"Mad Sam" DeStefano biography
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.
Early Life and Crimes
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.
Vicious Loan Shark and Killer
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.
While he received approval to operate his illegal enterprise in the city, DeStefano was considered to be too unstable and violent by many in the organized crime world to have a place in its organizational hierarchy. He did, however, mentor Tony Spilotro, a rising star in the Outfit, as the Chicago mob is sometimes called. In the early 1960s, DeStefano brought Spilotro into his operation. The two worked together on some of DeStefano's murders, including the 1962 killing of two young burglars.
With Spilotro, brother Mario and another man, "Mad Sam" DeStefano orchestrated the murder of one of his debt collectors, Leo Foreman, in November 1963. Foreman was suspected of talking to the police about DeStefano's criminal activities. This crime proved to be DeStefano's undoing. DeStefano, Marlo and Spilotro were indicted for the Foreman murder in September 1972. While DeStefano represented himself in the preliminary hearings, he never made it to his trial.
DeStefano was gunned down at his Chicago home on April 14, 1973. His body was found in his garage. According to several sources, DeStefano's murder is believed to have been carried out by his brother, Mario, and former protégée, Tony Spilotro. No one, however, has been ever been charged in DeStefano's murder.