It was the 1970's. Traditional organized crime in Chicago - variously known as the “Mob,” the “Outfit,” or the “Syndicate” - was near its pinnacle of power. Police payoffs, crooked politicians, corrupt local government workers, labor union control, and business “fronts,” enabled the Mob to successfully execute its business plan - to conspire together and make money through any means possible - regardless of legality. And the mobsters made money, although some made a lot more than others.
The RICO statute (i.e., the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) was still in its infancy and it would be years before the Federal government was adept at snaring the Mob’s vast criminal enterprises with RICO’s formidable jaws. Even so, some of the government’s first Mob busters had been chasing down mobsters one-by-one since the days of Al Capone. (No, not the Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover refused to even acknowledge the existence of the “Mafia” until 1957 when the New York state police broke-up the largest-ever Mafia meeting in upstate Apalachin.)