George Clarence "Bugs" Moran was born Adelard Cunin on August 21, 1891 and died in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, February 25, 1957. He was a Chicago Prohibition-era gangster born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Moran, of Polish-Irish descent, moved to the North side of Chicago when he was 19 and was affiliated with several gangs while being incarcerated three times before turning 21. At his first major arrest, he gave the name "George Miller." Arrested again later, he did not want to use the same name, and identified himself as "George Clarence Moran." This name stayed with him, though he used several other aliases at one time or another.

Moran became a criminal as an adolescent. When he was 19 years old, he moved into Chicago and began to rise through the ranks there. He would be jailed three times when he was only 20 years old.

Moran's fierce temper became generally known in the underworld. His temper earned him the nickname “Bugs,” gangland slang for "completely crazy." One possibly apocryphal story relates that he first attained the name after arriving at a tailor shop to pick up a suit he had ordered. When told the price of the finished suit, he became enraged and left the shop after breaking the tailor's arms and legs.

Prohibition was established during 1919 with the enactment of the 18th Amendment, which banned the distribution of alcoholic beverages. It was meant to improve society: however, the plan backfired when criminal enterprises sprang up to smuggle liquor. They manufactured or stole it and sold it for great profit. The popularity of alcohol and lack of legal competition ensured an endless supply of customers. This smuggling of alcohol was called bootlegging. Soon, the criminals and gangsters were enjoying profits beyond anything the basic rackets had ever provided to them, including Dion O'Banion and his group of mostly Irish thugs, who became known as the "North Side Gang."

Johnny Torrio and his lieutenant, Al “Scarface” Capone, moved to the South side of Chicago, absorbed the territory and pushed the Southside O’Donnells (an Irish group of brothers that held a piece of the Southside and claimed it as their turf) out of the way. They gathered followers quickly and were the “Italian family” of Chicago since a majority of their group was Italian. Torrio, who did not like violence, quickly moved to establish a borderline for each gang’s territory.

Torrio tried to establish a partnership between himself and O’Banion, and it worked for quite some time. But the Gennas (a Sicilian group of brothers who owned a piece of the Southside territory and were partners of Torrio/Capone) wanted to extend their interests into other territory. They moved their liquor into O’Banions territory and sold it for half as much as what O’Banion sold it for. He was being cheated in his own territory. He quickly went to Torrio and requested help. Torrio managed to talk the Gennas down in the interest of peace. But O’Banion wasn’t pleased and decided to strike back instead. He started hijacking the Gennas shipments and selling them himself.

He then would provoke the Italians even more by directly insulting them, calling them “greaseballs” or "dagos.” This angered the Italians even more.

Moran and O'Banion also insulted Capone to the press, usually by calling him "Scarface" or "the Behemoth."

Two events would trigger the assassination of O'Banion. The first was between O'Banion and the Gennas. Torrio was on vacation and left Al Capone in charge of the operations. O'Banion came to collect a $30,000 debt from Angelo Genna, the Genna family leader.

Capone explained to O'Banion that Angelo could not pay the debt and maybe he should pass it on as good faith to keep the peace. O'Banion refused and later telephoned Genna and stated that he had better pay the debt in a week.

The next event would be the setting up of Torrio in a police raid. O'Banion contacted Torrio and stated he wanted to retire from the business and sell some of his profits to Torrio. Torrio, excited that there would be no more problems between them, jumped at the idea and met O'Banion at the warehouse. They started talking and shared a few jokes, but then the police burst in and arrested both men for Prohibition-related charges. O'Banion started to laugh, but Torrio panicked. He knew that this was his second offense and thus, he would likely do jail time.

Both men posted bail and got out. Torrio then learned O'Banion had known about the raid all along, and it was a setup. "I guess I rubbed that pimp's nose in the mud," O'Banion stated.

The Italians therefore passed a vote to kill O'Banion. They hired independent killers to do the job and waited for Mike Merlo, the leader of the Unione Siciliana, to die because Merlo who was also a man of peace refused to allow O'Banion to be killed.

The killers were Frankie Yale, along with John Scalise and Albert Anselmi (colloquially known as the "Murder Twins"). They tracked O'Banion to his flower shop and entered. O'Banion, expecting flowers for Merlo's funeral to be picked wasn't suspicious of the men or their intentions.

Yale outstretched his hand for O'Banion to shake. O'Banion obliged. Scalise and Anselmi then drew their pistols and shot O'Banion to death.

The killers got away. The North Side gang members had lost their commander. Capone and Torrio thought that O'Banion's death might end their troubles.

Moran and the rest of the group went to O'Banion's lavish funeral. Capone and Torrio also attended the funeral, and Moran vowed to take revenge.

Earl "Hymie" Weiss took control of the North Side Gang and Moran became underboss. They were ready to strike back.

