Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Grand jury hears evidence on ex-member of prison board re: Harry Aleman parole hearing

A grand jury has heard evidence about possible wrongdoing by a former state Prisoner Review Board member who was involved in the 2002 parole hearing for mob "hit man" Harry Aleman, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Until now, public attention in the unusual case has been focused on Ronald Matrisciano, a former assistant deputy director for the state's prison system. Matrisciano, 51, raised eyebrows in December 2002 when he testified during the hearing that Aleman had been "a model inmate" with an "exceptional disciplinary record." But in addition to Matrisciano, the grand jury has heard evidence about a former Prisoner Review Board member involved with the Aleman hearing, sources familiar with the case said. The sources would not name the individual, and it is too early to say whether the person would face criminal charges.

The grand jury, however, is expected to wrap up its work by mid-December, potentially lifting a veil on what investigators have been probing regarding Matrisciano's decision to support Aleman's release.

Matrisciano identified himself as a friend of Aleman's family during the 2002 hearing and said he was not representing the prison system. But he also identified himself as a corrections official -- a move that showed poor judgment, state officials said, and contributed to a January 2003 demotion.

Matrisciano eventually was laid off by the Blagojevich administration, but the Illinois Civil Service Commission ordered him re-hired in March 2004. He immediately was placed on paid administrative leave, where he remains as the investigation continues. He is being paid $78,696 a year.

The Prisoner Review Board decided to keep Aleman -- who is serving a 100- to 300-year sentence for the 1972 murder of a former Teamsters official -- behind bars. Aleman is up for parole again Dec. 7.

Matrisciano has maintained he did nothing wrong in testifying for Aleman three years ago. He had "a number of conversations" with his superiors about the matter and "his testifying did not become an issue" until the press got a hold of it, said his lawyer, Howard Feldman of Springfield.

Thanks to Chris Fusco and Stephano Esposito

Bridgeview officials subpoenaed in probe

Friends of mine: Fred Pascente
Friends of ours: William Hanhardt


The U.S. attorney's office has subpoenaed trustees and employees of the Village of Bridgeview as part of its investigation into whether coercive tactics were used to lure the Chicago Fire soccer team to town.

John LaFlamboy, who was the owner of the World Golf Dome, filed a lawsuit in August against Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek and other town officials saying they ran a conspiracy to strong-arm him into selling his 50 percent ownership interest in the dome to the city. The village used the dome successfully to lure the Fire to Bridgeview.

Subpoenas went out to village trustees and to "a handful" of employees, said attorney Chris Gair, who is representing them. Landek and other possible targets of the investigation apparently did not get subpoenas. Landek declined to comment.

LaFlamboy charges he refused all pressure from the village to sell his dome, even after he said the village sent inspectors and police out to give him bogus tickets, including one for providing pizza without a proper license, even though the pizza was for disabled children. He also faced nuisance lawsuits, he said.

In September 2003, LaFlamboy said Landek's $3,200-a-month consultant, Steve Reynolds, and former Chicago Police detective Fred Pascente showed up at LaFlamboy's office and used strong-arm tactics to pressure him into selling his ownership stake to Pascente for $175,000. LaFlamboy said it was worth about $1.5 million.

Pascente, a friend of convicted former Chicago Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt, has denied wrongdoing or having mob connections, even though he is banned from Nevada casinos for alleged mob ties. He is a convicted felon.

Trustee Norma J. Pinion said she was informed there was a letter on her desk waiting for her regarding the subpoena.

Thanks to Mark J. Konkol and Abdon M. Pallasch

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New head of the Chicago Crime Commission

The ABC7 I-team has learned Illinois is losing its top gambling investigator, who is now taking over as head of the Chicago Crime Commission.

The I-team has learned that veteran mobfighter Jim Wagner accepted the job as president of the Chicago Crime Commission, a position that has been vacant for the past six months. Wagner is a career lawman but will soon leave the government job he has held for five years...that of chief investigator for the Illinois Gaming Board...a post that has put him right in the middle of the Rosemont casino controversy.

As the village of Rosemont saw dollar signs in landing a gambling casino...gaming board chief investigator Jim Wagner saw signs of trouble...alleged mob links to Rosemont mayor Don Stephens, the Emerald Casino and some of it's shareholders. "As you all know the Outfit makes its money on gambling; they always go were the cash is. So we have to remain diligent," said Jim Wagner on April 28, 2005.

Wagner will be remaining diligent against the outfit from a new vantage point: here at the Chicago crime commission where he takes over as president the middle of next month. He is expected to rejuvenate the crime commission's roots...that were planted in 1919: the same year that Al Capone moved to Chicago.

It was no coincidence that the nation's first citizen anti-crime organization grew during the heyday of the Chicago mob. Jim Wagner could be considered a modern day Elliott Ness the G-man who brought down Capone.

As a career special agent with the FBI here in Chicago, Wagner toiled for years on outfit cases, eventually becoming supervisor of the organized crime squad. Wagner had trained many of the federal agents whose investigation recently resulted in the indictment of top hoodlum Jimmy "the man" Marcello and more than a dozen other Chicago mob figures in connection with 18 unsolved gangland murders.

