< --Previous Up Next–>
This is the ninth article of a series on the gangsters of boozedom and what they did to Chicago. In previous installments Mr. Bennett has told the stories of Dean O’Banion, Johnny Torrio, and other notorious hoodlums.
Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1929
BY JAMES O’DONNELL BENNETT
THE murder ot Assistant State’s Attorney William H. McSwiggin and ot the Deneen leader, “Diamond Joe” Esposito, were two ot ChIcago’s boozedom’s most sensational crimes.
In their large sense, as weird social phenomena, they were its most significant crimes.
For they showed dramatically and conclusively how law administration and politics in Chicago are shot through and through with booze and how pertinaciously boozedom plays poll tics.
They showed how a new and terribly virulent class of criminals has been created by the profits of bootlegging and beer running and how politicians of good repute are not ashamed to deal with that class. They are, indeed, compelled to deal with it if they are to remain successful politicians.
“And Sometime Quicker.”
It is often said that a gunman of gangdom “will kill you as quick as he’ll look at you.”
“And sometimes quicker.” dryly remarked Deputy Commissioner of Police John Stege when that saying was repeated in his hearing.
In other words, the murder of Assistant State’s Attorney McSwiggin was one of gangdom’s blunders, but it was more significant than some of boozedom’s successes.
When McSwiggin was killed by a torrent of machine gun bullets on the night of April 27. 1926, In Gangster Al Capone’s booze capital, the big village (population 68,000) of Cicero, adjoining Chicago on the west, it was not because he was either by impulses and ideals an enemy of boozedom or, in his capacity of assistant state’s attorney of Cook county, a pitiless prosecutor of boozedom.
He was killed because he happened on that night to be—as the sportive phrase has it—”playing around” with the gangsters who were mowed down by rival gangsters. He fell in the fusillade that killed his playmates. Thus the significant fact was not that he was killed by gangsters but that he was killed with gangsters.
He drank with them, he rode around with them, he entered speakeasies with them. Some of them had been his pals since boyhood. His favorite pastime shoUld have disqualified him for the position of assistant prosecutor in the state’s attorney’s office, but it did not because the views of officialdom on the new type of criminal—namely: the gang ter of boozedom—were e tremely loose and befuddled, not to say sympathetic.
Similarly, tho real significance of the murder of Esposito. who was for nearly two decades a political power in the old 19th—now the 25th—ward, was its indirect significance.
He was killed not because he had used his power with Deneen either to have his own gang following protected or to have rival gangsters harnessed. All who have followed the career of the personally austere Deneen know that Esposito could not so use Deneen, however much he may have wished to. But gangdom thought he could. The senator himself was partly responsible for that impression. He attended Diamond Joe’s parties. He appeared in group pictures of Diamond Joe’s festive board, which the newspapers printed. Thus he helped to blur the strict line of demarcation which should exist between officialdom and gangdom.
Therein lies the indirect but essential significance of the murder. It told so much about American politics.
Part of Esposito’s job as Deneen henchman was to collect campaign contribuUons tor the Deneen faction. Now the Italian or the Sicilian emigrants coming to our enlightened shores with the intention of making money in any occupation, however lawless, has an extremely crude notion of what a campaign contribution buys. Among our native born citizenship, frequently designated as “100 per cent American,” a campaign contribution sometimes buys a foreign ministership or—if the contribution be extraordinarily liberal—an ambassadorship. And sometimes it buys oil concessions of enormous value.
But, in the opinion of many a constituent of Diamond Joe Esposito, it bought just one thing, and that was a license to break the law.
In February and early March, 1928, when Diamond Joe was collecting from boozedom campaign contributions for the Deneen-Swanson faction, federal prohibition officers suddenly launched a series of effective raids against boozedom’s gangsters of high and low degree. “Why don’t Dimey have that stopped?” his followers asked. “What were those campaign contributions for, anyway? Why does his great friend in Washington, the Senator Deneen, let this go on? Wait! Mightn’t it be that Dimey never gave the money to his great friend. Mightn’t It be that he has double-crossed us?”
Although many criminals are abundantly equipped with a kind of animal cunning, they are also extremely credulous. You can tell th m them the most fantastic thIngs about who has “an in”—that Is, influence—with th authorities, and they Will believe it. Therefore, Dimey’s booze following felt that he should have used his powerful “in” to the end that the ruinous raiding of disreputable cafés and the confiscation of stills be stopped.
