restricted access Georgette Talks to the FBI
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259 By 1933 Gus Winkeler had acquired a degree of respectability by way of elegant nightclubs and casinos in what had formerly had been Bugs Moran’s Near North Side. He was also a good friend of Buck Kempster, a former bodyguard to two governors who worked both sides of the fence and then was assigned to act as liaison between the State of Illinois and theJusticeDepartment’sBureauofInvestigation.Thisarrangementalso kept Winkeler apprised of the Bureau’s activities. Then in June of 1933, Verne Miller, a former Winkeler accomplice, ledabungledrescueattemptatKansasCity’sUnionStationthatcostthe lives of a federal agent and three other officers, as well as their captured fugitive.Thiswasthefirsttimeoutlawgunmenhaddeliberatelyattacked lawmen, and it made banner headlines that shocked the entire country. It also provoked U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings into declaring a national “War on Crime” that would soon transform the Bureau of Investigation into the FBI. Miller was quickly identified and zoomed to the top of the Bureau’s most-wanted list, and when Miller’s frantic girlfriend tried to contact Winkeler in hopes of finding him a hiding place, the answer was an emphatic No. Winkeler had little affection for Miller who, he then believed, had deliberately killed their fugitive friend Frank Nash as well as a federal agent and three other cops. Newspapers called it the Kansas City Massacre. So Winkeler had personal reasons for wanting no part in that mess or with the federal hornet’s nest it was stirring up. Through Buck KempGeorgette Talks to the FBI 260 al capone and his american boys ster he indicated to Melvin Purvis, special agent in charge of the Chicago office, that Miller had crossed the line. He then provided the feds with “intelligence” as to Miller’s other Chicago friends and his possible whereabouts. Frank Nitti was aware of Winkeler’s earlier cooperation with the Chicago Crime Commission’s “Secret Six” in recovering the loot from the Nebraska bank robbery, and now he worried about what Syndicate information Winkeler might be spilling to the feds. On top of this, he had since learned that Winkeler’s friend Ted Newberry was party to the policeraidonNitti’sdowntownofficeinwhichhewasnearlykilled.And whenthebungledLoopmailrobberyonSeptember23,1933,ledboththe police and the G-men to visit Winkeler because of his connection with car dealer Joe Bergl, that may have been the last signal Nitti needed to send out his killers, who shotgunned Winkeler on October 9. After Gus’s burial, the burglary of their apartment, and Georgette’s suicide attempt, she moved to Indiana to write her expose of the Chicago Syndicate. And when pressure from the mob forced her publisher to break their contract in October 1934, two months later she contacted Melvin Purvis, the federal agent she believed she could trust. She was unaware that Purvis himself had since run afoul of J. Edgar Hoover over the personal publicity he received after the killings of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson, and that he would soon decide to leave the Bureau. Because Georgette had moved to Louisville, Kentucky, Hoover assigned her case to Indianapolis agents. They listened politely to her recounting of her late husband’s crimes, none of which were federal offenses at the time. Moreover, Verne Miller already had been killed by other mobsters, and his known partner, Pretty Boy Floyd, was in deep hiding; so they clearly were more interested in what light she could shed on the kidnappings of brewer William Hamm and banker Edward Bremer, which now involved two “American boys,” Fred Goetz and Byron Bolton, who had joined up with the Barker-Karpis Gang. Many of the names she mentions to the federal agents do not appear in her memoirs; and it was entirely by coincidence that she gave her manuscript to them about the same time that Byron Bolton’s role in the Georgette Talks to the FBI 261 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (which he denied releasing) made frontpage news in the Chicago American. In her interviews with the Indianapolis agents she corrects the mistakes in the newspaper account, as did Bolton when being questioned by the FBI. *   *   * 262 al capone and his american boys January 30, 1935 Director Division of Investigation U.S. Department of Justice Penn. Ave. at 9th St., N.W. Washington, D.C. Dear Sir: Reference is had to Division letter dated January 19, 1935 which enclosed photostatic copies of letter dated December 14, 1934 to Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis by Mrs. Gus Winkeler, c/o General Delivery, Louisville, Kentucky, and...


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Subject Headings

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