Chicago was founded upon crime. The French stole the land from the Indians. DuSable and Kinzie traded whiskey for goods with the Indians, a capital offense. Fort Dearborn and its trading post was a hub of corruption and thievery.
Once established, Chicago became a city of crime, political, white collar, vice, street crimes, murder and mayhem. Crime is in the DNA of this city.
It does not take much time to research facts about Chicago crime or its notorious criminals.
Former First Ward alderman, Donnie Parillo, researched nothing. He admits this in the opening pages of his book. The book, Capone May Go Free, "A Society of Power," is one of the worst books written about Chicago and its gangsters.
It is a first person tale. It is a fishing tale, the fish gets bigger in every chapter. The fishing tale is told in the snappy patois of Chicagoese. Parillo grew up on Talyor street until his family moved to Oak Park.
Parillo's father was a successful attorney and politico who represented Al Capone, Frank Nitti, a young Sam Giancana, and other members of the Chicago Outfit.
Donnie Parillo founded Safeway Insurance Company in the 1950s. He was in his twenties. In the 1960s Parillo opened a "finance" company in Oak Park. The debt collectors were alleged to be a who's who of Outfit enforcers, including William "Action" Jackson. Jackson's 300 plus pound tortured corpse was found in the trunk of a car. The tale of his torture and death is legendary.
In 1963 Donnie Parillo bought a bank back home in the old neighborhood. He renamed it National Bank of Chicago.
The book is based on his own life. Where he strays are in tales about Al Capone and other national or local stories. Stories, that a smidgen of research would have garnered historically correct facts from authoritative sources.
Parillo claims Al Capone, who died of complications from tertiary syphilis, contracted the disease from actress Jean Harlowe. There is no historical account that Capone ever dated Harlowe. Jean Harlowe did have an ongoing relationship with gangster Abner Longie Zwillman, known as the "Al Capone" of New Jersey.
Parillo also claims Harlowe died of complications from Syphilis. Harlowe died of renal failure as a result of kidney disease. This was backed up by medical history and records.
Harlowe suffered health issues for sometime. None of her symptoms were related to the advanced stages of the venereal disease. A few years after her death, medical and pharmaceutical treatments were developed that could have prevented it.
Authoritative accounts claim Capone contracted the disease from one of the prostitutes he ran in Chicago after arriving from Brooklyn. Some claim he may have caught the disease in New York before coming to Chicago.
It should be noted that syphilis was quite common in males during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Another egregious error in Parillos's book is the shooting of mob boss Johnny Torrio in 1925. Parillo's febrile brain defies history.
According to Parillo, Chicago could only be ruled by one man That man was Capone. He claims Capone tried to have Torrio killed to take over the syndicate. It was a repeat of Torrio murdering his boss, Big Jim Colosimo. Torrio had Colosimo murdered over the latter's refusal to enter the bootlegging business. Colisomo was also spending more time with his young bride than on the business of crime. Torrio was all about business.
Torrio was shot and gravely wounded by members of the North Side gang in retaliation for the murder of their leader, Dion O'Banion. The alleged shooters were Hymie Weiss, Bugs Moran, and Vincent Drucci, all North Siders. Parillo claims the North Siders were hired by Capone.
The North Siders had a visceral psychotic hatred of Capone. There was not enough money in the world for them to kill for Capone. They would kill Capone before doing him a favor.
Johnnie Torrio started laying the ground work to get out of Chicago before the shooting. He saw where all the violence was leading and wanted out. Torrio was scheduled to do a short stint in prison for bootlegging. Upon his release, he planned to leave Chicago, turn over operations to Capone, and go into semi-retirement in New York. There was no reason for Capone to kill Torrio.
Al Capone was also fiercely loyal to his boss and mentor. Torrio originally was from New York. He was imported to Chicago by Big Jim to handle some problems. There was a New York to Chicago pipeline of criminals during the early part of the 20th Century. Torrio brought Capone to Chicago from Brooklyn. Torrio groomed Capone and was responsible for Capone amassing wealth before he was 25.
Al Capone would never kill Johnnie Torrio.
These are just some of the blatant inaccuracies Donnie Parillo put in his book. It is a pity. He had a good tale to tell. His wisecracking street voice lends humor and authenticity. Too bad he could not stick to the facts and just the facts.
Parillo claims he was selected by Outfit leader Sam Giancana to replace First Ward Alderman, John DiArco Sr. in 1963. This could very well be true. His father was Giancana's attorney when Gianacana was an up and comer in the mob. If an Italian family resided in certain neighborhoods it is a good bet they knew a gangster or were related to one.
Parillo gives a very entertaining and accurate description of how elections were run in Chicago during the 1960s. Elections were a circus of corrupt activities during that era.
Parillo delves into the Kennedy brothers and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Much of this is the same tin foil had conspiracy theory floating around for decades. The only beings not accused of killing the president are extraterrestrials who lived in Area 51.
Parillo's book is a waste of money. Fortunately I only paid a few bucks for it in a used bookstore. It retails for $24.95. $22.95 more than it is worth.
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