Eyeing the World

"To reign is worth ambition though in hell;
Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav’n."
-- John Milton

The year 1946 had been a good one for Momo. He had shooed Eddie Jones, he had become Underboss of the most powerful organization in the country; and he opened the largest, most swanky and most productive round-the-clock bookie joint in the nation to date -- directly across the street from Chicago’s central post office. The local politicians, including the mayor, looked the other way, except when themselves visiting it to place bets and join Momo for a drink or two and maybe a couple of chuckles..

Accardo and Momo had been moving their gambling operations nationally, as well. One sleight-of-hand at a time, they eventually took over the Continental Press, which up until 1946 was the only wire service that provided sporting results to bookies from state to state. They reorganized it and renamed it the Trans-American. Some of the old guard subscribers refused to buy into the new service and died, but most of the major metropolitan syndicates recognized the advantages of keeping peace with Chicago. As thanks for an easy merger, Momo provided his new allies -- Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in Las Vegas, Jack Dragna in Los Angeles and Carlos Marcello in New Orleans -- a generous piece of the pie.

This accomplished, Momo saw no reason why they couldn’t extend their gambling activities internationally. Their first move was into Cuba, where Fulgencio Batista’s government partnered with the yanqui racketeers. Over the next decade, concessions moved across South America, Egypt and Arabian domiciles where powers "lined their pockets," to quote Momo, with the spoils. To make these initial foreign inroads possible, the syndicate required the backing of American politicians and ambassadors, all of whom received gratis. Momo told his brother many times that if it wasn’t for the support of money-hungry politicos the mob’s dreams couldn’t be realized.

According to Momo, both presidents Roosevelt and Truman were "bought". FDR, he claimed, owed his political career to Underworld dollars and Truman had had close ties with the vicious Prendergast mob in Kansas City from its earliest days.

Momo’s boasts were easy to believe, considering the host of congressmen, judges, statesmen and county sheriffs who flocked visibly to his side.

Through his friendships with the hoi-polloi, he acquainted many personalities, among them sports greats such as "Joltin’ Joe" DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano. West Coast connections brought him in contact with many a young star whose career he bankrolled, "everybody from Ronald Reagan to Ed Sullivan," declared brother Chuck. Singing careers were launched by Momo, who virtually told the jukebox industry whose records they would promote. Teenage daughter Antoinette, in accompanying her father to California in 1949, was amazed when the Giancanas were given a private tour of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. In her book, Mafia Princess, she recalls, "I was treated with as much respect as if I had been one of the studio’s superstars."

The extent of the Giancana empire is best described by Seymour M. Hersh in The Dark Side of Camelot: "(Giancana’s) operation was skimming millions of dollars of mob-dominated gambling casinos in Las Vegas and in Havana, Cuba and it had both political and economic control of at least six heavily populated wards in Chicago (and) exercised control over mobster and Teamster activities in Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles."

1. Fondless Memories

2. Born in Hell

3. Killin' for Capone

4. Changing of the Guard

5. Moving Up

6. Eyeing the World

7. Kennedy Connection

8. Wayward Politics

9. Betrayal

10. Marilyn Monroe

11. Nov. 22, 1963

12. Downfall

13. To Die in Hell

14. Bibliography

15. The Author
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