restricted access 36 The Syndicate Closes In
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I was startled at the change in Eddie Lebensberger when I saw him at the 225 Club. The usually calm, suave cabaret manager was pale, and deep lines in his face indicated constant worry. Previously I had never seen Lebensberger drinking while on duty—he made it a point to be at his best when taking care of business. On this occasion he lacked his usual sartorial excellence, he seemed to have clothed himself with very little care, and it was apparent he had been drinking. In fact, in the short time I was with him he drank several additional highballs. When we were alone I said, “Eddie, Gus told me to come down here and tell you not to pay out a dime, either to the syndicate or the employees , until he can get out to take care of it personally.” Eddieturnedtolookatmeunderhalfloweredlidsandthelineofhis jaw tightened as he said bitterly, “Georgette, I wish the time would come when I would never have to give the syndicate a cent.” “Eddie,” I asked confidentially, “what’s the trouble anyway?” “There’s plenty of trouble of all kinds,” he answered as he shook his head, staring into his highball glass. “Thethingthat’sgotmeburntuprightnowissomethingIjustheard. The syndicate is trying to bring some Dagoes in from New York to run the Opera Club that Gus is trying to open. “Now Gus didn’t plan it that way, and it isn’t fair to me. That is my spot—Gus promised it to me, and he wants me there. They’re going to 36 The Syndicate Closes In 206 The Syndicate Closes In 207 putthepressureonGustoforcehimtoputsomeEastCoastwopinwhat is my place, by rights.” This news was startling, not only because it rang a familiar note, but because I could foresee further trouble between Gus and the syndicate . For some time the newspapers had rumored that there was a deal on between those high in Chicago politics to “sell” gambling rights to an easterncombinefor$2,500,000.Infact,thenewspapershadsaidthatthe New York interests already had made an initial payment of $1,000,000 andthat Chicagosyndicates had combinedto protect themselves. [Such discussions had been going on prior to April 1932, when New York mobsters “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky were arrested outside Chicago ’s Congress Hotel in the company of Nitti mobsters Rocco Fischetti and Paul “The Waiter” Ricca.] Knowing that some of the syndicate men originally came from New York, I wondered if they were a party to the deal. If that were the case, there would be little left for Gus to do but accede to their demands. But I tried to comfort Eddie, saying, “Don’t worry, Gus won’t stand for it.” I left the club, and that was the last time I ever saw Eddie Lebensberger . NowIreallyhadsomethingtoworryabout,foritlookedlikeashowdown as to whether Gus would run his own property, or whether he would be a mere figurehead while the syndicate ran it. Not long afterward information came through one of Gus’ office employees that added to my uneasiness. He came to the house with the warning that “Gus had better watch himself.” “Oh, Lord,” I said, “what’s the matter now?” “I don’t like to bother you about this,” he apologized, “but you know itwouldn’tdoforany ofustogodowntothe jailtoseeGus.But he ought tobetoldthatsomeofthesyndicateboyswereinhisofficeintheLincoln Park Arms looking for the payroll.” I realized at once that this was the result of his order to not issue any pay. 208 al capone and his american boys “They seemed to think,” the office man continued, “that Gus is leaving the payoffs to Goldblatt. Little Bobbie (the bookkeeper) slipped the payroll in his pocket and they couldn’t find it. “Aftertheylookedallovertheyaskedifallthepoliceandfederalmen were getting their pay, or if Gus was letting that Jew Goldblatt put it over on him. We didn’t know what to say, so we just told them everything was being taken care of.” This was really something to worry about, for the syndicate had always let Gus manage his business. A short time later Gus was released [from what federal agents called “technicalcustody,”meaninghewasonlyquestioned]andthefirstthing I told him was that the syndicate men had been in his office. He dismissed it with a wave of the hand. “Forget it,” he said, “I’ve got something more to worry about than those damn greaseballs. It’s just like I said it would be. Eddie Lebensberger is in a jam over those bonds taken in the Loop robbery.” Hewasright;Lebensbergerwasintrouble.Federalindictmentswere returned against Eddie and five others, charging them with having the bonds. Eddie could not...


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Subject Headings

  • Crime -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
  • Murder -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
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