Johnny Torrio

John “Papa Johnny” Torrio (January 20, 1882 – April 16, 1957), also known as “The Fox”, was an Italian-American mobster who helped build the criminal empire known as the Chicago Outfit in the 1920s that was later inherited by his protégé,Al Capone. He also put forth the idea of the National Crime Syndicate in the 1930s and later became an unofficial adviser to the Genovese crime family.

Torrio’s birthplace is a topic of debate. He was born in southern Italy and possible places which gave birth to him are Naples[1] and Amalfi[2] (Campania), Orsara di Puglia[3] (Apulia) and Irsina (Basilicata).[4]

His father died when he was two years old, and his widowed mother emigrated with him to New York City.

His first jobs were as a porter and bouncer in Manhattan. While a teenager, he joined a street gang and became their leader; he eventually managed to save enough money and opened a billiards parlor for the group, out of which grew illegal activities such as gambling and loan sharking. Torrio’s shrewd business acumen caught the eye of Paolo Vaccarelli (a.k.a. Paul Kelly), the leader of the famous Five Points Gang. Jimmy “The Shiv” DeStefano, Danny ‘Big Wang’ Glaister and Al Capone who worked at Kelly’s club admired Torrio’s quick mind and looked to him as their mentor. Torrio greatly admired Kelly, who knew much about organized crime culture; Kelly convinced the younger man to dress conservatively, stopswearing, and set up a front as a legitimate entrepreneur. The lessons Torrio learned from Kelly stayed with him throughout his career; Torrio eventually earned the moniker of “The Fox” due to his cunning and diplomatic ways.

Torrio’s gang ran legitimate businesses, but its main concern was the numbers game, supplemented by incomes from bookmaking, loan sharking, hijacking, prostitution, and opium trafficking. Capone and De Stefano were members of the Juniors, and soon graduated up to the Five Points Gang itself. Torrio eventually hired Al Capone and his buddy Jimmy The Shiv DeStefano to bartend at the Harvard Inn, a bar in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn owned by Torrio’s business associate, Francesco Ioele (a.k.a. Frankie Yale).



Posted by The Don | Mafiosi
Comments are closed on this post.