13. Jonny Torrio’s Miraculous Escape
In retaliation for the assassination of their boss, the North Side Gang ambushed Johnny Torrio outside his apartment on January 24th, 1925. The hitmen unleashed a fusillade of gunfire, and Torrio took bullets to the jaw, lung, abdomen, groin, and legs. As he lay severely wounded on the ground, a hitman walked up to the stricken mobster to finish him off with a coup de grace shot to the head. Fortunately for Torrio, the killer’s gun jammed. The miraculous escape from death shook Torrio, and convinced him to get out while he still could. So he handed control of the Chicago Outfit over to Al Capone, and moved to Italy. His retirement did not last long, however. Italy’s Fascist dictator cracked down on the mafia, and Torrio had to return to the US in 1928.
Back home, he became a mob consultant and respected emeritus figure, and demonstrated that he was a criminal visionary and one of the American mafia’s most talented and intelligent leaders. Torrio branched out from traditional rackets and went into the boardrooms, to become the godfather of corporate crime. He also set up the National Crime Syndicate – a loose confederation of several ethnic organizations. It included the Italian-American mafia and the Jewish mob, and to a lesser extent, Irish-American and African-American gangsters, among a total of fourteen different organizations, which cooperated from 1929 until the 1960s. Torrio managed to escape the violent end of many mobsters, and passed peacefully of a heart attack in a barber’s chair in 1957.