When “Dimey” Esposito wished to impress his friends back in Italy with the magnificence of his position in Chicago he had no trouble in obtaining signatures. This testimonial was signed by Governor Small, Mayor Thompson, Senator Deneen, and thirteen other notables in official life.
Dimey’s “In” Fails to Work.
But if Dimey had such a wonderful “in” it failed in this crisis to work.
The raids continued.
The prohibition agents were impartial.
That put Esposito between two fires.
For gangsters of the other side—the Crowe-Thompson side—with their weakness for murderous suspicion. frothed themselves into the belief that Esposito was u sing his power to have them raided.
Nor did high ups in the CroweThompson faction of the Republican party believe the prohibition officers were impartial. At least, they affected that doubt and noisily played it Up.
They were in the midst of a. desperate fight with the Deneen-Swanson faction. preliminary to the primaries to be held in April, and they maintained that the raids were made for the purpose of discrediting their “friends.” Mayor Thompson had the amazing effrontery to go to Washington and protest to Secretary of the Treasury Mellon that the raids were nothing less than persecution of his faction. He referred specIfically to the raiding of the Rainbo Gardens, which was operated by one of his followers. He also intimated that persons identified with the Deneen-Swanson faction were responsible for what he declared was the use of the prohibition laws to play politics.
“Big Bill” Has No Better Luck.
“Big Bill” evidently had no better “in” with the great in Washington than Diamond Joe had, for all the mayor got from Andrew Mellon was icily suave assurance that he would “look into the matter,” a phrase which is Washington bureaucracy’s favorite slogan.
Suspicion among ignorant , credulous, alky cooking, and bootlegging followers of the two factions became mania.
Murder, therefore, was simmering again in boozedom.
On the afternoon of March 21. 1929 Diamond Joe EsposHo was shot to death five doors from hIs home at 800 South Oakley boulevard, Chicago. Gangsters of one ide or the other killed him. Nobody else had any reason to, for although he was a bluff and a lawbreaker he was a kindly old fellow and charitable after the calculating and spectacular manner of the ward politician.
Five days later, on the night of March 26, the homes of United States Senator Charles S. Deneen and Circuit Judge John A. Swanson, the Deneen faction’s candidate for the Republican nomination tor state’s attorney of Cook county in opposition to the incumbent Crowe, were dynamited with bombs ot terrific power. No one was killed. Judge Swanson, just returning home, missed death by three seconds. His wile, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren were in the house. Some of the famlly were thrown from their beds by the shock.
Crowe’s Awful Blunder.
Intormed by the newspapers at midnight of what had happened at the homes ot his opponents, State’s Attorney Crowe said over the telephone, “They did It themselves to gain sympathy.”
That insensate remark cost him renomination. It outraged—or reawakened— Chicago’s sense of decency. It disgusted the American people and the American press from coast to coast. The withering comment of the outside press was important because it helped to keep Chicago’s indignation flaming and to give it practical effect. The editorials were terrible. The cartoons were worse. Of both I assembled many from newspapers published in eastern cities and in Europe.
In the primary election on April 10 Crowe met ignominious defeat.
The murder of McSwiggin and the murder of Esposito were twenty-three months apart.
Both had shown a definite connection between gangdom and government.
Nobody was prosecuted for either. of them.
From Bouncer to Prosecutor.
In the early stages of the investigation of McSwfggin’s death he was accepted by Chicago and by the country generally as a martyr to duty. Although a roysterer, he was an ambItious young man and a hard worker. His beginnings were humble. He was the son of a policeman and he had been bouncer in a dance hall, truckman, salesman in a department store, and detective for the American Railway Express. As one of Crowe’s sixty-nine assistants he showed vigor and in ten months he secured seven hangIng verdicts in notorious murder cases, but they were not verdicts that hung any of the killers of boozedom. In a flamboyant biographical sketch of him that appeared in a Chicago publication on April 8, 1926, he was thus acclaimed:
As a result of his vigorous and successful efforts in convicting murderers, the hired thugs and desperadoes are beginning to realize that the law enforcement machinery of Cook county has not ceased to function and that murder in these parts doesn’t pay.
Nineteen days after those words were published, McSwiggin was killed in Cicero in company with Gangster James J. Doherty, whom he had prosecuted for the murder of Eddie Tancl, a Cicero gangster ot boozedom and speakeasy proprietor who had incurred the enmity of other gangsters of boozedom by not buying his beer where he was told to.
