The United States Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce was a special committee of the United States Senate which existed from 1950 to 1951 and which investigated organized crime which crossed state borders in the United States. The committee became popularly known as the Kefauver Committee because of its chairman, Senator Estes Kefauver.The term capo di tutti capi was introduced to the U.S. public by the Kefauver Commission.
Organized crime was the subject of a large number of widely read articles in several major newspapers and magazines in 1949.Several local "crime commissions" in major cities and states had also uncovered extensive corruption of the political process by organized crime. Many cities and states called for federal help in dealing with organized crime, yet federal law provided few tools for the U.S. government to do so. In particular, many cities and states were concerned with the way organized crime had infiltrated interstate commerce, and how it threatened to hold the American economy hostage through labor racketeering.
On January 5, 1950, Senator Estes Kefauver (Tennessee) introduced a resolution that would allow the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to investigate organized crime's role in interstate commerce.However, the Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce already claimed jurisdiction over the issue. A compromise resolution was substituted which established a special committee of five Senators, whose membership would be drawn from both the Judiciary and Commerce committees. Debate over the substitute resolution was bitter and partisan, and the voting on the resolution extremely close. On May 3, 1950, Vice President Alben W. Barkley, sitting in his role as President of the United States Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote, and the Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce was established.
Barkley, as President of the Senate, was empowered to choose the committee's members. They included: Kefauver; Herbert O'Conor (Maryland), Lester C. Hunt (Wyoming), Alexander Wiley (Wisconsin), and Charles W. Tobey (New Hampshire).
The Kefauver Committee held hearings in 14 major cities across the United States. [ citation needed ] Kefauver became a nationally recognized figure, and the committee enabled him to run for President of the United States in 1952 and 1956 (his runs failed, but he became his party's vice presidential nominee in 1956).More than 600 witnesses testified. Many of the committee's hearings were televised live on national television to large audiences, providing many Americans with their first glimpse of organized crime's influence in the U.S. Among the more notorious figures who appeared before the committee were Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo, Louis "Little New York" Campagna, Mickey Cohen, Willie Moretti, Frank Costello, Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, Meyer Lansky, Paul "The Waiter" Ricca, Virginia Hill (former Joe Adonis-Chicago Outfit messenger and mobster Benjamin Siegel's girlfriend), and four of Irish mob boss Enoch "Nucky" Johnson's former policemen in Atlantic City were also called forth.
Many of the Kefauver Committee's hearings were aimed at proving that a Sicilian-Italian organization based on strong family ties centrally controlled a vast organized crime conspiracy in the United States, but the committee never came close to justifying such a claim.Rather, the committee uncovered extensive evidence that people of all nationalities, ethnicities, and even religions operated locally controlled, loosely organized crime syndicates at the local level. The committee's final report, issued on April 17, 1951, included 22 recommendations for the federal government and seven recommendations for state and local authorities. Among its recommendations were: The creation of a "racket squad" within the United States Department of Justice; the establishment of a permanent Crime Commission at the federal level; the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee to include interstate organized crime; federal studies into the sociology of crime; a ban on betting via radio, television, telegraph, and telephone; the establishment of state and local crime commissions; and a request that the Justice Department investigate and prosecute 33 named individuals as suspected leaders of organized crime in the United States.
The committee's work led to several significant outcomes. Among the most notable was an admission by J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that a national organized crime syndicate did exist and that the FBI had done little about it.Legislative proposals and state ballot referenda legalizing gambling went down to defeat over the next few years due to revelations of organized crime's involvement in the gambling industry, and more than 70 "crime commissions" were established at the state and local level to build on the Kefauver Committee's work. The Kefauver Committee was the first to suggest that civil law be expanded and used to combat organized crime. Congress responded to the call, and in 1970 passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as a direct response to the committee's recommendation.
Senator Kefauver served as the committee's first chair.Kefauver relinquished the committee chair on April 30, 1951, and Senator O'Conor assumed the chairmanship until the committee folded on September 1, 1951.
The television broadcast of the committee's hearings attracted huge public interest and educated a broad audience about the issues of municipal corruption and organized crime. An estimated 30 million people in the United States tuned in to watch the live proceedings in March 1951 and at the time 72 percent of the population were familiar with the committee's work.The tremendous success of the broadcast led to the production of a cycle of "exposé" crime films dealing with the dismantling of complex criminal organizations by law enforcement. The first one of these was The Captive City (1952), which had the blessing of senator Kefauver himself: Director Robert Wise took a print of the film to D.C. to show the senator, who not only endorsed it but even appears in the prologue and epilogue, cautioning audiences about the evils of organized crime. Other notable examples of exposé films inspired by the hearings include Hoodlum Empire (1952) and The Turning Point (1952).
