Colosimo, Vincenzo "Jim" (1878-1920)

Born Colosimi, Calabria, Italy, Feb. 16, 1878.

Killed Chicago, IL, May 11, 1920.

"Big Jim" Colosimo was a vice racketeer and political power broker in Chicago just after the turn of the 20th Century. His primary illicit business enterprises appear to have been gambling rackets and the management of a string of social clubs and brothels.

Colosimo was repeatedly victimized by Black Hand extortion and, for reasons largely unknown, sent to New York for aid. He called for Johnny Torrio, who partnered in a Brooklyn-Manhattan gang leadership with Frankie Yale, to move west. Torrio settled in Chicago around 1909 and immediately put an end to Colosimo's Black Hand troubles.

In 1919, Five Points Gang enforcer Al Capone, who was wanted on murder charges in New York, decided to follow in Torrio's footsteps and joined Colosimo's Chicago organization.

With the arrival of Prohibition, Torrio and Capone wished to expand their illicit enterprises into bootlegging. Colosimo, perhaps fearing to compete with established underworld gangs in the import of alcohol, reportedly refused.

Colosimo was assassinated May 11, 1920. It is widely believed the hit was performed by Yale at the request of Torrio and/or Capone.

The Colosimo-Torrio-Capone group was not a Mafia organization, and, in fact, was presenting growing problems for the true Mafiosi in town - the Gennas and later the Aiellos. The Gennas might have been partly responsible for Colosimo's death. Colosimo also went through an ugly divorce just before his death, and his former brother-in-law was apparently suspected by police.

Whoever the responsible parties were, Torrio and Capone were the main beneficiaries. They took over Colosimo's businesses and formed a full-fledged gang.

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