June 4, 2020 – Gregarious Chicago mobster Michael (Mickey the Gorilla) Gurgone died recently at 82 surrounded by his loved ones. Gurgone was a noted thief and collector for the Outfit’s Southside crew also referred to as the 26th Street or Chinatown crew. He was known for his big personality, brute strength and skill as a safecracker.
During much of his life, Gurgone, a veteran of the U.S. military, worked for the City of Chicago, as a truck driver in the Streets and Sanitation Department. His name got mentioned in press coverage of the 2004’s Hired Truck Program Scandal, but he was never charged with any wrongdoing or related criminal activity.
Mickey the Gorilla and his family lived in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood. Gurgone did six years in prison for participating in a famously failed 1983 heist at the Balmoral Park Race Track in Will County, Illinois. The FBI estimated his burglary ring netted $4,000,000 in cash and stolen goods over an eight-year period. He got out of prison in 1993 and never went back.
On the streets of Chicago in the 1970s and 80s, Gurgone was a renowned safecracker working for high-end robbery rings led by legendary Windy City thieves Paul (Sticky Fingers) DiCaro and Paul (Peanuts) Panczko. It was eventually Peanuts Panczko’s cooperation that helped send Mickey the Gorilla to the joint for the botched boosting at Balmoral Park,
“Mickey was a giant teddy bear,” recalled one former gangland acquaintance. “Remember the character on The Sopranos, Bobby Bacala, that was Mickey the Gorilla……but with a better sense of humor….. The guy was like Hercules… You were proud to call him your friend. Stand up guy all the way.”
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