Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Is Cicero Still a Mob Town?

In the 1920s, Al Capone and his gangsters, looking for a safe and protected place, moved their headquarters from Chicago to Cicero, Ill., a small town just west of the city. Some people, including a recent police chief there, say the mob never left. Carol Marin reports for 60 Minutes II. Cicero is a blue-collar town: Very few people in this suburb of about 70,000 ever get rich. But one group there has made money, for the better part of 80 years: a group known simply as "The Outfit."

Since Capone, other big-name bosses controlled the Cicero rackets: Frank Nitti, Capone's enforcer and handpicked successor; Sam "Momo" Giancana, who befriended John Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, among others; and Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, the most feared and respected of all mob bosses.

Nearly 40 years ago, Cicero was described by Cook County State's Attorney Dan Ward as "a walled city of the syndicate."

In 1989, that wall began to crack. The break began with Cicero native Bill Jahoda, who for 10 years was one of the mob's top bookies. He probably made about $10 million for the mob, he says. "I was in the gambling department," he says. "I [was] in the mob's hospitality wing, or the entertainment division. But let me tell you, gambling is a very dangerous and competitive line of work. There were three murders on my shift that I was aware of that related to gambling. In two of those cases I was what would be considered the setup guy. I steered the men to the place where they were ultimately killed."

Not long after that, Jahoda became a government informant, and his testimony helped convict 20 members of a gambling crew headquartered in Cicero. When his work was done, Jahoda left town a marked man. "The mob controlled town hall," Jahoda says. "It wasn't necessarily who was in there; it was who the mob put in there." The police department knew that it shouldn't interfere with the mob's businesses, Jahoda says.

"Any time there's a dollar there, the mob wants a piece of it," he says. "Whether it's coming out of protection, whether it's coming out of graft, whether it's coming out on contracts, whether it's coming out of unions, any time there's a dollar, the mob wants to get about 90 cents on it."

In the 1980s and 1990s the mob's man at town hall was Trustee Fank Maltese, according to Jahoda. Maltese and Betty Loren were married in 1988, with some of the mob's top men in attendance. Three years later a federal grand jury indicted Frank Maltese on gambling and racketeering charges. Maltese pled guilty to the federal charges.

Maltese died before he could be sent to prison, but not before pulling off what some consider his best political fix. In a closed-door meeting with other town trustees, Maltese had his wife, who had never been elected to any office, named Cicero town president. Loren-Maltese, a tough politician with a penchant for big hair and false eyelashes, is still town president. When she took office, she would change Cicero's image, she said.

Cicero doesn't deserve its reputation, she says. "Every community has a problem but apparently we get the notoriety because everybody knows the name Cicero," she says. "Some people in Southern states say, 'Oh my God, Cicero.' They assume that there's hit men with machine guns on the street."

Since 1993 Loren-Maltese has closed down strip joints and taken on street gangs. Three years ago she set out to reform Cicero's police department, which by her own account was corrupt. After a nationwide search, she found David Neibur, at the time the police chief in Joplin, Missouri.

At first Neibur didn't want the job. But then Loren-Maltese promised him that he could root out corruption wherever he found it.

Neibur took the position and began trying to clean up the town. He took a look at Ram Towing, which had the exclusive, lucrative contract to tow cars in Cicero. Ram Towing got that contract after being in business just one week. Over the next two years Ram Towing, along with its sister company, gave more than $30,000 to the political campaign of Loren-Maltese.

Neibur says he had other questions, especially about how some companies were servicing police department vehicles. His department was paying to have cars tuned up that had just been tuned up weeks before, and paid for tires that never arrived, he says.

Neibur told Loren-Maltese about these allegations, he says. He also cited poker machines he says were making illegal payoffs in bars and restaurants. He asked his boss to outlaw the machines, which have been used by the mob as a way to make money. She refused, he says.