A fictionalized version of the Senate hearings is a central plot device in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II , featuring testimony by Michael Corleone, now the head of his eponymous crime family, and disgruntled Family caporegime Frank Pentangeli.
Carey Estes Kefauver was an American politician from Tennessee. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1939 to 1949 and in the Senate from 1949 until his death in 1963.
The National Crime Syndicate was the name given by the press to the multi-ethnic, loosely connected American confederation of several criminal organizations, a confederation that mostly consisted of the closely interconnected Italian-American Mafia and Jewish mob, as well as included, to various lesser extents, Irish-American criminal organizations and other ethnic crime groups. The name's origins are uncertain.
Fuller Warren was an American attorney and politician who served as the 30th governor of Florida.
The Eighty-first United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from January 3, 1949, to January 3, 1951, during the fifth and sixth years of Harry S. Truman's presidency.
Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury. Impeachment may occur at the federal level or the state level. The federal House of Representatives can impeach federal officials, including the president, and each state's legislature can impeach state officials, including the governor, in accordance with their respective federal or state constitution.
The United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency was established by the United States Senate in 1953 to investigate the problem of juvenile delinquency.
The Captive City is a 1952 American film noir crime film directed by Robert Wise and starring John Forsythe. The screenplay is based on real life experiences of Time magazine reporter Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., who co-wrote the script.
See also: 1949 in organized crime, 1951 in organized crime and the list of 'years in Organized Crime'.
Frank DeLuca was an Italian-American mobster who helped control the smuggling and distribution of narcotics in Kansas City, Missouri, for almost four decades.
Paul "Legs" DiCocco Sr. was an Italian Upstate New York reputed racketeer and associate of mobster Carmine Galante who was involved in illegal gambling and also owned restaurants and construction companies.
Frank Zito was a Sicilian-American mobster who controlled criminal activities in Central and Southern Illinois for over twenty years, providing protection from law enforcement and rival competitors from his base of operations in Springfield, Illinois. It can be debated if Zito was head of his own crime family or, he may have been a powerful capo of the Chicago Outfit with his own crew based in Central Illinois. This information is unclear and it seems as though the files on Mr. Zito lack the investigatory evidence that he was in fact the "Godfather of the Prairie." In any case, Zito was a very powerful force in Springfield and the Central and Southern areas of Illinois.
Lawrence "Dago Lawrence" Mangano was a Chicago mobster and member of the Chicago Outfit during the 1920s to the 1940s. He was a relative of Joseph Mangano and Philip Mangano, of Chicago, and a suspected relative of Mafia Don Vincenzo "Vincent" Mangano.
Joseph "JS" Sica was a New Jersey mobster involved in armed robbery, murder for hire, extortion, and narcotics distribution. Sica mentored many West Coast mobsters, including Mike Rizzitello and Anthony "the Animal" Fiato. Chistopher "Chris" Petti was Sica's longtime partner in the Los Angeles and San Diego rackets. Sica's brothers Alfred, Angelo, and Frank were also associates of Sica's.
Danny Stanton was a Chicago mobster and labor union racketeer for the Chicago Outfit during Prohibition. An early leader of the Sheldon Gang, he later headed members of the Ragen's Colts on behalf of Al Capone in support the Druggan-Lake Gang during the bootleg wars of the mid-1920s.
James V. LaSala was a Brooklyn mobster and drug trafficker who eventually controlled syndicate drug trafficking in California and several other Southwestern states.
The 1952 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1952 U.S. presidential election. Although the popular vote proved conclusive, the 1952 Democratic National Convention held from July 21 to July 26, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, was forced to go multiballot.
Gambling in Omaha, Nebraska has been significant throughout the city's history. From its founding in the 1850s through the 1930s, the city was known as a "wide-open" town, meaning that gambling of all sorts was accepted either openly or in closed quarters. By the mid-20th century, Omaha reportedly had more illicit gambling per capita than any other city in the nation. From the 1930s through the 1970s, the city's gambling was controlled by an Italian criminal element.
Charles Gargotta, also known as "Mad Dog", (1900–1950) was a Kansas City, Missouri gangster who became a top enforcer for the Kansas City crime family.
Joseph DeLuca was an Italian-American mobster who controlled the smuggling and distribution of narcotics with his brother Frank DeLuca in Kansas City, Missouri for almost four decades.
Frank Milano was a Calabrian emigrant to the United States who was boss of the Cleveland crime family in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1930 to 1935. He fled to Mexico, and in the early 1960s returned to the United States where he took up residence in Los Angeles, California. He became a criminal associate of the Cohen crime family and the Luciano crime family.