Wolff’s Caustic Comment.
Oscar Wolff, Republican, then coroner of Cook county and a political enemy of the Republican State’s Attorney Crowe, made the appropriate factional comment the day after McSwiggin was killed.
It is passing strange,” he said, “that an assistant state’s attorney should be in intimate association with the very gangster whom he a few months before had been prosecuting and had sworn to hang.
“Politics,” he added, “must be divorced entirely from this inquiry. I expect all the enforcement arms ot the government to cooperate with us in delving for the truth in this case and in punishing the murderers.”
There was, however, little chance for effective cooperation between “the enforcement arms of the government” when those arms were mainly active in attacking each other’s deeds and motives.
In a few days the martyr plea in McSwiggin’s behalf collapsed. On April 28 First Assistant State’s Attorney George E. Gorman had said that the young prosecutor had met his death as a result of his insistence on gaining first hand information of gangster methods in order to become a more efficient prosecutor of their murders.
The Playboy Was No Martyr.
Unfortunately for that merciful explanation, there appeared in another column of the identical newspaper in which it was printed State’s Attorney Crowe’s statement that McSwiggin had merely been “taking a social ride” with Doherty, the gangster in whose company he was killed, and with Thomas Duffy, a barber who was developing a side line in bootlegging and was a precinct captain for the Republican faction headed by Crowe. Duffy and McSwiggin had been pals from boyhood and Duffy, too, was killed by the fusillade that mowed down McSwiggin and Doherty.
It also came out that McSwiggin and Doherty had been frequent visitors at the speakeasy in Cicero in front of which they were killed. That fact was testified by Harry Madigan and Michael Wendell, proprietors of the place, and by their bartender. The result was that Crowe promptly dropped his theory that McSwiggin had been seeking out evidence. In the course of his testimony Madigan casually released his piercing light on the relationship between boozedom and politics:
“When I wanted to start a saloon in Cicero more than a year ago Al Brown (this is an alias of Al Capone, now leading gangster of Chicago boozedom, who had been spending the inclement months at his vllla in Miami, Fla.) wouldn’t let me. I finally obtained strong politIcal pressure and was able to open the place. Then Brown came to me and told me I would have to buy his beer, so I did.
WHERE CROWE ASSISTANT AND COMPANIONS WERE KILLED.
Wendell’s saloon at 5615 W. Roosevelt Road, Cicero. ① indicates where McSwiggin was standing; ② where Doherty’s auto stood. The dotted line indicates route taken by slayers’ auto.
This Is Called” Muscling In.”
“A few months ago Doherty and Myles O’Donnell came to me and told me they would sell me better beer than the Brown beer, which was then needle beer. They did sell me better and it only cost $50 a barrel, where Brown had charged me $60. I changed, and on my recommendation so did several other Cicero saloonkeepers.”
Another significant pOint in that testimony is that Myles O’Donnell was one of the gangsters with whom McSwiggin was “playing around” on the night he was killed. He was believed to have been in the car in which the “social ride” was being taken. If he was he escaped death by not leaving it when the rest of the party left it and stepped into the machine gun fire.
The police leaped to the conclusion that the Capone gang thus had ample motive for killing the trade stealers, Doherty and O’Donnell, but Capone, far from being abashed by that conclusion, blandly countered on it with these words:
“I’m no squawker, but I’ll tell what I know about the case. All I ask is a chance to prove that I had nothing to do with the killing of my friend, Bill McSwiggin. The police have shoved a lot of murders over on me. They did it because they couldn’t find the men who did the jobs and I looked like an easy goat. They said I was sore at McSwiggin because he prosecuted Anselmi and Scalisi for killing two policemen. But that made no difference. He told me he was going to give them the rope if he could, and that was all right with me.” (Anselmi and ScaJisi ultimately went free.)
“Just ten days before he was killed I talked with Me Swlggin. There were friends of mine with me. If we had wanted to kill him we could have done it then and nobobdy would have known. But we didn’t want to. We never wanted to.”
The Patient Public Rebels.
