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Sam DeStefano

Chicago Police Department mugshot of Mad Sam DeStefano
Born September 13, 1909(1909-09-13)
Southern Illinois, U.S.
Died April 14, 1973 (aged 63)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Sam "Mad Sam" DeStefano (September 13, 1909 — April 14, 1973) was an American gangster who became one of the Chicago Outfit's most notorious loan sharks and sociopathic killers. Chicago-based Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents such as William F. Roemer, Jr., considered DeStefano to be the worst torture-murderer in the history of the United States.[1] The Outfit used the mentally unstable and sadistic DeStefano for the torture-murders of Leo Foreman and Arthur Adler, the murder of DeStefano's younger brother, Michael DeStefano, and Outfit enforcer and fellow loan shark William "Action" Jackson and many others. However, due to DeStefano's deranged mental state, The Outfit never let him become a Made man. At least one Outfit insider, Charles Crimaldi, claimed DeStefano was a Devil worshipper.[2] He also became the uncle of Outfit mobsters Rocco DeStefano and Samuel DeStefano, who was named after, "Mad Sam."


Early years

DeStefano was born in Streator, Illinois, into a typical law abiding Italian-American family of Samuel DeStefano, Sr., and Rosalie DeStefano (née Brasco). DeStefano, Jr'., parents were both born in Italy and had immigrated to the United States in 1903. DeStefano moved to Chicago's Little Italy as a teenager, with his family. Destefano, Sr., was a laborer and, later on in life, went on to be a store grocer and a real estate salesman before dying of natural causes, in 1942, at age 77. DeStefano, Jr's., mother, Rose, was a housewife, who throughout her life was supported by the contributions of her children. She died in October 1960. In all, the DeStefanos had six children, four sons and two daughters.

DeStefano, Jr., suffered from malignant narcissism. In 1927, at age 18, DeStefano was convicted of rape and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Released in 1930, DeStefano joined the Forty-Two Gang, an infamous Chicago street gang led by future Outfit boss, Salvatore Giancana. DeStefano soon became involved in bootlegging and gambling. In 1932, he was wounded during a grocery store robbery. In 1934, Stefano was convicted of a bank robbery in New Lisbon, Wisconsin and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Released in 1944, he returned to prison in 1947 for selling counterfeit sugar ration stamps.

While in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, in the 1940s, DeStefano met Outfit members Paul Ricca and Louis Campagna. Later in 1947, DeStefano was released and obtained a civil service job in Chicago as a garbage dump foreman. In 1952, city officials discovered DeStefano had omitted his criminal record from the Civil Service application; however, they chose not to prosecute him.

Political fixer

During the early 1950s, DeStefano had become a major loan shark operator in Chicago with his brother Mario Anthony DeStefano, a "made" Outfit member. Using stolen money from his days as a bank robber, Sam DeStefano began investing in Chicago real estate. He bought a 24-suite apartment building and used the rent money as legitimate income to bribe local aldermen and other politicians.

By the mid-1950s, DeStefano's influence extended to city officials, prominent judges, and law enforcement officers. DeStefano would brag "there wasn't any case he couldn't 'fix,'" and began offering his services accordingly. His fees ranged from $800 for fixing a robbery case to $1,500 for an assault case. DeStefano allegedly fixed a first-degree murder case for $20,000. DeStefano's arrangements became so routine, corrupt police officers would escort suspects to DeStefano's house. After DeStefano paid off the cops, the suspects would be "put on the juice" to DeStefano in exchange for his assistance.

Loan shark

By the early 1960s, DeStefano, along with his brother, Mario, was a leading loan shark for The Outfit. DeStefano's loan shark victims included politicians, lawyers and small-time criminals; by the end of the decade, DeStefano was charging 20% to 25% a week in interest. DeStefano would accept very high-risk debtors, such as drug addicts or business men who had already defaulted on previous debts. The reason was simple: DeStefano enjoyed it when debtors didn't pay on time. He could then bring them to the sound-proof torture chamber he built in his basement. Other gangsters said the sadistic DeStefano would actually foam at the mouth while torturing his victims. From time-to-time, DeStefano would also kill debtors who owed him small sums just to scare other debtors into paying their bigger debts.

Under normal circumstances, the Outfit would have distanced itself from DeStefano due to his sadistic behavior. However, the bosses tolerated DeStefano because he earned them a great deal of money. DeStefano was such a successful earner, Giancana and Tony Accardo invested their own money in DeStefano's loansharking operations.

Bloody trail

In 1955, underboss Giancana allegedly ordered DeStefano and his brother Mario to murder their younger brother Michael DeStefano, a mob wannabe and drug addict. On September 27, Michael's body was found in a car trunk in a West Side neighborhood; he had been shot to death. When police questioned DeStefano about the murder, he allegedly began laughing uncontrollably. The police later released DeStefano due to his political influence and a lack of evidence. Neither he or Mario were charged in Michael's murder.

