Salvatore "Momo" Giancana (born Salvatore Giangana) June 15, 1908 – June 19, 1975) was an Italian-American mobster and boss of the Chicago Outfit 1957–66. Among his nicknames were, "Mooney," "Sam the Cigar," "Sam Flood" and "Sam Gold."

Born as Salvatore Giangana to Sicilian immigrants in Little Italy, Chicago, also known as "The Patch". His father, Antonino (later Americanized to Antonio) Giangana, operated a pushcart and later briefly owned an Italian ice shop, which was later firebombed by gangland rivals of his son. It has been alleged by relatives that Giancana's father would have become legitimately wealthy had he not always been forced to bail his eldest son out of prison.

Sam Giancana joined the Forty-Two Gang, a juvenile street crew answering to political boss Joseph Esposito.[1] He soon developed a reputation for being an excellent getaway driver, a high earner and vicious killer. After Esposito's murder, which Giancana was allegedly involved in, the 42 Gang was transformed into a de facto extension of the Chicago Outfit. Giancana's leadership qualities, the fact that he was an excellent "wheel man" with a get-away car and his knack for making money on the street gained him the notice of Mafia higher-ups like Frank Nitti ("Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti") and Paul Ricca (also known as "Felice 'The Waiter' DeLucia").

Sam married Angelina DeTolve, the daughter of immigrants from the Italian Region of Basilicata, on September 23, 1933. They had three daughters. Angelina died in 1954 and left Sam to raise his daughters. Sam never remarried after the death of his wife and was known as a good family man, despite frequent infidelities, and held his wife in high regard and respect during their marriage and after her death. All of the Giancana daughters have married at least once. At least one daughter has taken the "Giancana" name again.

It's suspected that during Giancana's many affairs he had other children, including one that may reside in the prison system in Oregon

After serving a sentence in the Indiana prison system - at Terra Haute, from where he told his children he was away "at college," in 1945, Giancana made a name for himself by convincing Outfit boss Tony Accardo (also known as "Joe Batters," and "The Big Tuna") to stage a take-over of Chicago's African-American "policy" (lottery) pay-out system - supposedly nickel-ante games - for The Outfit. Giancana's crew is believed to have been responsible for convincing Eddie Jones to leave his racket and leave the country and responsible for the murder of Teddy Roe four years later. Both men were leading, South Side, African-American "policy" gangsters. However, Roe had allegedly refused to give over his stake in the games that Giancana had demanded and had also fatally shot a member of Giancana's crew.

Though the South Side "policy"-game takeover by the Outfit wasn't complete until another Outfit member, Jackie Cerone ("Jackie the Lackey"), scared "Big Jim" Martin to Mexico with two bullets to the head that didn't kill him, when the lottery money started rolling in for The Outfit after this gambling war, the amount that this nickel-ante game had produced for The Outfit was staggering - in the millions of dollars a year - and brought Giancana further notice. It is believed to have been a major factor in his being "anointed" as the Mafia's new boss when Accardo stepped aside from being the front boss to becoming, "consigliere," in 1957.[2] However, it was generally understood that Accardo and another veteran of the Capone era, Paul Ricca, still held the real power. Giancana had to consult them on all major business transactions and assassinations.

Giancana was purported to have been present at the Mafia's 1957 Apalachin Meeting, in Upstate New York.

It is widely reputed and partially exposed in the Church Committee Hearings that Giancana and other mobsters had been recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Kennedy administration to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who had taken power in January 1959. Giancana was himself reported to have said that the CIA and the Mafia are "different sides of the same coin."[3]

The association between Giancana and JFK is indicated in the infamous, "Exner File," written by Judith Campbell Exner. Exner was reputed to be mistress to both Giancana and JFK, and some allege she may have delivered communication between the two regarding Fidel Castro.[4]

However, Giancana's daughter, Antoinette Giancana, has stated her belief that her father was running a scam in order to pocket millions of dollars in CIA funding.[5]

According to the recently-declassified CIA "Family Jewels" documents, Giancana and Miami Syndicate leader Santo Trafficante Jr. were contacted in September 1960, about the possibility of an assassination attempt by a go-between from the CIA, Robert Maheu, after Maheu had contacted Johnny Roselli, a Mafia member in Las Vegas and Giancana's number-two man. Maheu had presented himself as a representative of numerous international business firms in Cuba that were being expropriated by Castro. He offered $150,000 for the "removal" of Castro through this operation (the documents suggest that Roselli, Giancana nor Trafficante accepted any sort of payments for the job). According to the files, it was Giancana who suggested using a series of poison pills that could be used to doctor Castro's food and drink. These pills were given by the CIA to Giancana's nominee, Juan Orta, whom Giancana presented as being a corrupt official in the new Cuban government and who had access to Castro. After a series of six attempts to introduce the poison into Castro's food, Orta abruptly demanded to be let out of the mission, handing over the job to another, unnamed participant. Later, a second attempt was mounted through Giancana and Trafficante using Dr. Anthony Verona, the leader of the Cuban Exile Junta, who had, according to Trafficante, become "disaffected with the apparent ineffectual progress of the Junta". Verona requested $10,000 in expenses and $1,000 worth of communications equipment. However, it is unclear how far the second attempt went, as the entire program was cancelled shortly thereafter due to the launching of the Bay of Pigs invasion.[6][7][8]

