer, commits suicide (3-19-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (March 20, 1943)

Capone gang’s boss killer ‘beats the rap’ by suicide

‘Easy way out’ taken by ‘The Enforcer,’ Frank Nitti

Frank ‘The Enforcer’ Nitti

Chicago, Illinois (UP) –
The remnants of Scarface Al Capone’s once-mighty empire of crime crumbled today with the suicide of its ruler, Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, and there were whispers that the higher-ups, the men who controlled the gangsters, would be next to fall.

Nitti committed suicide yesterday afternoon when he learned a federal grand jury at New York indicated him and eight others, six of them his henchmen, as a result of a $2,500,000 labor union extortion.

Chicago probe soon

U.S. District Attorney J. Albert Woll said a grand jury would convene here within 30 days to pick up where the New York grand jury left off. The investigation, he intimated, would involve legitimate business and perhaps politicians.

Nitti, who dealt death to underworld enemies with a shrug of indifference, was driven to a drunken suicide when he found the federal government too tough an opponent.

He was the first big-time Chicago gangster to take “the easy way out.”

Chief ‘couldn’t take it’

Police Lt. William Drury of the underworld detail wrote this epitaph to Nitti’s suicide:

He could dish it out, but he couldn’t take it. The indictment was too much.

Federal agents said he had “pleaded guilty” by sending a bullet into his brain. Shortly before his death, they said, arrangements were made by an attorney to surrender him to the U.S. Marshal’s office. Government attorneys said they knew he would plead guilty, “but not that way.”

Nitti killed himself in a drunken stupor. His suicide was witnessed by three trainmen on an Illinois Central switch engine. The trainmen saw him reeling down a sidetrack as their engine approached.

Trainmen duck bullet

Then, they said, he drew a pistol and fired two wild shots. The trainmen ducked as a bullet sped in their direction. They were not sure whether he had fired intentionally at them or not.

Stumbling in a heap, Nitti sat propped against a fence, pressed the pistol to his temple and fired. The third shot ended his life.

The man who had controlled millions reaped through liquor, gambling and extortion, died with $1.14 in his pocket. Police found the .32 caliber pistol – less powerful than those habitually used by gunmen – clutched in Nitti’s stiffened hand.

Catholic funeral not likely

In his pockets were a rosary in a black leather case and his draft registration card. Nitti was Catholic, but it seemed certain he would be deprived of a Catholic funeral in view of the suicide and the late Cardinal George Mundelein’s edict prohibiting church burials for gangsters.

A few hours before his suicide, Nitti was indicted by the New York grand jury with eight associates on charges of mail fraud and violation of anti-racketeering laws.

The indictments were follow-ups to the conviction in 1941 of Willie Bioff, one-time panderer, and George E. Browne and other officials of the AFL International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Gangland who’s who

Others indicted with Nitti were Louis “Little New York” Campagna, one-time bodyguard of the rackets chief; Frank “The Immune” Maritote, who married into the Capone family; Paul De Lucia (alias Paul Ricca), questioned in the murder of Jack Lingle (Chicago newspaper reporter) and rackets go-between man; Phil D’Andrea, once a Capone bodyguard who became head of the Italo-American National Union, and was publisher of the Chicago Italian-language newspaper L’Italia; Ralph Pierce, erstwhile Capone lieutenant; Charles “Cherry Nose” Gioe, always high on police murder suspect lists; and John Rosselli, former husband of screen actress June Lang, assigned to control of the gang’s West Coast business after it entered the movie extortion racket.

Murders in Chicago

The ninth defendant was Louis Kaufman, business agent of the Newark, New Jersey, local of the IATSE, who was indicted under the anti-racketeering law.

Yesterday’s indictments added still more to the pattern of how the Capone syndicate, deprived of the lush liquor racket with the repeal of Prohibition, turned to extortion of the movie industry and domination of the IATSE.

The indictments charged that Nitti and his associates obtained huge sums from Loew’s, Inc., Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. on the threat of calling strikes that would paralyze the industry.

Nitti, 57, was born in Italy. His real name was Nitto. He received his training for a crime career in the notorious Five Points Gang of Brooklyn, a band of tough young thugs which produced such Chicago crime lords as Al Capone and Johnny Torrio.

Executions on order

Nitti followed Capone to Chicago and shared in his rise. His title of “Enforcer” went with his position as Capone’s lieutenant. It was Nitti, police said, who ordered the execution of double-crossers, and occasionally participated in the killings himself.

Nitti has a flair for accounting, and in 1923 became collector and bookkeeper of the Capone “interests.” His slice of the annual “take” in those days was said to have amounted to $250,000. But his accounting was not astute enough. In 1931, he was caught in the income tax web which ensnared Capone, and Nitti himself spent 18 months in Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Capone’s successor

When Capone retired, a gibbering victim of paresis, he named Nitti his successor. With criminal shrewdness, Nitti watched the fadeout of the bootleg-and-bullets era, then launched the “syndicate” into new fields. He gained control of the Bartenders Union in Chicago, along with the IATSE. He branched into ownership of nightclubs, and saw that the syndicate’s grip on gambling remained secure.

