Thursday, Dec. 04, 2008

Chicago Justice for a Chicago Bootlegger

Like many entrepreneurs during Prohibition, one-time Illinois lawyer George Remus discovered early on that when it comes to dispensing giggle water, crime pays. In two years, "The King of Bootleggers" had amassed nearly $75 million in booze-soaked bills, using much of his fortune to pay police officers for their silence and mobsters (his former clients) for their protection. But on October 6, 1927, Remus' life of crime caught up with him after he chased down his philandering wife and shot her in front of their daughter. Or so one would have thought. Defending himself, the bald, raucous attorney managed to convince a jury of his peers that he was nothing more than a lovelorn cuckold driven to the realm of insanity by a cavorting spouse. Upon hearing the verdict, the lawyer-'legger reportedly exclaimed, "American justice! I thank you!" But Remus spent very little time in the mental hospital to which he was sentenced. Using testimony from the prosecution's witness, he convinced the hospital board that he was, in fact, sane. Throughout the rest of his life, he swore that he never, ever "tasted a drop of intoxicating beverage."