Sunday, January 25, 2004

Mob ties run throughout city truck program

Friends of ours: Fred Roti, James "Jimmy I" Inendino, Harry Aleman, Joseph "Shorty" Lamantia, Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, Ronald Jarrett, Joseph "Joe the Builder" Andriacchi, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo
Friends of mine: Fred Barbara, Mickey "Gorilla" Gurgone, Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, Duff Family

When the FBI was trying to bring down the mob's 26th Street crew two decades ago, it was investigating men such as Chicago Ald. Fred Roti, his nephew, trucking magnate Fred Barbara, and Mickey "Gorilla" Gurgone, a city worker and noted safecracker.

Today, many of those men or their families are linked to trucking firms that get a big cut of a $40 million annual City of Chicago program where nothing goes out to bid. Business is done with a handshake, without any contracts.

Nick "The Stick" LoCoco was arrested in 1986 on a gambling charge which was later thrown out. At the time of his arrest, he was a city foreman overseeing truck drivers. He rose to be the city's official point man in the Transportation Department for the Hired Truch Program. Indeed, nearly one out of every 10 trucking firms in the city's Hired Truck Program is either owned by alleged mobsters or Outfit associates or by family members, often women, of reputed mob figures, the Sun-Times found.

Robert Cooley, a former mob attorney who cooperated with federal authorities to destroy the Outfit, has told authorities that organized crime in the 1970s and 1980s controlled what is now called the Hired Truck Program. The late Ald. Roti, a made member of the mob, had influence over the program, Cooley has said.

The trucking companies often operate out of the owners' homes, and several lease a single dump truck to the city along with a driver. The firms are paid typically $40 an hour and up.

Trucking companies wanting work in the program for the city's transportation department had to deal with city employee Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, a reputed juice collector and bookie. Mayor Daley's administration put LoCoco in charge of hiring trucks for the no-bid program from 1994 until July 2002 when LoCoco retired.

When the Sun-Times told Daley's budget director, William Abolt, about its findings about the truck program and the mob, he said he was not at all surprised. Abolt is responsible for the Hired Truck Program. "It's something you find in trucking," he said. "I can't say that I'm shocked that you found connections to organized crime in the trucking industry."

"You need better standards for people coming in. There was far too much informality, far too much discretion, as to not enough things written down, how do people get in, how do they get kicked out, how they get put on probation," Abolt said, vowing reform.

The Daley administration is no stranger to embarrassing brushes with the Outfit. Last year, two members of the Duff family were indicted on charges they set up false minority- and women-owned firms to get $100 million worth of work. Family members have alleged ties to organized crime and are longtime political supporters of the mayor.

In 1995, the Daley administration backtracked on a $5.5 million loan to an allegedly mobbed-up deal for a movie studio project on the West Side.

Here are snapshots of some of the men with links to firms in the Hired Truck Program and the Outfit.

MICHAEL ‘THE GORILLA’ GURGONE: Gurgone drove a truck for Streets and Sanitation while moonlighting as a top-notch safecracker, authorities say. For more than 25 years, Michael "The Gorilla" Gurgone drove a truck for Streets and Sanitation while moonlighting as a top-notch safecracker, authorities say.

Gurgone, 67, of the South Side, has a history of arrests but only one significant conviction for a botched $600,000 heist at Balmoral Race Track in 1983.

Gurgone and another man were sitting outside in a vehicle, keeping a lookout for the cops, while their partners were inside, subduing the security guards. But the heist fell apart when a fresh shift of security guards arrived, and the burglars fled.

The men got busted years later when Duke Basile and Paul "Peanuts" Panczko, two men involved in the case, wound up squealing to federal agents. Gurgone was eventually convicted. Gurgone got seven years for the botched burglary, the first time he was convicted. It was a stiffer-than-normal sentence because the federal judge determined that Gurgone had spent much of his life as a burglar.

Gurgone is the brother-in-law of Carmen Schadt Gurgone, the president of Schadt's Trucking, which is in the Hired Truck Program.

Records show Schadt's was set up with the help of a man named Michael Gurgone who lived in the South Side Mount Greenwood neighborhood. It's the same address as the convicted burglar named Michael Gurgone, who has alleged ties to the mob, according to federal authorities. But Gurgone, the burglar, insisted in an interview he was not the Gurgone who helped create Schadt's. "I don't know nothing about it," the burglar said.

