“I wasn’t crazy. I was telling the truth”
Sam Giancana was a vicious thug but a brave one nonetheless. He was a bagman for Al Capone (search the article) and if any job was deemed dangerous, it was handed to “Momo” Giancana. He was a prime suspect in three murders before he turned 20. He avoided service in the Second World War after telling the draft board “I steal”. It labelled him “a constitutional psychopath”. Later he said, “They thought I was crazy. I wasn’t crazy. I was telling the truth.”
In the 1930s he was jailed for running a moonshine still. Inside he met a capo who told him that money was to be made in gambling. On his release, Giancana was instrumental in ensuring that the South Side gang ran all the gambling in Chicago. In the mid 1950s he became manager of operations and from 1957 until 1966 he was head of the Chicago mob. He was ruthless. In his nine years in control there were 79 mob murders. From 1966 until 1974 there were only 24.
One of Giancana’s girlfriends was Judith Campbell Exner who was also sharing a bed with President John F. Kennedy (search the article). It was claimed that Giancana was involved in an attempt to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The attempt brought Giancana to public attention and on 1 June 1965 he was jailed for refusing to co-operate with a federal grand jury. On his release he went into self-imposed exile in Mexico.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The FBI continued to investigate Sam Giancana when he retired and in July 1974 he was deported from Mexico and taken to Chicago, where he appeared before a grand jury investigating Syndicate gambling and the 1973 murder of Richard Cain, a policeman who turned to the dark side and became Giancana’s bodyguard.
After being unable to avoid the court, Giancana testified, much to the annoyance of his colleagues. On 19 June 1975, four days after his 67th birthday, as he cooked a plate of sausages and escarole at his home in Oak Park, Giancana was shot seven times at close range. He once said, “What’s wrong with the Syndicate? Two or three of us get together on some deal and everybody says it’s a bad thing, but those businessmen do it all the time and nobody squawks.”