The FBI was also interested in the town's operations. It had bugged town hall as part of a corruption investigation with Loren-Maltese as one of the targets. The FBI wanted Neibur's help in its investigation, which is still going on, Neibur says.

Through an attorney, Ram Towing said it has done nothing wrong. When Neibur made his allegations of corruption, Cicero's special legal sounsel at the time, Merrick Rayle, investigated and said he found no wrongdoing. "I didn't hear about any, and I certainly didn't see it," Rayle says. "And it's not my sense, having worked with these folks, that they were corrupt in any fashion.

Rayle served as Cicero's special legal counsel for a year and a half. Besides investigating Neibur's claims, his other principal job was to catch and fire police officers who violated Cicero's residency requirements. His bill was $1.5 million. He did a lot of work for the money, Rayle says. He also contributed around $34,000 to Loren-Maltese's political fund during that time. There is no correlation between the donations and his hiring by the town, Rayle says. Rayle says Loren-Maltese fired him because his bills were too high. His replacement, a personal friend of the president, charged even more.

Even though he was fired by Loren-Maltese, Rayle says that he still likes her. "I think she has done a tremendous job as president of the town of Cicero," he says. "Lesser people would walk away from that job because of the constant turmoil, the constant bad press."

Four and a half months after Loren-Maltese hired Neibur to reform the Cicero police department, she fired him. Neibur is now suing. He was dismissed after turning over documents to the FBI alleging a pattern of fraud, he says. "[One] night, five members of the police department showed up at my house, seized my car, uniforms, ammunition and served me with a letter from Betty saying that I could no longer represent myself as a employee of the town of Cicero in any capacity," he says.

Loren-Maltese refused to comment on any of these matters. In a written statement the town's attorney said: "The exclusively negative nature of the topics submitted for discussion could only serve to harm the improving image of the town of Cicero." But in 1998, she did speak to a local TV station: "Does the town have a problem? Are there investigations going on? Yes. Will there always be? Yes, because we are Cicero."

Loren-Maltese dedicated the town's public safety building to the memory of her husband, the late mob felon.

Jahoda's testimony, which helped convict Maltese, was a blow to the outfit, but it was hardly fatal, he says. The man who now runs the day-to-day operation of the Chicago mob, is a former Cicero resident, Johnny "Apes" Monteleon, according to authorities. "I learned the hard way that Al Capone really never left Cicero," Neibur says. "I believe the organization still exists in Cicero.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Bill Jahoda: The Chicago Outfit's "Mister In-Between"

Friends of ours: Bill "B.J." Jahoda, Al Capone, Ernest "Rocco" Infelice, Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis, Robert "Gahbeet" Bellavia, Louis Marino

Bill "B.J." Jahoda leans against his black Cadillac Fleetwood in the parking lot of the Hamilton Hotel in Itasca, five miles west of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Athletic and well groomed, the forty-six-year-old Jahoda appears unseasonably sun-tanned for a life-long resident of the Midwest. Dressed casually, he could easily be mistaken for a professional golfer. Six-foot-two and a hundred and ninety pounds, he has medium-length, straight brown hair, and striking blue eyes.

Now pacing by his car, Jahoda lights a Raleigh Filter King with his gold Dunhill cigarette lighter and notices his right hand uncharacteristically trembling just a bit. His long slender fingers taper to impeccably manicured nails. He wears a Cartier wristwatch--which notes that it is 8:10 A.M., Thursday, April 20, 1989. A gold ring that cradles a rare U.S. gold coin is on the small finger of his left hand, and a two-and-a-half carat diamond ring adorns the index finger of his right hand.

Actually, Jahoda is neither a golf pro nor the kind of guy who spends his leisure time at a country club. However, he does have, in certain circles, a feared and respected reputation as a savvy businessman. He is, after all, the chief operating officer of a thriving enterprise with $25 million in annual revenues--all of it in cash. Last year alone, he earned more money than the combined annual salaries of the president and the vice president of the United States.