With the passing of Prohibition, Nitti realized the syndicate would have to swing its activities into other channels.

‘The boys’ move in

Tommy Maloy, then president of the Chicago local of the IATSE, found himself in trouble with insurgent members of the union and asked Nitti to send a “few of the boys” to help straighten out the trouble. “The boys” not only relieved the stress on Maloy, but discovered a new outlet for their talents. Nitti’s men quietly but firmly began to take over the union and Maloy’s protests were answered a short time later by machine-gun blasts which blew him out of his auto and left him to die in the street.

The slaying of Maloy was enough warning to Browne, president of the union, and Bioff, his business agent. They surrendered meekly to Nitti, and the syndicate was in control of its richest plum.

Control slipping

From 1935 until the indictment of Browne and Bioff in New York, Nitti bled the IATSE treasury through a system of kickbacks and a 2% levy on all employees’ salaries.

But in the last six months, Nitti’s control began to slip. There were double-crossers, and they were not rubbed out. Some talked, and the New York grand jury listened. It returned its indictments yesterday, and Nitti was through.

At the time of his suicide, Nitti was said to have been a sick man, never having fully recovered from gunshot wounds suffered in an argument with insurgent members of his own mob.

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The Pittsburgh Press (March 21, 1943)

Nitti stooge of big shots, gang’s attorney reveals

Underworld shows excitement, federal officials prick up ears at lawyer’s charge

Chicago, Illinois (UP) – (March 20)
A posthumous charge by Capone mobster Frank Nitti, that he was only the front man for the real gang lords of Chicago, caused excitement in underworld circles here tonight and made federal officials prick up their ears.

The charge was spoken by E. Bradley Eben, attorney for Nitti and other Chicago hoodlums indicted at New York yesterday on charges of labor racketeering. Mr. Eben was the last person known to have talked to Nitti before the gangster drank himself into stupefaction and then shot himself through the head.

Mr. Eben told newspapermen:

Now that Frank Nitti is dead, I can say that he told me he never was the Chicago gang boss. I am not easily convinced, but I assure you that I believed him when he told me he had nothing to do with the New York extortion case.

Mr. Eben quoted Nitti as telling him:

I was a little guy. I never was the big shot. People built me up as the big boss after Capone went to prison and the guys in the racket began looking up to me. I made a lot of money. I invested my money and the income was enough to keep me going.

I knew Brown and Bioff [George Brown and Willie Bioff, leaders of the Motion Picture Operators Union convicted of extortion from movie magnates]. I used to walk with them and have lunch with them. That was a mistake. I never shook down anybody.

Mr. Eben said he talked to Nitti by telephone at 11 a.m. yesterday shortly after the indictments of Nitti and eight others in connection with the $2,500,000 labor extortion plot was announced.

He said he suggested that Nitti come downtown and talk it over, and Nitti replied:

Sure, I’ll be there at 2 o’clock.

Seemingly not drunk then

The attorney added:

Frank did not appear to be drunk then, and he was not a drinking man.

About an hour later, Nitti, staggering drunk, put the pistol to his head and quashed the government’s case against him.

At an inquest into Nitti’s death, Charles Caravatta of Pullman, Michigan, the dead man’s brother-in-law, testified the gangster was mentally unbalanced.

Caravatta said:

He wasn’t acting in the full powers of his mind and seemed to be temporarily insane. He did a lot of queer things.

Checks with old stories

Caravatta also said Nitti was not a drinker.

What might have sounded like a trapped gangster’s natural self-defense received unusual attention from authorities because it checked with the story that always was told – but never proved – that not even Al Capone in his heyday was the real power. There have been many and conflicting whispers about the shadowy character who issued the orders to Capone and lesser leaders, took the lion’s share of their plunder, and allowed these limited intellects to bask in the front-page notoriety, the nightclub adulation and eventually the government witness box.

Hint implicates politicians

U.S. District Attorney J. Albert Woll hinted today he was going after this character of characters. He planned to call a federal grand jury within 30 days to start where the New York jury left off, and he intimated that supposedly legitimate businessmen and politicians might be implicated.

U.S. Marshals started out with warrants this afternoon for the other Chicagoans involved – Paul Ricca, Louis “Little New York” Campagna, Phil D’Andrea, Frank “The Immune” Maritote, Ralph Pierce and Charles “Cherry Nose” Gioe.

But they had little hope of nabbing them, because gangdom’s doors were locked and its inhabitants were “undercover.” Mr. Eben reportedly discussed surrender of some of these clients Monday if suitable bail arrangements could be made.

There were empty tables at some of the North Clark St. joints tonight.

