January 10, 2014

Durbin, Brown, and Kirk Introduce Bipartisan Resolution to Honor Famed Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness

Senators' Resolution Would Name BATFE Headquarters After Eliot Ness, Former Prohibition Agent Who Fought Al Capone in Chicago, Served as Cleveland Public Safety Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bipartisan resolution to honor Ohio resident and Illinois native Eliot Ness, the legendary law enforcement agent who fought to bring Chicago mob boss Al Capone to justice. The senators’ resolution would name the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) headquarters in Washington D.C., the Eliot Ness ATF Building.  

 

“Chicago gangster Al Capone believed that every man had his price. But for Eliot Ness and his legendary law enforcement team “The Untouchables,” no amount of money could buy their loyalty or sway their dedication to the Chicago’s safety. That steadfast commitment to public service is why it is so fitting that we remember Eliot Ness with this honor,” Durbin said.

 

“Eliot Ness is perhaps best known as the man who helped to bring Al Capone to justice,” Brown said. “But Eliot Ness was more than just a Chicago prohibition agent. He fought for law and justice in Ohio, and fought for peace and freedom in World War II. He was a public servant and an American hero who deserves to be remembered.”

 

“America’s fight against dangerous drug gangs is far from over, but in honoring Eliot Ness’ public service and his tireless crime fighting we reaffirm our commitment to safe streets and ensure that justice is brought to the Illinois families who have suffered,” Kirk said.

 

In 1926, Ness was appointed as an agent in the federal Prohibition Bureau, the predecessor to today’s BATFE. He worked to combat bootlegging in the Midwest during prohibition and was the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago division that brought down gangster Al Capone with indictments on over 5,000 prohibition violations. This story is recounted in a book he authored with Oscar Fraley called The Untouchables, as well as a television series and movie by the same name. 

 

When prohibition ended in 1933, Ness transferred from Chicago to Cincinnati and then Cleveland to serve as the Special Agent in Charge of the northern district of Ohio’s Alcohol and Tobacco Unit. In 1936, he left federal investigations to become the Cleveland Public Safety Director.   

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