Johnny Torrio

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Italian-American criminal Johnny Torrio is largely regarded as the father of organized crime in the United States. He was also known as “The Fox,” “Papa Johnny,” and “The Immune” for his cunning, leadership, and business acumen. When he was two years old, his widowed mother brought him to New York City under the name Giovanni Torrio. His stepfather’s bootlegging operation exposed him to criminality when he was still in his early teens. He eventually became the leader of the James Street Gang, a collection of small-time crooks. At his aunt’s invitation, he relocated to Chicago. His aunt and her husband Big Jim ran hundreds of saloons and brothels, eventually taking over their operation. He increased the infrastructure already in place and started bootlegging, which allowed him to gain enormous money. He also met with other gang leaders and devised a system of areas to prevent turf wars. He continued to command respect even after he retired and turned over his company to his protege, Al Capone, and was regarded as an “older statesman” by other criminals.

Young Adulthood & Childhood

On January 20, 1882, in Irsina, a village at the time close to the city of Matera in Southern Italy, Giovanni Torrio, who later went by the name Johnny Torrio and Donato, was born. When Giovanni was two years old, his railroad employee father Tommaso Torrio perished in a work-related accident.
Soon after his father passed away, Giovanni’s mother, Maria Carluccio, immigrated to the United States with her one and only kid. They then started residing in a slum in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, New York City. His name was eventually altered to the more Americanized Johnny while he was residing here.

Maria met and wed bootlegger and grocery shop owner Salvatore Caputo in New York. In the end, Johnny’s mother’s second marriage to Carluccio resulted in the birth of three half-siblings: Nicholas, Isabella, and Grace.

John started working as a porter in his stepfather’s grocery store, which was really only a cover for his bootlegging operation when he was very young. As a result, he was exposed to criminal activity at a young age. Whether he ever attended school is unknown.

Earlier Years of Johnny Torrio

Johnny Torrio joined the James Street Gang, a gang of petty thieves, while still in his juvenile years. He eventually rose to the position of a gang boss and amassed enough cash to establish a pool hall for the organization. He gradually started to diversify into gambling, particularly number games.

By 1904, Paul Kelly, the head of the Five Point Gang, another crime boss centered in Lower Manhattan, was taken by his commercial acumen. Kelly was also immensely loved by Torrio, and in 1905, the James Street Gang became Five Points Junior and began undergoing organized crime training.

Torrio received advice from Kelly to behave properly in public and to avoid using profanity. Additionally, he advised him to open a real business as a front. Torrio eventually replaced Kelly as her backup.
He began working for Kelly as well as starting his own respectable business at Brooklyn Dock. In order to fund it, he began conducting illegal enterprises like loan sharking, which involves disbursing loans at an extremely high-interest rate, bookmaking, opium trafficking, hijacking, and running brothels.

Torrio enlisted neighborhood kids to conduct errands for him, one of whom was a boy named Alphonse Gabriel Capone. Later known as Al Capone, he swiftly won Torrio’s trust and joined Five Point Junior before quickly moving up to Five Point Gang.

Under Big Jim in Chicago

Johnny Torrio relocated to Chicago in 1909 at his aunt Victoria Moresco’s request. She is famously known as Big Jim husband, James Colosimo, who ran more than a hundred saloons, brothels, and nightclubs in Chicago.

The Colosimos wanted Torrio to deal with a group of extortionists who were blackmailing them because they had become wealthy. Once in Chicago, Torrio scheduled a time for the money to be paid; however, when the extortionists arrived to collect the money, he had them a shot.

After defeating the extortionists, Torrio established his base in Chicago and began managing the brothels for his uncle and aunt. He soon began growing the brothel business by acquiring virgins through the trade of white slaves.

Additionally, he organized the labor force required to manage such a business. He dispatched two of his men to meet the two ladies as undercover agents and shoot them before they could testify against him after they fled the brothels and threatened to report.

Torrio ran out of Colosimo’s Café at 2126 South Wabash Avenue for the first ten years. He eventually launched a new tavern and a gaming establishment. He started working out of The Four Deuces, a brothel he opened in 1919 at 2222 South Wabash Avenue.

He also brought Al Capone to Chicago in 1919. Up until this point, Capone had been employed as a bartender at the Harvard Inn on Coney Island, which was run by Frankie Yale. Before being promoted to manager at “The Four Deuces,” he now worked for Torrio as a bouncer at one of his brothels.

When prohibition was enacted on January 17, 1920, Torrio saw bootlegging as a potential business opportunity. Colosimo, however, was not interested in starting a new business. Additionally, he had already divorced Victoria Moresco, Torrio’s aunt, and on April 17, 1920, he wed Dale Winter, a singer.

On May 11, 1920, Torrio informed Colosimo that delivery of alcohol was on its way to his café. Colosimo was shot and killed as he went there to collect it. Torrio was thought to be the assassin even though his identity was never revealed.

