Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo
Mafia Boss Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo lived from 1906 to 1992 and was one of the most famous names in organized crime. He was a part of the Al Capone Chicago Crime Syndicate. Before he was even old enough to complete grade school he dropped out. Once he did so he entered into the mafia world though to his dying day he would deny being a part of it.
Accardo’s parents agreed with him that dropping out of school was the best course of action for him. They then filed an affidavit to his birth certificate stating that he was born in 1904, making him legally old enough to drop out of school. Upon doing so he began working as a florist delivery boy. He later went on to become a clerk at a local grocery store. It has been said that these were the only two legitimate jobs he held throughout the course of his life.
Throughout his teenage years he used his jobs as a cover to transport illegal moonshine from Sicily to Chicago. Since he enjoyed his first taste of crime in these jobs he then went on to become a pickpocket, mugger, car thief and burglar. Though he encountered authorities several times he never served any jail time during this point in his life.
In 1922, Accardo was arrested for the first time. It was for a motor vehicle violation which kicked off his life of crime. The next year he had to pay a $200 fine after he was charged with disorderly conduct at a pool hall in the area. The pool hall it happened at is one that local mobsters were often seen at. Within the next year Accardo would be charged with two more counts of disorderly conduct. Through all this violence in his life he was first noticed by Al Capone.
Shortly after Al Capone began noticing Accardo, “Big Tuna” went on to become a part of the Circus Café Gang. The gang ended it becoming affiliated with Al Capone later on. Once a close friend of Accardo’s became Capone’s personal hit man it led to Accardo quickly becoming Capone’s bodyguard. During that time several others were also recruited to become members of the Circus Café Gang.
His involvement in Al Capone’s gang led Accardo to participate in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. He and four fellow gang members all posed as police officers and reportedly went on a shooting spree at the SMC Cartage Company Garage. The shooting spree took the lives of six members of a rival gang, leaving only one member of that gang alive at the scene that later died at a nearby hospital. Accardo was never charged in the incident despite the fact that he had been spotted at the headquarters of Al Capone; Accardo reportedly had a machine gun in his hand when he was spotted in the lobby of the headquarters.
Not content with the killings he had already been involved in Accardo continued to kill. He allegedly beat to death two people who were seen as traitors by Accardo and other gang members. He was also reportedly involved in the attack of a man who had previously been one of Capone’s associates.
Capone later went on to serve jail time for evasion of income tax. At this point it was reported that Accardo now had his own gang. The gang had control over gambling operations in Chicago and Florida that were owned by the Capone family. At that time the Crime Commission put out a Public Enemy List and Accardo was number seven on the list.
Starting in 1943 a friend of Accardo took over the gang. At this point he was allegedly in charge of the Capone’s criminal activities. Accardo saw to it that vending machines and slot machines were going to be used to make money for the Capone family. He also added counterfeit cigarettes, worldwide smuggling of narcotics and wire services that violated the law. As Las Vegas began to expand the only slot machines used in the casinos were provided by the Capone family. He also made sure that all Las Vegas bookmakers utilized the wire service he provides. These illegal wire services were used to give Las Vegas bookies racing information. This resulted in profit in the millions of dollars.
Throughout his life of crime, Accardo married and had four children and two grandchildren. He reportedly had an affair that resulted in pregnancy.
Upon his retirement, Accardo came under suspicion of tax evasion and was arrested and convicted in 1960. He served a six year prison sentence and had to pay $15,000. Later the conviction was overturned due to prejudices the media placed on him during his trial.
The U.S. Senate had Accardo on their radar and he appeared in front of them for the last time in 1984. He denied to the U.S. Senate that he was ever involved in the Chicago mob. Though he claimed he was never a mob boss he did admit that he had friends who were involved in organized crime in Chicago.
Unlike most other mobsters, Accardo died of natural causes. In 1992 he succumbed to both lung disease and heart disease. His body was entombed and is now in a mausoleum located in the Queen of Heaven Cemetery which is in a suburb of Chicago.