John Factor


John Factor

John “Jake the Barber” Factor was a Prohibition-era gangster. He was the brother of prominent businessman Max Factor, Sr., the founder of Max Factor, a makeup company.

Early years

Born Iakov Factorowitz or Faktorowicz, the son of a rabbi, he and his family left England, returning to Łódź, Poland, not long after his birth. He claimed he was born in Hull, Yorkshire, when he later faced prosecution in the United States. According the LA Times of the day, he produced an affidavit in court said to be from the rabbi who circumcised him to confirm his birth place. He could not produce a birth certificate. The family immigrated to the United States in 1904, settling in St. Louis, Missouri. Even though he was poorly educated, Factor had a sharp mind and by the early 1920s was becoming known as a successful confidence man. In 1923, after moving into stock fraud and selling worthless real estate during Florida’s “land boom” during the early 1920s, he was loaned $50,000 by mobster Arnold Rothstein to pull off what was then considered the largest stock swindle in European history.

Jake Factor’s “kidnapping”

In 1933, Factor was on the run from England, where he had been sentenced to a total of twenty-four years. Factor worked a deal with Al Capone to fake a kidnapping and blame it on Roger "Terrible" Touhy. Touhy was convicted on false evidence and sentenced to 99 years in prison. The kidnapping had been set up to eliminate Touhy from competition in Chicago.

Touhy, Factor’s wrongly accused kidnapper, escaped from prison in 1942, but was soon recaptured. He was finally found innocent of all charges and released on November 25, 1959. Touhy was shot to death while visiting his sister on December 17. He was probably murdered on the orders of Murray "The Camel" Humphreys, whom he had humiliated many years earlier, and who was acting on behalf of Jake Factor. Touhy had written a book about his false imprisonment, "The Stolen Years".

Later years

At the time of Roger Touhy’s death, Factor, now well involved with mob interests in California and Las Vegas, was in Chicago, enjoying a steak at The Singapore, a Mob-controlled restaurant on Rush Street. He later became the front man for Chicago at The Stardust Casino, after its creator, Los Angeles gambler and crime figure Tony Cornero, died in 1955, shortly before the casino was finished being constructed. On December 3, 1962, when Factor was finally about to be deported back to England, he was given a Presidential pardon by John F. Kennedy. In exchange, Jake gave Kennedy $25,000 in cash to help fund the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He sold the Stardust Casino for $14 million and then claimed bankruptcy.

The IRS looked into Factor’s financial records and found that Jake had not paid taxes from 1935 to 1939. He was also found to have the lump sum of $479,093.27 in his name. When the government asked Jake how he got the money, he claimed he could not remember. Later, Jake tried to bail out Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa of his financial Florida real estate problems. He was also involved in a questionable stock transaction with Murray Humphreys.

Jake spent the last twenty years of his life as a benefactor to California’s black ghettos. He spent millions of dollars building churches, gyms, parks and low-cost housing in poverty stricken black ghettos. When Jake Factor died, three U.S. senators, the mayor of Los Angeles and several hundred African-Americans attended his funeral.

Further reading

*McDougal, Dennis. "The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood". New York: Da Capo Press, 2001. ISBN 0-306-81050-6
*Merriner, James L. "Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833-2003". Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8093-2571-3
*Moldea, Dan E. "Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob". New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 0-14-010478-X
*Pietrusza, David. "Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series". New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-7867-1250-3

External links

* [http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/johnfactor.htm Federal Bureau of Investigation: Freedom of Information Privacy Act - John Factor]
* [http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_151.html When Capone Murdered Roger Touhy: The Strange Case of Touhy, “Jake the Barber” and the Kidnapping That Never Happened] by John William Tuohy
* [http://gamblingmagazine.com/articles/53/53-184.htm Jake The Barber, Innkeeper] by John William Tuohy


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