At the same time, Giancana, according to the "Family Jewels," approached Maheu to bug the room of his then-[mistress Phyllis McGuire, whom he suspected of having an affair with comedian Dan Rowan. Although documents suggest Maheu acquiesced, the bug was not planted due to the arrest of the agent tasked with planting the device. According to the documents, Robert Kennedy moved to block the prosecution of the agent and of Maheu, who was soon linked to the bugging attempt, at the CIA's request.[9][10]

Shortly after returning to Chicago, Giancana was shot in the back of the head on June 19, 1975, while frying Italian sausage and peppers in the basement of his home in Oak Park, Illinois. After falling, his body was turned over and shot a further six times in the face and chin. It was believed by investigators that his murderer was a close friend whom he had let into the house. At the time, Giancana was scheduled to appear before a Senate committee investigating CIA and Mafia collusion in plots to assassinate John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr..

Some have alleged that the CIA was responsible for the shooting as Giancana had a somewhat troubled history with the agency. However, former CIA Director William Colby has been quoted as saying, "We had nothing to do with it."

Santo Trafficante Jr. may have ordered the hit on Sam Giancana because he was afraid Giancana would testify about Mafia and CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro. If so, Trafficante, probably got permission to kill Giancana from Chicago bosses Tony Accardo and Joseph Aiuppa. Johnny Roselli was definitely killed on Trafficante's orders when his body was found stuffed in an oil drum on the coast off Miami.

Most investigators believe that Joey Aiuppa, Giancana's onetime friend and successor as Chicago Outfit boss, was responsible for ordering the hit on the disgraced former boss.

Giancana had reportedly continued in his refusal to share the profits from his offshore gambling operations and was also scheming about how to regain his former post as boss. According to former Mafia associate Michael J. Corbitt, Aiuppa seized control of Giancana's casinos in the aftermath of the murder, strategically sharing them with his caporegimes.

It is widely believed that longtime friend and associate Dominick "Butch" Blasi was Giancana's assassin. Other Mafia suspects are Harry Aleman, Charles "Chuckie" English and Anthony Spilotro.

Giancana was interred next to his wife, Angelina, in a family mausoleum at Mount Carmel Cemetery, in Hillside, Illinois

  • Giancana is the subject of the biography Mafia Princess, written by his daughter Antoinette. This book was later adapted into the 1986 TV film Mafia Princess, starring Tony Curtis as Giancana.
  • The 1995 TV film Sugartime depicts Giancana's relationship with singer Phyllis McGuire of The McGuire Sisters, with Giancana being played by John Turturro.
  • Rod Steiger portrayed Giancana in the 1992 TV miniseries Sinatra.
  • Robert Miranda played Giancana in the 1998 TV film, The Rat Pack.
  • As of May 2007, a six-hour miniseries on Giancana is under development in Hollywood.
  • Influential mafioso-rapper Kool G Rap once stated that the "G" in his name stands for Giancana. Kool G Rap released an album in 2002 called The Giancana Story.
  • Giancana plays a major role in James Ellroy's fiction, most notably "American Tabloid".
  • It is also widely reputed that, at roughly the same time, Joseph P. Kennedy recruited Giancana to help mobilize [labor union voter and financial support behind his son, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, in the latter's bid to become the Democratic Party's nominee for the 1960 Presidential election; the point of contact between the elder Kennedy and Giancana is widely alleged to have been Frank Sinatra. (What is not in dispute is that Joseph Kennedy was a rumrunner and bootlegger who had had extensive dealings with the Chicago Mafia during Prohibition.) It has also been suggested that Giancana rigged the West Virginia Democratic primary, at the elder Kennedy's behest, in order to demonstrate that a Roman Catholic candidate could win in an overwhelmingly Protestant state. (The HBO film, The Rat Pack dramatizes these alleged events).[

    Sam Giancana was arrested more than 70 times in his life and imprisoned only twice. Giancana's nickname "Momo" was derived from the slang term "Mooney" (which meant "crazy") as the teenaged Giancana had a reputation for unpredictably violent behavior.

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