this day in crime history: may 11, 1920

BigJim

On this date in 1920, Chicago mobster Big Jim Colosimo was shot and killed in his restaurant while waiting for a delivery. Colosimo, who had built his south side gang into a criminal organization to be reckoned with, balked at getting into the bootlegging business. He was making enough money through more traditional criminal enterprises like gambling, prostitution and protection rackets. Besides, he was also making a pretty penny selling illegal hooch in his restaurant. He saw nothing but potential trouble in setting up a distribution network that might attract the attention of the feds.

Unfortunately for Big Jim, his underboss, Johnny Torrio disagreed. Torrio arranged for Big Jim to be at the restaurant to take delivery for a shipment of booze. But the only thing Big Jim took delivery of was hot lead from a hired gun. The shooter was never arrested and the murder remains technically unsolved. Likely candidates for the shooter include Torrio’s right-hand man, Al Capone, and New York wiseguy Frankie Yale. (Between you and me, my money’s on Yale.)

Further reading:

My Al Capone Museum – Colosimo’s

American Mafia History – Giacomo “Big Jim” Colosimo

Wikipedia – James Colosimo

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4 thoughts on “this day in crime history: may 11, 1920

  1. Yale was probably one of the trio who killed O’Bannion, which would make him responsible for two of the most important gangland hits in Prohibition Chicago.

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  2. John D.:
    Seems like Yale was one busy (wise) guy in that town.
    What I can’t fully understand was Big Jim’s reluctance to get into bootlegging.
    Many other mob bosses balekd when it came to DRUGS and rather promoted hooch and prostitution (along with the numbers rackets).

    Very good story.

    Roll safe out there.

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    • I think Big Jim feared the federal scrutiny that would come with bootlegging. What he underestimated was how much local cooperation that bootleggers would get, which neutralized much of the federal effort. He also underestimated Johnny Torrio.

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