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What We Have Learned

Organized crime cannot survive or prosper without the all-important reciprocal relationship between upper- and underworld players. The chapter presented some of the more important examples of this reciprocal relationship to show the power of the organized crime–business alliance. For example, even the office of the president of the United States has not been immune from allegations of organized crime involvement.

John F. Kennedy, who is thought by some to have been assassinated by the mob, developed clear associations with powerful mob leaders. His father, Joseph Kennedy, could probably be credited with establishing gangster and bootlegging connections before John was born. John Kennedy maintained many of these contacts after his election to the presidency, an election in which he was victorious because of mob financial support and corruption during the election. Kennedy’s mob ties included associations with Chicago’s Sam Giancana and Giancana associates such as Judith Campbell- Exner, a mob courier suspected of delivering White House money from the president to Giancana.

President Richard Nixon had clear ties with organized crime figures such as Bebe Rebozo, a Cuban American real estate broker and later Florida state senator. Rebozo was clearly associated with Moe Dalitz of the Cleveland Four, as well as with other mob-connected underworld figures. Nixon was also the first president to be fully endorsed by a mob-run union, the Teamsters. In 1971, Nixon pardoned mob union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was serving time in a federal prison for jury tampering.

Ronald Reagan is also suspected of having close ties with known organized criminals. His associations with the mob-run Longshoreman’s Association, Jackie Presser, Senator Paul Laxalt, and Roy Williams pointed to Reagan as being involved in shady dealings. The associations discussed illustrate the benefits for organized crime members to have even as much as a tacit relationship with those who occupy the highly influential White House.

No discussion of organized crime’s business affiliations can be complete without a discussion of Meyer Lansky and how he, almost single handedly, set up organized crime and merged organized crime interests with those of legitimate business. In doing so, Lansky was able to show legitimate business operators how they could profit from organized crime involvement, while demonstrating the benefits of involvement of the illegal rackets with legitimate business to his organized crime associates. Other business-savvy gangsters discussed in this chapter include Ed Levinson, Moe Dalitz, and Reuben Sturman, all criminal visionaries in the merger of national criminal enterprises and legitimate business.

Finally, the savings and loan scandal illustrates how seemingly legitimate and respectable individuals in our society walk the thin line of public corruption and manipulation in search of personal wealth. The discussion highlights some of the events leading to the S&L scandal and discusses specific banks that played important roles in the event.

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