Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. In this bonus episode, we explore the fascinating relationship between Tony Accardo and Paul Ricca, two influential figures in Chicago’s organized crime scene. Ricca held Accardo in high esteem, appointing him as his second in command and entrusting him with the outfit’s leadership during Ricca’s incarceration. Together, they orchestrated a strategy to infiltrate labor unions and extort funds from Hollywood studios during the 1940s. Accardo’s skills proved invaluable as he managed to secure Ricca’s early release and that of their associates, serving only three years of a ten-year prison sentence. While Ricca and Accardo were behind bars, they devised a cunning scheme to maintain communication through a lawyer named Elmer Bernstein and his associate Joseph Bulger, who was, in fact, Accardo in disguise. Unfortunately, this scheme was eventually uncovered, leading to a federal trial where Accardo and Bernstein faced conspiracy charges to defraud the government. Remarkably, despite overwhelming evidence against them, they were acquitted, showcasing the immense power and influence of the outfit. With Ricca stepping back, Sam Giancana emerged as the new face of the Outfit. However, Giancana’s downfall eventually paved the way for Joseph Aiuppa to become the new boss. This episode sheds light on the pivotal role played by Accardo as Ricca’s chosen successor. As we conclude, I’d like to remind you to support veterans dealing with PTSD and to remain vigilant and mindful of motorcyclists on the road. If you or someone you know struggles with substance abuse, I encourage you to contact Anthony Ruggiano’s treatment center in Florida. To learn more about Anthony Ruggiano and access additional resources, you can easily find his website by searching for him on Google or YouTube. Thank you all for your continued support of the show. Your presence and engagement mean so much to me. As always, please show your support by liking, subscribing, and leaving reviews for the podcast. I apologize for neglecting to mention these in recent episodes. I truly value your connection and enjoyment of the content. Thank you wholeheartedly for being a part of this journey with me.
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[0:00] Well, hey, all you wiretappers out there, back here in the studio of Gangland Wire, another little shorty, another bonus episode.
This is going to be about Tony Accardo, your favorite from Chicago, the genuine godfather, as Bill Romer once called him, the big tuna, a real Joe Batters, as Al Capone called him.
So speaking of Al Capone, according to legend, and I’m going to have to look at my cheat seat. Paul Ricca once said of Ocardo, this guy has more brains at breakfast than Al Capone had all day long. So Paul Ricca had high expectations and a high regard for Tony Ocardo, who would be his second in command, basically, and would step in for him when Ricca went to the prison in 1943, I believe it was. In the 40s, the outfit sent some guys out to Hollywood, California, and infiltrated the, I believe, the Stagehands Union, and they’d already infiltrated the Projectors Union in Chicago, in the movie theaters.
So they got out to California, and then they started extorting money out of the labor unions.
And then from there, with the labor unions under their control, they were extorting money from the.
[1:23] Studios. It was like a golden goose laying a golden egg for them. And I understand that the actor Robert Montgomery finally spoke up and gave the heads of the studios the courage to to go to the government and to fight back against this extortion.
[1:41] They had a guy named Willie Bioff they’d sent out who was kind of the main Chicago guy out there.
They’ll eventually kill him years later. You know, he’s kind of the origin of one of the stories how the mob will get you no matter how far you run and how well you hide.
They blew him and his wife up down in Phoenix, Arizona years later after he had turned and testified against them.
Accardo’s Parole and Return to Chicago
[2:04] So in 1943, the government will convict Paul Ricca, Charlie Cherry Nose Gioe, Louis Little New York Campanga, Johnny Roselli, and a couple of others who weren’t from Chicago, I don’t believe, in this extortion.
They all got 10 years in the penitentiary.
Well, Ricca immediately sent word to Accardo, that, hey, I’m going to the penitentiary, you gotta step in for me, and told Accardo, first thing you got to do is get us out.
[2:35] At our very first parole opportunity, which was in three years.
Now, everybody said that would be unheard of. That would never happen.
