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

  1. Apparently Colosimo brought Torrio to Chicago to protect him from Black Hand extortionists. He should have figured that anyone touigh enough to keep him from getting killed would be tough enough to have him killed. Dumping Torrio’s aunt for another woman probably didn’t help either.

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    • Al was still in his early 20s then and was Torrio’s right-hand man, so he’d have done it if the boss told him to. But I’m inclined to believe that Torrio used Yale because an out-of-towner was the smart move for a high profile hit like this.

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