Joe Bergl

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Joseph P. Bergl (1901-September 1950) was a mechanic who supplied specially designed vehicles for Chicago's underworld including Al Capone's Chicago Outfit to Depression-era outlaws George "Machine Gun" Kelly and members of the Barker Gang.

Operating from his garage Bergl Auto Sales on 22nd Street, next to Ralph "Bottles" Capone's Cotton Club, Bergl would supply Capone's organization with custom made cars for both protection and evasion purposes including armor plated vehicles with bulletproof windows as well as creating oil slicks, smokescreens, and other devices designed to elude police pursuit.

Members of the Barker Gang used such a car robbing Federal Reserve Bank messengers at Jackson Boulevard on September 22, 1933. After a patrolman was killed, the gang fled the scene with a load of canceled checks and eventually forced to abandon their car after crashing it.

Upon finding the wrecked car, police traced the vehicle to Bergl's shop and arrested Gus Winkler, member of the Chicago Outfit and Bergl's silent partner, naming the Chicago gangster of being a member of a national armed robbery syndicate, supposedly including Depression-era bandits George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Vernon Miller.

Winkler would be killed in a gangland slaying by unidentified gunmen on October 9, reportedly suspecting Winkler would turn states evidence in exchange for reducing the long prison sentence faced by the charges. Although Bergl was allowed to live, the exposure to law enforcement officials ended his usefulness to the crime syndicate as criminals would turn to competitor Clarence Lieder.

See also[edit]


  • Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Robbers, Heists, and Capers. New York: Facts On File Inc., 2002.