|New York|  John Roselli

Birth: July 4, 1905 - Esperia, Italy

Death: July 28, 1976

John "Handsome Johnny" Roselli was a member of the Chicago Outfit who mainly operated in the West-Coast. He is also one of the Outfit members who was tied to the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

Early years
Roselli was born as Filippo Sacco in Esperia, Italy, on July 4, 1905. At the age of 6 he immigrated to America with his mother where they settled in Boston. In 1922, after being caught by the police for dealing morphine, he fled to Chicago to avoid prosecution. In Chicago he became acquainted with the Capone gang and started to work for them. Around 1924 he moved to California to go represent Capone. Once he arrived in Los Angeles he hooked up with Anthony "The Hat" Cornero, a bootlegger and gambler, before making connections with Jack Dragna and his group of criminals. With his help they took over a large part of the gambling rackets in Los Angeles.

Hollywood extortionist and producer
With his natural charm, fine suits and good looks he made his way to Hollywood and befriended many stars. In 1927 he invited Big Man Al Capone to Los Angeles and introduced him to a couple of movie stars, which stunned them. A couple of years later Capone successor Frank Nitti saw an opportunity to extort Hollywood studios through the use of the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), in which they had managed to place one of their own, George Browne, on top of the union. The Outfit had also appointed extortionist Willie Bioff as Brownes representative. Bioff, a former Chicago pimp, was then send to Los Angeles where he and Roselli would team up.

They threatened the studio's with union strikes if they didn't pay up. Large studio's such as Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, MGM and Paramount Pictures all paid $50.000 to avoid strikes all year long. However, the extortion came to an end when the IRS nailed Bioff for tax evasion. About the same time Movie mogul Joseph Schenck, President of Twentieth Century Fox, was indicted for fraud and was threatened to be deported back to his native Russia. Therefore Schenck desided to reveal the extortion racket leading to the arrest of Bioff, George Brown and Outfit member Nick Circella. Soon the bosses of the Chicago Outfit started to fear that they would talk in change for a reduced sentence and tried to intimidate them by threatening their family, even killing Circella's mistress. However, the plan backfired and Bioff and Browne started to talk. With their help Outfit bosses Frank Nitti and Paul Ricca got arrested, and so was Roselli. In 1947, after only serving 3 years, the Chicago leaders were already paroled.

After his release from prison Roselli found himself in harsh times. His wife June Lang had filed for divorce and he had to start all over. Thanks to lifetime friend Brian Foy he was offered a job at Eagle Lion Studios, a small production company of British origin. Roselli made it as the companies associate producer and produced movies such as "T-Men" (1947) and "He walked by night" (1948), which inspired the popular Dragnet series. He ended his involvement in Eagle-Lions studios in 1950.

CIA involvement
During the late 1940's Roselli moved to Las Vegas where he ran a talent booking agency from his apartment at the Desert Inn. It was one of the few agency's in town and was much used in the city. Doing so Roselli and the Chicago Outfit got a firm grip on Vegas's entertainment business. He knew many important individuals in the city and also knew many popular stars. He was the Outfit's most important man on the West Coast at the time.

By 1960 Roselli was approached by the CIA through Robert Mahue, an associate of billionair Howard Hughes, to murder dictator Fidel Castro. Castro had taken over Cuba on newyearseve, 1959, and being a communist wasn't at odds with the US. He banished many American businessmen out of Cuby and caused them to lose massive amounts of money. Also Castro banished many Cuban criminals to America which led to crime waves in cities such as Miami. Roselli went allong with the plan, reputidly earning about $150.000 for the plot, and forged plans together with his boss Sam Giancana and Tampa Mob boss Santo Trafficante, who ran several casino's in Havana before he was thrown out the country after Castro's coup d'etat. They however didn't succeed in murdering Castro and the plans were aborted.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot dead while visiting Dallas. Many theories have since then been discussed. Amongst the suspects were Fidel Castro and even the CIA itself. Others however claim that Kennedy was murdered in orders of the Mafia. One of the reasons being that Kennedy's brother Robert was openly attacking the Mafia through senate hearings. The killers killer, Jack Ruby, also had ties to the Chicago Outfit which increased believes of Mafia involvement. Anothers claim is that Fidel Castro hired the mobsters after the CIA had tried to kill him, and hit back by killing the President. Also there are many claims that there were in fact 3 gunmen instead of one. Roselli is thought to be one of those shooters. However, None of these accusations have been proven.

Disapearance and Murder
In 1975 Roselli was called to testify before the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee about the plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. Also Giancana was scheduled to appear in front of the Senate, but never made it as he was shot dead inside his home. One year later Roselli was called again to testify in front of the Senate, this time concerning the murder of President John F. Kennedy. However, he disapeared without a trace. Months later the remains of the 71 year old Roselli were found inside a barrel floating in a Miami bay. Some say he was killed in orders of Tampa Mob boss Santo Trafficante who wanted to secure himself from any indictions in the Kennedy murder.

In 2007 several secret CIA pages, nicknamed "Family Jewels", were revealed. These contained the plans of killing Fidel Castro, amongst others.

(Source:,,, "Class Struggle in Hollywood" by Gerald Horne)

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