October 1932. The depths of the Great Depression. People were looking for any slight ray of hope. Organized crime, seeking to line its own pockets, capitalized on this sense of hopelessness by inventing the numbers racket. People picked a number between 0 and 999. Odds of winning: 1,000 to 1. The payoff: 600 to 1. The local numbers captains called it a lottery. Others called it a swindle.
Eliot Ness and Martin Flaherty call it a swindle. They accost numbers runner Phil Morrisey on the street after he has just made a payoff to a lucky winner. Morrisey's father, Al, is the captain for his numbers district. Both men are old friends of Flaherty from his days in Boston. Flaherty and Ness try to persuade Phil to give up his numbers trade pointing out that the take is used for other nefarious purposes. He refuses rationalizing that it was the syndicate which provided him and his father with honest work when nobody else would.
Al Morrisey, Phil's father, has trouble in his district when collector Larry Bayliss welches on a payoff and gets a knife in his back as a result. The stabbing death makes headlines. Ness and a crooked police captain are discussing the killing when Ness demands the name of every man above the rank of sergeant who's on the take and the location of the central numbers bank. The captain storms out in a huff. Ness calls out that if he offended him it was purely intentional.
Seeking to calm the public, the police raid Al Morrisey's home and find evidence of his involvement in the numbers racket. He is arrested but Pat Danning, the syndicate's point man in the numbers racket, gets the thing quashed. Al and Phil Morrisey blame their old friend Martin Flaherty for the arrest but he had nothing to do with it
The Untouchables begin cracking down with a series of raids designed to ferret out the location of the central numbers bank. Danning, beginning to get worried and learning of Morrisey's meeting with Flaherty, has him brought before an underworld "court." Al Morrisey is given a beating and then has half of his collectors taken away from his district and assigned elsewhere. After the beating, Al returns home and has a visit from Ness. He doesn't reveal anything but Ness can tell that he is softening. So can a syndicate hood who has been assigned to tail Morrisey.
Informed of this, Danning sends two hitmen to Morrisey's home the next day. They gun him down in his kitchen. Phil Morrisey, devastated at his father's fate, decided he'd be better off talking to Ness and the Untouchables. He tells Ness that the location of the central bank is at the Golden Farms Milk Company. The Untouchables get lucky because the night of the raid the bank is in the process of moving to another location.
Sampson, the records keeper, escapes out a back window during the raid. The Untouchables are able to follow him at a distance hoping he'll lead them to bigger game. Sampson leads them straight to Danning who is playing poker with a group of men that includes the crooked police captain seen earlier. Ness bursts in and observes that there's a pretty big pot on the table.
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