Kefauver Hearings

Between 1950 and 1951, the Kefauver Committee, officially the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, held all of America's attention. It was the first committee made up of senators from around the country organized to not only gain a better understanding of how to fight organized crime, but also to expose organized crime for the conglomerate empire that it was.

Headed by Estes Kefauver, the committee traveled the country, investigating all levels of corruption.

After the hearings were complete, the committee offered many suggestions on how to better tighten the laws surrounding organized crime. Although some of these suggestions were implemented, it did little to deter the National Crime Syndicate from existing. It did however force J. Edgar Hoover to admit that an Underworld existed, a fact he and the FBI had long denied and ignored.

As for the Syndicate, they had lost valuable members of their empire after the hearings due to either death or deportation. Willie Moretti, who had supplied considerable comic relief during the hearings was executed as a result of his candid testimony during the hearings in fear that he was becoming mentally unstable and would potentially reveal secrets of the Syndicate. Joe Adonis agreed to be deported to Italy to avoid prison and Frank Costello's power in the underworld was so damaged that he would later step down from boss of his family to avoid further attempts on his life by Vito Genovese.

Kefauver became a national hero for exhibiting not only his adept questioning skills of crime figures, but for his low key approach to dealing with them. He was called "Lincolnesque" for the quality of his words and seen as an "everyman" struggling against the corruption surrounding him.

Also, Frank Costello added the famous "hand ballet" to the Kefauver Committee. Agreeing to appear at the hearings on the condition that his face would not appear on television, the cameras were forced to focus only on his hands, which he kept constantly moving, entertaining many while still revealing nothing of himself.


Mob Boss Frank Costello before the Comittee

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