This article was last modified on June 17, 2014.


Capone’s Nemesis, Jack Zuta

John Ulis “Jack” Zuta was born on February 18, 1888 (or May 20, 1886 according to his 1917 draft card), to a Polish-Jewish peasant family in Zalendak, Grodno, the Russian Empire. He immigrated to the United States around 1913. First stopping in Milwaukee, he had a job with Tolton Brothers, a horse trading firm. Living in Chicago, Zuta worked as a junk dealer on the West Side before becoming involved in prostitution. In 1917, he lived at 2002 North Lake Street and worked selling merchandise at a saloon.

He eventually operated several brothels on west Madison Street. However he was put out of business by competition from Mike “The Pike” Heitler and the Guzik brothers, Harry and Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik.

In May 1923, Zuta visited Middlesboro, Kentucky and donated $25 to their Community Chest Fund. The local paper was excited by this gift.

Zuta began working for Al Capone in the mid-1920s. He helped contribute $50,000 of Capone’s money to Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson’s reelection campaign in 1927. However, Zuta defected to Bugs Moran’s North Side Gang during the gang war between Capone and Moran.

On July 28, 1927, Zuta received a postcard at 127 Dearborn reading, “Be careful. A copper won’t save you next time. They are out to get you.”

In late November 1927, two Zuta buildings were bombed — a restaurant and a soda parlor.

On January 3, 1928, Zuta received a postcard at one of his brothels (the Sterling Hotel, 1867 West Madison) that read, “Your place next unless you close.”

On July 15, 1928, “Two Gun Danny” Hartnett cornered Zuta gang member Patsy Pardi at a West Madison hotel (probably the Sterling). A pistol duel broke out, and Hartnett was killed. Pardi was injured, possibly fatally.

In June 1930, Zuta supposedly ordered the death of Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle after Lingle tried to extort money from Moran’s gambling operations. After the murder (for which Leo Vincent Brothers was convicted), Zuta was questioned by police. He was released the next day. While being given a police escort the police cruiser was fired on by several unidentified gunmen. The attackers killed two bystanders before being driven off by police.

Zuta fled Chicago, moving to Upper Nemahbin Lake in Waukesha County, west of Milwaukee, living the last month of his life under the name, “J.H. Goodman.”

Zuta was shot to death on August 1, 1930 in a roadhouse in Delafield, Wisconsin. In the morning, he went to a drug store in Pewaukee and made 17 calls to Chicago, apparently to his speakeasies and gambling dens. A woman nearby overheard him, and he allegedly said, “Listen, I want a bodyguard to get me into Chicago and I want it damned quick. You prick, you better get those guys up here in a hurry because I’m tired of waiting.”

Later that day, he made a call to Mrs. Laura Nelson, who was in a Rogers Park apartment. He was then given a shave and haircut by Thomas Burke McNulty, who Zuta allegedly then invited over to the Lakeview Motel to see dancers Zuta had “imported” there. Five men barged in with machine guns. As he was killed, the player piano let the notes of “Good For You and Bad For Me” drift through the air.

His body is buried in Middlesboro, Kentucky due to the efforts of cousin Isaac “Ike” Ginsburg. Within a week, newspapers had declared the north side of Chicago Capone’s territory and named a new north side boss: Ted Newberry, a former Moran aide who defected, making his base of operations the Lantern Cafe (Broadway at Waveland).

October 2, 1930, Danny Stanton was arraigned in Chicago as a fugitive from justice. Police Commissioner John Alcock asked that the case be postponed two weeks, and Chief Justice Harry Olson agreed, setting a new date for October 14. Also arrested was Edgar “Spiker” Smith, said to be Stanton’s bodyguard, chauffeur and a possible accomplice.

On December 3, Stanton was in court on a habeas corpus hearing. The state argued that they had a witness affidavit identifying Stanton as one of the shooters, as well as evidence from Calvin Goddard matching Stanton’s gun to the bullets found at the scene. Stanton argued this was impossible, because at the time of the shooting he was at a fish fry with his stepfather, a park police officer.

Also try another article under Organized Crime
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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