Charles “Babe” Baron was a notorious Chicago mobster during the days of Meyer Lansky and Al Capone. He had widespread interests in the underworld but he is best known for his role in the gambling industry.
Working for Others
Baron may not have been at the top of the food chain in the American Mafia but he was certainly a powerful representative of the big guns. For instance, he kept the company of the likes of Sid Korshak, a mobster who owned the Tropicana in the 50s.
It would seem that the two were such good buddies that Korshak threw a lavish birthday party for Baron at his hotel. It latter emerged that Baron was a shareholder at the establishment.
Aside from that, it has been reported that Charles had ties to Al Capone’s gang which is quite believable considering that he hailed from Chicago. Furthermore, after Capone exited the scene he stayed loyal to both Llewelyn Morris Humphreys aka “Curly” Humphreys and Salvatore “Mooney Sam” Giancana. Baron represented their interests in the mob’s Las Vegas casinos.
When Meyer Lansky opened his Havana Riviera casino hotel in Cuba, he chose Baron as its general manager. Yes, he was a man who knew his way around the casino business but that was not the main reason he was hired. He was there to ensure that the interests of the Chicago mob were well represented.
Baron remained in Cuba until Fidel Castro and his revolutionists invaded its capital. The mob had invested millions of dollars in hotels and casinos in that country but Castro was not entertaining its presence. Like many of his partners in crime, Baron was forced to flee the country and he found a job at the Sands Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas where he served as the official greeter.
Ruling by Intimidation
The life and times of Charles “Babe” Baron are a good example of how mobsters got away with things that would see ordinary citizens rotting behind bars. For instance, it is a well known fact that he was a suspect in at least two murders in Chicago during his early days.
One of them was that of fellow mobster Gus Winkler which is said to have been a gangster’s duel after a disagreement over a prize fight bet. Baron was never tried for the murder that took place in 1933 and was only charged with having a concealed weapon. This is in spite of the fact that he may have admitted to the killing.
What is even more curious is the fact that his police records seem to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Furthermore, in the previous murder of an unnamed person in 1929, the grand jury returned a no-bill ruling making Baron a free man.
The plot thickened in 1960 when he appeared before the Gaming Control Board seeking a 1% stake in the Sands. He was a man with a criminal record albeit altered by unknown persons and he kept the kind of company that should have raised eyebrows.
The Board was informed of his alleged murders and it was also furnished with a list of Baron’s unsavory associates. Names like Louis J. Lederer, Frank Costello and John Rosselli featured prominently in the subsequent report.
Moreover, upon questioning Baron revealed that he was a former bookmaker but claimed that he had changed his ways and was running legitimate businesses. With such a rap sheet, his application should never have seen the light of day but surprise, surprise he got his share of the Sands and a spot in the Black Book!