Monday, December 28, 2015

Antonino Joseph "Big Tuna" Accardo

Antonino Joseph Accardo (April 28, 1906 – May 22, 1992), also known as "Joe Batters" or "Big Tuna", rose from small-time hoodlum to the position of boss of the Chicago Outfit in 1947.

Ultimately he became the final Outfit authority by 1972. Accardo moved The Outfit into new operations and territories, greatly increasing its power and wealth during his tenure as boss.

In 1929, Capone was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison for an 11-year sentence, and Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti became the new Outfit boss, after serving his own 18-month sentence for tax evasion.
By this time, Accardo had established a solid record of service and was a top earner for the organization, so Nitti let him establish his own crew. He was also named as the Outfit's head of enforcement.
Accardo soon developed a wide range of profitable rackets, including gambling, loansharking, bookmaking, extortion, and the distribution of untaxed alcohol and cigarettes.

As with all caporegimes, Accardo received 5% of the crew's earnings as a so-called, "street tax." Accardo in turn paid a tax to the family boss. If a crew member were to refuse to pay a street tax (or paid less than half of the amount owed), it often meant a death sentence.
After Nitti committed suicide in 1943, Paul "The Waiter" Ricca, who had been the de facto boss since Capone's imprisonment, became the boss and named Accardo as underboss. Ricca and Accardo would run the Outfit either officially or as the powers behind the throne for the next 30 years, until Ricca's death in 1972.

By keeping a low profile and letting flashier figures such as Sam Giancana attract attention, Accardo and Ricca were able to run the Outfit much longer than Capone. Ricca once said, "Accardo had more brains for breakfast than Capone had in a lifetime."
In his later years, Accardo spent much of his time in Palm Springs, California, flying to Chicago to preside over Outfit "sit-downs" and mediate disputes. Accardo's personal holdings included legal investments in commercial office buildings, retail centers, lumber farms, paper factories, hotels, car dealerships, trucking companies, newspaper companies, restaurants and travel agencies.

Accardo spent his last years in Barrington Hills, Illinois living with his daughter and son-in-law. On May 22, 1992, Anthony Accardo died of congestive heart failure at age 86. Despite an arrest record dating back to 1922, Accardo spent only one night of his life in jail.