Birthday: August 21, 1893
Nationality: American, Irish, Polish
Died At Age: 63
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Adelard Cunin, George Moran
Born Country: United States
Born in: Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
Notorious As: Gangster
Spouse/Ex-: Lucille Logan Bilezikdijan Moran
father: Jules Cunin
mother: Marie Diana Cunin
children: John George Moran
Died on: February 25, 1957
place of death: United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth
Who was Bugs Moran?
Adelard Cunin, better known by the pseudonym George "Bugs" Moran, was a convicted gangster who was active in the Prohibition-era Chicago. A native of Minnesota, Moran hailed from a French immigrant family. He studied at Cretin High School, a private Catholic school in Saint Paul. During this period, he had his first exposure to crime and subsequently became a member of a juvenile gang. He dropped out of school when he was 18 years old and became involved in serious criminal activities. By the time he turned 21, he had been to a state juvenile facility once and jail thrice. At some point, he escaped to Chicago, and in the next few years, rose through the ranks in the criminal underworld of the city. Moran ran a bootlegging operation during the Prohibition era, which made him a rival of Al Capone. Moran worked for the Irish mob, while Capone led the Italian mob in the city. Their enmity eventually culminated in what has come to be known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, in which seven of his associates were gunned down.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on August 21, 1893, in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, Cunin was the son of French immigrants Jules and Marie Diana Gobeil Cunin. He was a student at Cretin High School but dropped out at the age of 18 after becoming involved with a juvenile gang. He was subsequently apprehended for attempting to rob a store and put in a juvenile correctional facility.
Before his 21st birthday, he had been to prison three times. He then decided to run away to Chicago, where he was arrested for attempts of robbing a warehouse, participating in a horse-stealing ring, and being involved in a robbery that resulted in the death of a police officer. For all these crimes, he was given several sentences.
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The implementation of the 18th Amendment in 1920 began the Prohibition era, during which the distribution of alcoholic beverages became illegal. This led to widespread bootlegging. Chicago became a hotbed of bootlegging-related criminal activities.
It was not long before two groups emerged as principal organizations vying for control of the bootlegging operations in the city. On one side, there was Dean O'Banion and his mostly Irish group, known as the North Side Gang. While on the other, Al Capone headed the Italian mob of the South Side.
These two gangs were locked in a violent struggle, which led to the Bootleg Battle of the Marne in 1925. Moran ran a bootlegging operation with Hymie Weiss and was part of the North Side Gang. For Capone’s growing criminal empire, Moran and Weiss’ bootlegging operation posed a legitimate threat. This resulted in a turf war between the two, and there were human casualties and financial damages on both sides.
Moran, an ardent Catholic, found it disgusting that Capone ran a prostitution ring. Following the murder of O'Banion by the Torrio Syndicate in November 1924, Moran and Weiss tried to kill Johnny Torrio in November 1925.
In September 1926, Moran and Weiss also tried to assassinate Capone at his headquarters, the Hawthorne Inn in Cicero, Illinois. Over a thousand bullets were fired at the inn and a nearby restaurant as Moran and his associates tried to kill Capone, but they did not succeed.
Capone’s retaliation was swift. Weiss was murdered by Capone’s men. Moran subsequently became the leader of the North Side and attempted to kill a member of Capone’s gang in revenge. This eventually led to the second retaliation from Capone that became known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
The 1929 Valentine's Day Murders
It was likely that Capone was trying to inflict as much damage as possible on Moran when he gave orders for the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.
On February 13, 1929, Moran received a phone call in which he was informed that a truckload of whiskey had just come in from Detroit, Michigan, and it was his at a bargain price. He gave instructions that the whiskey was to be brought to the garage of the S.M.C. Cartage Company on North Clark Street, where he stationed his bootlegging trucks, at 10:30 a.m. in the following morning.
Most of Moran’s gang had reached the warehouse before 10:30 a.m. However, Moran had not arrived yet, as he left his apartment at Parkway Hotel late.
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He, along with Ted Newberry, was coming to the warehouse from the rear when they spotted a police car driving towards the building. They immediately decided to go back the way they came, reaching a nearby coffee shop. They came across Henry Gusenberg on the street and informed him about the police car.
It is likely that one of Capone’s men erroneously thought one of Moran’s men to be Moran himself. Albert Weinshank could have been that man, as he was of the same height and build as Moran. Furthermore, that day, they had the same colour overcoats and hats on.
According to the witnesses outside the garage, a Cadillac sedan stopped in front of the garage and two men in police uniform came out of it. They, with the help of two others in civilian clothes, lined Moran’s seven men against the wall of the warehouse and gunned them down.
Six of those men, Peter Gusenberg, Albert Kachellek, Adam Heyer, Reinhardt Schwimmer, Albert Weinshank, and John May died on the spot.
The seventh, Frank Gusenberg, was taken to a hospital, where he eventually died. Before he passed away, he was asked about the identity of his shooter, but he did not reveal anything in accordance with the gangster's code of silence. However, after seeing what had happened, Moran publicly accused Capone of the killings, but the latter man was never found guilty of the crime.
Later Years & Death
In the immediate period after the massacre, Moran was able to maintain his dominance over his territory. He was also successful in holding on to what remained of his gang. However, the North Side Gang never completely regained its power or the influence it once had in Chicago’s underworld.
Moran ultimately relocated, leaving the gang entirely but not the life of a criminal. He went back to committing petty crimes such as mail fraud and robbery.
On April 30, 1939, Moran was found guilty of conspiring to turn $62,000 worth of American Express checks into cash. After posting a bond, he was let go. He then tried to flee but was arrested once more. This time, he was not freed until December 21, 1944. At the height of his criminal career, he was one of the richest criminals in Chicago, but by the 1940s, he was completely broke.
On July 6, 1946, the authorities apprehended him for his part in a robbery that occurred in a tavern in Dayton, Ohio, on June 28, 1945. He was subsequently convicted and given a 20-year prison sentence.
In 1957, he was prosecuted for robbery once more and given a sentence of another ten years in jail.
Moran passed away on February 25, 1957, at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas, after a fight with lung cancer. He was 63 years at the time. He was buried in Leavenworth’s cemetery.
Family & Personal Life
In 1922, Bugs Moran exchanged wedding vows with Lucille Logan Bilezikdijan Moran. They had a son, John George Moran, who had been born two years before the marriage of his parents. Neither the date of Lucille’s birth nor death is known. John survived his father and passed away in 1959, about two years after Moran’s death.
Bugs Moran in Fiction
In 1958, in the CBS anthology series ‘Playhouse 90’, Moran was portrayed by Dennis Patrick. His character appears briefly in the HBO series ‘Boardwalk Empire’.