Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
J. Edgar Hoover was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation since its inception in 1935. He was the director from 1935 until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover was appointed as Director of the Bureau of Investigation and he is responsible for the nationwide fingerprint data base, a crime laboratory, and a school for federal agents. He expanded the branch of crime enforcement known as the Bureau of Investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. During prohibition in the 1920's, it was Hoover's “G-Men” that killed John Dillinger and George “Machine Gun” Kelly and it was Hoover and his “secret police” squad that brought the likes of Louis “Lepke” Buchallter to justice. Buchallter was the leader of the infamous Murder, Inc.
J. Edgar Hoover had his sights set on gangsters like Dillinger and Alvin Karpis during prohibition and through the Great Depression and then focused on World War II by stopping Nazi infiltrators and then focusing on Communism. When the Mafia was brought to his attention, Hoover refused to believe that there was organized crime in America. Some say he refused to believe it because mobsters like Frank Costello was said to be helping him and his agency and also made sure that he won some horse races that he bet on. Hoover never bet on the horses himself but sent special agents out to the betting for him. It wasn't until 1956 when leaders of the Mafia had set up a meeting in Apalachin, New York.
The meeting was to put Vito Genovese in power as the “boss of bosses” in the Mafia. An alert State Trooper noticed a lot of nice luxury cars pouring into the small town and went to the house where they were all parked and began writing down license plate numbers. Alerted that the State Police were here, the mafia bosses and captains tried to leave. Some got into their cars and drove away and some just ran into the woods behind the house. When the cars got down the road, they were stopped by a police road block and people like Vito Genovese were arrested and held for questioning.
It was this meeting that brought the Mafia into the public light and Hoover had no choice but to recognize that there was indeed organized crime. Through wiretaps, Hoover often heard the phrase cosa nostra, which loosely translates to our thing, and mistook it as the name of the American Mafia, so La Cosa Nostra was born.
Hoover was often criticized as stepping outside of the law and using illegal wiretaps to capture criminals, subversives, communists, and was said to have secret files on every president that he worked under and it was these files that was said to have protected Hoover from being fired by sitting presidents. It is still unsure if he ever had these files on presidents and other politicians.
Like him or hate him, J. Edgar Hoover is the reason that we have the F.B.I. today and is also the reason that the Mafia as it was, is no more. It was this day in history, May 2, 1972 that J. Edgar Hoover died from congestive heart failure.