This article was last modified on December 31, 2014.

Sidney Landon DeLove: Patriot, Anti-Communist… Con Man?

Sidney Landon DeLove was born in an unlikely place for an American patriot: France on October 7, 1909. Or at least he claimed to be French. At birth, his name was Shlaime Ditlow, betraying he was of Polish heritage. When he immigrated in 1921 with younger brother Matteo (aged 11 and 9), his birth place was said to be a Polish town called Luminice (or Suminice). They met up with a third brother, Frank Billow of 1306 South Kolin Avenue, upon arriving in Chicago, leaving behind their aunt in Poland.

DeLove received his MA from Valparaiso and his law degree from Chicago University’s law school (some sources say Loyola). He was admitted to the bar in 1933 and on September 29, 1933 became a naturalized citizen and had his name legally altered to Sidney Landon DeLove. He was living at 3450 West Polk Street, Chicago.

married Claire, who was from Pennsylvania, around 1936. He worked as an attorney in Niles in 1940.

By 1949, went to work for Cook County Federal Savings and Loan, becoming its president. The S&L was at 2720 West Devon Avenue in a building designed to look like Independence Hall. DeLove himself was very patriotic, vociferously anti-Communist, and kept a sizable cache of weaponry. He claimed to have spent several years working for US Army intelligence during World War II. The building had a library with original historic documents, a collection of historic American flags, and over 700 firearms — some dating back to the American Revolution. This library was open to the public for anyone doing “patriotic work”.

DeLove annually sponsored an essay contest for 7th and 8th graders, with as many as fifty winners who would have an expense-paid trip to any number of America’s “historic shrines”. He further sponsored patriotic radio programs and had given numerous speeches on American heritage. He authored the book “The Quiet Betrayal”, which he described as “a stern indictment of the materialistic philosophy which threatens our great heritage of freedom.” The book “presents a complete program to overcome the ‘galloping socialistic statism’ which is saddling Americans with an overwhelming burden of bureaucracy.”

Sidney DeLove

In 1956, he gave an address entitled “Can We Wave The Flag Too Much?” In March 1957, he sent a letter to the governor of Kentucky asking that July 1-8 be recognized as Flag Week. The governor’s office, unaware of DeLove’s reputation, were prompted to contact the FBI out of concern that this was some sort of extremist trick.

delivered the commencement address at Quincy College in 1959 and received an honorary doctorate degree. In his speech, he declared that “while the obvious enemy is Russia, the real threat to our American institutions is our own nationwide moral erosion of individual character.”

DeLove was visited by the FBI on November 9, 1959 regarding some Cuban pesos they believed were in his bank. As DeLove understood it, Chicago attorney Paul Ross (with offices at 188 Randolph Street) opened a safety deposit box in August which he used for Cuban pesos. The pesos were purchased using money that came through Switzerland from the Vatican. Regardless of whether any of this was accurate, the man had closed the safe deposit box in September, so there was nothing for the agents to see.

By November 1960, DeLove had allied himself with an organization called We the People, which sought to be a “national coalition to combat Communism in the United States.” He joined them to speak out against the ACLU, which was trying to get religious language removed from public school Christmas pageants.

On February 28, 1961, a complainant came into the FBI’s office because she was concerned that DeLove and the Independence Hall Association might be “subversive”. She had recently been in for a job interview for a position that would handle promotion of historic tours and the annual essay contest. While she had no “definite proof”, she said her “public relations training” had her believe that DeLove might be capable of “propaganda against the schools”. She said in his book, “The Quiet American”, he argued we were handing America to the Communists through our indifference to the school system. Furthermore, the brochures at his office used language reminiscent of propaganda. Lastly, he made a comment that a producer for the BBC was a “card-carrying Communist”.

On June 27, 1961, a representative of Cook County Federal S&L came to the FBI’s office with a check for $50,000. The check, allegedly from DeLove, had been sent to a guy DeLove claimed supported the “tractors for Castro” program. DeLove believed someone tried to “prank” him by sending a poorly-written check in his name.

