By David Amoruso
Posted: December 2, 2006
Antonino Accardo was born in Chicago on April 28, 1906. He grew up in Little Sicily on Chicago’s Northwest Side. As a teenager Accardo began his life of crime, he started out as a pickpocket, and would later steal cars. He was arrested numerous times, but never spent a night in jail. During prohibition Accardo began hanging out at the Circus Cafe on North Avenue, which was owned by gangster John Moore, also known as Claude Maddox, who was connected to John Torrio’s bootlegging organization. Accardo would also start working for the Torrio gang, becoming an enforcer. While working as an enforcer he got his nickname: “Joe Batters.” Because he hit people, who wouldn’t pay, in the head with a baseball bat. His talents didn’t go unnoticed by Chicago’s most notorious crime boss either.
At age 20, he became a made member in the Capone gang. He was made at a meeting with Capone. Chicago’s LCN Family never had a making ceremony that was like the other LCN Families. In Chicago the boss would explain the proposed member the rules (stay loyal, don’t rat) and then the whole thing was finished with a handshake. No pricking blood from the trigger finger or burning the card of a saint. The lack of a “proper” ceremony didn’t mean Accardo was less loyal. When rivals fired their guns at Capone, it was Accardo who pulled him down and shielded him with his body. Accardo was immediately promoted to personal driver and bodyguard. By the 1930s Accardo was a capo in the Outfit, overseeing gambling operations.
On March 19, 1943 Frank Nitti committed suicide. The day before, indictments were brought against several Outfit gangsters, among them Nitti and Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, (Ricca was a close friend of Accardo) in the so called “Hollywood Extortion Case.” That night there was a meeting between the top Outfit gangsters. Ricca immediately ripped Nitti for being the mastermind of the scheme, and said he should take the fall. Nitti disagreed and tempers flared, resulting in Nitti opening the door and indicating his fellow mobsters should leave. Nitti had no support within the Outfit and he knew if he didn’t take the fall, he would be killed by his “friends.” And so he blew his brains out on the tracks of the Illinois Central Railroad. With Nitti gone, Ricca was the obvious successor, but on New Year’s Eve 1943 he was sentenced to ten years in prison in the Hollywood Extortion Case. Accardo emerged as the new leader.
Under Accardo the Outfit expanded its Las Vegas operations. In the 1950s Accardo and the Outfit invested millions in Las Vegas casinos, among those The Riviera, The Stardust and The Tropicana. By this time Accardo was starting to use underboss Salvatore “Mooney” Giancana as a front boss. The real power, however, stayed with Accardo (and Ricca.) Because of Giancana the Outfit made a deal with Joseph Kennedy: the Outfit would supply presidential candidate John F. Kennedy with votes, in return (President) Kennedy would back off from the Outfit, especially their Las Vegas interests. Giancana saw golden mountains, and Accardo did too. The Outfit would have their own connection to the White House.
But their mood changed when John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert Attorney General. Bobby Kennedy had been chasing the mob for years, it was clear to all involved the hustlers had been hustled. In 1965 Giancana went to prison on a contempt charge, in 1966 he got out, and was summoned by Accardo and Ricca. At that meeting Giancana was taken down as boss, and ordered to leave the country. He did, but got involved in casinos, with which he made millions. Accardo wanted a piece of the action, but Giancana refused. On June 18, 1975 Giancana was shot to death in his basement. His antics had annoyed Accardo enough.
By this time Joseph Aiuppa was the new Outfit boss, with Accardo semi retired. Semi retired, but still a man to be feared. In January 1978 Accardo’s Chicago home was burglarized. Accardo told Aiuppa to bring in Anthony Spilotro. When word about Accardo’s orders to hunt down the men responsible for the burglary, there was a mass exodus from Illinois of thieves and cat burglars. But those responsible were eventually found. All were killed, and their last moments in the world of the living wasnt pleasant. One had been castrated and had his face burned off with an acetylene torch. The message was clear: don’t fuck with Tony Accardo. And nobody did. On May 27, 1992 Antonino “Joe Batters” Accardo died of heart failure at Chicago’s St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital. He was 86. In his entire life he had never spent a night in jail, law enforcement had tried though, and failed.
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