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On the Take: From Petty Crooks to Presidents, Second Edition

NCJ Number
W J Chambliss
Date Published
301 pages
This text examines the structural bases of official corruption and how local crime networks are connected to national business and political interests.
The focus is on organized crime, vice, corruption, bureaucracy, and law enforcement in Seattle, Wash. The city's crime network was an unusually successful one, as judged by its influence, income, duration, freedom from legal sanctions, and power over the life of the city and the State. The groups managing and organizing this network were composed of some leading citizens. Working for and with this group of respected community citizens was a staff who coordinated the daily activities of prostitution, card games, lottery, bookmaking, pinball machines, the sale and distribution of drugs, usury, pornography, and systematic robbery and burglary. Representatives from each of the groups engaged in organized crime made up the political and economic power centers of the city, met regularly, discussed problems, and made the necessary organizational and policy decisions essential for maintaining a profitable, trouble-free business. Based largely on interview data collected in Seattle between 1962 and 1967, observations are made on the corrupting influence of State control over the dispensation of licenses and monopoly and the way in which legal leverage allows local officials and police to exact tribute from the purveyors of vice. The connection of the local crime network to business and political interests nationally and internationally also is described. Appendixes and source notes.