DeLove contacted the FBI on July 28, 1961 with a concern that he had. Recently, he had been to the International Trade Fair and stopped by the Yugoslavia booth. In DeLove’s opinion, the literature handed out by the booth was not appropriate material to be disseminated with the United States.

An anonymous call came in to the FBI office on October 20, 1961. The caller said that recently Sidney DeLove had deposited a large amount of money in a fictitious account at the Cook County Federal S&L. This deposit was on behalf of Tony Accardo, head of the Chicago Outfit, whom the caller claimed was on a first name basis with DeLove.

FBI agents met in Las Vegas on February 19, 1962 with the owner of the New Frontier Hotel (possibly a man named Bayler). The owner said he had been trying to sell the hotel, as it was not making money with so few rooms to rent. He met a possible buyer in May or June 1961, and after discussion they met up in Chicago. Sidney DeLove vouched for the buyer, saying he had access to any money he may need to complete the transaction. The talking got serious towards the end of 1961, when the owner again went to Chicago, met with the buyer, DeLove, and the buyer’s attorney. The seller thought the sale was going to be finalized, but after talks dragged on for days, he got the impression things had stalled. Bayler told the FBI he thought this might have been a con, because he ended up spending around $40,000 in hotel bills, food, telephone calls and more without receiving anything in return.

August 2, 1971: DeLove, president of Cook County Federal Savings and Loan Association, went before Congress and said he never checked whether a $2-million fraudulent bond certificate was real or bogus when he deposited it as collateral for loans to a friend. The certificate, according to previous testimony by confidence man Edward Hugh Wuensche, was part of a $5,250,000 package of counterfeit securities deposited in the Devon Bank of Chicago by DeLove. Wuensche, an associate of the Mafia in Philadelphia, had previously done time for stolen securities in 1963. The loans were for Thomas Redmond, an Anderson, Indiana insurance man and mutual friend of DeLove and Wuensche. DeLove swore under oath the bank knew he was not the owner of the securities. Apparently DeLove did not know the bonds were counterfeit at the time, but upon discovering the mistake decided to alter the records rather than report wrongdoing to the authorities.

Richard Loundy

August 3: Richard A. Loundy, executive vice president of Devon Bank, testified that his bank made loans of $300,000 on the basis of the bonds deposited by DeLove as collateral, but at no time did the bank know they were worthless or that DeLove was not their owner. DeLove’s net worth was more than $1,000,000 and the bank did not hesitate to accommodate his request, he said. Thomas H. Redmond testified that FBI and Treasury Department officials told him Wuensche was all right to do business with and that he suspected Wuensche was an undercover agent.

Following the Congressional testimony, allegations against Sidney DeLove started emerging, and the Chicago office of the FBI opened a file on him (179-CG-355) under the suspicion he was offering loans with credit at extortion levels. At this time, the FBI also became aware that DeLove’s brother had been involved the 1950s horse meat scandal, which did not shed a positive light on him.

Joseph Teitelbaum

On October 14, DeLove resigned as president of Cook County Savings and Loan. Chairman Joseph D. Teitlebaum told the press that the hearings “took the heart out of the man. He was subject to a lot of public criticism. I never saw a man so shaken. All that happened is that he made a mistake and took a loss.”

On October 29, 1971, DeLove shot himself in his office on the second floor of Independence Hall. Next to him was a .38 pistol which had fired a single shot. Albert Jacobson arrived on the morning of October 30 and found DeLove. The night before, DeLove told Jacobson that he was going to Washington DC and that a note would be left behind for him. Indeed, a note was found on the office door instructing Jacobson to call DeLove’s family before informing the police.

Left behind were his widow, Claire, and two daughters: Joanne (Jan) Tanenbaum and Judy (Tom) Link.

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

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