Giancana Whacked for Defying Outfit

Sam Giancana (born Salvatore Giangana; June 15, 1908 – June 19, 1975) had a wealth of nicknames—"Momo," "Mooney," "Sam the Cigar,"—during his decades’ long membership in the Chicago Outfit, of which he was nominally boss from 1957 to 1966.

Giancana is widely remembered today for his “connections” to JFK through Judith Campbell Exner, allegedly one of his mistresses. Giancana was murdered under mysterious circumstances after a police detail assigned to protect him was called off.

Sam Giancana had many nicknames—including "Momo," "Mooney" -- and started his life of crime quite early in life as part of a street gang.
Sam Giancana's murder remains unsolved.
This cast a spotlight on many suspects, none more controversially than the CIA, with whom Giancana supposedly had a relationship back in the 1960s. Allegedly, the mobster, and other underworld figures, assisted the CIA in an effort to depose Cuban strongman Fidel Castro, though none of the agency's machinations proved successful. (Castro outlasted just about everyone who'd tried to oust him.)

Giancana's death, officially unsolved, likely was ordered by Outfit bosses whom Giancana had rebuffed repeatedly—refusing to share what he deemed  "personal" wealth.

Born on Chicago's West Side to Italian and Sicilian immigrants, Giancana’s criminal exploits as a youngster brought down violence on his own father, an honest citizen who started an Italian ice business as a pushcart operator. Eventually, he expanded the enterprise, opening an Italian ice shop, the firebombing of which was an act of vengeance committed by his son’s enemies.

Giancana joined a juvenile street gang called the 42 Gang, which had political ties to Joseph "Diamond Joe" Esposito (April 28, 1872 – March 21, 1928), a Prohibition-era Chicago politician involved in bootlegging, extortion, prostitution and labor racketeering. Esposito in turn was connected to an early Chicago crime family headed by the six Genna brothers. Given the collective nickname of “the Terrible Gennas,” this early Mafia entity operated out of Chicago's Little Italy and was eventually destroyed during a bloody mob war in the 1920s. (Surviving members were absorbed into the Chicago Outfit.)

Italian street gangs like 42 Gang were viewed as farm teams for the Mafia. Wiseguys historically kept their eyes on these young criminals, looking for the ones who showed promise.

Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti

Momo was such a kid; he showed he possessed an abundance of skills necessary to earn from the rackets. He parlayed his reputation as a capable getaway driver, earner and killer (he allegedly was behind Esposito’s murder) to help his street gang become a subsidiary of the Outfit.

High-ranking members of the Outfit—including Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti and Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo—noticed Giancana and kept their eyes on him. He eventually became the first 42er inducted into the Outfit.

On September 23, 1933, Sam married Angelina DeTolve. They had three daughters: Antoinette, Bonnie and Francine. Angelina only lived another 21 years, dying in 1954. Sam raised his daughters and never remarried. Although he was occasionally romantically linked to various women, most notably Exner, he was known for never forgetting Angeline, whom he held in the highest esteem all his life.

Midway through their marriage, in 1945, Giancana made his first major move to enlarge the Outfit’s treasure, raising his profile significantly. He developed a plan to take over a lotto racket run by black gangsters. Giancana first won over Outfit chief Accardo and with the backing of “Joe Batters,” he talked “Policy King” Eddie Jones into dropping the lotto and getting out of town. Jones’s partner didn’t fare nearly as well, having declined Giancana’s word to the wise. On August 4, 1952, Theodore Roe was found murdered. He's remembered for personally shooting to death a made Mafia member in June 1951; the murdered man was a member of Giancana’s own crew, Lennard "Fat Lennie" Caifano.

Many years later, in the 1970s, Giancana was heard on wiretap discussing the Roe hit:  “…that bastard went out like a man. He had balls. It was a fuckin' shame to kill him."

When the lottery takeover was complete, the Outfit saw millions of additional dollars flow into its coffers. This is believed to be the reason why in 1957 Giancana was named boss of the Outfit—Accardo had decided to duck the spotlight and take on the post of consigliere. Nevertheless Accardo, along with others, remained quietly active in the Outfit the rest of their lives (sometimes, not so quietly.)

Giancana attended the infamous 1957 Apalachin meeting in upstate New York that was held at Joseph Barbara's stately home. Mooney was among the majority; he was arrested.

