Feature Articles

February 2000

Abuse Of Privilege

By John Tuohy

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washingon, D.C.

A look inside murky world of the US Pardons Attorneys Office.

The jig is up on Presidential Pardons, the last imperial power of the Executive Office, and the golden parachute for the mobs monied elite.

If Congress passes an obscure piece of legislation that it has before it this session, the White House will be required to get the okay of law enforcement experts before executive clemency is granted, and the mobs use of pardons to escape justice will be seriously curtailed. Pardons or executive clemency, are crucial to high level and wealthy hoods who need to avoid deportation, obtain a position in the casino business or a labor unions or to muscle their way into a legitimate enterprise.

Abusing the pardon privilege has a torrid and often astounding history, even on a state level.

In the early 1920s, Illinois incredibly corrupt Governor, Len Small, sold an estimated 500 pardons before he was indicted and chased from office.

Small's broker on the pardon deals was a union extortionist named "Umbrella Mike" Boyle, a bigwig in the Electrical Workers Union.

Among Boyle's clients was Spike O'Donnell, who immediately started the great Chicago beer wars of 1926 upon his release, James "Fur" Sammons, a lunatic killer who scared even the Capone organization he worked for, and Johnny Touhy, the short-lived boss of the Terrible Touhy gang.

In the 1970's, when federal prosecutors tried to deport southwestern Pennsylvania mob boss, John S. LaRocca, Governor John Fine pardoned the alleged Godfather of corruption along with his caporegime, Frank Rosa.

Later, Governor George Earle pardoned mafia boss Joe Luciano, Luigi Quaranta and alleged Capporeime Nicholas Piccolo. He also pardoned Frankie Palermo, an alleged made member of the Mafia, Felix Bocchiccio, a fight fixer, Leo Kamminski and Louie Barish, suspected mob gamblers.

One of the earliest and most outrageous pardons on records belongs to Harry Truman who pardoned "Ice pick" Danny Motto, a labor thug in the Gambino family.

Motto had been convicted of war time racketeering and as a result, Danny the Ice Pick wasn't allowed to hold an "elective" office in New York's Bakers union, local 350, a 900-member local which he terrorized from 1939 until his death in the 1980s.

Motto's 1947 federal racketeering charge, plus a previous conviction for murder, gave the Justice Department due cause to deport the hood. However, at the last moment, when deportation had been ordered, Truman granted a pardon and the deportation was canceled.

The man who worked behind the scenes on Motto's behalf was his lawyer, Herb Itkin, a shadowy figure with unspecified connections to Naval Intelligence and later to the CIA.

It was Itkin who introduced New York's Lindsay administration to labor mobster, loan shark and Danny Motto's boss, Anthony "Tony Ducks' Corralo, a meeting that would eventually led to the James Marcus scandal of 1966.

Truman also pardoned an enormous number of felons from the Boss Pendergast political machine. More than half of those pardoned were convicted of interfering with a citizens right to vote, or, in other words, were members of Owney Madden's goon squads.

During his brief presidency, John F. Kennedy issued 472 pardons, more than any Chief Executive before or since. About half of which are appear to be questionable at best.

An example is the John Factor pardon.

In 1926, John Factor, (AKA Jake the Barber) brother to Max Factor, conned thousands of British citizens out of $8 million dollars, (1928 value)

Factor fled England for Chicago and successfully avoided extradition by paying to have himself kidnaped and accused six innocent men of the crime who served a total of 130 years for the fake abduction.

In 1942, Factor was convicted on federal charges and sentenced to ten years for a botched confidence scam.

Released in 1948, Factor claimed he was broke, but, seven years later, opened the Stardust Casino in Vegas.

In 1962, Factor sold his share of the casino, then the largest and most profitable in the world, for a paltry 14 million dollars. The buyer was the mobs other front man, Moe Dalitz.

Chicago bosses Tony Accardo, Paul Ricca and Murray Humpreys took at least five points each from the sale, a point being valued at $125,000

Another hood, Nick Civella, got $6,000 a month out of the deal, paid by the casino, as a brokers fee.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy, thought it was a ridiculously small sales figure and ordered an investigation to find out who really owned the Stardust and why the sale price was so small.

