August 24, 2004 by

Michael Corbitt


Categories: Criminals, Law

Michael Corbitt lived a double life. Although he was a police chief in suburban Chicago, Corbitt also spent his entire law enforcement career working for the Mob.

Corbitt was 21 when he joined the Willow Springs, Ill., police force in 1965. A self-described “crooked cop,” he went from ignoring the nefarious deeds of “the Outfit” to actively participating in them. Corbitt was the town’s police chief from 1973 to 1981, then worked as an investigator for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department from 1981 to 1987. But he also moonlighted as a bodyguard, courier and driver for Sam “Momo” Giancana, one of the area’s most powerful crime bosses.

When Dianne Masters, a prominent college trustee and the wife of a mob attorney, disappeared in 1982, Corbitt resigned from the police department. Her body was found inside the truck of a Cadillac at the bottom of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal nine months later. Masters’ head was crushed and two .22-caliber bullets were found in her skull. Corbitt and two others, including her husband Alan, were indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in 1988. All three were convicted a year later.

Corbitt was serving a 20-year sentence in the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center when he learned that members of the Mob had ordered a hitman to kill him and one of his sons. In response, he became an informant for the F.B.I. Although he faced additional racketeering charges, Corbitt’s information and cooperation earned him a reduced sentence. He was paroled in 1998.

Once he got out of the joint, Corbitt joined forces with true crime writer Sam Giancana, the nephew of Momo Giancana, and penned a bestselling tell-all book. “Double Deal: The Inside Story of Murder, Unbridled Corruption and the Cop Who Was a Mobster,” was released in 2003. His story also served as the basis for the 1992 TV movie “Deadly Matrimony.”

Corbitt died on July 27 of lung cancer. He was 60.

Listen to an Interview With Corbitt on WNYC

31 Responses to Michael Corbitt

  1. harryusa

    Sam Giancana did not order the hit on Michael Corbitt. Sam was dead by the 70’s. According to the Book Corbitt wrote, Double Deal, it was Sal Bastone who was caught on tape ordering Corbitt’s death even if his son Joey was with him at the time.
    There ya go.

  2. G.J.

    I worked for Joe Testa in Justice, IL. (right next to Willow Springs)back in Mr.Corbitt’s heyday. I met him, as well as Jack Hinchy, on the grounds of Mr. Testa’s estate in the early 80’s.
    Testa was killed with a car bomb in Fla. I will never forget the feeling of opening up his personal garage to start my work day the following Monday morning, praying to God the building didn’t blow up when I put the key in and turned the lock. I believe Testa knew his days were numbered abd took off on a world trip till things cooled. Guess they didn’t….

  3. Gina

    Well from being family of Sam Giancana, Sure he was wrong for doing what he has done, But if he was your relative would you say what you have about him. I have only meet him once and he was the most caring and loving man. I never once didn’t like him. PLEASE DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

  4. R. R.

    Mike Corbitt and I were in school together from about the 3rd grade onward, graduating from ACHS in 1963. My recollections of him in high school are slim but I do recall at Graves Junior High that he beat the crap out me every lunch hour for several weeks until he tired of the game. After that we were on pretty good terms. I’m sorry to hear of his death.

  5. Brock

    Corbitt did not serve his sentence at the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center. He was in the Coleman Federal Correctional Institute in Bushnell, Florida.
    I grew up in the SW Suburbs of Cook County and even a kid knew that most of the suburban police departments were corrupt but it wasn’t until the investigation into the death of Dianne Masters that the cesspool was really exposed.
    After Dianne Masters’ car was found, there were lots of other cars dredged out of the canal–many of which were dumped by cops for the purpose of insurance fraud. When the citizens of a community pay tax dollars for cops who work for the mob, run whore houses and engage in conspiracy to commit murder they would be better off without a police department. The likes of Michael Corbitt will never be missed.

  6. Alex

    Corbitt locked my brother up for a crime he did not commit, and he KNEW that my brother was innocent. My brother died in prison, and I will ALWAYS blame Corbitt for that. The only person he ever looked out for was himself, and for that I hope he died with much pain.

  7. TIM

    My father drove a liquor truck in the late sixties to early eighties. He told me of all the crooked goings on happening in and around Justice and willow springs around that time. One in particular was a time he was leaving a bar and he had the work truck and he wa ” three sheets to the wind” a copper stopped him – and to get out of it -my ol man gave him a couple cases of booze. Turns out it was some crooked Willow Springs copper – hmm… I wonder???? Not saying the ethical thing was done, but that was buisness in its utmost in Chicago and its neighboring suburbs at the time.