Carmen Schadt said in a written response that her company was created with the help of her nephew, Michael Gurgone, a CPA. He is the burglar's son and namesake.

The city paid Schadt's Inc. $396,562 for the first 10 months of 2003 in the Hired Truck Program, records show.

Schadt's is among many firms the city has designated as both a disadvantaged business and female-owned. The city certified Schadt's as a disadvantaged business because it is owned by a woman and it makes less than $17 million annually. So whenever the city hires trucks from Schadt's, it helps the Daley administration meet its goals to set aside business for disadvantaged and female-owned firms.

Schadt's leases eight trucks from Michael Tadin, whose firms make more money than any other in the Hired Truck Program. Tadin is a longtime political supporter of the mayor and grew up in the same neighborhood. Schadt's pays Tadin 88 percent of what those trucks gross, state records show. Schadt's and Tadin say those trucks are not used in the city Hired Truck Program.

After Michael Gurgone got out of jail for the botched Balmoral burglary, he got a job as a truck driver with Tadin's Marina Cartage, police records show. Gurgone said he still works for Tadin.

Out of Schadt's came another female-owned firm owned by a Gurgone, Rhonda Vasquez-Gurgone. She created her company, STR Enterprises, in August 2001, while she was a dispatcher for Schadt's. The growth of her business has been remarkable.

In 2001, when her business started, she made $3,000 from private business, records show. The next year, STR took in a total of $438,949, including about $117,000 from the Hired Truck Program. STR got into the program that year. Last year, the city paid STR $132,875 during the first 10 months, according to the most recent figures.

JAMES INENDINO: Jimmy Inendino’s JMS Trucking firm was approved for the program seven months after he was convicted of ripping off the Town of Cicero in a kickback scheme. Another Outfit figure, once described as a whiz at stealing stuff off trucks, owns a trucking firm that got into the Hired Truck Program.

James "Jimmy I" Inendino has been linked to planning at least one murder and threatening to kill debtors who are behind in their juice loan payments. But his most recent criminal conviction would seem to make him an unusual candidate for the program.

In March 2002, Inendino was convicted with the reputed Cicero mob boss and the town's crooked police chief in a kickback scheme to rip off the town. Inendino is now serving 61/2 years behind bars.

While he was awaiting trial, federal prosecutors tried to revoke his bond when they alleged he bribed a city building inspector, with $1,000 tucked inside a Chicago Sun-Times, for occupancy permits for town homes Inendino was building in Little Italy.

Despite that highly publicized background, Inendino's firm, JMS Trucking, got into the Hired Truck Program in November 2002, after he had been convicted. That's despite city rules that can ban from the program people who have been convicted of bribery or other crimes involving the government. City records show Inendino operated the business out of his Darien home. JMS has taken in about $3,200 from the Hired Truck Program. The city just started using JMS last year, after Inendino was convicted.

Inendino, a convicted loan shark, has a history of threatening to hurt people. When one debtor didn't pay up $250, Inendino, who has been investigated by the FBI and IRS, warned that the man "will never ride a . . . horse the rest of his life."

When another man failed to make his payment, Inendino told a colleague to tell the man "he doesn't owe anything, because when I see him, and I am going to see him, I'm going to break his f------ head."

One of Inendino's friends is Harry Aleman, the infamous hit man who was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison for a murder in which he was originally acquitted because the Outfit bribed the judge in the case, authorities said.

Aleman, Inendino and another partner in crime, Louis Almeida, planned the murder of a fourth associate, Robert William Harder, but the hit didn't go through because they couldn't find him, according to a federal judge's ruling.

Another Inendino friend, Greg Paloian, a convicted bookmaker, also found a sideline in the Hired Truck Program, with his firm Ruff Edge Inc.

Like Inendino, Paloian ran a small trucking company out of his home in Elmwood Park. The money came at a good time for Paloian. He was indicted in January 2001 on bookmaking charges, the same year the city began hiring about five trucks from him. That year, the city paid Paloian about $182,800.

In March 2002, Paloian pleaded guilty in the case and later was sentenced to nearly 3-1/2 years in prison in July in an IRS case. His company was paid nearly $181,500 by the city in 2002. The city stopped using Paloian's trucks after he went to prison.

