It was 1931, "Year of the Gun," so called because a lot
of important people were shot to death so that a new underworld agenda would
coexist with the new American government taking shape. From the Eastern seaboard
to the heartland gang warfare swept the country, leaving lasting effects on the
fabric of American society.
In Chicago, the federal probe that would lead to the conviction of Al Capone was stepped up, causing Capone to skip to Miami. His top triggerman, Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, was already locked up for tax evasion; this absence in the chain of command left Paul "The Waiter" Ricca in charge. And even though Capone had forbidden it, the nod was given for the first move on the Policy Kings. The first move came early in March when a couple of "representatives" showed up at the Panama Inn to see the owner, Johnny Wooley, "King of the Speakeasies." The Panama Inn was a classy place located at 3032 South Indiana Avenue, set up in a building once occupied by Anheuser-Busch. This was where all of the players, gamblers, Policy Kings and would be big shots hung out: guys like the Kelley brothers, Jimmy Hilt, Bill Driver, the Jones brothers, and David Giles, a registered bail bondsman who owned the Grand Trunk Policy Wheel. Wooley was chosen as a conduit because he himself had driven one of Capone's beer trucks during the 1920s before getting into the highly lucrative speakeasy business. At the time there were more than twenty thousand speaks operating in Chicago.