Title: UK – Daily Express – Mafia King Who Infiltrated the Court at Camelot
Newspaper Daily Express
Date: Sunday, February 18, 1992
Adapted by Peter Grosvenor
Confession of A Godfather
The Kennedys were considered one of America’s wealthiest and most influential families well before Jack became President. But the reality was not so glittering. They owed their fortune and political connections to a heritage that hailed back to the sordid days of Prohibition.
The President’s father, Joe Kennedy, had made a fortune in bootlegging during Prohibition and he had also made a financial killing in Hollywood – with the help of persuasive, behind-the-scenes New York and Chicago muscle.
When Prohibition came to an end, Kennedy got three of the most lucrative distributorships in the country as part of the national agreement between various bootleggers – Gordon’s gin, Dewar’s and Haig – through his company Somerset Imports.
The Thirties were good to Kennedy, who contributed generously to President Franklin Roosevelt’s campaigns.
In 1938, Roosevelt gave him the ambassadorship to Britain for what was though to be another $100,000 contribution. As the Forties gave way to the Fifties, Kennedy was trying to distance himself from his old cronies by selling liquor and racetrack interests.
Sam ‘Mooney’ Giancana recalled: “We liked it that way. He was a guy on the inside and he owed us big. We didn’t care if he wanted to play high and might, as long as we could work with the guy, because if ever there was a crook, it was Joe Kennedy.”
Joe had called Mooney once before for help, regarding a distasteful little problem his son Jack had got into. A marriage in California need to be annulled and Kennedy didn’t want any publicity.
In fact, not only did he want the marriage dissolved, he also wanted any record of it completely removed from legal documents.
Once this was done, Jack could get on with the political career his father had worked out for him.
The job required discretion and a man who knew who to pay in California to get things done.
Mooney directed Johnny Roselli to handle the legalities for Kennedy. And it was done.
Mooney was not just the Mafia Boss of Chicago. Over thousands of miles he held the fate of hustlers, whores, illegal bookies and loan sharks in his hands. Any anybody who was anybody knew it. It was this power that Joe Kennedy was counting on he went to see Giancana in Chicago in May, 1956. Mooney know that Kennedy had fallen out with his long-time friend and mentor Frank Costello, boss of the New York Mob.
The rupture was due to Kennedy’s increasing reluctance to return favors for his former pals.
Costello reckoned the Mob had helped make Kennedy a rich and powerful man, and now when he had called in a marker, the Irish bootlegger had ignored him.
Surveying the gnarled face of the ageing Kennedy, Mooney knew it was tough for the old bird to come crawling to Chicago to see him. Kennedy cleared his throat: “Sam, I know you’re close with Frank Costello… and I have a problem.
“It’s gotten blow out of all proportion. He wants me to be the front man on a piece of property and …”
Mooney cut him off: “Well, can’t you do that?”
Kennedy retorted indignantly: “Look, I’m in a sensitive position given my son’s career. You understand?”
Mooney’s eyes narrowed: “You made money with Costello, didn’t you?”
“Hell, I can’t afford the association now. And my son Jack can’t afford it either.” Mooney snapped: That’s an insult Joe. How do you think Frank Costello’s gonna react?”
“I already know. He has a contract out on me,” replied Kennedy.
“Hey Sam, everybody knows you’re the power outside New York. You’re the only man who can get Costello off my back.”
Mooney turned to look out of the window: “I notice your kid’s been making quite a name for himself.”
“He has,” agreed Kennedy. “And he’ll continue to as long as some ugly skeleton doesn’t pop out of a closet.
“That, my friend, would be political suicide. Talk to Frank, make him understand. I’m a marked man if you don’t get this contract called off.”
He placed a bony had on Mooney’s shoulder and lowered his voice to as nasally whisper. “But if I live… I can help Jack get to the White House.
Isn’t that what we’ve all wanted all along? A guy on the inside?
“If my son owes you his father’s life, he won’t refuse you – ever. You have my word.”
The fact that Jack Kennedy was then in his second term as a senator and was being groomed for the White House hadn’t escaped Mooney.
The prospect of having such power – a man so tied to him in the Oval Office – was a temptation greater than he’d ever experienced.
That night, Mooney put in call to New York. The contract on Joe Kennedy was off.
Evil Mobster’s cruel torture
Mooney was a savage, ruthless man and he was anxious that others knew it.
He put out a contract on the man he believed to be the traitor in his midst – the unfortunate William ‘Action’ Jackson.
He ordered his lieutenant Fifi Buccieri to make an example of the man – the or gruesome the better, with pictures taken as a warning to others.
The murder of Jackson was the cruelest in the history of Mafia killings.
The 300lb loan shark was forcibly taken to a Chicago meat-rendering plant and hoisted on a six-inch steel meat hook.
There he remained in inconceivable agony while Fifi and his men used knives, blowtorches and ice picks on him.
They shot him in the knees and put an electric prod in his rectum, and, on a whim, they also poured water on it.
Jackson was tortured for two days until his merciful death.
Stars come out for Kennedy but votes are rigged
Giancana the mobster also wanted to be Sam the Celebrity. He liked nothing better than to be partying with the famous Hollywood Rat Pack of Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford (JFK’s brother-in-law), Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
He said Sinatra had class and knew how to party. And he like the fact that Frank was a friend of the Kennedys.