Giancana was in talks with the CIA in the early 1960s during the Kennedy administration (Giancana believed he'd played an instrumental role in getting JFK elected). The agency was considering options to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro. A retired agent contacted certain mob figures who had lost financial interests when Batista fell and Castro assumed ownership of their casinos and hotels in Cuba, which had represented a new frontier for the mob since Prohibition's termination. The CIA considered these mobsters natural allies.

Judith Campbell Exner claimed she passed along messages between the President and the mob boss.

A more direct association between Giancana and JFK is alleged in a memoir written by Judith Campbell Exner, who was a mistress to both men. However, Exner's claims that she had delivered communications between the two regarding Castro were later discredited.

Giancana is believed to have viewed this "cooperation" with the CIA as just another racket. He sought to maximize the funding the agency provided him, it's alleged (Giancana's daughter believes this is true.)

Giancana ultimately proved to be too high profile for the Outfit's shadowy elders; they didn't care for the lavish attention Giancana attracted from the television media and law enforcement. 

At some point, Giancana acquired interests in casinos in the Middle East and Central America, and the Outfit found out about them. Ultimately, Giancana refused to allow his criminal cohorts to benefit from these rackets, which produced "personal wealth," or so Sam argued. Accardo begged to differ, and Giancana started to earn the extensive bitterness and animosity of many Outfit members, which likely fueled his cause of death.

Eventually Ricca and Accardo removed Giancana from the position of Outfit boss. Giancana was replaced by Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa.

Giancana next traveled south, to Mexico, having been charged with overseeing various Outfit gambling operations located there. He spent seven years in Mexico, living in a sumptuous villa in Cuernavaca. In 1974, he was arrested by Mexican law enforcement and deported.

Giancana returned in Chicago on July 21, 1974. His first order of business was to attend a sitdown with Accardo and other bossess. Giancana still refused to provide them with any of the money he earned from offshore casino interests.

Giancana, a year later, was due to give testimony as part of a major organized crime case in Chicago.

The police officers guarding his home in Oak Park, Illinois, were allegedly recalled, by persons unknown, on the evening of June 19, 1975. Someone entered Giancana's kitchen—either someone posing as a friend or an enemy who had broken in without Giancana’s awareness. The details of how it happened probably will never be known with a degree of certainty. One likely scenario is that Dominic "Butch" Blasi shot “Momo” in the back of the head while he was frying up some sausage and peppers.

Giancana’s lifeless body hit the ground, facedown. He was turned onto his back and shot an additional six times in the face and neck.

The man who most likely shot Giancana.

One reason some believe that Sam invited his killer inside was based on the fact that Giancana, at that time, was unable to eat such spicy food due to stomach ulcers.

Blasi, considered by the law a prime suspect in the killing, lived a mere 3 miles away from the Giancana house. In fact, the .22-caliber murder weapon was found in a forest preserve located between the two houses. (As one article noted, "The Giancana hit was a rare instance of mob violence in the suburbs... Like their neighbors in legitimate businesses, mob bosses commuted into the city to do most of their business. In fact, after Accardo's house was burglarized in 1978, mob hit men reportedly found, tortured and killed all six suspected burglars — a revenge spree that terrified hoods across the city.")

The Giancana hit grew to take on an even greater enigmatic hue due to the fact that Giancana was slated to appear before a U. S. Senate committee investigating supposed CIA-Cosa Nostra plots to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.

Former Outfit shooter Nicholas Calabrese told the FBI in the 2000s that Accardo was behind the killing, and that it resulted from Giancana’s refusal to pay "Tony Batters" a piece of those offshore gambling interests.

Some have alleged that the CIA killed Giancana based on something that happened during his relationship with the agency.

A third theory is that boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. ordered Giancana's murder due to fears that Giancana would testify about Cosa Nostra and CIA plots to kill Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Giancana was interred next to his wife in the family mausoleum at Mount Carmel Cemetery, in Hillside, Illinois.

Read about the Chicago Outfit.


  1. Tony "the ant" Spilotro not Blasi !

    1. Ed your posts are the best you are honest and aren't like the media that hides when the mob gets away with crime you put all the news out there I come here more often then gangland news keep it up

    2. Thanks mom! Just kidding -- not about the thanks, though. I appreciate it!!!

  2. We will never know who killed him or exactly why.


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