Friday, September 09, 2005

Federal agents armed with warrant raid Melrose Park police station

Federal agents armed with a search warrant raided the police station in suburban Melrose Park on Thursday, an FBI spokesman said.

"We did have several agents there this morning," FBI spokesman Ross Rice said. The raid, he said, was part of an ongoing investigation but he declined to give details. He also declined to say what the agents were looking for and what, if anything, they found. "No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed," he said.

U.S. attorney spokesman Randall Samborn declined to comment.

A woman who answered the phone at the west suburban police station said that Chief Vito Scavo and his lieutenants were not immediately available to answer questions. The suburb has figured in a number of high-profile criminal cases in recent years. Former Melrose Park Mayor C. Augustus Taddeo pleaded guilty in 1999 to extortion and tax fraud and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.

In recent years, a federal investigation of illegal electronic gambling devices controlled by the mob found that many were installed in Melrose Park taverns and strip joints. And the FBI said recently that the mob has a street crew based in the suburb. The suburb was also the site of the first raid by federal agents in October 1998 on an Illinois drivers license testing station operated by then-Secretary of State George Ryan's office. It was the beginning of the Operation Safe Road investigation of bribes exchanged for drivers licenses and political corruption in the Ryan era.

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