ROBERT COOLEY AND FRED ROTI: Robert Cooley, a onetime mob attorney, maintains that the late Ald. Fred Roti, a made member of the mob, had influence over the Hired Truck Program. Family members of the late Chicago Ald. Fred Roti have one of the most extensive networks of trucking firms in the program.

Roti was convicted of extortion and racketeering and was called a "made member" of the mob by the FBI. He was also accused of packing the city's Streets and Sanitation Department with mob members and associates. He died in 1999 after serving a four-year prison sentence.

Roti's family members are linked to six companies in the Hired Truck Program, two of them certified as female-owned firms.

One nephew, Frank Roti, has three family members who each have trucking companies in the program. In turn, all three companies lease trucks from a firm owned by Frank Roti, city records show.

One of those three companies, Miffy Trucking, is owned by his daughter, Mary. There are no state or city records showing that Miffy owns any trucks. The firm leases its fleet from FMR Leasing, the firm owned by Mary's father. The city has certified Miffy as both a female-owned business and a disadvantaged business. Miffy, which was created in 1996, is one of the top firms in the Hired Truck Program, making $447,058 for the first 10 months in 2003, city records show.

Together, the Frank Roti family firms were paid about $1.4 million in 2002, trailing only Tadin's companies as the top earners in the program.

Another nephew of the late alderman, businessman Fred Barbara, has a father, wife and mother-in-law with firms in the Hired Truck Program.

Fred Barbara, 56, once owned a huge trucking firm that did business with the city, but he sold it several years ago. His wife, Lisa Humbert, owns Karen's Kartage, a firm she started in 1986 when she was Fred Barbara's secretary at his trucking company. The city paid Karen's Kartage more than $520,000 in 2002.

Fred Barbara says his brother now runs Karen's Kartage, not his wife, and it's no longer certified as a female-owned firm.

Fred Barbara's mother-in-law, Geraldine Humbert, owns a small trucking company that has been in the Hired Truck Program since 1999. She has hired out one truck and driver to the city for $38,720 during the first 10 months of the year.

Fred Barbara's father, Anthony, has one truck in the program.

Fred Barbara owned his trucking company when he was arrested on loansharking charges in 1982 along with Joseph "Shorty'' Lamantia, then a reputed top aide to mob boss Angelo "The Hook'' LaPietra. Also arrested were LaMantia's adopted son, Aldo Piscitelli Jr., and Barbara's cousin, Frank Caruso, another Roti nephew. Caruso's father was the reputed mob boss of Chinatown; his son Frank was convicted in the beating of Lenard Clark, a black teen who was riding his bike through Bridgeport.

Fred Barbara and the others were accused of trying to collect a $20,000 juice loan from an undercover FBI agent posing as a commodities broker. Barbara and his co-defendants were acquitted.

Barbara said those allegations are more than 20 years old and are "old news." "Show me my connection to organized crime. Did I turn the corner? You show me anything in the last 24 years that reflects to that nature," Barbara said.

Carl Galione, an associate of LaPietra's former bodyguard and driver, Ronald Jarrett, owns one company in the Hired Truck Program, while his daughter owns another. Both companies share common addresses on Chicago's Southwest Side and in Downers Grove.

Galione's company, CPS Trucking, started leasing trucks to the city in 2001. The following year, his daughter's company entered the Hired Truck Program.

Galione and Jarrett were indicted on charges of rape and kidnapping in 1980, but a Cook County judge found them not guilty.

Galione, 54, spent six months in a federal prison in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to income tax evasion.

Galione said he was a childhood friend of Jarrett's but that they went their separate ways. When asked if he had any ties to organized crime, Galione laughed and said: "I've got ties to my shoes."

Other companies owned by relatives of organized crime figures also provide trucks to the city:

*Andrich Trucking is owned by Donald Andrich, also known as Donald Andriacchi. He is a nephew of Joseph "Joe the Builder" Andriacchi, who authorities say is a reputed top crime boss. The city has done business with Andrich Trucking for decades.

*Chica Trucking is owned by Patricia Cortez, sister-in-law of Chris Spina, a former city worker once fired for chauffeuring reputed mob boss Joseph "the Clown'' Lombardo on city time. Spina later got his job back. Cortez started hiring out trucks to the city water department in November 2002.

The city paid Greg Paloian about $182,800 for trucks in 2001, the same year he was indicted on bookmaking charges.

Thanks to STEVE WARMBIR AND TIM NOVAK

No comments:

Post a Comment