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The trial of Browne and Bioff

Photo caption: A model poses for a test by NBC of the first-generation iconoscope camera in a 1934 television experiment.

Source: Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library

The trial of Browne and Bioff involved the most famous and powerful Hollywood moguls: Harry Warner, Louis B.  Mayer, Nicholas Schenk, and the producers’ representative in Hollywood, Pat Casey.

The trial revealed the extent of corruption: over $1,000,000 in payoffs was paid by the producers to Browne and Bioff (eventually funneled to the Nitti gang) during the six years of their control.  For IA members, the trial also revealed the degree to which their trust had been violated.  George Browne was repudiated by the Alliance membership, thrown off the AFL Executive Council, and resigned in disgrace as the International President of the Alliance.

Browne and Bioff were convicted of extortion.  Browne received a sentence of eight years; Bioff was sentenced to 10 years.

The two men later turned state’s evidence, with their testimony leading to the indictment of nine members of the Nitti syndicate, eight of whom went to trial.  Frank Nitti himself was unavailable to stand trial; a few hours after being indicted, he shot himself to death in the Chicago suburb of Riverside.  The man who was supposedly a crime syndicate mastermind died with $1.14 in his pocket.

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