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"I'm not afraid of a bullet, but I don't want to get my face smashed"
John U. Zuta, as he liked to be called,was born in Poland of Jewish descent. His real name was Zoota. He immigrated to the U.S. and then settled in Chicago around 1913. He was born to a peasant family and when he arrived in Chicago he began peddling cheap wares to make a living. He became good at this and thus became a junk dealer setting himself up on the near West side of Chicago.He made enough money through his thriftiness to rent a hotel and setup prostitution cribs.He found his new calling in vice. He soon owned a string of bawdy houses along West Madison street. He began to attract attention to himself from others who plied this trade and was soon run out of this business. Others such as Mike "The Pike" Heitler and the Guziks.
He then became sort of the mob accountant, greaser for the mob {$preading the grea$e to the political wheels in Chicago}. First as an ally to Capone, then switching over to Bugs Moran's Northsiders with the Aiellos also as allies. Zuta borrowed money to politicians and police for favors. Many believe as do I, that he supplied the money to have the Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle snuffed out. Right after the Lingle killing Jack Zuta began to feel threatened because on June 30,1930, Zuta was taken into custody for questioning in company of his cousin and lieutenant Albert Bratz (real name Eli Zoota).

Zuta at the Police station being interrogated. He sits in the chair where 14 people have sat before him and were ultimately killed.
Zuta in turn would become the 15th victim. The chair was in John Stege's office.

State Street the evening a hit was attempted on Jack Zuta.

Also at the station at that moment was Solly Vision one of Zuta's henchman along with his woman. The underworld soon began whispering that Zuta was being questioned for the Lingle killing and that he was beginning to sing like a canary to save his own posterior. A great many gangster of that era hated the sight of the whining Zuta, probably because he was a whoremaster or probably because of his success. In any case Zuta did a lot of things that if found out would bring many way down (friends, foes and higher ups).The following evening after spending a day at the station he became the target of elimination.He was freed on bail by his lawyer, but quickly realized that he was in enemy's South side territory and would have to somehow get to the safety of the Northside. The detective's bureau was situated at 11th and State street.  Jack was panicking ashe asked the detective who originally arrested him if he could drive him and his party over to the Northside.The officer grinned at the apparent cowardice of Zuta. Zuta pleaded and was promised a lift far enough for him to hail a cab.They took off going towards North on State street.As soon as they reached Quincy a dark blue sedan witha man on the running board began to fire his automatic at a crouching Zuta at the back of the detective's vehicle. Another vehicle approached and crossfired the Zuta party.The detective slammed on the brakes and began to return fire. The detective had the attention of the gangsters which then permitted Zuta and his party to escape from the detectives vehicle into the night. One streetcar motorman by the name of Elbert Lusader was killed in the crossfire. Another passerby by the name of Olaf Svenske was wounded in the arm.The gangsters had a smoke screen device on their muffler which permitted them to get away firing through a smokescreen.

Jack disappeared never returning for the court appearance he was scheduled to be at the next day.
At the end of July 1930 a swarthy fellow by the name of J.H.Goodman of Aurora,Ill. registers at a hotel by the shores of Upper Namahbin lake, near Milwaukee,Wisconsin.
In a drug store Jack is over heard by a young girl frantically talking on a payphone. After having asked the operator for Chicago, the connection is made and Jack begins cursing "You better send someone up here damn quick. I want a bodyguard and an escort back to Chicago and you better get them here in a hell of a hurry".

Resort Lodge where Zuta was hiding.

Another view.

On the evening of August 1st couples are gathered on the dance floor enjoying themselves.The swarthy J. H. Goodman is amusing himself watching the dancers. He takes a pleasure at placing nickels in the jukebox which plays the favorite hits of the day.The song selected begins to play a title by the name of "Good for you bad for me". As he is turned to the jukebox, the doors open up and in enters five men with a shotgun,pistols and a machine gun.The owner of the hotel asks if this is a joke and everybody is told to "stick em up or be killed".The leader of the gangsters reassured the people they were not fooling. As they enter the dance hall section of the lodge,they spotted Goodman dropping another nickel and at that very moment let him have it full volley.As he turns around a bullet crashes in his mouth. He begins to try to get away,but more lead his enters his head,chest and abdomen. He never had a chance to utter a word as he sank to his knees and toppled over. The gunmen walked cooly over to the motionless body of Jack Zuta and fired several more shots into his now very dead body.

Good For You, Bad For Me

Click above and listen to the song Zuta was enjoying before he was cut down.

Zuta taking a rest after his last song played on the jukebox.

Detectives investigate the jukebox for slugs on the spot where Zuta was slain.

Zuta's blood on the floor.

Closer view of jukebox.

Zuta's body is shipped by train to the Chicago morgue.

Jack Zuta's body arrives at the morgue.

Gangster and Capone ally, Danny Stanton certainly pulled his trigger along with others at Zuta. His .38 revolver was confiscated during an arrest and test fired by Calvin Goddard.The bullet matched the one removed from Zuta's body.The Chicago Herald and Examiner published this fact and removed the element of surprise the prosecutors had against Stanton apart.(They had planned for him to admit in court ownership of this gun). He was to be extridicted to Wisconsin for Zuta's murder, but succeeded in fighting off extradiction through his lawyers.

A cottage at Lake Nagawicka situated several miles from the Delafield roadhouse where Zuta was killed. It is believed that the Capone guns and hit team hid here until the go ahead for the kill was given.

Jack Zuta got his revenge from the grave.He was a meticulous keeper of records.Here are two checks made out to a Judge and a senator.

Cards permitting Zuta priveleges through the mayor's and sheriff's office.

The news of Zuta's death was related to his mother over in Poland by a cousin by the name of Mrs. Reve Sabel from Milwaukee. Zuta's mother thought Jack was a horse trader in the U.S.

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Steve Dunn)
Jack Zuta's grave in Middlesboro Kentucky. He had lived there previously before he moved on to Chicago.

Isaac Ginsberg who was a cousin of Zuta still lived there and had his body buried in the local cemetary. Zuta had ran a saloon there at one time in his early days. Ginsburg had been named executor of his will. Jack had many relatives in New York, Pennsylvania, and Poland.All the relatives had the last name written as Zoota. The estate was contested many times after his death. Jack had left the tidy sum of $53,000 and nine pieces of real estate to be fought amongst family. One half brother who wanted to come over from Poland for a piece of the action was denied a visa to the U.S.
Immigration officials feared that he would come over to ply the same trade Jack did, so he was told to patiently wait in Poland for the outcome of the estate battle. Any monies awarded him would be sent to him in Poland.

Zuta's personal effects were sold at auction. The initialed diamond belt buckle proved his once past alligiance with Capone. That alligiance soured and quickly turned into hate.
(The Baltimore Sun, May 12, 1932)

Why was Zuta killed? Not many people liked Zuta. The reason he was killed was because he paid for the murder of reporter Jake Lingle. He also double crossed the gangsters who agreed at the 1929 Atlantic City meeting not to open any new race tracks in Chicago. Zuta, Aiello and Moran were attempting to do that very thing. The Lingle murder had brought all the heat down on every gangster in Chicago. Despised by the Capone mob, Zuta had signed his own death warrant with the Lingle killing. Even the Northsiders, who were his associates, were glad to see him go.
First Posted August 2005