Journalist, Mob Figure. A reporter for the Chicago Tribune, he covered the city’s organized crime beat during the bloody reign of Al Capone. He was not a writer but a “leg man”, someone who gathered information and phoned it in to the editor’s desk. On June 9, 1930, he was shot dead at close range in a crowded pedestrian tunnel beneath the Illinois Central train station. The murder shocked the nation because it appeared to violate the mob’s traditional “hands off” policy towards journalists. Lingle was hailed as a martyr of his profession and over 25,000 people attended his hero’s funeral. Within weeks, however, it was revealed that he had been on the Capone payroll to the tune of $60,000 a year, and not merely for planting favorable stories about the crime boss in his paper. Lingle was a close friend of the Chicago Police Commissioner, William P. Russell, and he used this connection to tip off Capone about impending raids on his bootlegging and other illegal activities. (Russell resigned as soon as his relationship with Lingle was made public). The reporter also spied on rival Bugs Moran’s North Side Gang and helped thwart their attempts to muscle in on Capone’s territory. It has never been conclusively established who targeted Lingle or why. The popular theory is that he was killed for threatening to talk to the FBI if Capone did not forgive his $100,000 in gambling debts. Others claim Moran had him eliminated. In 1931, a small-time St. Louis gangster named Leo Vincent Brothers was convicted of Lingle’s murder and given 14 years in prison; the jury recommended the minimum sentence because they believed he was taking the rap for someone else. Brothers was paroled in 1939. The Lingle case was made into a Warner Bros. movie, “The Finger Points” (1931), and has been the subject of books, documentaries, and numerous speculative articles.
- July, 02, 1891
- June, 09, 1930