On January 25, 1925, Weiss and Moran waited for Torrio outside his home. It was their intention to take him by surprise and kill him. Torrio arrived with his wife after doing a little shopping. With Drucci at the wheel, Moran and Weiss leapt out of the car and began shooting at Torrio. Torrio was hit several times and slumped to the ground. Moran walked up to Torrio and attempted to deliver the final shot to his skull. However, the gun was out of ammunition, saving Torrio's life. An angered Moran was forced to flee the scene with Torrio still alive, but unconscious. After this abortive hit, the terrified Torrio elected to retire and pass the operations of the Chicago Outfit to his protégé, Al Capone.

Now that Torrio was gone, it was time to go after an old rival -- the Gennas, who were the cause of O'Banion's and Torrio's broken partnership.

The Northsiders first went after Angelo. The Gennas had killed their commander: it was time for Moran and his gang to do the same. Moran (along with Weiss and a few others) ambushed Angelo and engaged in a dangerous car chase with the Sicilian leader. After Angelo crashed into a building, their car pulled to a halt next to Angelo's and the Northsiders blasted away, killing the crime leader. This was a terrible setback for the Gennas. Much of their power and influence had died with Angelo.

The Gennas mourned the loss of the brother and realized their business was going downhill. Next, Mike "The Devil" Genna engaged in a fierce gun battle with the Northsiders, but failed to kill his rivals. Not long after, he himself was gunned down by police in a vicious shootout.

Then, Samuzzo "Samoots" Amatuna, a Genna family backer, was gunned down by Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci.

Finally, Tony Genna was shot to death. However, it was rumored that it was Capone, not the Northsiders, who ordered the death of Genna. Capone allegedly ordered Genna's murder to destroy finally the weakened Genna Family.

Their power destroyed, the rest of the Gennas fled Chicago.

The bootlegging operation of Earl Weiss and Bugs Moran continued to pose a significant challenge to Capone's South Side Gang. Moran and Capone then lead a turf war with each other that cost both of them their friends and cost Capone his freedom. Moran’s hatred of Capone was apparent even to the public: he told the press that "Capone is a lowlife." Moran was also disgusted that Capone engaged in prostitution. Believing himself a better Catholic than Capone, Moran refused to run brothels.

Moran and his gang made two attempts to strike back at Al Capone. The first was an attempt on Capone's life. Moran (possibly with Drucci and Weiss) was driving around town searching for Capone. They found his car parked alongside the curb and saw Capone getting out. They let loose a volley of shots. Capone and his men jumped to the ground while their driver was injured and the car pelted with bullets. Although startled, Capone survived the attack and would be driven around in an armored car after that.

Second, Moran would himself eliminate Capone's personal security. He kidnapped one of Capone's most trusted bodyguards. He then tortured him with wire and cigarettes before finally executing him and dumping the body.

On September 20, 1926, Moran again attempted to kill Capone, this time in Cicero, Illinois, the base of Capone’s operations. A fleet of cars, with Moran in personal command, drove by the lobby of Capone's hotel. Capone and his bodyguard were drinking downstairs when the Moran gang began shooting into the lobby with their Thompson submachine guns. The attack left Capone unhurt but afraid, and his restaurant was reduced to shreds. Although Capone escaped unharmed, the hotel attack traumatized him: he called for a truce. However, the truce did not last long.

Weiss was then gunned down weeks later after the Hawthorne attack. The two sides then traded more murderous violence before everyone decided enough was enough. A peace conference was held to hopefully sort everything out. Moran appeared grudgingly, along with Capone and the rest of the gang bosses. Capone stated "they were making a shooting gallery of a great business" and Chicago "should be seen as pie and each gang gets an individual slice." Everybody agreed and peace had finally arrived.

For the first time in years, there wasn't any gang warfare. Drucci himself was killed as a result of an altercation with the police. Both Capone and Moran attended his funeral. Moran now realized that his friends (O'Banion, Weiss, and Drucci) were gone and he was the sole commander of the gang. Capone realized this too, which is why he didn't attack first because he knew a war with Moran would result in great bloodshed.

Both sides kept a close watch on each other after that. Moran would regularly annoy Capone by having his shipments hijacked and selling them for profit. Capone retaliated by burning Moran's dog track. Moran had one of Capone's clubs burned soon after.

Moran also killed numerous friends and gang members of Capone, which both angered and saddened him. It also frightened him into having 15 (or more) bodyguards around him. Moran further wore down Capone, both physically and mentally, by agreeing to truces, only to break them within hours. Capone eventually stated that regretted he ever came to Chicago. "If I knew I was gonna deal with this, I'd never would've left Five Points," he stated.

Moran then decided to order the death of Antonio Lombardo and Pasqualino "Patsy" Lolordo. Both men were personal friends of Capone as well as the head of the Unione Siciliana, the base of Capone's power. Capone went into mourning after their murders and his hatred for Moran grew even more. Moran also decided to escalate the war further by hijacking Capone's shipments. The Sheldon Gang, supposedly allies of the South Siders, were suspected of supplying liquor to Moran. Capone's own allies were aiding Moran.