Crowe’s complacent phrase, “a social ride,” in extenuation of McSwiggin’s performance; Madigan’s brazen phrase, “strong political pressure;” Capone’s reveallng phrase, “my friend McSwiggin,” and the discovery that Gangster Doherty had been an election terrorist whom McSwiggin protected, exasperated the public even more than the out and out crimes of gangdom did. That feeling of exasperation was tersely expressed by Harry Eugene Kelly, then president of the Union League club, who said:
State’s Attorney Crowe is unfit to conduct the inquiry into McSwiggin’s death because it is mixed up all down the line with politics.
Crowe responded by calling Kelly and his associates “selfish notoriety seekers and and officious meddlers.”
Five special grand juries were appointed to investigate the murder of McSwiggln. Four of them puttered tor five months. When they finished the crlme was no nearer solution and no nearer punishment than when they began. The fifth special grand jury was disbanded without holding a session.
And the People Pay.
The sole substantial result of the investigation was the payment by the
county of $34,125 to former Judge Charles A. McDonald and hls assistants, James C. O’Brien and Lloyd D. Heth for their services as special prosecutors.
Mr. McDonald’s final report contained a sentence which destroyed any lingering impression that McSwiggin died a martyr to duty. It read:
No evidence was received which in any way tended to prove that McSwiggin was on any mission at the time he was killed which had any connection with his employment as a prosecutor.
The report of the first special grand jury was a masterpiece of opthnism on conditions In a city which had become and still is an objeot of worldwide
The Last Word in Optimism.
“On the whole,” said the report, “a review of years past gives no special occasion for alarm at the present moment. Crime, in volume and type, wheels and rotates in cycles. . . . The situation is well enough in hand to encourage the hope that there will be no outbreak on any such scale as in the recent past. . . . All the facts that have come before the grand jury show that, contrary to statements and insinuations made in some newspapers, the state’s attorney of Cook county has administered his office and performed his duties with unusual efficiency and energy.”
So Crowe, buy this report, which was intensely partisan and which denounced his critics as persons who “neither know nor respect the truth and are not dlsturbed by motives of Sincerity,” was oftlcially vindicated.
Twenty-three months—the perIod between the murder of McSwtggin and the bombing of the homes of Deneen and Swanson—were to pass before a disgusted community voted him out of power.
Men older and wiser than McSwiggin played around with leaders of boozedom.
That weakness of theirs, whioh they thought was shrewdness, brings us back to Diamond Joe Esposito.
Fat, Oily, Ignorant Joe.
In a ward long know as “the bloody Nineteenth” but now numbered the Twenty-fifth, be was a leader of his race in the sense that his ignorant compatriots allowed themselves to be used by him. Most of his activities were anti-social. He was proprietor of a bootleg café, a labor racketeer, and protector of gamblers, bootleggers, and alky cookers. He was fat, oily, ingratiating, and ignorant, but shrewd in a gross way that convinced persons who wished to be convinced.
Federal Judge Adam C. Cliffe was an exception to the gulls, and he once put Diamond Joe in his place with a jolt that made him gasp.
In June, 1923, “the G-men”—gangdom’s term for federal offlcers—raided Esposito’s Bella Napoli café at 850 South Halsted street, a resort called by the sportive “the bright light of the near west side.” The agents confiscated a truckload ot illicit booze. Esposito’s lawyer stalled along with continuances for more than four months, and on Oct. 10 tried for another.
“Nothing of the kind,” said Judge Cliffe. “I have received several letters saying Esposito has boasted that he would never be prosecuted for violating the prohibition law. He must be here today.”
He was, and the judge said how-do-you-do in these words:
I want you to understand that you are the same as any one else. I have heard that you believe you are immune, but you are just an ordinary citizen like the rest of us. I want to see you go on trial, and you will.
Darkness for Bella Napoli.
He did. And the government put padlock on Bella Napoli tor one year.
But the dark year had hardly begun when ca.me a grotesque piece of sentimentality that made head-waggling among the social workers who were tryin&’ to promote the Italian children of Dimey’s ward to hundred per cent Americanism. Federal Judge James A. Wnkerson permitted the notorious Bella N apol1 to be reopened for one day on the plea of Dimey’s lawyer that otherwise 800 poor children would be deprived ot their annual Christmas party at Dimey’s expense. So on Dec. 22 “the happy youngsters,” as the newspaper sob squad called them. sat down to their feast in that salubrious atmosphere, with Esposito at the head ot the table and County Recorder Joseph Haas at his right.
