Jack Ruby had lived in Chicago and was reputed to have been associated with Al Capone. Although he was not a member of the Mafia, not being Italian, he was almost certainly involved with them in some form. Many have speculated that the Mafia provided the hit men who performed the mechanics of the assassination. Flown in from Europe (probably France), they were skilled and experienced assassins, and they were unlikely to fail.
In the few days preceding the 22nd November, Ruby was involved in an unusually high number of telephone calls out of state. Was he acting as the local man on the ground coordinating events ahead of the key personnel arriving? Did he help by providing the logistics for the shooting, including picking the site, establishing the cover story (including planting evidence at Parkland Hospital) and providing getaway support for the perpetrators? The evidence of some of this undoubtedly exists.
The links to the Mafia themselves are less straightforward with limited substantiating evidence, although their motives were such that they probably wanted to see Kennedy dead more than anyone. John’s father, Joseph, made most of his substantial fortune from illegal liquor and gun-running in the days of prohibition. By doing so he built his relationship with organised crime and when his son John ran for president he called on these friends to help. The extent to which the Mafia won the election for Kennedy can only be speculated, but there is no doubt that their ‘influence’ won him key states, and with such a slim majority in the end, these must have made the difference.
Once in office, John and his brother Robert, then Attorney general, drove a relentless campaign to curtail the influence of the mob, upsetting director of the FBI, J Edgar Hoover in the process. The Mafia would have felt betrayed after what they had done to make John and Robert what they were.
The Mafia would have had every good reason to kill Kennedy, and no doubt the ability to do the shooting, but could they have managed the concealment and cover up that followed the assassination? Very few believe so, and consequently the Mafia’s role was probably more as facilitators than conspirators.
Today we know that the CIA had established many strange and shady links with the Mafia, especially when it came to subversive activities against Fidel Castro. Here the Mafia and CIA had shared objectives and interests, so we can see how they were in many ways linked.