At the same time, Kennedy's Justice Department and the Nevada state gaming commission, began scrutinizing the stockholders in the Stardust and opened an investigation in search of hidden assets by the Mafia.

It was in this atmosphere that the Los Angles office of the INS decided to deport the seventy year old Factor to England based on the 1943 fraud conviction.

On December 3 1962, the Department of Justice requested that the Immigration and Naturalization begin proceedings to deport Factor from the United States.

Unable to show due cause why he should not be deported, Factor was ordered to surrender to the Los Angles office of the INS on December 21 1962, at which point he would be arrested and tossed out of the country.

Then the Kennedy's gave John Factor a full pardon.

But at what cost?

The executive clemency had all the earmarks of a mob style shake down because just seven days before Bobby Kennedy's Justice Department ordered Factor deported, on November 26 1962, the Attorney General did something unusual, he changed the laws that govern Presidential pardons. It was only the second time the rules, which are actually a mere fourteen set of suggestions since they are advisory in nature, would be tampered with from 1946 until 1997.

Bobby Kennedy changed the rules by cutting out the middle man, all pardon requests went directly to the White House and then to the Justice Department, not the other way around which is how it was before Factors pardon was granted.

It appears that Bobby's tampering was all about money because one day a very drunken Chuckie English, one of Chicago's mob boss Sam Giancana top men, strolled out of the Armory Lounge, the outfits meeting place, and leaned up against the FBI observation car parked just across the street from the tavern and started a conversation with the agents who reported "English is bemoaning the fact that the federal government is closing in on the organization and nothing can be done about it. He made several bad remarks about the Kennedy administration and pointed out that the Attorney General raising money for the Cuba invaders make's Chicago's syndicate look like amateurs"

What English was talking about in front of a bar on a cold Chicago afternoon was the same thing business executive across the country were whispering about in their paneled board rooms. Many of the nations leading CEO's had taken phone calls and were amazed to find themselves on the other end of phone line with the Attorney General of the United States of America. They were even more amazed at what they heard.

Kennedy wanted money to help rescue the Bay of Pigs survivors.

The Attorney General reminded the executives that they had either pending contracts before the government or criminal case's pending, brought by the Justice department.

Before they could respond, Kennedy interrupted, mentioned the fund to free the Cubans again, and hung up.

Jake Factor was a rich man and nobodies fool. He threw $25,000 cash into the project and explained to a curious press that James Roosevelt, the problem child of the clan, had approached him about the donation, which he swore had nothing to do with his pardon.

He was also one of Kennedy's single largest political contributors.

On December 24 1962, from his fathers estate in Palm Beach Florida, John F. Kennedy signed a Presidential Pardon for Jake the Barber.

Pardons are normally granted on a master warrant and although several sentence reductions were given that day on a master pardon, Factors was the only single pardon granted.

The deportation proceeding against Jake were dismissed on December 26 1962, and the investigation into the Stardust casino was quietly drawn to a close.

Richard Nixon, who was pardoned by Jerry Ford, pardoned Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo, a capo in the Gambino crime family and a major loan shark in Northern New Jersey.

Officially, DeCarlo got the pardon because he was supposed to be dying of cancer. When released however, he reentered the loan sharking business and was suspected in ordering at least one murder within the first six months of his release.

In 1970, DeCarlo told an FBI undercover agent that he paid singer Frank Sinatra $150,000 in cash to give to Vice President Spriro Agnew, to secure the pardon.

Nixon also pardoned the mobs personnel loan officer, Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa in 1974. Three years later, two federal informants reported that Allen Dorfman and gangster Tony Provenzano, had each collected about $500,000 in cash, which was delivered to Nixon's counsel, Charles Colson.

According to the informants, the money had been skimmed off of the Vegas casino's and was a payoff for both Hoffa's release and for the restrictions on that release which forbade Jimmy from returning to the Union business

Pardons are so common place in the upper echelons of the mob, that even John Gotti, when imprisoned in the New York City Jail, considered offering the Bush White House a million dollars for a pardon "just like all those other guys did before"

Hopefully, if congress does the right thing this session, the mobs honeymoon with the White House will be a nightmare from a dark past.

Past Issues
div. of PLR International
P.O. Box 19146
Cleveland, OH 44119-0146
216 374-0000

Copyright © 2000 PLR International