Nitti is not alone in evading arrest

Chicago, Illinois – (March 20)
Deputy U.S. Marshals went searching today for seven Chicago underworld figures indicted at New York on racketeering charges. Their reports:

PHILIP D’ANDREA: His home in suburban Glencoe burned down a year ago. He left no forwarding address.

FRANK DIAMOND: His listed address is a vacant store.

PAUL RICCA: His wife said he hadn’t been home since Wednesday.

RALPH PIERCE: Unaccounted for since he was questioned early this week about a murder and released on $100 bond.

LOUIS CAMPAGNA: Whereabouts unknown since he saw his attorney yesterday.

CHARLES GIOE: Left his hotel at 7 a.m. today, three hours earlier than usual.

FRANK NITTI: Warrant returned unexecuted. Fugitive dead, by suicide.


So… The criminals that burn their house down leave forwarding addresses?


Why would you lol? Especially if you’re the Mafia?


To be featured in history books as the dumbest mafia who ever lived. I shall have the honour of being placed in the hall of fame of great “geniuses” like Cadorna, Hotzendorf.


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Wow :open_mouth: extortion on the threat of calling strikes with the mob getting the :moneybag:. How did that work in practice actually. Would the workers get money for not showing up or had the mob other offers they couldn’t refuse?

And I agree with the sanity of Nitti, wins the golden Acorn prize as we call it in Dutch🇳🇱


The company using the workers from a mob-controlled union cannot get the job done due to the strike, which results in the company losing money. And then Mr. Vercetti or Cipriani :joy: would come in and say there’ll be no more problems if he’s paid a certain amount of money.

It’s actually an important part of the plot in GTA: Liberty City Stories.


Thanks :pray: I heard about these mob controlled Unions and now I now how these operated. A bit like rhe ransomwhere business model where the friendly hackers :woman_supervillain:offer solutions for their self-created issues :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Aww… man. You spoilt me on the story again.:frowning:

Fine… I will play GTA.


I am waiting for the quest 2 release :slight_smile:


quest 2

Did you mean GTA V Advanced Enhanced Remuxed Edition?..Rockstar Probably.

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It’s not a spoiler lol. I haven’t told you how it ended nor did I say the strike was a twist lol.


Speaking of GTA editions, I don’t recommend the definitive editions of the GTA 3D-era trilogy.


Anything is a spoiler for me as I keep on waiting for that part which diminishes my enjoyment as I am only focused on getting to that part.

For eg : Amazing Spiderman 2, I was super hyped to see spiderman use the manhole cover against Rhino because it was in the trailer… you know where that scene was? At the end of the movie. I was very disappointed


The Pittsburgh Press (March 23, 1943)

Nitti accorded ‘sneak burial;’ mobsters hide

Widow, son and only few relatives attend services

Chicago, Illinois (UP) –
One of the shortest and most unpretentious funeral processions in the history of Chicago’s underworld followed Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti to his “sneak burial” yesterday, as former members of the Al Capone gang he led hid from the eyes of federal authorities.

Nitti committed suicide Friday less than six hours after he and seven other members of the syndicate had been indicted by a federal grand jury in New York for violations of the anti-racketeering law.

Buried ‘ahead of time’

Nitti was buried 24 hours before the announced time for his funeral, and only his widow and son and a few relatives were present. The men who gave Nitti the title “Enforcer” because of his ruthless dealings with the gang’s enemies, refused to make his last rites a replica of the expensive and flamboyant funerals that attended the demise of other underworld lords.

A $5,000 bronze casket was the only sign reminiscent of the heydays when a top flight gang leader’s funeral included thousands of dollars’ worth of floral displays, long processions of limousines and marching mourners.

Flowers lack cards

Yesterday the floral pieces included a red and white heart from the widow; a cross and pillow, with no card; and several baskets of flowers, also without cards. One auto was sufficient to carry the party from the undertaker’s chapel to the grave.

Nitti, a Catholic, was buried without benefit of clergy, it is the practice of the church to deny a funeral to a person who takes his own life, and to deny him space in consecrated cemeteries. Nitti, however, owned the lot in which he was buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery. The undertaker said a few words, and then concluded with:

That concludes the ceremony, folks; please return to the car.

Hoodlums stay away

The hoodlums who backed Nitti’s domination of the old Capone syndicate stayed far away from the chapel and cemetery. They had no desire to flaunt their association with “The Enforcer” even in death.

Even the undertaker craved anonymity. He removed the company nameplate from the hearse before beginning the trip to the cemetery.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 24, 1943)

Capone gangsters surrender to U.S.

Chicago, Illinois (UP) –
Paul “The Waiter” Ricca and Louis “Little New York” Campagna, two of the Chicago gangland figures indicted in New York last week on racketeering charges, surrendered today at the U.S. Marshal’s office.

With Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, who committed suicide last week a few hours after the indictment was returned, Ricca and Campagna were the ruling powers of the crime syndicate which Al Capone headed.

The New York indictment accused seven Chicago underworld leaders of participating in a plot to mulct millions from the motion picture industry.