They would never consider these organized crime guys for a parole after three years of a 10-year bit.
Well, Accardo got it done. And in their first parole opportunity at the end of three years, they all walked out of the penitentiary and came back right back to Chicago.
They weren’t supposed to, but they came right back to Chicago.
The Prison Scheme: Accardo as Joseph Bulger
[3:02] But during their time in the penitentiary down at Leavenworth, Ricca continued to run things and he wanted to continue to have direct face-to-face.
[3:12] Conversations with Anthony Accardo, kind of like John Gotti and John Gotti Jr. did when he first went in the penitentiary.
So they came up with a scheme because Accardo, the prisons at that time were, they were locked down a lot more and had a lot more restrictions and would enforce those restrictions, they came up with a plan.
There was a tax lawyer for Ricca and Campanga named Bernstein, Elmer Bernstein, I think was his name.
And he had a associate in his office named Joseph Bulger.
So when Bernstein came to visit Ricca and Campanga as their lawyer, their tax lawyer, because they had tax problems. He brought along his associate, Joseph Bulger, only it wasn’t really Joseph Bulger, it was Anthony Accardo who signed in as Joseph Bulger.
And they did that during the whole time that they were in the penitentiary. Right after they got out, the scheme came to light through I don’t know exactly what means. So the government charges them, Bernstein and Accardo, they charge them with conspiracy to defraud the federal government by, Subverting the rules, federal prison system allows.
[4:27] As visitors and who they don’t allow as visitors.
Had a whole jury trial and it was a federal trial too. It wasn’t like a local, you know, Cook County jury.
I don’t know where they drew the jury pool from, but the supposition is they got to the jury because they got a not guilty of that jury.
And it was a slam dunk case.
Everybody knew it. They had witnesses, the guards could testify, yeah, that was Tony Ocardo, that wasn’t Bolger, they could look at signatures.
And there was just a lot of, you know, had a lot of evidence, but they got him not guilty.
That’s the power of the Chicago outfit in the late 40s and early 50s all the way up to the 70s, they were powerful.
So that’s just a little insight into the relationship between Rica and Ocardo.
And of course, as we know, Rica comes back out.
He stays back in the background he does not want to go back to the penitentiary again. He eventually will have Accardo step into the background and they appoint Sam Giancana as kind of the out front boss. But Ricca and Accardo will go up to Meo’s Northwood restaurant almost every day and meet with people and basically they approved anything that was major, any big deals had to be ran by those two guys and they had to to give the nod to it or not.
And of course, then Aiuppa comes along after.
[5:53] Giancana becomes persona non grata and goes to Mexico and then when he comes back and he tries to reassert himself to kill him.
And Aiuppa becomes the boss all the way up to the end of the scheme and in the late 70s early 80s and he goes away and and you know we’ll leave the rest of the progression of the mob bosses but I thought that was just an interesting little story about the relationship between Paul Rica and Anthony Accardo and how important Accardo was and what Ricca thought about Accardo.
He wanted to pass along the reins of the powerful, really national, international crime syndicate known as the Outfit, Accardo was his man. Thanks a lot guys and I appreciate y’all listening. Don’t forget if you have a problem with PTSD and you’ve been in the service, go to their website and get that hotline number. I like to ride motorcycles. Look out for motorcycles when you’re out there. I mixed that one up on you, didn’t I? And if you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, our friend Anthony Ruggiano works in a treatment center down in Florida. Get a hold of him through his website. There’s a hotline number. You’ll see it if you’re on YouTube.
[7:04] And so just go to his website, Google Anthony Ruggiano or go to YouTube. You’ll find him.
You’ll find that hotline number. Thanks a lot, guys. And I appreciate y’all coming back and listening to me or watching me and listening and be sure and like and subscribe or give me some reviews on on the podcast.
I never forget to ask for that. I used to do that all the time. I forget as I’ve been along.
I don’t know. I just I do this for fun mainly anyhow. Thanks a lot guys.