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It never fails. No sooner does a gangland character begin to assume prominence than he becomes a target for police. This is not entirely due to the ambition of the Police Department. Quite often it is the result of public demand created when newspapers begin to ask, “Why is it?” Gus Winkeler had become a public figure, and the public and newspapers were demanding an investigation. Guswaswiseenoughtokeephisoperationscarefullyconcealed.He was not personally identified with any of the clubs and syndicate properties on the North Side, although the police were convinced in their own minds of the truth of the situation: that “Big Mike” was the “King­ pin.” Failing to get evidence to link him with syndicate business, the police took advantage of the same trickery that got Al Capone the gun sentence in Pennsylvania. OnApril1,1933,hewasstoppedbyapolicesquadwhileheandDavid “Benny” Goldblatt, his paymaster and personal bodyguard, were walking down the street. He was “frisked” on the spot and meekly submitted because he had nothing to fear. The officers found a gun under his coat. This was extremely odd, for since taking over the North Side Gus had never been armed. That was Goldblatt’s duty. 30 Gus and the Planted Gun 175 176 al capone and his american boys However, it also was Goldblatt’s duty not to get caught with a gun, and he was wise enough to dispose of it as he saw the officers approaching . So actually, no guns were found on either Gus or Goldblatt. Nevertheless a charge of carrying a concealed weapon was filed against Gus and he went to trial. The chief witness was Officer William Drury, who told the court he took the gun from Gus’ pocket when he was stopped on the street. This testimony was to have been borne out by Officer George C. Kurzwelly, who told his superiors after the “shakedown” that he had seen Drury remove the gun from Gus’ pocket. The state’s case was built on this testimony. Under the cross examination by Gus’ attorney, Officer Kurzwelly’s testimony began to waver. He said he had not seen Drury take a gun from beneath Gus’ coat. And that all he saw was Drury standing beside Gus with a gun in his hand. Asked if he was sure it was a gun, he wavered again and said he wasn’t sure—that he saw Drury with “something” in his hand and that it might have been a gun. He told the court that all he knew about it was that Drury said that he had taken a gun from Gus, and later amplified that by explaining he had been instructed to say he saw Drury get the gun. Although Kurzwelly told the truth, the authorities were so determined to frame Gus that he was found guilty and sentenced to serve a year in jail. Of course my husband’s attorney appealed the case, and this appeal was pending when Gus was killed. Because he would not perjure himself on the witness stand and preferred to tell the truth rather than what he had been instructed to tell, Kurzwelly was dismissed from the Police Department. Many believed that the officer had been “bought off” by Gus’ attorney in an effort to beat the case. Gus supposed that the case would put a stop to further embarrassment by the police, but he was badly mistaken. They continued to harass him. They knew his car, and they knew Murphy, the chauffeur, and they never failed to stop him when they saw him on the street. This is an old Gus and the Planted Gun 177 police custom in Chicago. A police character known to have money is stopped by every passing squad car and he is threatened with an overnight sojourn in jail, followed by an experience in the lineup the next morning. Whether the officers are ordered to make life miserable for men like Gus, or whether it is a private shakedown, I cannot say. But I do know that Gus was too busy to be bothered spending his nights in jail, so he paid off, and each time it cost him from a hundred to two hundred dollars . The occasion that angered him most was when he was stopped in a fashionable quarter of the city and his captors demanded five hundred dollars, figuring he would pay off in a hurry rather than take a chance being seen by his society friends dickering with the police. Gus was stubborn and put up...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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