The Troubleshooter - Recap

<-- Previous EpisodeNext Episode -->
In the summer of 1934 a new gambling device swept the nation: the punchboards. Even though it was a nickel and dime game these nickels and dimes added up. The punchboards soon made more money for mobsters than the numbers racket. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables went after the punchboards hot and heavy, smashing several of their manufacturing sites. This caused a significant drop in revenue for the syndicate running the punchboard operaton. Its chairman, Jake Petrie, called an emergency meeting of members from other cities.

Max Riegel from New York says that what they need is someone to take care of payoffs and the like and proposes a man named Nate Selko to handle Eliot Ness. Selko then enters the room and offers his services to the punchboard bosses. Petrie and the boys accept. Selko arranges for a meeting with Ness in a private room at a restaurant and makes him an offer he thinks Ness can't refuse. Ness does refuse it and walks out on the meeting.

That night, Ness gets a tip that a collector for the punchboards will be in an alley behind a candy store and that the collector is armed. When Ness goes to the alley to arrest the collector, two shots are fired at him. Ness returns fire, seriously wounding the collecter, Rick Landy. Landy is taken to the hospital but his gun is not found on his person or at the scene of the shooting. The newspapers get a hold of the story and run with it. For his success, Selko meets with Petrie in a barber shop and demands a seat on the punchboard council. Petrie, impressed with Selko's work in framing Ness, agrees to his demand.

Selko has also bought off alcoholic reporter Harry Dannigan. He feeds Dannigan the story that Landy was carrying $15K in collection money and now the money is missing. Dannigan has the story printed in his newpaper under the headline: "What Happened to the Money?" with a picture of Ness underneath. Ness confronts Dannigan at his desk but Dannigan says he doesn't print lies because it costs too much money.

Meanwhile, Rick Landy has just come out of surgery in the hospital. Selko and his hood, Al Deemers, are there in his room to tie up some loose ends. They turn off Landy's supply of oxygen. One loose end tied up. He then firebombs the candy store next to which the shooting took place. Two loose ends tied up. After that, Selko becomes increasingly power mad. He doublecrosses his old New York crony, Max Riegel, by using fabricated evidence that Riegel has been pocketing some of the punchboard take for himself. Petrie then gives Selko the New York chair on the council.

Ness, trying desperately to clear himself, checks the back room of the bombed out candy store. He finds powder burns on the curtain--somebody had fired at Ness in the alley from that room making it appear that the shooter was Landy who actually was unarmed after all. Ness now knows it was a frame but he has U.S. Attorney Beecher Asbury plant a story that the frame worked. The headlines in the newspapers read that Ness has been transferred to Des Moines.

Selko then tries to chisel Dannigan out of the money that he promised him. Dannigan then asks for more or he'll spill the beans. Heading into a watering hole, Dannigan then encounters Ness who's pretending to be drunk. Ness threatens to give Dannigan a good beating as a public service but later saves him from being taken for a ride by Selko's hood, Al. Ness recognizes Al as belonging to Selko. Dannigan tells Ness to meet him at his apartment the following evening and he'll give him the truth about Nate Selko.

But Harry Dannigan and Max Riegel aren't the only persons stabbed in the back by Selko. Next in line is Jake Petrie. Selko tips off the police that he's wanted in Los Angeles on a murder rap. The cops take him to jail to await extradition back to California. It's a tough rap to beat and with Petrie gone Selko makes his move and forcibly takes over the punchboard syndicate at the point ot a gun. The other members unanimously vote in Selko as their new chairman.

Meanwhile, at the City Jail, Hobson and Rico pay a call on Jake Petrie. They inform Petrie that it was Selko who stuck it to him pretty good. Petrie now decides it's time to stick it to Selko. Hobson and Rico call for the stenographer.

At the same time, Ness arrives at Dannigan's apartment for a meeting with the reporter. He's accompanied by Ned Beemis, a special assistant for Beecher Asbury. Ness enters the apartment while Beemis remains outside the door. As he enters, Ness discovers the dead body of Harry Dannigan. Selko and his hood, Al, are still there in the apartment. They plan to knock Ness out and plant the murder gun in his hand. Beemis, listening outside, enters and then the shooting begins. Beemis gets Al but Selko escapes out the window.

Desperately running for his life, Selko heads to the warehouse where the punchboard council holds its meeting. At the bottom of the stairs he's greeted by Jake Petrie who's told the Feds everything. Ness arrives to block Selko's escape. He's through running. He's through period.

Jake Petrie was extradited back to Los Angeles where he got convicted of the murder charge and went to prison for life. The punchboard syndicate which he had chaired collapsed. As for Nate Selko, he died in the electric chair at Joliet. And Eliot Ness remained in Chicago and remained in charge of the Untouchables.