Payne worked for Al Capone and the Chicago Outfit as a bookeeper for the Chicago Mob, carrying the ledger that contained the names of Capone's associates and how much money they paid him weekly. Payne was therefore an important man in the organization, which is why, during the hunt to capture Al Capone by Eliot Ness of the Treasury Department, they chased after him.
He was captured after a shootout at Union Station, where he was supposed to board a train to Miami from Chicago. Every gangster was killed, including Vito D'Ambrosio, who held Payne at gunpoint to prevent Ness from either killing them both, or shooting the bookeeper and losing his only lead.
Payne worked in the trial and explained to the court what the numbers meant, and worked as a key factor in the persecution of Al Capone.