HIGH FINANCE: Willie's Million

Back in 1936, an entrepreneur named Willie Moretti decided to go into the laundry business. For a mere $3,000 he bought the U.S. Linen Supply Co., Inc in Paterson, N.J. Willie had one handicap; he was an ex-convict. But he had assets to offset it: he had known Al Capone socially, and Frank Costello himself had been best man at Willie's wedding.

With such friends, Willie was bound to influence people. Before long, he had built up a tidy trade servicing hotels, restaurants and bars with uniforms, towels, linens, etc. Moreover, Willie proved...