In 1961, the Outfit mistakenly suspected enforcer and loanshark William "Action" Jackson had become an FBI informant, after he'd met with the FBI in Milwaukee and someone spotted Jackson there. Jackson was then grabbed off the street and taken to a meat-rending plant on Chicago's south side, where DeStefano and others brutalized Jackson with a cattle prod, while he was suspended on and tied onto to a hook, where he died within three days after lapsing into unconsciousness. Jackson had never become an informant.[3]

In November 1963, DeStefano had a violent argument with Leo Foreman, a real estate agent and one of DeStefano's "juice-loan" collectors,[4] in Foreman's office. DeStefano was physically ejected by Foreman from his office and then went into hiding. Later on, DeStefano underlings Tony Spilotro and Chuck Crimaldi contacted Foreman and said DeStefano wanted to let, "bygones be bygones." Believing them, Foreman accepted an invitation to Mario DeStefano's house, in Cicero. Foreman arrived at the house and was given coffee and "small talk" by Mario DeStefano and Spilotro. After that had run its course, Foreman was lured into DeStefano's basement with talk that he'd turned it into a bomb shelter. The basement was only sound-proofed. When Foreman got into the basement, DeStefano and Spilotro worked-over Foreman mercilessly, for some time, until Sam Destefano arrived with an ice pick and a gun. He finished-off Foreman.[5]

In another incident, Peter Cappelletti, a collector for DeStefano, fled Chicago with $25,000 from a loan shark victim. DeStefano's men located Cappelletti in Wisconsin and brought him back to Chicago. DeStefano chained Cappelletti to a radiator and tortured him for three days. On the last day, DeStefano invited Cappelletti's family to Mario's restaurant for a banquet. While the banquet was going on, Cappelletti was secretly being tortured again in the back of the restaurant. Finally, the DeStefano's men dragged the severely burned Cappelletti into the dining area. DeStefano then forced the man's family to urinate on Cappelletti in unison. Following the banquet, the family quickly paid back the stolen money.

Everyone at risk

With DeStefano around nobody was safe. At one point, as he was riding around in his car, he saw a black man walking down a Chicago street. DeStefano forced the man into his car at gun point, took the man to his house and forced the man and his own wife to have sex with each other, all for some real or imagined grievance DeStefano had with his wife. The black man was so mortified and scared he was going to be accused of rape, he bolted to the nearest police station and reported the incident.[6]

Final justice

In 1965, DeStefano was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to three to five years in prison. On February 22, 1972, DeStefano was sentenced to three-and-one-half years in prison for threatening the life of a witness. The witness was mobster turned informant Crimaldi, an accomplice in the Foreman murder. DeStefano had encountered Crimaldi in the elevator of the Chicago Dirksen Federal Building and threatened him.

DeStefano and his associates were eventually indicted for the Foreman murder. As in his previous trials, DeStefano had raised a large amount of public interest with his bizarre behavior. He made demands to represent himself, dressed in pajamas, shouted through bullhorns, and rambled incoherently. DeStefano then started displaying similar behavior in the Foreman trial. The Outfit bosses began to worry DeStefano was not only jeopardizing his own defense, but also the defenses of his other crew members. In a secret meeting, the bosses gave DeStefano's crew permission to kill him.

On Friday,[7] April 14, 1973, DeStefano was to meet with his crew in the garage of his West Side, Austin neighborhood home, in the 1600 block of North Sayre Avenue. Before the meeting began, Spilotro allegedly entered the lot and shot DeStefano twice with a shotgun, hitting him in the chest and tearing his right arm off at the elbow, instantly killing him. [8][9][10] Chicago's high tempurature that day was 59 degrees F.[11] Although Mario DeStefano and Spilotro were suspects in DeStefano's murder, no one was ever charged.

Mario DeStefano was eventually convicted of complicity in the Foreman murder and received 20-to-40 years in prison, but was released in 1975. He died a month later while his sentence was on appeal. Spilotro was acquitted of murdering Foreman.


  1. ^ Roemer, Jr., William F., The Enforcer (1994), p.12
  2. ^ May, Allan, "'Mad Sam' DeStefano: The Mob's Marquis DeSade (Part 2)," pg. 2, May 17, 1999,
  3. ^ Roemer, Jr., William F., The Enforcer (1994) pp.25-27; FBI Agent Roemer wasn't sure if DeStefano was part of Jackson's torture-murder, according to his information, especially since Roemer knew Jackson to work for another ruthless Outfit boss, William "Willie Potatoes" Daddano, Sr.
  4. ^ ibid, p.39
  5. ^ ibid, pp.39-41
  6. ^ Touhy, John William, "Mad Sam," December 2001,
  7. ^ Computer calendar check: April 14, 1973, was a Friday, not a Saturday, as was written here.
  8. ^ Sam DeStefano's murder scene
  9. ^ Roemer, Jr., William F., The Enforcer (1994), p.90
  10. ^ Roemer, Jr., William F., Accardo: The Genuine Godfather (1995), p.271
  11. ^ Chicago weather data for 4/14/'73 The low that day was 32 degrees F; wondering why Destefano was wearing a sweater in his murder-scene photo


  • Devito, Carlo. Encyclopedia of International Organized Crime. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. ISBN 0-8160-4848-7
  • Kelly, Robert J. Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 0-313-30653-2
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3
  • Dark, Tony. A Mob of His Own: Samuel Mad Sam DeStefano and the Chicago Mob's Juice Rackets, H.H. Productions, Chicago, 2008. ISBN 978-0-615-17496-9

Further reading

  • A Report on Chicago Crime Chicago: Chicago Crime Commission Reports, 1954-1968.
  • Chiocca, Olindo Romeo. Mobsters and Thugs: Quotes from the Underworld. Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2000. ISBN 1-55071-104-0

External links

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