The exclusive untold story of Fast Eddie and Sue Granata.
By Nancy McGregor
When she was 9 years old, her mom called her Sussie. Her mother’s name was Rose and the two were members of an extended Italian family that lived in Chicago. When her great-grandfather came to America, he and his wife had a large family. Half of the children ended up on the fringes of the Italian mob and the other half ended up in law enforcement, politics, and the legal profession. Sue’s father was on the legal side. Sue was one of 8 children and she had an older brother who became a Chicago Police Officer, another who became an Accountant, one who became an Attorney, and one who became a successful State Politician. Sue was a refined young girl with a love of the arts, especially music.
Being Italian in Chicago in the 1920’s and 30’s, however, meant you often knew someone who was either in the mob or who dealt with the mob. When Sue was 18 in 1930, she worked as a secretary for her brother, Peter, in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. That gave her the experience and confidence to land a job working as a secretary and receptionist at the elegant Sportsman’s Park Racetrack in Cicero, Illinois. There, she met and fell in love with an attorney, named Ed. For 12 years, they dated. He wore a watch engraved with the words, “Amor Sempiternus Ed-Sue.” It meant “Love Eternal.” He was in his late 30s when they met and she was in her early 20s.
Ed, unfortunately, had been previously married and was divorced. As a good Catholic girl, Sue couldn’t marry him unless his first marriage was annulled. Ed had been working on the process, even sending donations to the church to try to help the process along. It was speculated that a wedding in the spring of 1940 would be forthcoming. In the meantime, the couple worked together at Sportsman Park Racetrack.
Ed had moved to Chicago in 1927 to open a greyhound-racing track. Ed’s wife, Selma, and their 3 children, however, stayed behind in Saint Louis.
When Illinois outlawed dog racing, Ed turned the track into a horse racing track. By then he’d met and was partnered with Al Capone, and he’d acquired the nickname “Fast Eddie.” That same year, Selma realized Ed wasn’t returning to Saint Louis and divorced him, although the couple remained on good terms.
Some time in those early years, Ed began informing on Capone. Some say it was so he could secure an appointment for his son Butch to the United States Navel Academy but that was unlikely. Butch excelled at everything he touched. He graduated from the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois and was accepted at the Navel Academy. Missouri Representative John Cochran sponsored him.
If Butch managed to obtain the appointment on his own, without any help from his father, then Ed wouldn’t have needed to work with the Feds. So the question remains, why did he inform on Capone?
No one has ever decided on a reason that Ed flipped but how ever it happened, in 1931, Al Capone went to prison. Frank Nitti took over the Chicago outfit with a couple of other leaders. All of this is well documented.
What’s left out of the official stories and reports is the realization that Sue Granata must have had quite a bit of emotional influence over Ed. And, as much as she loved him, it’s probable her sunny influence led to positive results. Then too, as her suitor, Ed would have met her fine, upstanding brothers: the Senator, the Lawyer, the Accountant, and the Cop. Further, Sue is remembered by family members as a no-nonsense woman who wouldn’t have compromised her principles, even for love. There was no way Ed could be involved with the outfit and remain involved Sue. So, maybe he helped indict Capone for love. Certainly, some see Ed as a hero for taking down Capone and undoubtedly, Ed was Sue’s hero.
Shortly before Al Capone’s release from prison, Sue gave up her job at the racetrack, and, with Ed’s daughter, Patricia, from his previous marriage, she began planning her own wedding. Ed hired Annette Caravetta to replace Sue as his secretary at the racetrack.
For Ed and Sue, life was good. While the rest of the country was in a depression, Ed did very well. He had a large home in Illinois and another in Florida. He had interests in several horse and dog racing tracks throughout the country. Few people realized that Frank Nitti was also profiting from shares in the tracks under cover of a man named Patton.
But then, on November 8, 1939, Ed was murdered in cold blood. He was 46. Sue was 28. He was murdered while driving from the racetrack in Cicero and he was only 2.3 miles from Sue’s house when he was killed with two blasts through the car window. Pictures are online but we won’t share them here. It was a brutal slaying.
When Sue Granata got the news, she became hysterical; she was placed under a doctor’s care and sedated. Police had no idea where to find her and thought, for a brief time, she might be implicated in the murder.
The murder has never been officially solved but theories abound; an argument with Frank Nitti about money, or the outfit discovered his perfidy over Capone, or Capone was about to get out of prison. It was also rumored that Ed intended to open a new track in Florida without any mob partners. No one can say for sure.
In those days, women were often not taken seriously. Probably because of that, one theory not considered was Annette, the replacement secretary.
Eleven years older than Sue, she was unmarried and living in a small home with her mother and siblings. Annette hadn’t even graduated high school and she certainly wasn’t as beautiful as Sue. She had very little money, no influential connections, and few prospects. At the time of his death, Ed had a note with him of an FBI phone number in Annette’s handwriting. Annette knew all the details of Ed’s business dealings. In 1937, Ed, daughter Patricia, and Annette all went to Florida and included a round trip to Cuba. He trusted Annette.
