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US – Miami Herald – The Boss’ Nephew

Title:               US – Miami Herald – The Boss’ Nephew

Newspaper:   US – Miami Herald

Date:               Friday, March 20, 1992

Sam Giancana’s new book about famous uncle is heavy on claims, short on proof

By Tananarive Due

When Sam Giancana was 6, his Uncle Mooney greeted him with a level gaze and a handshake. The Chicago mob boss squeezed the boy’s fingers hard and hung on tight. Sam’s mother watched, silent.

This was a familiar game. Uncle Mooney was waiting for Sam to cry. Sam was determined not to.

“He just wanted to see what people were made of,” recalled 37-year-old Sam Giancana, the mobster’s namesake, at a lounge in downtown Miami’s Hyatt Regency Hotel recently. “So my memory of him was always of fear.”

His uncle, Sam “Mooney” Giancana, was shot seven times and killed in Chicago in 1975. The offending .22 caliber gun was traced to Miami. He was scheduled to testify before the Senate intelligence committee about a CIA plot to kill Fidel Castro.

It’s widely know that Mooney Giancana and his organized crime pals once had a CIA connection to assassinate Castro. Mob aficionados also know that Mooney succeeded Tony Accardo ad Chicago’s Don in 1957, and that he cut his criminal teeth as on of Al Capone’s hitmen.

But that doesn’t begin to tell Mooney’s story, if you believe what the younger Sam and his father, Chuck, write in the bestselling Double Cross (Warner Books, $22.95).

The book is made-to-order for tabloids: The authors say its based on conversations 69-year-old Chuck recalls with his half-brother during the height of his criminal career.

The book claims that Sam “Mooney” Giancana had a direct had in the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and both Kennedy brothers. It claims he trafficked in guns and drugs worldwide in partnership with the CIA. It claims the mob bought off J. Edgar Hoover with racing tips. It claims Richard Nixon and LBJ both knew something about the Mafia-CIA conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. It even says Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, his killer, were rumored to be lovers.

What the book doesn’t claim is to have a shred of proof. The major players, including the supposed Monroe-JFK hitmen, are dead.

One retired FBI agent who kept tabs on Chuck in the 1960s put his doubts bluntly: “The IGA grocer knew more about Sam that he did.

“He was doing nothing with his brother, and he didn’t want to be doing nothing with his brother,” explains agent John Bassett, who now lives in Gainesville.

The skepticism has dogged the younger Sam on his book tour, which had consisted of TV tabloid shows, Entertainment Tonight and Larry King Live. Mob experts and Mooney’s daughter, Toni Giancana have all booed the book publicly.

“I wish I had a smoking gun, you  know, but the fact is I don’t,” Sam Giancana says.

“I’m not the one who placed Sam Giancana on top of the FBI list. I’m not the one who established the record of his ties with Hollywood, his ties with Sinatra, his ties with Marilyn Monroe, the CIA, his relationship with the Kennedys. Before you know it, you put all this information in one place and say. “Hmmmm, there’s a common thread here.”

Nondescript relative

As much as Mooney Giancana is characterized as harsh-feared and swaggering in his violent 40-year reign, his namesake is nondescript. He has an earnest face and pleasant, businesslike manner.

Occasionally, Giancana’s Chicago accent bleeds through in sharp, throaty C’s or the nasal drawl in Chicaaago. Giancana pronounces his former surname “Gin-canna.” His parents shamed by their notorious relative, legally changed their name in 1969.

To what, Giancana’s not saying.

He does say he and his wife live in Florida now (he won’t name the city). They own a marketing firm specializing in health education. He says he had a stint at a Chicago ad agency, then moved to Florida in 1984.

After his book tour, Giancana plans to withdraw back into anonymity.

His father is not touring with him because of poor health Giancana says. Chuck Giancana had six (artery) bypass operation, and Sam says the brush with mortality made him open up about his brother. But they worried about being labeled as mobsters after the publication of Double Cross.

“I’m anything but a mobster. I was concerned initially of how people would take it,” Giancana says. “Our intention was to get this information out and then go back to our life. We change our name because we were not proud of the legacy Sam Giancana left us.”

Giancana’s life is square, from his godfather’s point of view. No one trips over himself to find this guy the best table for dinner, or panics if they scuff his shoes.

That, says Giancana is the real legacy his birth name left him.

:They told me very early on that my uncle was boss of Chicago, that there was a syndicate and it was illegal, and I was never to do anything to reflect on him.” Giancana said during his interview.

Double Cross recounts the difficulty of trying to live a normal life knee-deep in the mob. In his family, a family card game or wedding could double for a Who’s Who in crime, Giancana says.

When Chuck Giancana, 14 years his half-brother’s junior, ran a brother-turned legit motel owned by Mooney, his plans to buy a home were thwarted by objecting neighbors. As children, little Sam and his older brother, Chuckie, were teased. His father’s tribute to his brother, naming Sam after him, (they even called him “Little Mooney”) backfired, he says.

“What happened was when I came along, he was under such scrutiny that when I was in grammar school, my name would be across The Chicago Sun-Times or The Chicago Tribune.”

As for the headlines that have been written, according to the book, Marilyn Monroe had to go because she was too emotionally unstable and knew too much about the mob’s alliance with the CIA.

An alleged meeting

The book says Mooney saved Joe Kennedy’s life by convincing New York mobsters to scratch his name of their hit list. The mob also supposedly boosted JFK’s campaign, and Mooney allegedly met with President Kennedy in the White House after his election.


But Double Cross goes on, when the Kennedys became inaccessible and Attorney General Robert Kennedy turned up the heat on the mob, Mooney felt double-crossed. He wanted to make sure the Kennedy’s wouldn’t get away with it.

The CIA was happy to be in on the plot, the book says, because President Kennedy had been hostile to CIA activity. The boldest of the book’s accusation is that Nixon knew something about the plot.

Unlike most of the books other cast of characters, Nixon is alive. He has not publicly responded to the books charges, offering no comment.

“That’s been on of the biggest concerns,” Giancana says. “You’re basically saying the former president had pre-knowledge. Sam made the statement that both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon knew about it.

“Well, knew about what and to what extent” I don’t know. That’s speculative. That’s an explosive comment, so I was very, very concerned when my father said that. ‘Are you sure he said that at that time?’ I asked. The publisher felt very strongly about it and left it in.”

Inside knowledge

William F. Roemer, Jr., a retired FBI agent whose 1989 book, Roemer: Man Against the Mob unveils Chicago’s organized-crime machine, know as the Outfit, spent 18 of his 30 years in the FBI tracking Sam Giancana. Roemer, 65, says Giancana’s book is woven with fact – and fiction.

“If you’re asking me, if Giancana and (Santo) Trafficante in Tampa and (Johnny) Roselli on the West Coast had a contract with the CIA to kill Castro – absolutely. That’s documented, and we knew it at the time.” Roemer said in a telephone interview from his home in Arizona.

Roemer says FBI had Giancana’s headquarters wiretapped when Kennedy died. “Obviously, they were just as happy as they could be when John got killed, but they never indicated they ever had anything at all to do with it.”

Double Cross says that Dick Cain – not Lee Harvey Oswald – was the marksman who fired from the sixth-floor window in Dallas, and that Oswald was one of several hitmen the mob hired.

But Roemer says Cain became an FBI informant and never confessed a role. (Cain was gunned down in a Chicago diner in 1973).