18781942 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
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
Moe's "genius" is muscle.
His roster of sluggers reads
less like a publishing staff than a muster of public enemies.
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."
Randolph Hearst, Annenberg was one of the highest paid circulation men in the
Hearst so valued
him that he tolerated Moe's myriad private business dealings.
Hearst himself, Annenberg realized
the money to be made in the racing information field, both legally and
1922 Moe buys the Daily Racing
1926 Moe's various private businesses become so big he leaves
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
Lansky and Frank Costello.
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
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
With Annenberg's coöperation that Meyer Lansky sews
up for himself his preeminent gambling position in Miami and Florida's lush
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
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
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