ELIOT NESS Biography - Crimes, Laws and people


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Eliot Ness                                                                             
Born April 19, 1903                                                                     
Died May 16, 1957 (aged 54)                                                             
Place of birth Chicago, USA                                                             
Place of death Coudersport, Pennsylvania, USA                                           
Rank Chief Investigator of the Prohibition Bureau for Chicago in 1934                   
Director for Public Safety for Cleveland Ohio                                           
Eliot Ness (April 19, 1903 - May 16, 1957) was an American Prohibition agent,           
famous for his efforts to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois, as the             
leader of a legendary team nicknamed The Untouchables.                                 
Ness was born in Chicago, the youngest of five, to Norwegian bakers Peter and           
Emma Ness. As a boy, Ness was interested in reading, especially Sir Arthur Conan       
Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. He was educated at the University of Chicago,                 
graduating in 1925 with a degree in business and law. Ness was a member of Sigma       
Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He began his career as an investigator for the Retail         
Credit Co. of Atlanta. He was assigned to the Chicago territory, where he               
conducted background investigations for the purpose of credit information. He           
returned to the University to take a course in criminology, eventually earning a       
masters degree in the field.                                                           
In 1926, his sister's husband, Alexander Jamie, a Bureau of Investigation agent         
(this became the FBI in 1935), influenced him to enter law enforcement. He             
joined the Treasury Department in 1927, working with the 300-strong Bureau of           
Prohibition in Chicago.                                                                 
Following the election of President Herbert Hoover, Andrew Mellon was                   
specifically charged with bringing down Al Capone. The federal government               
approached the problem from two directions: income tax evasion and the Volstead         
Act. Ness was chosen to head the operations under the Volstead Act, targeting           
the illegal breweries and supply routes of Capone.                                     
Seeing the endemic corruption in Chicago law-enforcement, Ness went through the         
records of all the treasury agents to create a reliable team, initially of fifty,       
later reduced to fifteen and finally to just eleven men. Raids against stills           
and breweries began immediately; within six months Ness claimed to have seized         
breweries collectively worth over one million dollars. The main source of               
information for the raids was an extensive wire-tapping operation.                     
An attempt by Capone to bribe Ness's agents was seized on by Ness for publicity,       
leading to the media nickname "The Untouchables." There were a number of               
assassination attempts on Ness, and one close friend, Frank Basile, was killed.         
The efforts of Ness and his team had a serious impact on Capone's operations,           
but it was the income tax evasion which was the key weapon. In a number of             
federal grand jury cases in 1931, Capone was charged with 22 counts of tax             
evasion and also 5,000 violations of the Volstead Act. On October 17, 1931,             
Capone was sentenced to eleven years, and following a failed appeal, he began           
his sentence in 1932.