this day in crime history: march 19, 1943

On this date in 1943, Chicago mob boss Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti committed suicide. Nitti, who rose to prominence as Al Capone’s right hand man, was facing a prison sentence for shaking down several Hollywood movie studios. Severe claustrophobia, which had surfaced during a previous eighteen month stint in prison, made the mobster terrified at the thought of being locked up again. On the morning of March 19th, after his wife left for church, Nitti began drinking heavily. Once he had enough liquid courage, Nitti got his gun and went for a walk. He wound up at a rail yard several blocks from his house. He sat down on the ground, put the gun to his head, and pulled the trigger.

Further reading:

My Al Capone Museum – Frank Nitti

Find A Grave – Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti

Wikipedia – Frank Nitti

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6 thoughts on “this day in crime history: march 19, 1943

  1. Nitti wasn’t the first or last bad guy to chose suicide over prison. However, I never heard of anyone else being motivated by claustrophobia. I can’t imagine The Untouchables version of Nitti (television series or movie) acting like that.

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  2. John D.:
    I agree w/ Richard…claustrophobia?
    That’s a new one on me.
    I always thought such mobsters didn’t MIND going to jail, as they often kept running their “businesses” from the slammer.

    Good story.

    stay safe out there.

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    • In spite of the nickname, Nitti wasn’t the hardened badass people thought he was. The working theory was that he was more of a front man, and the real power was behind the scenes. That way NItti would be the target of law enforcement and not the people really running things. Considering what happened to Capone, that was a smart strategy.

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