Thus did Esposito waft abroad the appropriate spirit of peace and good will. Newspapers printed four column pictures ot the pretty scene.
The man was, nevertheless, a menace to every ideal ot decent government, and proot ot that fact was always cropping up In his record.
Twenty-three of his ward workers were arrested in 1920 for violent conduct in connection with a primary election. Police Lieutenant Michael Hughes sald the raid was directed not against politicians but agains thieves and crooks,” adding, “a good many of those fellows have records.”
Counterfeiter as Guardian.
In the early years of prohibition the Bella Napoli was guarded by “Mops” Volpi, a deputy sheriff whose appointment Esposito had obtained. But “Mops” career as a custodian ended when he was sent to prison for participating in a counterfeiting plot.
By 1926 the political activities of Chicago boozedom had become so bold and alarming that the immigration authorities of the federal government took a hand in the situation. Diamond Joe’s political citadel at 848 South Halsted street, next to the Bella Napoli, where he was carrying on his campaign for county commissIoner under the Deneen banner, was one of the points of attack by immIgration inspectors sent to Chicago by order of President Coolidge and Secretary of Labor Davis. Scores ot alien gangsters were arrested on the night of Feb. 22, 1926, at their various rendezvous, and panic spread among those who escaped arrest. Halsted street was filled with sinister looking men carrying carpet bags within half an hour after the inspectors and the Chicago police had marched through Esposito’s ward.
Thus had local poUticians so consciencelessly played with boozedom that the great city was confronted with a power with which it could not, or would not, cope and was compelled to depend upon the federal arm.
The first words of many of the prisoners when they were rounded up were significant.
“Call Diamond Joe,” they said. “He’ll tell you I’m all right.”
This raid, coming in the midst of the vicious factional fight between the Deneen and the Crowe forces, gave State’s Attorney Crowe his chance, and he said:
I wonder if Senator Deneen, when he recommended his Deneen-Lundin ticket to the public on account of the high character of its candidates, had the tollowing candidate in mind:
Joseph Esposito, candidate for county commissioner on the Deneen-Lundin ticket, who was nominated four years ago by the same group for the same office, is illiterate, being unable to read or write in any language. Ob Oct. 2, 1908, he was indicted for murder under the name of Giuseppe Esposito, alias ‘Diamond Joe.’ On June 14, 1909, the case was stricken off with leave to reinstate, because the witnesses weakened in their identification of him. On Dec. 13, 1923, he entered a plea of guilty of violating prohibition laws before Judge Wilkerson and paid a fine of $1,000. This is the man that Deneen and Roy West made a special plea for at the last meeting they addressed in Chicago.
This picture was taken at a dinner given in honor of the christening of Esposito’s son, Nov. 15, 1925, and attended by many political leaders of Chicago and Cool County. “My fren’s are de beegest an’ highest men in de ceety,” said Diamond Joe. “I have my good fren’ Deneen and his wife an’ other fren’s there, and they help me celebrate.”
Joe’s Cheerful Confession.
Esposito made cheerful but modified acknowledgment of the illiteracy charge.
“I can read and write a leetle bit,” he said, “but nobody can say Joe ever do anybody a bad turn. My fren’s are de beegest an’ highest men in de ceety of Chicago, an’ I tink Bob Crowe, one time my fren’, should take shame to heemselt to make criticize of my christening of my bambino las’ year. I have my good tren’ Deneen and his wife an’ other fren’s there, and they help me celebrate.”
Parties, indeed, were Diomond Joe’s specialty and he gave the last one within a few hours of his violent death.
One ot the most flamboyant ot them he gave in the gold room ot the Congress hotel. In celebration of recent political triumphs he called it a “victory banquet.” The large banquet hall was taxed. beyond its capacity and glittering tables were spread in the anterooms and the balconies. Tiny American flags were the principal motif of the decorations. Senator Charles Deneen was Joe’s guest of honor and presentation to the senator of a bust of himself was the crowning feature of the festivities.
The list of notables at the speakers’ table, each one ot whom rose and paid a roualng tribute to Joe, makes incredIble reading. THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, which telt that such aftalrs were shocking because they befuddled the issue between good and bad citizenship, always conveyed its criticism, of them by gravely and neutrally reporting them and leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions as to the propriety involved. It also, because it felt that a little writhing was good for the participants on the morning after, took pains to print a representative list of the guests.
Piercing Light Is Shed.
