Organized Crime Figure. The number 2 man for famed gangster Al Capone, he was born about 1883 in Italy. He started as a barber, but became involved in the Chicago gang started by Capone when he was asked to fence some stolen jewelry. He quickly became a favorite of Capone by his ability to do his bidding, with no questions asked. When Capone was sent to prison, Frank Nitti became the newspaper’s “Mr. Big,” in their view taking over for Capone, although there is much controversy as to who actually ran the organization. In 1930, Frank Nitti was indicted for income tax evasion, and spent 18 months in prison, a sentence that he hated due to his claustrophobia. Upon his release, he soon returned to his crime life. In 1932, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak sent two police officers to his home to shoot him in an attempt to take over the Chicago Mob himself; however, Nitti survived the shooting. Later, his mob continued to shakedown businessmen and then moved on the Movie Industry, where a crime-fighting newspaper reporter named Westbrook Pegler found out about the Hollywood shakedown and exposed it. Federal investigators succeeded in indicting Nitti, and his “partner” (more of a boss) Paul Ricca ordered him to take the fall for the entire organization. The apparent thought of more prison time frightened the claustrophobic Nitti, and the next evening, he killed himself near his house in the Chicago suburb of Riverside, while walking along some railroad tracks, firing three shots (the last was fatal).
- December, 07, 1888
- March, 19, 1943