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Introduction This book examines organized crime in the city of Chicago from a sociological perspective. The term organized crime is used to define the political corruption that afforded protection to gambling, prostitution, and other vice activity in large American cities from the second half of the nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century. The dominant belief is that organized crime in Chicago, and other American cities, is descendent of the Sicilian Mafia. In fact, the alien conspiracy theory argues that organized crime evolved in a linear fashion beginning with the Mafia in Sicily, emerging in the form of the Black Hand in America’s immigrant colonies, and culminating in the development of the Cosa Nostra in America’s urban centers. This book challenges the alien conspiracy theory and argues that the development of organized crime in Chicago, and elsewhere, was not related to the emergence of the Sicilian Mafia, but was rooted in the social structure of American society. Defining Organized Crime Organized crime is referred to by many names in the United States. Described variously as the Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, the crime syndicate, and the mob, its operations were first officially spelled out in 1951 when Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver launched an investigation into crime before the Special Congressional Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce . Kefauver found that there was a nationwide association of criminals, descendent of the Sicilian Mafia, who controlled vice activities and other rackets in many large American cities.1 Further evidence of the existence of a nationwide confederation of criminals came in 1957 when the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities Lombardo_Text.indd 1 11/7/12 11:36 AM 2 introduction in Labor Management, under the direction of Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, found that there was extensive organized crime involvement in the labor union movement and in legitimate business. Later that same year, seventy-five of the nation’s top hoodlums were discovered meeting at the home of Joseph Barbera in Appalachian New York. This event provided evidence of the existence of a nationwide crime syndicate and underscored the need for government action in dealing with organized crime.2 The need for government action against organized crime was further highlighted in 1963 when Joseph Valachi, a lifelong member of one of New York’s five“crime families,”testified before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Valachi labeled organized crime as the “Cosa Nostra” (literally “our thing”), describing it as a nationwide confederation of criminal groups linked together through a national commission.The federal government subsequently adopted the term Cosa Nostra in an effort to differentiate American organized crime from the Sicilian Mafia.The Kefauver Committee and Valachi’s testimony gave rise to the belief that organized crime was an alien conspiracy that was imposed upon American society by recently arrived Italian immigrants. The 1967 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice continued the work of the Kefauver and McClellan Committees. The commission’s Task Force Report: Organized Crime scientifically explained organized crime for the first time to the American public. Its principal theoretical support came from an accompanying paper, “The Structures and Functions of Criminal Syndicates,” written by Donald Cressey, which provided academic authentication for the alien conspiracy theory and its Italian connections.3 The commission referred to the Cosa Nostra as twenty-four“crime families ,” whose membership was exclusively men of Italian descent, working within structures as complex as those of any large corporation to supply gambling, loan sharking, narcotics, and other forms of vice to countless numbers of consumers.4 Although the task force’s estimate of the size and extent of organized crime activity has been questioned, their bureaucratic analogy was given wide circulation by Cressey and Ralph Salerno, both of whom authored popular books on the subject. The work of the President’s Task Force carried on what the Kefauver Committee had begun by continuing to equate organized crime with Italian Americans.5 A 1964 report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) traced the historical development of organized crime in Chicago to the “Unione Siciliano ”or“Mafia.”6 According to the FBI, the Unione was strictly made up of Sicilians who specialized in extortion, prostitution, and narcotics. Tony Lombardo_Text.indd 2 11/7/12 11:36 AM introduction 3 Lombardo was the head of the Unione. He was sent to Chicago on direct orders from Italy to settle a dispute between the Genna brothers and another Italian group, who controlled...


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