The names of the officials, most of them judges, who uttered tribute to Diamond Joe at the victory banquet, sheds a piercing light on the ailments of the American body polltlc.
Here they are:
Edward R. Litsinger, now member of the Cook county board of tax review, made the speech presenting the bust of Senator Deneen, and Father Francis Breen invoked the divine blessing an the occasion.
In November of the same year came the famous christening party at the Bella Napoli and again the notables were on the scene, including Senator Deneen and Mrs. Deneen, Judge A. M. Eberhardt, former Judge Charles A. Williams, Recorder Haas, and Probate Clerk Devine.
In this same year this man who could read and write “a leetle” could send word to the folk back home in Acerra, the town seven miles from Naples, where he was born in 1872, that now he was helping not only to make United States senators but also Presidents of the United States. For in that year he was Republican presidential elector.
In 1928 came another of the dazzling parties. It was in celebration of Joe’s saint’s day, and again we find that among those who sat down with this leader of boozedom at his pious festivity were Chief Justice Harry Olson of the Municipal court, Judges William J. Lindsay, A. M. Eberhardt, John C. Richardson, Joseph Sabath, and Joseph Burke; Assessor Edward R. Litsinger, Thomas O. Wallace, Benedict J. Short, and Clayton F. Smith.
But the days of parties and power were drawing to a close tor Diamond Joe.
Note the date ot the saint’s day party which Chief Justice Olson had hnored with his austere presence.
It was March 19, 1928.
In less than forty-eight hours the host was a dead man and his wife was moaning over his body: “O, is it you, Giuseppe?”
Giuseppe is the Italian form of the name Joseph, but Diamond Joe had long since dropped it.
Amid her wailing the widow screamed: “O, I’ll kill them for this.”
Whom did she mean by “them?” Did the word imply that she could have told something as to the identity of the murderers? Or was it only part of the raving of a frantic woman? But if she knew she never told. As soon as she regained composure the “inevitable Italian wall of silence,” as the police call it, closed her in, as it does all survivors of boozedom’s outrages.
Probably she knew a great deal and suspected more, for less than a month before gangsters of boozedom killed her husband they had killed her brother, Philip Leonetti, who was in the illicit alcohol trade.
True to Gangdom’s Form.
The murder of Esposito was one of gangdom’s representative killings. A car had glided alongside Joe as he was walking home on the afternoon of March 21, 1928, between two friends, who at first were described as his bodyguards, but who denied that they were so employed. From the car came a fusillade from two double-barreled shotguns and one revolver. Esposito fell with 58 bullets in his head and body, and the car roared away. The friends were not struck.
The police explanation of this murder was prompt and plausible.
“No question about it,” said Michael Grady, then chief of detectives.
“It’s the booze game and Joe had crossed somebody.”
“Yes,” said Grady’s fellow officers, “the booze racket—no question about it.”
Diamonds Amid Blood and Dirt.
At the county hospital, when the attendants unclothed the body, they removed a belt. On it, through blood and dirt, gleamed the famous buckle of diamonds set in the form of the letters “J” and “E.” That buckle and the similar trinkets with which it was Esposito’s passion to deck his person had given him his nickname, “Diamond Joe.”
Futile speculation, futile arrests, and a futile inquest followed the crime. There were meaningless “identifications” of persons and of automobiles, but never a prosecution. The whole affair ran true to gangdom form.
Gangdom’s Last Warning.
There was a characteristic preliminary to the crime. Gangdom gave Diamond Joe warning. “Get out of town or get killed,” was the message that came to him on the morning of the day before he was murdered.
He knew it was no idle threat, but he showed gameness, saying to his friends, “I can’t go. Just this morning my boy, Joseph, was taken down with scarlet fever. Besldes. I promised Senator Deneen I would run for Ward committeeman.”
Such was the career of Diamond Joe in its high and its low political affiliations and its contacts with boozedom. He could not spell, but his life spelled out a whole chapter in the story of politics and booze. He is a valid bit of American history.
One more important figure remains to be considered in these annals. His name is Alphonse Capone and he is known in the world of crime as “Scarface Al,” “the Big Shot,” and “the Big Fellow.”
A large crowd gathers outside the funeral for Joseph “Diamond Joe” Esposito, the beloved Republican boss of the 19th Ward, who was involved in bootlegging, extortion, prostitution and labor racketeering.