  8. D L

    Knew MIke after my military service . We had met several times at a favorite breakfast spot on 71st Harlem .Got me a job He was an “average joe” not a awful guy at all. He had a crush on one waitress and did offer her anything to go out. He had few friends that he met in lots of muffled booth conversations . Today they would have been easily recognized…back then they were just older gents that MIke knew He got caught up in his own self greed and power & can’t say anyone from our neighborhood wouldn’t have done the same. We were just rats on a raft trying to stay afloat
    Nottinham Don

  9. kyle

    hi im kyle.. im only 13 and my dad made me read this book. at first i thought it was gonna be pretty stupid. but as i kept reading i got really sucked into it. honestly i think that Michael corbitt had good intentions for everyone its just that he had a bad away of making it happen. plus i think how he grew up and and how curiosity getting the best of him didnt help. honestly i have respect for him for being able to wright all of this. also i didnt know he died. im sorry to hear of his death.

  10. Lifemagician

    Double Deal came my way recently. Not that I was naive enough to think all is above board in all departments. Mike Corbitt just confirmed what went on then, and goes on now… and don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. The current world political state confirms that.
    This book should be compulsory reading for all who like to believe that those in positions of authority can always be trusted. A healthy scepticism is required.
    It was good to read that Mike died a ‘natural’ death. It was also good to read that he IS dead!

  11. R

    Mike Corbitt and I were in school together for at least six years. I remember at Graves School that he used to regularly pound on me during recess, but ultimately tired on it and left me alone. When I saw the FBI Files program on his case, it brought back a lot of memories, not all of them good. But what he did to me was small potatoes compared to his future career.

  12. Little Red

    Before his own death, Joey Testa was living in South Florida and owned a restaurant called the Brass Rail. The company I worked for sold him 3 new electronic cash registered of which I programed and then took them to the restaurant and taught his cashiers and bartenders how to use them. Joey and I got into a bit of a spat about the registers being delivered later than he expected. I had no clue who he was until the guy I was dating (a Ft. Lauderdale undercover cop) told me who he was. I was not comfortable after that even though I knew a little spat with a computer tech didn’t warrent his putting a hit on me but when the car blew up leaving a country club, I felt a sigh of relief.

  13. Allen

    I remeber Mike Corbitt, first for as a Chief who claimed he “only looked out for the Willow Springs kids” when he would let them into the Cook County Forest Perserves after they were closed. He mysteriously had the key for the groves to let the kids in from towm to party, and do whatever they wanted. Until he ran a fowl of the new Forest Preserve Police Chief. Who brought in his tactical team and arrested everyone. Corbitt was so angry, he waited until the FPD Police Chief made the mistake of having a drink or two with his wife at a restruant in Willow Springs. And got him for DUI. The FPD Chief was demoted to Captain, and eventually aquitted when Corbitt was sent to jail but the damage was done.
    I don’t care who this guy was connected to, he was permitted to do the things he wanted to do because the local townspeople let him do it. To this day, I firmly belive that Cook County Residents still like their cops and politicians a little bent if not out right crooked. Its the Chicago way of corrupting good cops.
    Corbitt even corrupted the Local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, buy buying a run down building, fixing it, and turning it into a bar/crash pad/groupee hangout where a local/county police officer could get laid, all the while, having everyone of the bad guys knowing about it.
    I feel sorry for his former wives, his children and his son Joey. A scumbag turned tarnished saint. Once a scumbag always a scumbag.

  14. Edubbs

    I read Corbitt’s book and was impressed with the tale but not convinced all facets of the story were true. Either way, he was a good storyteller and had a sweet mustache.

  15. Charles

    I don’t believe Michael Corbitt died from cancer as reported by the medical examiner in Florida.
    It seems too convent to have him pass away at 60 years of age. I believe he is still in the witness protection program and may living in Arizona. Several years ago I saw a man who looked like him at the PIR racetrack. When I approached him he walked away very quickly. He seemed very nervous and kept looking around as if he was being watched. I am sure it was him or a very good look-a-like.

