Ness remarried in 1939, to illustrator Evaline Michelow. The Nesses moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942 where he worked for the federal government, directing the battle against prostitution in communities surrounding military bases, where venereal disease was a serious problem. Later he made a number of forays into the corporate world, all of which failed from his lack of business acumen. In 1944, he left to become chairman of the Diebold Corporation, a security safe company based in Ohio. After his second divorce and third marriage, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Cleveland in 1947, after which he was expelled from Diebold. In the aftermath, Ness began drinking more heavily and spending his free time in bars telling (often exaggerated) stories of his law enforcement career. He also spent himself into debt. Ness was forced into taking various odd jobs to earn a living, including as an electronics parts wholesaler, a clerk in a bookstore, and selling frozen hamburger patties to restaurants. By 1953, he came to work for an upstart company called Guaranty Paper Corporation, which specialized in watermarking legal and official documents to prevent counterfeiting. Ness was offered a job because of his expertise in law enforcement. The company soon moved from Cleveland to the quiet rural town of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, where operating costs were lower. He made a decent income from GPC and moved with his wife and adopted son into a modest rental house. Once again, he enjoyed going to local bars and regaling amazed audiences with his tales of crime fighting. He collapsed and died at his home of a massive heart attack on May 16, 1957, at the age of 54. Collaborating with Oscar Fraley in his last years, he co-wrote the book The Untouchables, which was published a month after his death. This book, among others about the Untouchables by Oscar Fraley, was heavily spiced with fiction including fictional characters and events to make the books more appealing to a general audience. -- Wikipedia.
Eliot Ness, patron saint of the ATF.
From the Wall Street Journal: "Firearms Bureau Struggles to Define Its Role."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives brings fewer than a hundred alcohol and tobacco cases a year. It now plays second fiddle to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on explosives. And its skill at catching firearms violators is in doubt after the flawed probe known as Fast and Furious.No wonder the agency's boss is looking to reinvent it, and maybe even change its name.The ATF is a Washington oddity, stitched together in the 1970s from units going back to the age of Prohibition. Gun-rights supporters are wary of it, yet they are also loath to see firearms regulation move to the FBI.So the ATF survives, and acting director B. Todd Jones has to figure out what to do with it. "We're the entity that everyone loves to hate," said the 55-year-old former Marine.Mr. Jones, who doubles as the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis, said he sees a "sweet spot" for the agency in tackling violent crime, particularly in some big cities like Philadelphia that have seen an increase in murders and drug-related shootings.Hence an idea discussed by top ATF officials: ditching the agency's anachronistic seven-word name and rebranding it the Violent Crime Bureau. Mr. Jones confirms the discussions, but cautions it isn't easy because the change would require congressional approval. The bigger point, he says, is to improve the morale and professionalism of agents who often grumble about being overshadowed by the FBI.Since taking over last year as the ATF's fifth acting director in six years, Mr. Jones has tightened controls over undercover probes and confidential informants. New chiefs are in place in 16 field offices. And he consulted a historian to dig up proud moments in the agency's past. Legendary lawman Eliot Ness worked for an ATF predecessor known as the Bureau of Prohibition, leading his team of "untouchables" against the distilleries that made Al Capone rich.
"Legendary lawman" indeed. As the Wikipedia citation quoted above indicates, much of the "legend" came from the failed old drunkard's own mouth. Yet it is certain that Ness is now, and always has been, the patron saint of the gun cops of the ATF. His birthday, 19 April, is celebrated with ATF award dinners and golf tournaments, and the story circulated after the fiery end of the Davidians at the hands of the FBI that the Fibbies had chosen Ness' birthday to repay the Mount Carmel residents with interest (about twenty to one) for the four dead ATF agents killed in the 28 February raid that began the standoff. (While Mt. Carmel was still burning, the FBI raised a flag with four stars and "ATF" emblazoned on it. A pretty birthday picture it was for the Eliot Ness fans of the ATF.)
But, hey, B. Todd, go ahead and try to rebuild your agency around a bright and shining lie that owes more of its currency to Hollywood than to history, and by all means, rename it the "Violent Crime Bureau." The Davidians wouldn't quarrel with that name, nor would the thousands of Mexican victims of the Gunwalker Scandal. Violent crime, from the crippling of Kenyon Ballew up through the murder of Brian Terry, is what the ATF has facilitated or committed itself. Good choice, B. Todd.
A present from the FBI to the ATF on the birthday of Eliot Ness, 19 April 1993.