1878–1942 Moses "Moe" Louis Annenberg :

Probably no fortune in America was built on a sturdier foundation of coöperation with organized crime and the Mafia than that of Moses "Moe" Louis Annenberg.

A newspaper circulation man by trade and a gambler to boot, Moe Annenberg rose from poverty in the slums of South Side Chicago to accumulate the largest estimated individual income of any person in the nation - thanks to mob money.

"Buy this yellow rag or else!"

Considered a "circulation genius" by William Randolph Hearst, Moe started out in the circulation department of the Chicago Tribune.

1904 to 1906 Moe serves as circulation manager for new Hearst publications the American and the Examiner.

Moe becomes a grand operative during the early Chicago newspaper circulation wars, selling newspapers with an army of sluggers, overturning the competition's delivery trucks, burning their papers and roughing up newspaper vendors.

Moe's "genius" is muscle.

His roster of sluggers reads less like a publishing staff than a muster of public enemies.

A typical Annenberg employee was Frank McErlane.

Former Chicago journalist George Murray later described the Annenberg-McErlane relationship: "McErlane went on to become the most vicious killer of his time. Moe Annenberg went on to become father of the ambassador to the Court of St. James."

Under William Randolph Hearst, Annenberg was one of the highest paid circulation men in the nation.

Hearst so valued him that he tolerated Moe's myriad private business dealings.

More than Hearst himself, Annenberg realized the money to be made in the racing information field, both legally and illegally.

1922 Moe buys the Daily Racing Form.

1926 Moe's various private businesses become so big he leaves Hearst.

In a few years Moe took over the New York Morning Telegraph, Radio Guide, Screen Guide and, most important, formed the Nation-Wide News Service in association with the East Coast's biggest gambler, Frank Erickson, a close associate of Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello.

The History of the Jews and the Mob

1929 Al Capone brings Annenberg into the underworld's famous Atlantic City Conference, the gathering at which the groundwork was laid for the national crime syndicate.

Capone and Annenberg iron out the details of a syndicated racing wire in discussions on the boardwalk.

Nation-Wide brings in a flood of money.

The service receives its information from telegraph and telephone wires hooked into 29 race tracks and from those tracks into 223 cities in 30 states, where thousands of poolrooms and bookie joints operated in violation of local laws.

Annenberg becomes the fifth largest customer of American Telephone and Telegraph, making transmissions only slightly behind RCA and the three press associations.

With Annenberg's coöperation that Meyer Lansky sews up for himself his preeminent gambling position in Miami and Florida's lush East Coast.

1930s Annenberg takes over the century-old Philadelphia Inquirer and through it becomes a power in Republican Party politics-a "respectable" citizen.

1939 Moe and his only son, Walter, are indicted for income tax evasion.

For the year 1932 the government found Annenberg owed $313,000 and paid only a paltry $308.

For 1936 alone Annenberg owed an estimated $1,692,000 and paid $470,000, still not the epitome of civic-mindedness.

All told, along with interest and penalties, Moe's unpaid taxes came to $9.5 million.

Annenberg claimed that, because much of his activities came during a period of national Democratic dominance, his legal troubles were politically inspired.

More accurate was the evaluation of the New York Times, reporting that the money gush became so large "it apparently did not seem worth while to give the government its share."

Walter pleaded not guilty and finally Moe, in what some observers to the conversation regarded as the epitome of paternal devotion, declared: "It's the best gamble. I'll take the rap."

Moe was in his 60s and his lawyers advised that a guilty plea by him could well lead to the dropping of charges against his son.

The gamble paid off.

Moe got a three-year prison term and the government got $9.5 million.

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