An Impractical Joke

"When the horses ran that day

Sparkplug ran the other way..."

-- Barney Google


In early May 1924, Deanie came to Torrio with surprising news. He was getting out of the rackets. He had had enough of the blistering Gennas, he confessed. He had had enough of all the malarkey that went along with trying to keep his kind of business going. He was a young man, only 31, and wanted to spend more time with his wife, perhaps retire on his investments to another state.

Since they were partners in the Sieben Brewery at 1400 N. Larabee, would Torrio be interested in buying out his share for $500,000?

Torrio was elated. There, he thought, went the troubles with the Gennas and with having to constantly pacify Big Al, who detested O’Banion. As a final request, Deanie asked Torrio to meet him at he brewery at sunrise of the following Monday to inspect the next big shipment "Pay me then," he told Johnny Papa. "And at the same time I can familiarize you with some of the things you will need to know since you’re now its senior partner."

Early morning, May 19, 1924, Torrio surveyed Sieben’s with proud ownership. Deanie had given him the cook’s tour, showed him the vats, the storage rooms, the offices and explained the books like a pedantic accountant. Now, that done, he watched as workmen rolled unending rows of barrels onto the flatbeds of 13 delivery trucks idling in the dock. Beside him stood Deanie, the check for $500,000 made out to him in his vest pocket.

No sooner had the last truck been loaded than from all directions, blocking all exits, came a troop of blue uniforms led by Chief of Police Morgan Collins. Torrio panicked. He knew that under the law a second offense for bootlegging could mean jail time. This would be his second offense...but it would only be Deanie’s first.

At the Federal Building downtown, Deanie seemed a little too chipper as far as Torrio was concerned; he watched O’Banion airily pay his $7,500 bail and skip from the courtroom, whistling.

Within the week, Torrio learned from a police informant the real reason for Dion O’Banion’s high spirits. The Irishman had known of the raid in advance, down to the time! He had invented the leaving-the-mob charade just to put Torrio on the spot and possibly convicted. And, furthermore, now Deanie was hopping from saloon to saloon telling its North Side patrons how he had "rubbed that dago’s face in the dirt."

Still laughing at his ambuscade, Deanie bolted with his wife and a company of bodyguards to Louis Alterie’s Colorado ranch for an extended vacation, from July through early October. While West, he paid cash for a 2,700-acre estate. He may or may not have feared Torrio reprisal in the open wilderness. But, one thing is certain: Deanie brought with him a huge entourage. Author Curtis Johnson quotes a Colorado policeman who described the party as "enough guns to outfit a Mexican army."

1. Leprechaun

2. A Normal Childhood

3. Lads of Kilgubbin

4. Volstead's Law

5. Them Damn Sicilians

6. The Flower Shop

7. Crazy Deanie

8. Cicero

9. An Impractical Joke

10. 'Night, Swell Fellow

11. Hello, Mt. Carmel

12. Bibliography

13. The Author
<< Previous Chapter 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 >> Next Chapter
truTV Shows
Suburban Secrets
Forensic Files
The Investigators
Dominick Dunne

TM & © 2007 Courtroom Television Network, LLC.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. is a part of the Turner Entertainment New Media Network.
Terms & Privacy Guidelines