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Eliot Ness was a law enforcement official in Chicago, best known for his efforts to enforce Prohibition as head of "The Untouchables."
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He offered to pay Ness $2,000 to stop ruining Capone's businesses and promised an additional $2,000 each week following if he continued to cooperate. Outraged, Ness ordered the man out and immediately called the press into his office. That day in 1930, Ness announced that neither he nor any of his men could be bought by Capone, and their mission was unstoppable. The next day, a Chicago Tribune reporter referred to the special squad as "The Untouchables,
" from which many film accounts would eventually be made, including the popular 1987 production The Untouchables starring Kevin Costner. Seeing the press as an ally, Ness made a habit of calling the media for each raid his crew made on Capone's breweries. Although critics argued that such publicity would harm the squad's efforts, Ness proved them wrong because they could operate under "The Untouchables" without recognition.
Capone, however, fought back and enhanced security measures around his businesses, making it difficult for Ness's men to invade them. Capone assigned men to recognize the ten agents and others to follow them. The squad's phones were even tapped, and the pressure was mounting. Ness even caught sight of one of Capone's men watching his parents' home. For some time the squad was unsuccessful in their mission. One raid, however, did prove successful, forcing Capone to lose $200,000 on one brewery, the biggest financial loss thus far.
Capone's rage intensified and caused a friend of Ness's to be brutally murdered. In response, Ness made a personal phone call to Capone, telling him to look out his window at 11 o'clock, at which time Ness paraded all of Capone's vehicles seized from the raids which were on their way to be auctioned off. Following this, three murder attempts were made on Ness. Not giving up, Ness and his men discovered a large brewery on the top two floors of an office building after receiving an anonymous tip from a woman. Successfully, the unit halted operations at the location, costing Capone an estimated $1 million.
After a long and successful career in Chicago and Cleveland, perhaps Ness's greatest challenge came when his reputation as an irreproachable investigator was questioned. While operating successfully for a long time as safety director in Cleveland, Ness's character was questioned after he assembled a team of policemen who used their clubs on strikers, creating chaos and injuries resulting in over one hundred hospitalized strikers.
Another incident occurred forcing the public to begin questioning his character. The Torso Murder, in which a serial killer dismembered his victims and threatened the city of Cleveland from 1935 to 1938, caused citizens to become outraged. With the pressure increasing, Ness decided to conduct a raid in an area where homeless people gathered and where the criminal was suspected of living. Finding no evidence there, Ness ordered all of those gathered there arrested and their places of settlement burned. The public became bitter, claiming inappropriate behavior had emerged out of Ness's frustration.
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