Missouri Western students and St. Joseph residents got up at 7 a.m. on Wednesday March 2 to eat some eggs and listen to stories about gangsters.
Bill Ouseley, a retired FBI agent, spoke at Missouri Western about the Kansas City mob, or La Cosa Nostra. This is Ouseley’s second time at Missouri Western’s Eggs and Issues. He also spoke the day before at an event hosted by the criminal justice department.
Public Relations, Marketing & Alumni Services Coordinator Diane Holtz organized the event with the help of the criminal justice department. Holtz said that the first Eggs and Issues was held in 1988 and only had 15 attendees.
“A year ago someone said he was a very good speaker,” Holtz said. “Everyone in the audience loved him. He spoke about the mafia and how it came to Kansas City and everyone said, now we want to hear about his experiences as an FBI agent.”
Experience is one thing Ouseley has. His speech touched on various topics relating to the mafia in Kansas City but Ouseley’s speech was more about his specific unit and some of their operations.
“I retired after 25 years of service,” Ouseley said. “I spent the better part of that, 22 plus years, working in the organized crime program in Kansas City.”
For anyone that is wondering, Kansas City did have a mafia, and Ouseley wrote a book on them. “Open City” was published in 2008 and historically documents how organized crime evolved in Kansas City. “Open City” only highlights organized crime from 1900 to 1950. Ouseley has another book, soon to be released, which will show the latter half of the twentieth century.
Ouseley said that during the 1970’s, the River Quay in Kansas City played an integral role in how organized crime operated in Kansas City
“My second book is built as if the spine is the River Quay,” Ouseley said.
Ouseley said that during his time with the FBI, different members of the Kansas City mob fought over the River Quay.
Early on in Ouseley’s career, he helped arrest Nick Civella. Civella, who was already losing power among other members of the Kansas City mob, was charged and later found guilty on counts of illegal gambling. In particular, Civella was running rackets on the 1975 Super Bowl.
After arresting him, Ouseley said that he asked Civella to sign a receipt for the belongings that the jail have confiscated. Civella refused and Ouseley said this gave him an insight into the minds of most mobsters.
“He was telling me in so many words how his world works,” Ouseley said. “He said, ‘We do things differently. We see things differently and I’m not trying to impress you and I would never try to impress you.’ And I didn’t understand that either, in his world, he looked up to no one.”
Melanie White, a St. joseph resident who owns Ouseley’s first book, has attended Eggs and Issues before, but hasn’t been in quite some time.
“I enjoyed hearing him in person,” White said. “I found it interesting because some of the details he told us were not in his book.”
Ouseley’s new book is slated to appear on shelves this summer.