The Criminal boss: Johnny Torrio

Johnny Torrio, who succeeded Colosimo after his passing in 1920, started engaging in bootlegging right once. Additionally, he organized his crew, which up until that point was known as the South Side Mob. It would eventually become known as the Chicago Outfit.

He gathered with other Chicago bootleggers in 1920, including Dean O’Banion, leader of the North Side Gang, to establish a territorial structure that would prevent brutal turf wars. The region was partitioned into a number of territories once everyone had agreed.

Torrio kept the Loop and a portion of the South Side while O’Banion received control of the North Side. The arrangement persisted until 1923 when O’Banion demanded a share of the profits because Cicero, a Chicago suburb, had become a gold mine for the South Side.

Torrio gave O’Banio certain bear rights and slices of the Hawthorne Smoke Shop, later known as The Ship, to appease him. However, O’Banio soon began to clash with other gang leaders, which led to the return of hostilities between various gangs over the territory.

In a brewery acquisition, O’Banio also betrayed Torrio, leading to the latter’s incarceration and significant financial loss. Torrio eventually ran out of patience and gave the go-ahead for his execution. In light of this, O’Banio was fatally murdered on November 10, 1924, while cutting chrysanthemums in Schofield’s, his North Side flower business.

Following O’Banio’s passing, the Chicago Outfit and the North Side engaged in a brutal turf war. On January 24, 1925, Torrio was attacked by O’Banio’s goons Hymie Weiss, Vincent Drucci, and Bugs Moran as he was walking home from the store, badly injuring him in the mouth, lungs, groin, legs, and abdomen.

Leaving Active Operation for Good

Johnny Torrio managed to escape the attack, but he required an urgent operation because of his serious injuries. Al Capone’s men guarded him around the clock while he was recovering from the assassination attempt to prevent any other attempts on his life.

Torrio always upheld the gangland ethic of omertà, which meant refusing to cooperate with law enforcement and remaining completely silent while withholding the identities of the assailants. He was sentenced to a year in prison after leaving the hospital for breaking the law.

Torrio made the decision to retire after being let out of prison. He went to Italy in late 1925 with his mother and wife after handing over his empire to Al Capone. He went to France as well.
Although he did not personally take part in the mafia activities in Italy, Mussolini started to put pressure on them in 1928, forcing him to leave for the United States. He made a significant profit on his real estate investment in this area. Later, he founded a legal booze distribution business.

He assisted in the formation of the “Big Seven,” a coalition of seven mafia families active on the US east coast, in addition to running his legal company. Lucky Luciano, Longy Zwillman, Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky were all prominent gangsters that participated in it.

Torrio went to an event for mafia bosses in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in May 1929. Here, he suggested creating a pan-American organization with a similar philosophy to the “Big Seven.” A multiethnic union that became known as the “National Crime Syndicate” emerged from this.

Torrio paid $62,000 to acquire the Prendergast & Davies Company, LTD. during the start of the 1930s. He kept his name out of the official record even though it was a genuine firm for tax reasons. But after a rival complained about him, the tax authorities quickly launched an investigation into him.

A Jewish American gangster named Dutch Schultz was shot on October 24, 1935, and as he was dying, he muttered Torrio’s name quite a few times, which caused the authorities to be suspicious. Torrio was extremely concerned about this and the income tax investigation.

By 1936, Torrio learned that he would face legal action for omitting to pay almost $86,000 in income taxes. He now chose to relocate to Brazil. He went to the White Plains Post Office on April 22, 1936, to pick up his passport. He was taken into custody by an IRS agent there.

On a $100,000 bond, Johnny Torrio was lodged in the Federal Detention Facility in Manhattan. Two more accusations were brought against him while his wife bailed him out. She saved him once more.

On March 29, 1939, the trial came to a close. Torrio received a two-and-a-half-year prison term as well as an $86,000 fine. He completely stopped engaging in criminal activity after being released in 1941 and focused on his real estate venture, spending his days in Brooklyn, St. Petersburg, Florida, and Cincinnati.

Personal Legacy & Life

Johnny Torrio wed Anna Theodosia Jacob while working for James Colosimo. He was completely committed to her and loved her dearly. There were no children born into the marriage.

At first, Anna didn’t understand the whole scope of his enterprise. He was addressed by society as Mr. Langley. She learned of his detention in 1936 and forced him to make a commitment to abstain from wrongdoing, which he followed up until his death.

Torrio suffered a heart attack on April 16, 1957, while he sat at a barbershop waiting for his hair to be cut. He was sent right away to the neighboring Cumberland Hospital, where he passed just a short while later.
In Brooklyn, New York City’s Green-Wood Cemetery, Johnny Torrio was softly laid to rest. Only three weeks after it happened, the press learned about the lightly attended event.

Estimated net worth

The estimated net worth of Johnny Torrio is about $1 million.