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May 20: Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik

May 19, 2016

Jake+GuzikJake Guzik, Al Capone’s most trust adviser, treasurer, and bagman for bribing politicians and police, was born near Krakow, Poland on this date in 1886. Guzik was involved in prostitution and “white slavery” and was said to have gained Capone’s trust by tipping him off to a plan to kill him; Guzik was soon working as the financial wizard of Capone’s “Chicago Outfit.” In 1923, a low-level hoodlum and killed named Joe Howard picked a fight with Guzik — who never carried a gun or used violence in his criminal activity. Guzik complained to Capone, who “hunted Howard down at Hymie Jacobs’ bar, just a half-block from Capone’s Chicago headquarters at the Four Deuces. When Capone arrived, he demanded an apology from Howard, and Howard replied by calling Al Capone a pimp — a moniker he despised (though it was true).” Capone emptied his pistol into Howard’s face, then went into hiding for a month to evade police capture. The threat of being prosecuted for the murder would make life difficult for Capone for more than a decade, though it was ultimately only the IRS that would send him — and Guzik — to jail for tax evasion. Guzik remained loyal to Capone and his family until Capone died in 1947, and was a key player in mafia finances right into the early 1950s. In 1956, he died at 69 under an alias, “Jack Arnold.”

“Guzik was much admired and protected by Capone while Capone was alive, partially because of his complete loyalty and fiscal honesty to Capone and his organization, and partially because of his quiet, businesslike and low profile way of taking care of gang affairs. While not known for certain, it is frequently reported that Guzik never carried a gun a day in his life.” —JewAge