Who Exactly Runs Chicago These Days?

Capone was probably the most
famous mobster the world ever will see.
We are more familiar with New York's Five Families, but we've been working on broadening our scope a bit.

Here, we take a look at Mafia goings-on in the Windy City. Historically, only one family runs Chicago. Al Capone, perhaps the most famous mobster of all time, ran the city in the 1920s to early 1930s, during very tumultuous times; he in fact was the cause of tumult. (Scareface was originally from New York) and supposedly the Capone name still carries weight in the Chicago mob.

The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Syndicate, dates back to around 1910. It is, of course, part of the American Mafia but distinct from the Five Families of New York City, and families in other regions of the U.S. But New York and Chicago together were the chief powers on the Commission.

The Outfit is more strict, more loyal to tradition, than the New York families.

When "Mob Wives" producers came to town to start a spinoff, they had a lot of trouble finding Outfit-connected ladies willing to appear on the show.

“It’s inconceivable [Chicago mob wives would speak out],” one attorney told NBC Chicago. “I just don’t think it would meet with approval here.” Approval from whom? 

In Chicago back in the 1920s, a handshake
could be more binding than the longest contract.
One anonymous source we spoke to knows quite a bit about Chicago and New York; he was quite to the point when we bounced this off him.

"Anything you read today about Chicago being tighter than New York is bullshit. If someone says it to you, ask them about the Family Secrets trial. [See below.]

"I have a good friend in Chicago, who tells me the same things I hear from New York. In fact, I had dinner with a top Philly guy, and in the course of the night he and his guys told stories. I finally told him that it amazed me that whether our friends came from Philly, NY, Chicago, Boston, etc., the accents were different but the stories were identical; that we had a very particular life common to all of us: Mob Life.

"Those stories are not just criminal activity stories, but stories of relatives and neighborhoods and food and feasts and pinochle, etc. I joked that we should all buy our own island somewhere, Mob Island, where only we and the females we choose for the moment could live there. Workers would have to leave at night."

The Outfit still has to compete for business with other organizations, including the Russian Mafia. The Outfit's control reportedly reaches throughout the United States, west to Los Angeles, to the southeast in Florida.

The Chicago Outfit is also known to have large control over neighboring states, including Iowa, Wisconsin and other areas of the Midwest. They also have or had satellite families: the Iowa family, Las Vegas crew(s), the Los Angeles family, the Nebraska family, and the San Diego crew from L.A.

On April 25, 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice launched Operation Family Secrets, which indicted 14 Outfit members and associates under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel presided over the trial. The federal prosecutors were Mitchell A. Mars, T. Markus Funk, and John Scully.

The jury found James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Frank Calabrese, Sr., Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle guilty of all counts, which included extortion, illegal gambling, tax fraud, loan sharking, and murder (Doyle was not found guilty of murder) on September 10, 2007. Scully retired, and Mars died prior to sentencing (which was handled by Funk). Paul Schiro was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Frank Calabrese, Sr. was sentenced to life in prison on January 28, 2009. On February 2, 2009, Joseph Lombardo was sentenced to life imprisonment. James Marcello also received life imprisonment on February 5, 2009. March 12, 2009, Anthony Doyle received 12 years of prison. Nicholas Calabrese was sentenced to 12 years, 4 months of imprisonment. This lenient sentence was due in part to Calabrese's cooperation with the government. Nick Calabrese turned government witness in the early 2000s and was the star witness at the Family Secrets trial.

During the Family Secrets' trial, it was found that a Deputy U.S. Marshal named John Thomas Ambrose had leaked information on Nicholas Calabrese that led back to the Chicago mob as early as 2002.

So, with all this info in front of us, we still wonder: Who is running Chicago these days? It seems everyone is doing life...

Historical leadership of the Chicago Outfit,
Boss (in terms of official, acting and front)

1910–1920 — Giacomo "Big Jim" Colosimo ("James", "Diamond Jim") (1877–1920)

1920–1925 — John "Johnny The Fox" Torrio (1882–1957)

1925–1932 — Alphonse "Al" Capone ("Scarface") (1899–1947)

1932–1947 — Paul "The Waiter" Ricca (1897–1972) - remained as senior consultant (Consigliere) with final say on all decisions, he shared this power with Accardo from 1947 until his death.

Front Boss 1931–1943 — Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti (1888–1943) was the figurehead/front boss for Ricca.

Acting 1943–1947 — Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo (promoted to Boss, Ricca became Consigliere.)

1947–1992 — Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo ("Joe Batters") (1906–1992) - With Accardo becoming Consigliere in 1957 the Boss position became the Front Boss from 1956–1992, with Ricca (until his death in 1972) and Accardo retaining the real power. All of the front bosses had to get Ricca and Accardo's approval for all major transactions. Accardo remained Outfit's consigliere until his death.

Front Boss 1957–1966 — Salvatore "Sam" Giancana ("Momo," "Mooney") (1908–1975)

Front Boss 1966–1967 — Samuel "Teets" Battaglia (1908–1973)

Front Boss 1967–1969 — Jackie "the Lackey" Cerone (1914–1996)

Front Boss 1969–1971 — Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio (1912–1971)

Front Boss 1971–1986 — Joseph John Aiuppa ("Joey Doves", "Joey O'Brien") (1907–1997)

Front Boss 1986–1989 — Joseph "Joe Nagall" Ferriola (1948–1989)

Front Boss 1989–1993 — Samuel "Sam" Carlisi ("Wings") (1914–1997)

1993–present — John "No Nose" DiFronzo (1928) - undisputed boss from 1994–1999; Co-boss with Consigliere Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo 1999-2009, Angelo J. LaPietra "The Hook" an Advisor 1997 until his death in 1999.

Front Boss 2003–2009 — James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello ("Little Jimmy") (1943) (On February 5, 2009 he received life in prison.)


  1. Yeah, so what. Everyone knows the most influence is brokered from the least likely location: Little Italy, Baltimore, MD. Guh-beesh? (balt_orioles1954)

    1. So it's not just me... I have puzzled over that comment since Nov. 22, 2011...


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