In 1929, Capone tried to strike a decisive blow against Moran with the notorious St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Gunmen dressed as police lined up a number of Moran associates against the wall in a Chicago warehouse and executed them. However, the main target of the “hit,” (Moran) narrowly eluded death. Moran spotted the squad car outside the warehouse and, believing a raid was in progress, doubled back to a coffee shop with his bodyguards. Another North Sider, Al Weinshank, was misidentified as Moran by one of Capone's lookouts, who signaled for the attack to begin. Though appalled by the massacre, Moran would continue a turf war with Capone (but to a lesser extent) and also manage to thwart a territory takeover by Frank McErlane, wounding him in a gun battle.

Contrary to popular belief, Moran managed to keep control of his territory and what remained of his gang through the end of Prohibition and through the early 30's. But with the repeal of the Volstead Act (the very thing that put the gangsters into power) the North Side gang declined along with many other gangs and Moran decided to leave Chicago after a few years. However, Capone did not go unpunished either. After the massacre, the government and the public expressed a new level of outrage with gangland killings and shootouts. With the government coming at him from all sides, Capone himself started to decline. The government managed to convict Capone of tax evasion and send him to prison in 1932.

In April 1930, Frank J. Loesch, chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission had compiled a "Public Enemies" list of 28 people he designated as corrupting Chicago. Capone topped the list and Moran ranked sixth. The list was published widely and ensured Moran's notoriety.

In 1936, Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, who helped orchestrate the St. Valentine's Day Massacre for Capone, was found murdered on February 15th, seven years and three days after the massacre. A valentine was left in the lobby of the bowling alley where he was murdered, which included a rhyming joke. Since Moran treasured pranks, a legacy of his mentor Dion O'Banion, it was commonly assumed Moran committed the murder in retaliation for the slaughter of his gang, though others point to Frank Nitti as the force behind the killing, as McGurn had become a drunken loudmouth, and a genuine liability to the South Side mob. Either theory is considered equally plausible by crime researchers.

The majority of published researchers of the Chicago gangland era and those who have studied Moran's life have come to the conclusion that Moran's biggest liability as a gang boss was Moran himself - he was simply not very smart in the ways of long-term survival as a mob leader. While Capone was a master at planning out moves and feints several steps in advance, Moran's approach was more that of an ordinary street brawler: cause-and-effect reactionism. Having been gradually squeezed out of Chicago after the end of Prohibition, he reverted to his earlier life and resumed committing common crimes like mail fraud and robbery. Just seventeen years after being one of the wealthiest gangsters in Chicago, Bugs Moran began spending almost all of the remainder of his life in prison, essentially penniless. In July 1946, Moran was arrested in Ohio for robbing a bank messenger of $10,000, a paltry sum compared to his lifestyle during the Prohibition days. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years in the Ohio Penitentiary. Shortly after his release, Moran was again arrested for an earlier bank raid. Moran received another ten years and was sent to the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Only a matter of days after arriving there, most of which were spent in the prison hospital, Bugs Moran died of lung cancer on February 25, 1957. He was estimated to be worth about $100 at his death, and he received a pauper's burial in the prison cemetery.

During the depression years, George "Bugs" Moran became notorious as a criminal of dire reputation. He eluded capture and finally was put on the FBI most-wanted list. At this time Richard and Mary Lynn Stites were living at 514 Center Street Henderson Kentucky, having bought the home in 1937. Mr. and Mrs. Stites were admired and loved by all who knew them, were models of rectitude, and yet it was they who for several months gave shelter to the heinous Bugs Moran and his paramour, renting to Moran the third floor apartment of their dwelling. It happened purely by chance.

Bugs Moran, looking for a quite place to "lay low" for awhile came to Mr. Stites, introduced himself as George Moran and asked to rent the rooms Mr. Stites had advertised. Mr. Stites agreed, since Moran seemed to be a quite and agreeable person, as well was the well spoken lady with him, presmably Mrs. Moran. Moran said he would return in a few days and move in, but before he came back FBI agents came to Mr. Stites, told him who Moran was, and asked Mr. Stites to go ahead with the rental plan since the G-men wanted to keep Moran under close yet secret observation. Mr. Stites, who worked as a dispatcher and desk officer for the city police, a post he held until the mid 80's, said he would cooperate with the FBI. However nervouse the Stiteses may have been at first, they reported later that Bugs and his "moll" were ideal renters, far more courteous and quite that the average law-abaiding citizen.

After several months of observation, the FBI decided to take Bugs and his companion into custody. One dark night, Mr. Stites let the G-Men into the house through his own enterance. The agents crept upstairs to the third floor and crashed into the Morans apartment. Fearing that Bugs had pistols under the pillows, the agents reached under the covers at the foot of the bed, grabbed the outlaw couple by their ankles and dragged them off the foot of the bed and onto the floor. There was no further violence and the Morans were led away. Thus did Henderson Kentucky lose her only world famouse citizen of the depression era.

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