  16. Whitey

    I met Mike Corbitt in 1967 when he first became a Willow Springs cop. He routinely shagged my friends and I from one place or another, drinking or partying or whatever, and later he took me under his wing. On more than one occasion, my father had to deliver an envelope to Mike to keep me from jail; one time, on the bus to Cook County Jail, the bus was stopped and due to Mike’s influence, I was allowed to leave the bus, scot-free. As a general rule, though, if you were a local kid, you did what you wanted without fear of the cops, as long as you followed certain rules, like being truthful when asked, not shooting off your mouth to strangers, and not causing trouble for the town. This is as any parent or other authority figure should be, and not strange or criminal.
    After I got out of the Army, Mike gave me a job at his security firm, Swift Security, where I answered directly to him. It was during this time that I came to realize, due in part to certain duties that came with the job that included a firearm, that this sort of life was not for me. I knew Mike was involved with certain activities and that he had some pretty powerful friends, also that he often spent weeks at a time away from Willow on ‘unofficial business’, where large bags of cash were involved. While I don’t think his activities were overtly apparent to the public, it was was also well known that you didn’t speed through Willow or come to Willow to look for trouble in the bars, because it wouldn’t be tolerated.
    Mike Corbitt was, despite this whole mob stuff, a good guy that was willing to share his influence with the people he swore to “serve and protect”. There was no serious crime in Willow Springs then, and this is NOT something that can be said in the ‘squeaky clean’ Willow of today.
    If, as a previous poster on this tribute board has alluded, Mike Corbitt is alive and in hiding, I would love to talk to him. I was very saddened by his death, and sorry that later in life I did not talk to him more and thank him for all the good he did. He wasn’t an altogether bad man, and it seems that SO many people writing here are more interested in labels and innuendo than in the reality of the person.

  17. Kiki

    Mike did pass away. A friend of mine was a pallbearer at the funeral.
    He once told me that the old saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. In his case, as a previous posting said – it did. The people in Willow and his fellow officers looked the other way – and a lot of them KNEW what was going on – for a LOT of years. So who’s go the right to judge? God has and hopefully Michael rests in peace.
    I do know one thing for sure – if you were Michael’s friend, you were his friend – until detah… It was sad to know that so many of his “friends” didn’t have the respect to say goodbye to him or pay their respects to his family.

  18. Mike S.

    Life has taken me far from Willow Springs, and I only learned quite recently of Mike’s death. I am very sorry that it is too late say good-bye to him in a proper way, or pay my respects to his family. The good will that he always showed me will never be forgotten, nor will he.

  19. Scott

    I met Mike as a busboy working the Willow Brook Ballroom – he was there almost every weekend night as we were the last bar (the piano bar) to close after the big band members put there instruments away. He was a cool guy in the eyes of a 15-16 year old bar busboy.

  20. Ron

    I lived in Willow Springs until I was 35. People can say what they want about Mike. Was he tough, hell yes! Look at the crime then and now. There was no crime. We all knew his connections, and it made us all feel safe. The town was all white, I never spoke to a black until high school. The police would arrest and beat every black to within a inch of there death, just so they could tell their friends to avoid our town or suffer the same results. It worked, was it racist, hell yes. But he was there when and where you needed him. I remember him stopping by my parents house just to make sure the neighborhood was ok, and that the local kids were not causing trouble. Try and get that out of the new cops, they harass all of the residents now for 2 miles an hour over. Never would Mike stand for that crap, that cop would be gone in a NY second. I miss him, yes he did wrong, but we all admired him in WS, and wanted to follow in his footsteps.

  21. tony

    i was one of his best friends from before the gas station,when blew up my new car racing it on harlem.Also worked police with him for a short time.We had a good time atSPANKYS place. AL,MIKE,and me used have some good times.

  22. Larry

    Pulled him over for blowing a stop sign and speeding when he had his green corvette, around 1970. Was working the Sheriffs PD desk in Bedford Park one night when someone put a suitcase full of dynamite behind the place. Apparently a feud between chop shops involving one of my Lieutenants and a different faction of the Mob. Bomb was found before it went off.

  23. Kevin

    I grew up in Willow Springs, (1968-1978) & I loved it! It was so nice to have all those woods around! I had a paper route & never felt unsafe.
    The only time I really ever saw “Mr. Corbitt” was when he used to tell my buddies & I that we had to push our dirt bikes through town to get to the riding areas along the canals.
    Mike Corbitt will be judged by a much higher authority than anyone on earth. I am thankful to him for making Willow Springs a really enjoyable place to grow up.

  24. Bill filson

    Grew up calling Joe Testa “uncle Joe”. I lived in the Illinois Masonic children’s home in LaGrange. Joe to a liking to the home and really took great care of us. The parties he threw for us at his condo building by the old elmhurst cc and his ranch in Seneca were beyond memorable. He lent the home his Lincoln and el Camino for a homes trip to California. When we got there he set up private movie studio tours for us. He always traveled with an entourage including Det Hinchey. We had no idea of his connections when I got older I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out who he really was

  25. Bill filson

    I got my picture taken with Clint Eaatwood And Mike Conners at the studios. We also used to go on his yacht. He carried what seemed like a million 5 dollar McDonalds coupon books and handed them out like water to us

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