Feature Articles

February 2001

The Mayor of Chinatown and the Shade of Battles to Come

By John William Tuohy

     Willie Moy is a big shot in Chicago's enormous, and growing Chinese community, or at least he was until 1991 when federal prosecutors convicted Moy of tax conspiracy. The charges grew out of a 1986 raid on a Chinese-mob casino, run by the so called On Leong Fraction, a Chinese gang of organized criminals, which was, according to police, netting the gang about two million dollars.

     According to former Chicago lawyer turned mob informant Robert Cooley, Moy and another man, gave him $100,000, to pass on to former First Ward Alderman Fred Roti and Pat Marcy. Marcy was the legendary mobbed-up secretary of the First Ward Democratic Organization and made member of the Mafia who came to power under Tony Accardo and Sam Giancana. Moy allegedly wanted Marcy to "influence" the outcome of a 1981 murder case in the Cook County Circuit Court.

     Moy denies being a member of the On Leong, which has been active in Chicago for as long as the Mafia has been there, perhaps even longer.

     Established in 1880, it was set up as benevolent assocaition, intended to help Chinese immigrant in Chicago. But, by 1900 it was known to be running rigged gambling casinos' all over the Windy Cities original Chinatown located between Polk Street and Congress.

     Later the gang followed a large part of the Chinese community down to 22nd street, the old vice section known as the Levee. When that closed, the group followed Chicago underworld characters to the South Side.

     Today, the On Leong is at an all time high, flush with cash and power, although it still lacks the political and police clout that the Chicago Mafia holds. The other difference is that the On Leong's membership base is growing as it connects, world wide, with mainland based Chinese gangs who operate across Asia, primarily in narcotics, pornography, prostitution, smuggling, counterfeiting and computer software theft.

     Their other Asian-based partners, the deadly "Snake Heads" are traffickers in human cargo, and work on a $15,000 commission. For that money, they smuggle an illegal alien into the United States with a vague promise of employment waiting them at the end of the journey. Of course, there isn't any and most of these immigrants end up as slave labor in restaurants or brothels.

     Sources high up in the federal government say predict over the next few years, as the battle against money laundering ends, the federal law enforcement machine will turn its full attention to the growing power and influence On Leong, the Snake Heads and other Asian gangs.

     Stay tuned.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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