No ordinary entrepreneur, Jahoda works as the managing partner of the Chicago Mafia's most profitable illegal casino gambling and bookmaking operation. The Chicago Crime Commission, the United States Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Justice have already identified him as a key "soldier" in "The Outfit". But, over the past few years, his demanding though profitable career--arbitraging numbers on sporting events, fielding wagers, and hustling rigged casino games--has degenerated into horrific acts of betrayal and violence. Although federal law enforcement agencies and the media have never identified Jahoda as a "hitter" for the Mafia, they suspect him of participating in two highly-publicized gangland murders. Press coverage and scrutiny from the federal government have made him public property.

Overwrought after being conned into playing unwitting roles in the murders of two men he knew and liked, Jahoda has decided to make his most dramatic move in his long career with the underworld. Willing to jeopardize his personal safety, he is prepared to place his life in the hands of his worst enemy: Thomas Moriarty, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service's famed Criminal Investigations Division, a high-tech version of Eliot Ness's unit when he brought down Chicago's Al Capone.

At this moment, Bill Jahoda intends to flip--to give himself up and become a government witness against his colleagues in the Chicago Outfit. This bold plan is even more remarkable and unique, because Jahoda has not been caught and forced to plea-bargain in return for his cooperation. He wants to volunteer to come in on his own--without talking to an attorney or even asking for any promises or concessions from the federal government, which clearly has the power to take away his freedom.

Regardless of the consequences, Jahoda has made this decision as a matter of conscience. Risking everything, he knows only one thing for sure: the biggest gamble of his entire life lays before him.

Because of the obvious dangers, Jahoda has had to concoct a plausible cover to lure special agent Moriarty into his plan. He knows that it would be unlikely for Moriarty to agree to meet with him anywhere alone--because federal agents usually come to Jahoda and other mob figures in teams of two or more.

To complicate matters, Jahoda has been told by his boss--Rocco Infelise, the ruthless consigliere of the Chicago mob--that the local Outfit "owns" a top federal law enforcement official: code name, "Whiskers." Jahoda realizes that Moriarty would not meet with him without talking to his own supervisor. For all Jahoda knows, Moriarty's boss could be "Whiskers". Jahoda needs an explanation in case he and Moriarty are seen together--or if word leaks to "Whiskers" about the meeting and consequently to Rocky Infelise.

The two-hundred-and-fifty pound Infelise has massive hands and forearms, dark, dead eyes and a starkly menacing presence. A horse racing enthusiast, Infelise has a criminal record going back to 1952 with arrests for murder, burglary, armed robbery, and narcotics trafficking. He has also been convicted for firearms violations and the theft of a million dollars in silver bullion. He has a widely-known reputation as a brutal stone killer.

Since getting out of prison in 1978, Infelise has become the most feared street boss in the Chicago Outfit. Now, as consigliere of the local mob, three of the local mob's five street bosses report directly to him: Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis; Robert "Gahbeet" Bellavia; and Louis Marino.

As a prospective government witness, B.J. knows that federal prosecutors will ask him to take dead aim at Infelise and bring him down. Realizing that is no small task, Jahoda always believed that the intuitive Infelise has had the ability to look into his soul. Although Infelise looks like a thug, he possesses a shrewdness that supersedes intelligence. Simply speaking, Jahoda isn't sure that he can take a shot at Infelise and remain composed--without this pathological killer detecting his hidden objective.

Jahoda will have to double-cross Infelise, the man he has depended on and trusted for the past ten years; the man who has given him the opportunity to become wealthy and powerful beyond his dreams.

Meantime, Jahoda, while taking on Infelise, wants to place DeLaurentis, Bellavia, and Marino on his agenda. Although he has no grudge against either Bellavia, a non-descript gangster who appears to have an ability to blend into walls, or Marino, a seemingly friendly guy who can turn deadly in a heartbeat, Jahoda's antipathy toward DeLaurentis has intensified after Solly D recently took the underworld's sacred blood oath and officially became a "made" member of the Mafia.

