Top Hoodlum program

November 13, 2017

This week we talk with our friend and regular contributor, retired F.B.I. agent William Ouseley. The topic is the formation of two law enforcement programs. The F.B.I. Top Hoodlum program and the local and state police organization known as the Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU).

The listener learns that Bill was one of the first agents assigned to work targets assigned to the Top Hoodlum program. The well known and controversial Chicago agent Bill Rohmer was instrumental in getting the program started in Chicago.

On Nov. 14, 1957, 56 years ago tomorrow, New York state troopers noticed a suspicious number of expensive cars with out-of-state license plates converging on the small town of Apalachin. The cars, it turned out, belonged to Mafia leaders from across America, who had come to Apalachin for a national summit meeting. The aftermath of the Apalachin Meeting would shed new light on a criminal organization that greatly valued its secrecy. It also forced the FBI to admit once and for all that the Mafia operated on a nationwide scale. Kansas City mob bosses Nick Civella and Joe Filardo were stopped as they tried to board a train in a nearby town. This uncovering of a top mob meeting forced J. Edgar Hoover to create the Bureau’s Top Hoodlum Program shortly after the headlines appeared. In 1957, Chicago F.B.I. agent Bill Roemer was personally selected for the task. The program consisted of surveillance of organized crime figures. Roemer also developed or tried to develop and “flip” several mob informantsRichard Cain, a disgraced former cop turned mafioso, was one of those. With his efforts, he helped the Feds put away Outfit bosses like Sam “Teets” Bataglia and Felix “Milwaukee Phil” Alderisio within a year of their rise to leadership. Roemer also tried over a period of time to “flip” Outfit “hitman” Charles “Chuckie” Nicoletti, to no avail. Roemer was indirectly related to the death of William Jackson (gangster) who was the victim of a grisly gangland murder after Roemer was observed trying to make Jackson an informant and the Chicago Outfit suspected him of snitching.

In regards to LEIU the co-host, Gary Jenkins, was assigned to an LEIU member unit from 1976 to 1984 in Kansas City. In the mid 1950’s, local and state law enforcement agencies in the United States noticed that professional criminals were more mobile than ever and many criminal organizations were multi-sate organizations. In Californa, the state Department of Justice noticed that no single agency was responsible for receiving, maintaining, and disseminating information on persons involved in organized crime and other traveling criminal organizations. They were forward thinking enough to realize that these criminal organizations were exploiting advanced technologies in transportation and communications and were more more mobile allowing them to increase their spheres of influence and criminal activities. On March 29, 1956 26 agenices representing several states met in San Francisco to discuss mutual problems and possible solutions. Out of this meeting, they created the LAW ENFORCEMENT INTELLIGENCE UNIT (LEIU). They mandated that the soile function was to address this issue of sharing confidential criminal information. Over the succeeding decades, LEIU’s membership grew to over 240 agencies and it subsequently opened its membership to federal agencies. In 2008, in order to more appropriately represent its membership, LEIU changed its name to the Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units. It has, however, maintained its original acronym—LEIU. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the social turmoil in the United States during the Vietnam War and the Watergate era led to public criticism and lawsuits against law enforcement agencies for misuse of the intelligence function. In 1976, LEIU established professional standards for the collection, maintenance, and dissemination of intelligence among law enforcement agencies. These standards were subsequently recognized by civil libertarians as an appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement and the constitutional rights of individuals.

 

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