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"Mad Sam" Destefano was an infamous Chicago loan shark who was known to torture and kill those who defied him or failed to pay their debts.
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Born in Illinois in 1909, "Mad Sam" DeStefano was one of Chicago's most infamous crime figures. DeStefano moved to Chicago as a teenager. From 1928 to 1931, he served time in prison for his involvement in a gang rape, and was convicted for bank robbery in 1933. Released in 1944, DeStefano was soon back in trouble. He was sentenced to Leavenworth Prison for forgery in 1947 for about a year. He met several Chicago crime figures while in jail. By the mid-1950s,
DeStefano was operating his own loan-sharking business. Tony Spilotro was part of his crew in the early 1960s. The two were involved in the 1963 murder of Leo Foreman, for which DeStefano was indicted in 1972. DeStefano was shot to death in Chicago on April 14, 1973.
Born on September 13, 1909, in Illinois, Samuel "Mad Sam" DeStefano Jr. was one of Chicago's cruelest crime figures. He ran a loan-sharking operation for years, and relished the opportunity to torture and kill those who crossed him.
DeStefano was one of 10 children born to Italian immigrants Samuel Sr. and Rosalie DeStefano. When he was young, he and his family moved to Heron, Illinois. He was a teenager when his family moved again, choosing to live in one of Chicago's Italian neighborhoods. DeStefano's neighborhood was known as "the Patch," and it was there that he embarked upon a life of crime. A high school dropout, he eventually joined the 42 Gang, along with his brother, Mario. The group also included Sam Giancana.
Among his early crimes, "Mad Sam" DeStefano was arrested and convicted for his role in a gang rape; he served three years in prison for the crime, from 1928 to 1931. Two years after his release, DeStefano found himself in trouble with the law once again: He was tried and convicted for his role in a bank robbery in Wisconsin. Originally sentenced to 15 to 40 years, DeStefano ended up being released in 1944 after the governor shortened his sentence.
DeStefano was sent to Leavenworth Prison to serve time on a forgery conviction in 1947, after creating and trying to pass off fake sugar ration coupons. While he was only locked up for roughly a year, he managed to use his time behind bars to advance his criminal career, meeting and befriending some Chicago mob figures in Leavenworth.
It was through his mob connections that DeStefano was able to score a "no-show" job with the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation in the early 1950s. He eventually had to resign after a newspaper investigation revealed that he was being paid for not working. By this time, however, DeStefano had graduated to full-time loan shark. He took particular glee in dispensing out punishments to those who failed to make payments on their loans or got in his way, using the basement of his Chicago home as a torture chamber of sorts. While his wife, Anita, and their three children were upstairs, he worked on his victims in the basement, taking a special liking to using his ice pick to inflict pain. Known for showing no mercy, DeStefano is believed to have killed his own brother, Mike.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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