Did Annette make a play for Ed and was rebuffed? Was she jealous of her younger predecessor? After the murder, Annette continued to work at the track, which was still being run by associates of Frank Nitti. Was Annette the person who tipped off Frank Nitti that Ed was informing on the mob’s activities? Who tipped off the shooters when Ed left the track that day? Was money the motive?
Annette Caravetta was granted 2500 shares in the Miami Beach Kennel Club Racetrack in Ed’s will. In 1941, she bought the contents of Ed’s Florida apartment. It included rugs, books, silver, and furniture. Ed was a millionaire who liked nice things. Annette paid a mere $500.00.
Frank Nitti’s 38-year-old wife, Anna, had passed away a few years before and guess who stepped into the breach? Yes, it was Annette Caravetta. She married Frank Nitti in 1942. She wedded the very mobster thought to have murdered Ed. As icing on the proverbial cake, as a “wedding present,” Frank gave Annette $75, 000. Was it a payoff?
There are some rumors on the Internet that it was Sue Granata who married Frank Nitti and then subsequently died in 1940 but these stories are confused with Frank’s former wife, Anna and his former secretary, Annette. It wasn’t Sue Granata who married Frank Nitti or who died in 1940.
So, what DID Sue Granata do? By now, Sue was in her 30s and found herself without her soul mate. Her fiancé was gone and the rosy vision of her wedding, having her own home, and mothering the children of the man she loved had all brutally ended in blood and betrayal.
Sue slowly began rebuilding her life. In 1940, she began work for the School Board as a Truant Officer. She passed a required exam in the top 10 out of over 800 applicants. She remained living in the family home.
Sue, however, didn’t forget what had been done to Ed, and to her. She probably had a good idea who was responsible. The Granatas, however, were not people who told their secrets to just anyone but, Sue may have made it her job to bring down Annette & Frank Nitti. After working the racetrack for several years, Sue probably knew a great deal about Ed’s enemies. She was a smart and savvy woman who would have spotted any of Annette’s alleged behavior.
During this time, behind the scenes prosecutors, the FBI, and a team of lawyers, were working with the goal to indict Frank Nitti. Nitti had been a problem in both Chicago and Hollywood for years and that was about to come to an end.
The year after Frank married Annette, indictments over Nitti’s racket of Hollywood extortion came down. In response, Frank Nitti supposedly committed suicide in 1943. Witnesses say he was drunk and shot himself early one morning along the railroad tracks. The coroner’s toxicology report said his blood alcohol level was .23 of 1%. Annette confirmed to reporters that she knew something was wrong. Strange men had been watching their house. A Federal Informant explained that Nitti was given no choice. It was kill himself or be killed. Nitti was buried in Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery. At the time, it didn’t allow suicides to be buried on sanctified ground. Was he murdered?
And Annette? It turns out the State of Illinois went after her for inheritance taxes and left her almost penniless. At the time, even the papers marveled that the State was particularly vicious toward a widow.
Chicago has always had many lawyers but the Tribune named a young Italian-American who was partly responsible for helping to end the Capone/Nitti gang. His name was Paul C. Ross.
With an office at 134 N. LaSalle Street, Paul Ceffalio Ross was a trial lawyer and was the 42nd Ward Republican Committee man. His office was only 121 feet from Frank Nitti’s former office at 221 N. LaSalle St.
After Frank Nitti died in March 1943, a mere 5 months later; Sue Granata married Paul Ross in April 1944. (There are very few true coincidences in life.)
Thereafter, Sue lived a quiet life. While she never had children, she resided with her husband, Paul, in apartment #1703 at 9 Lake Shore Drive. A beautiful view at the lake afforded views of captivating water and sky, as well as morning light glinting airplane wings. Sue Granata was very likely a quiet, unsung heroine who helped to end the remnants of the Capone outfit in Chicago.
Sue Granata lived on Lake Shore Drive until her death in 1985. She was 74.
One Last Note:
Ed’s son, Butch O’Hare was killed in World War II in 1943. He was a hero who won the first Navel Medal of Honor in 1942. He was from Saint Louis and he was lost at sea in the heat of battle. Sue’s brother, State Representative Peter C. Granata privately told his family that he had suggested the name change from Chicago’s Orchard Field to O’Hare Airport. At the time, Colonel Robert McCormick, a Republican and friend of Granata’s, ran the Chicago Tribune. He put the full weight of the newspaper behind the renaming. Another friend of Granata’s, John Hoellen Jr, an Alderman, made the formal recommendation to the city council. At the time, they put forth the idea that Butch’s heroics in WWII were the reason for the name but Butch had never even lived in Illinois. Nonetheless, the airport in Chicago was formally changed to O’Hare International Airport in 1949. But despite the museum and the recognition for Butch’s truly honorable service, the reality underneath the official story was … the new name was a gift of remembrance for Sue Granata’s lost love.