Franklin D Roosevelt

The Connection Between Al Capone and FDR

Chicago has seen its share of controversial connections to Washington, but the connections between the Chicago mob and the presidency tend to be the most interesting…or exciting, depending on where your interests lie. 

Do you know the secrets and little-known information regarding the mob’s connection to the US Government? Keep reading to find out more.

Getting to the Bottom of Mob Connections to the US Government

For example, it is no secret that a connection existed between Sam Giancana and John Kennedy, but exactly what that connection was (as well as the resulting effect on the course of history) is still wrapped is a veil of mystery. Titillating questions exist, such as:

+ Did Giancana use his influence to secure Chicago votes for Kennedy in the election of 1960 to help insure victory over Richard Nixon? 

+ Were promises made by Kennedy to Giancana regarding “protection” against government intrusion into mob business? 

+ Was the Chicago mob miffed when President-Elect John Kennedy appointed his younger brother Robert to the post of Attorney General, thereby focusing unexpected (and apparently unappreciated attention) on organized crime?

+ Was there jealousy surrounding the “love triangle” involving Giancana, Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe? 

+ Did the Chicago mob have a hand in the assassination of President Kennedy?

All of these questions make for great conversation and keep conspiracy theorists happy and engaged.

A Lesser Known Chicago Mob Connection: Roosevelt Meets Capone

While the Kennedy connection to Chicago is more popular, a lesser known presidential connection to the Chicago mob existed more than two decades earlier.

Shortly after the December 7th Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Secret Service (concerned about the possibility of an attempt on President Franklin Roosevelt’s life by Japanese or German agents) decided the existing presidential limousine wasn’t safe enough or transportating the POTUS from The White House to Capital Hill to give his (now famous) speech ushering The United States in to World War II.

Aside from the fact that the government had no armored cars and most certainly couldn’t have one manufactured overnight, there was a rule in place that the government was not allowed to spend more than $750.00 on an automobile (almost $11K in todays dollars…and truly hard to believe based on what goes on in Washington today).

However, a quick thinking Secret Service agent by the name of Mike Reilly learned that–a decade earlier–the Treasury Department had seized one of the two bullet-proof Cadillac sedans owned by Al Capone, and it was conveniently sitting in one of their impound lots waiting to be put to use.  Roosevelt-GTAV-realife

The 1928 Cadillac was painted to resemble the Chicago Police vehicles in use at the time, and was outfitted with flashing police lights mounted behind the grille, plus a police siren and radio scanner.

In addition, it was a steel-plated monster weighing in at around 9,000 pounds, including 3,000 pounds of armor behind the standard body and one inch thick bullet-proof glass.  The only thing left to do was prepare the car for use.

Working Into The Night

The Secret Service secured the vehicle and had a team of mechanics and other personnel go through every inch of the car, making it ready for immediate use by the president.  Working through the night, they were able to complete their work and – somewhat amazingly –  had it ready for use the following day, December 8th, chauffeuring President Roosevelt to his historic appointment.

Capone Unwittingly Protects The President

The Capone sedan was used into the following year, when the Ford Motor Company delivered an armor plated Lincoln Limousine to Washington, leasing it to the government for about $500.00 a year to sidestep the automobile spending cap.

It isn’t known how Capone felt about the government conscripting his personal ride for Roosevelt’s use, but when the president was told he was riding in the mobster’s car, he reportedly quipped, “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind”.

Both men obviously had bigger things on their minds at the time; Capone was languishing in prison and was likely already dealing with the effects of syphilis, and Roosevelt had the task of dealing with a global war.

As history has revealed, however, the two are inextricably linked, in the form of a 1928 Cadillac.

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Dale Schahczinski
Goal driven team leader, with industry experience spanning all aspects of operations and administration.