Throughout the 1940s, the public became more aware of organized crime and its influence in cities across the United States. When business and political leaders called for action, the U.S. Senate created a special committee chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee to investigate organized crime and institutional corruption. The Kefauver hearings of 1950-51 exposed a national crime syndicate, bringing light to Kansas City’s mafia network.
This diagram, used in the court hearings, depicts the web of organized crime in Kansas City and illustrates the crime family’s involvement in bookmaking, gambling, nightclubs, narcotics, murder, fraud, and more. At the web’s center is Charles Binnagio, a previous officer of the Tom Pendergast Political Machine, who ran much of Kansas City in the 1940s. As the crime ring’s leader, Binnagio, alongside his associates Charles Gargotta, Eddy “Spitz” Ochadsey, Tano Lococo, and Morris Klein, sought to overthrow the KCPD and influence local politics to reintroduce widespread vice to the city. Binnagio’s reign came to an end on April 6, 1950, when he and Gargotta were found dead inside the First Ward Democratic Club on Truman Road. Binnagio’s death and the committee hearings did little to end the crime family’s influence as his successors expanded the family’s rackets and forged alliances with families from other cities.
Categories: Politics & Government
Region: Kansas City Metro