Nov. 14, 1897, to Oct, 11, 1972.
Paul DeLucia, "The Waiter"
Ricca was born in Naples in 1897. He came to the United States in 1920, fleeing prosecution for murder. He rose through the ranks of the Capone mob and stepped into a major leadership role in the gang in Chicago after Frank Nitti's apparent suicide in 1943.
It is speculated by some that Ricca was Nitti's heir apparent and succeeded Nitti as supreme Chicago boss in '43. Ricca was certainly powerful, but it is unknown if he ever held absolute power over the Outfit. He apparently joined Nitti and Tony Accardo in a ruling panel over the Family upon Al Capone's imprisonment for tax evasion in 1932.
Just before entering prison, Capone reportedly assembled the leadership team and important organization lieutenants for a meeting at Chicago's Lexington Hotel. The cooperative nature of that meeting set the tone for the Outfit's later existence.
In stark contrast to some of the Mafia Families in New York, Chicago leaders cooperated rather than competed. Ricca was among the Chicago and New York crime leaders to attend (and be arrested at) a national Mafia convention held in Chicago in April 1932 and then to attend an alleged Mafia meeting in New York in 1934.
Ricca established a good working relationship with New Yorkers Charlie Luciano and Meyer Lansky and used those contacts to help the Chicago Family penetrate labor unions around the country. He was sent off to prison with Johnny Roselli and other Chicago Mafiosi in 1944 as a result of an investigation into Mafia extortion in the show business industry. The conviction was obtained in the U.S. District Court in New York City on Dec. 22, 1943.
The Chicago Outfit had penetrated the most powerful labor union in Hollywood (the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Operators) in the early 1930s and used its influence to rob movie studios of millions (proving the impotence of the local Los Angeles Mafia).
While Ricca received a 10-year sentence for his involvement in the racket, he was released on Aug. 13, 1947. The short prison term prompted public outrage and sparked investigations into organized crime's influence at the U.S. Justice Department.
In the 1950s, the Senate's Kefauver Committee established links between Ricca and Florida gamblers and politicians stemming from dog-track operations.
During Ricca's term as part of the Outfit's leadership, the Chicago mob began paying its members for staying out of the drug business. Some sources indicate those payments went as high as $200 a week. The Chicago Family appears to be the only one in the nation to have adopted a positive incentive against drug trafficking.
After contempt charges were lodged against Ricca, the U.S. government began the job of having him denaturalized and deported to Italy (where he still faced a 22-year murder sentence). A deportation order was handed down in January 1959 but not executed.
When Sam Giancana fled the county in 1966, Ricca and Tony Accardo once again ran day-to-day operations in the Chicago Family. Ricca remained involved with Outfit decision-making until his death of natural causes in 1972, providing a continuity and stability in that organization that lasted four decades.
© 2007 T.Hunt
The American "Mafia"