DeLaurentis has a reputation as the flashiest guy on Infelise's crew. At five-seven, 160 pounds, and triple-tough, DeLaurentis's only goal in life has been to become a mobster. In fact, he would have promised his first born for the opportunity. A good-looking megalomaniac, Solly also prides himself as a talented amateur singer.

With Infelise's 1988 promotion to consigliere, DeLaurentis's power has grown; he has replaced Infelise as the street boss of Lake County. In effect, he is now Jahoda's crew chief.

DeLaurentis's animosity towards Jahoda peaked in September 1985 after Penny Carson--a dark-haired, fiery brown-eyed beauty-- jilted Solly D after two dates and then began a love affair with Jahoda. After making his bones with the Mafia fours years later, DeLaurentis, flexing his newfound power, has told Jahoda that he now has the muscle to avenge all acts committed against him, real or imagined. Jahoda knows that DeLaurentis possesses the patience and authority to order both him and Penny murdered.

To facilitate his plan to flip, Jahoda--still pacing in the parking lot, waiting for Tom Moriarty--has created a ruse. The previous day, he called Moriarty and claimed that the thirty-two- year-old Penny Carson and her ten-year-old daughter, Stacy, have been receiving a sudden rash of obscene phone calls. Jahoda told Moriarty during their conversation, "You people are listening in on our calls! At least, I hope you are! We've got a problem with a pervert! And I need to talk to you in person!"

In effect, Jahoda has to "qualify" Moriarty, even though from past experience he believes him to be incorruptible and relentless. Jahoda wants to weigh Moriarty's reaction to his fictitious problem. Also, he presumes that Moriarty will give him another pitch to become a federally-protected witness-- because he always has.

After putting out his cigarette, Jahoda walks into the hotel and sees the federal agent alone in the coffee shop. Six-foot- one and with green eyes and dark hair, the thirty-six-year-old Moriarty, a twelve-year veteran of the IRS, has investigated, tailed, wiretapped, and attempted to put Jahoda behind bars for over six years. He doesn't have a clue about Jahoda's intentions. In this little coffee shop, amidst the bustle of mid-morning diners, one of law enforcement's most extraordinary adventures is about to begin.

In the wake of this meeting with Moriarty, Jahoda--who was represented by former U.S. Strike Force attorney David Schippers--offered to wear a wire on his colleagues in the underworld. After months of memorializing these conversations, he became the key witness before a federal grand jury and then at the longest criminal trial in the history of the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

The result? Twenty convictions.

Speaking of Jahoda's contribution, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "In Jahoda, the Internal Revenue Service agents [with whom he worked], found a rare combination: a mob insider with a broad vocabulary and a seemingly steel-trap memory."

At Jahoda's sentencing hearing, federal prosecutor Mitch Mars testified for his star witness, saying: "There is no doubt that the cornerstone of that investigation and the cornerstone of the government's success at trial was Mr. Jahoda's cooperation. . . . Mr. Jahoda's testimony led to a single-handed demise of the entire street crew. . . . In my view, his cooperation is unparalleled."

U.S. District Judge Ann C. Williams agreed, concluding at Jahoda's sentencing hearing: "Let me say one other thing that the Court was persuaded by: The fact that when you came to the government, you didn't ask for any consideration, any favors, and no deals. . . . And you knew that given the nature of the information that you had and the length of time you had been involved in this organization and, indeed, your extraordinary memory and the voluminous records that you kept, that the information that you could present to the government would put you in a tremendous bargaining position with respect to your future. . . . It is for that reason that the Court feels that imposing any kind of sentence which would require you to serve in the custody of the Attorney General is not warranted."

A heroic Mafia mutineer, Bill Jahoda deserves better than to be called "a rat."

Thanks to Moldea.com

Deeply Discounted Books



Archive