(Melchizedek Communique, MC122008) New information has been found on Chicago's "Secret Six", a prohibition-era vigilante group so secret that relatively little has been written about it.
A biography, "Al Capone", written by Luciano Iorizzo (Greenwood Press, 2003), defines the Secret Six as "a group of wealthy Chicagoans who contributed close to a million dollars to the Chicago Crime Commission and the IRS in the hope that they would bring down [Al] Capone."
Among the members of Secret Six, according to Iorizzo, was Samuel Insull, later exposed as "a utilities and corporate marauder with few peers in American history."
According to Bill Nunes, in his book, "Illinois Crime" (2002, apparently self-published), Colonel Robert McCormick, another wealthy Chicagoan and then-publisher of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, also belonged to the Secret Six. Nunes claims McCormick actually headed the Secret Six. A source in Cook County has expressed doubt as to McCormick's connection to the Secret Six.
Contrary to glamorous portrayals, in TV and the movies, Eliot Ness and his "Untouchables" did not single-handedly bring down Al Capone. Eliot Ness "was a great pretender" who "thrived on popularity." Ironically, Ness, "who reveled in being a crusader against the Wets, had a serious drinking problem." (Iorizzo, op. cit.)
(The 1987 film, "The Untouchables", is entertaining. A better movie portrayal of Illinois politics is found in the later film, "The Fixer", starring Jon Voight. The movie "Thief", starring James Caan and Jim Belushi, is also worthwhile.)
What role spies inside the Capone organization played is also relatively unknown. Edward J. O'Hare, inventor of mechanical rabbits used at dog-racing tracks, gained entree to Capone gambling circles. Once inside, O'Hare became a "mole", passing along information to investigators. It may be as a reward for his spying that son Edward Henry O'Hare was admitted to the Annapolis Naval Academy. O'Hare's son later died a hero in World War II. Chicago's O'Hare Field is named after Edward Henry O'Hare.
Capone biographer Laurence Bergreen reportedly claims Al Capone was only a high-profile front man for the real mob boss at that time, Frankie La Porte of Chicago Heights. "He [La Porte] was the mastermind who operated so effectively and so secretively that no one in authority knew of him." Iorizzo (op. cit.) however says that "Bergreen's case is not a strong one."
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