Monday, February 6, 2012

Clarence "Bugs" Moran

George Clarence "Bugs" Moran (August 21, 1891 – February 25, 1957), better known by the alias "Bugs" Moran, was a Chicago Prohibition-era gangster.

On February 14, 1929, in an event which has become known as the Saint Valentine's Day massacre, seven members of his gang were gunned down in a warehouse, reportedly on the orders of Moran's rival Al Capone.

The bootlegging operation of Bugs Moran and his partners posed a significant challenge to Capone. Moran and Capone then led a turf war with each other that cost dozens of lives.

Moran's hatred of Capone was apparent even to the public: he told the press that "Capone is a lowlife." Moran was also disgusted that Capone engaged in prostitution. Believing himself a better Catholic than Capone, Moran refused to run brothels.

On September 20, 1926, Moran again attempted to kill Capone, this time in Cicero, Illinois, the base of Capone's operations. A fleet of cars, with Moran in personal command, drove by the lobby of Capone's hotel.

Capone and his bodyguard were drinking downstairs when the Moran gang began shooting into the lobby with their Thompson submachine guns. The attack left Capone unhurt but his restaurant was reduced to shreds. Capone called for a truce. However, the truce did not last long.

A peace conference was held and Moran appeared grudgingly, along with Capone and the rest of the gang bosses. Capone stated "they were making a shooting gallery of a great business" and Chicago "should be seen as pie and each gang gets an individual slice." Everybody agreed and an uneasy peace arrived.
In 1929, Capone tried to strike a decisive blow against Moran with the notorious Saint Valentine's Day massacre. Gunmen dressed as police lined up a number of Moran associates against the wall in a Chicago warehouse and executed them.

However, the main target of the "hit," Moran, narrowly eluded death. Moran spotted the squad car outside the warehouse and, believing a raid was in progress, doubled back to a coffee shop with his bodyguards. When Moran saw the carnage, he broke the gangster code and exclaimed, "Only Capone kills like that!"

The end of prohibition marked the end of Moran's influence and he reverted to his earlier life of committing common crimes like mail fraud and robbery. By the 1940s, only 17 years after being one of the richest gangsters in Chicago, Moran was almost penniless.

In July 1946, Moran was arrested in Ohio for robbing a bank messenger of $10,000, a paltry sum compared to his lifestyle during the Prohibition.
He was convicted and sentenced to ten years in the Ohio Penitentiary. Shortly after his release, Moran was again arrested for an earlier bank raid. Moran received another ten years and was sent to the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Only a matter of days after arriving there, most of which were spent in the prison hospital, Bugs Moran died of lung cancer on February 25, 1957. He was estimated to be worth about $100 at his death, and he received a pauper's burial in the prison cemetery.

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