Giancana was always able to locate women who didn’t ask questions and were smart enough to know that Sam “Mooney” Giancana might help their careers.
The FBI was later to claim that Mooney’s escapades with women were his downfall. In fact, the reverse was true. To him, females were expendable objects like shoes.
But he knew that the Kennedys had inherited their father’s penchant for a good time. Mooney gleefully told his brother: “Jack can’t keep hands off a broad. So we’ll set him up.
“Get enough dirt on Mr. all-American Family Man to ruin him. Promises or not, he won’t step outta line then.”
In 1959, Mooney met Joe Kennedy on three occasions to finalize their agreement. The Mob would organize crucial votes to JFK in Cook County, Illinois, a key state for Jack. Mooney told his brother that both Mayor Daley and Jack were present at the meetings.
Just before this, Giancana had been under pressure from the McClellan Committee, investigating organized crime, and had been interrogated by Jack’s younger brother, Bobby.
Now Mooney told his brother: “Bobby’s going to be take care of. I asked them to get him off that damned committee. He’s gonna help run the campaign. I’ve already got enough dirt on jack and his lousy old man to ruin 10 political careers. I’ve got pictures, tape recordings, film, you name it, all safe and sound in a deposit box.
“The American public would be real happy to see their President bein’ serviced by three women. Yeah, if I ever need an ace, here’s the key.” He dangled a gold key in Chuck’s face and then slipped it back in his pocket.
“There’s more broads already lined up and ready to go. Angie Dickinson’s got a thing going with Jack. Another broad is a dead ringer for Jack’s wife. She’s gonna be introduced.
“We’re gonna get Jack in real deep with Monroe, too. I hear Bobby’s even made a few remarks about wanting to screw her. Jesus, those Kennedy brothers are animals.”
In January 1960, reckoning the dirt he collected would ensure compliance in his pack with the Kennedys, Mooney instructed his show business contacts to start working to get JFK elected.
Sinatra was roped in with a bevy of stars – all of whom were unwittingly manipulated by Mooney.
In 1960, Jack was introduced to an ex-girlfriend of Sinatra, the pretty brunette Judith Campbell Exner. Jack was immediately reminded of his wife, Jackie.
Whenever Mooney wanted to know more about a man working for him, he became fast friends – lovers usually – with the guy’s wife or girlfriend. And that was how Judith became mistress of both Jack and Mooney.
At the West Virginia primary, Mooney sent a henchman with a suitcase full of money. Judith now says that JFK asked her to take a satchel containing “a great deal of money” to Giancana for the West Virginia campaign. And because the state was deemed so critical, Mooney put in a half a million dollars of his own money
After that victory, there was no stopping Jack’s quest or nomination.
But the presidential election on November 8, 1960 was close. Jack desperately need Texas and Illinois. So Mooney turned all the screws. His men either trucked people from poll to poll so they could vote numerous times, or stood menacingly alongside the voting booths, making it clear that all ballots were to be cast for JFK.
When the results were in by the morning, Mooney was ecstatic. Jack would be the next President of the U.S. The Republicans were outraged, suspecting votes had been falsified. But at the call for an official recount Major Daley balked, as he’d been instructed, and Nixon conceded defeat.
Mooney wasted no time in cashing in on his new connection with the White House, tells Chuck that he’d been in communications with his buddies at the CIA.
“I’ve been meeting with the CIA guys since last August; we’re gonna hit Castro.
“He’d been closin’ down American business. The CIA’s lost their cut of the casinos. They offered me $150,000 for the hit. We’ll take care of Castro. One way or another. It’s my patriotic duty.”
Meanwhile, Mooney said he’ put his Texas henchman Jack Ruby in action supplying arms to Cuban exiles.
Although Giancana was capable of appalling cruelty, he could also fawn over a woman Phyllis McGuire was an all-American girl with a sweet voice who thrilled Americans as part of the singing trio of McGuire Sisters. Once Mooney saw Phyllis in 1958 he had to have her. He showered her with gifts, picking up the tab for her gambling debts and using his influence to guide the sisters into lucrative engagements which put them at the top of the charts.
Mooney made Phyllis a permanent fixture between his romps with chorus girls and buxom starlets.
Together they travelled the globe, Phyllis proved useful cover as Mooney cut deals with international associates.
But on July 12, 1961, as Mooney and Phyllis were flying home form one of their jaunts, the FBI was waiting to greet them. Two agents hustled Phyllis down the concourse and one began firing questions and insults at Mooney.
From then on, FBI surveillance increased. It appeared that the Kennedys were out to erase any hint of obligation to Mooney. If this was Camelot, mused Chuck later, it looked like Mooney was being made the court jester.
There were plenty more evidence of a double-cross. Mobsters like Carlos Marcello of New Orleans, who had been promised safe passage, were now in hiding.
Then Judith Campbell’s calls to the White House were refused. Jacks pact with Mooney was off, while brother Bobby worked diligently to destroy him.
America’s No. 1 Mob boss had never been made a fool of in his life. Or if he had, the perpetrator seldom lived to tell of his accomplishment. Bobby had enraged Mooney by calling on the FBI to get ride of that “guinea greaseball, that dago scum Sam Giancana”.
Mooney vowed vengeance. From that moment, President Kennedy’s days were numbered.