Mr. Wagner will replace Thomas Kirkpatrick as head of the crime commission. Kirkpatrick resigned last summer but his departure wasn't made known until the i-team revealed it ten days ago. "I'd say he did a pretty good job. It was time we branched out into different areas," said Douglas Kramer, Crime Commission Board Chairman in November 15, 2005 I-Team Interview.

One key area will have to be fundraising, attracting financial support from local businesses with programs such as the safe neighborhoods project that featured the late Johnny Cochran in TV ads. "If you're a felon caught with a gun...not even I can get you off, " Cochran says in the ad.

If Wagner can help cure the crime commission's dire financial ailment, his first major duty will be to hire a chief investigator. That person would undoubtedly share Wagner's educated belief that the mob in Chicago is far from dead as some so-called experts suggest.

The crime commission had hoped to keep Wagner's hiring under wraps until the organization's annual luncheon on December 14th, but last week Wagner informed his own staff at the gaming board.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Firm with reputed mob ties flourishes

Friends of ours: Peter DiFronzo, John DiFronzo, James Marcello, Sam Carlisi

Near the front of this fall's Columbus Day Parade rolled a shiny, massive truck from D&P Construction -- one of many signs the local waste-hauling business is prospering.

D&P dumpsters, often emblazoned with painted American flags, have sprouted up all over the Chicago region: at an Old Town-area church being rehabbed; outside a Loop bridgehouse renovated by the Friends of the Chicago River; at a new strip mall in Niles, and along a canal in Evanston. But the company also continues to surface in other places: the files of the FBI and Illinois Gaming Board. Officials from those agencies have, in recent years, repeatedly described D&P as a mob-linked company.

On paper, D&P is run by Josephine DiFronzo. But authorities contend D&P really is "controlled" by her husband Peter and his brother John, and a Chicago Sun-Times examination indicates that Peter DiFronzo is deeply involved with the company.

The DiFronzo brothers are identified in law enforcement documents as "made" members of the Chicago mob, with John "No Nose" DiFronzo, 76, allegedly one of the three top organized crime figures in the city. Peter DiFronzo, 72, allegedly is his chief lieutenant and, at least for a time, was a leader of the mob's Elmwood Park Street Crew.

A recently released report from an Illinois Gaming Board hearing officer offers disturbing new allegations about D&P's operations -- and its success. The report, penned by retired judge and congressman Abner Mikva, cited an internal FBI memo from 2003 that not only alleged that D&P is "controlled by Peter and John DiFronzo," but it also said that the business "obtained contracts through illegal payoffs or intimidation."

Reached on the phone at her Barrington-area home this week, Josephine DiFronzo declined to comment. "I have a wake to go to. I'm just running out the door," she said before hanging up. Neither she nor her husband responded to subsequent phone calls to D&P. John DiFronzo's lawyer had no comment.

Despite the DiFronzos being shy with the press, D&P's profile only has increased in recent years. The company and a sister recycling and materials firm, JKS Ventures, now have sophisticated Web sites that, among other things, boast about them being family-owned for more than 30 years. "Whether it is providing waste removal options, delivering material or tearing down your old facility . . . D&P is 'At Your DISPOSAL!' " the D&P site reads.

D&P and JKS contribute generously to certain politicians, including state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and Republican Cook County commissioner and Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri. D&P, with addresses in Chicago and Melrose Park, co-sponsored a charity golf event earlier this year.

D&P used to operate quietly as a subcontractor for the once-mighty Palumbo Construction, which specialized in road building and public works projects but ultimately ran afoul of the law. Peter and John DiFronzo, one law enforcement source said, had a firm foundation from which to build D&P. "[Peter] knows trucking. He knows road building. He knows construction. He's got experience in those areas," the source said. "And his brother John knows cars. He's been a car dealer his whole life . . . he went to the auctions and would buy cars. He knew a good car from a bad car."

D&P now does a good deal of work leasing dumpsters for home renovations and larger developments. A D&P dumpster even was spotted around the corner from mob turncoat Nick Calabrese's old Norridge home, where a neighbor's building a new house. The number of union employees working for the DiFronzos has doubled in the past few years, said a person familiar with Peter DiFronzo and D&P. "While others are struggling . . . he is getting bigger every day," said the person. "He's definitely moving through the ranks, big and getting bigger."

The person believes D&P is offering competitive prices to beef up its customer list and sell, perhaps to a larger rival. Industry officials contacted in recent days said they aren't aware of that strategy and didn't want to speculate.

A D&P customer willing to talk is well-known developer Sam Zitella, who has used D&P dumpsters "for many years." Zitella lives near Peter and Josephine DiFronzo, and he considers Peter DiFronzo a good friend. "He's been providing my dumpsters for many years, he's a good guy," Zitella said. "He's a hard worker" who helps run a "great operation."

"He's a good person, good family, very family-oriented," Zitella added. "He gets a lot of business because the service is there, decent price."

While some customers are aware of the DiFronzo brothers' reputations, others are not. Like the Archdiocese of Chicago. This week, a D&P dumpster was on site at St. Joseph's Catholic Church near Orleans and Division in the Old Town area. Neither the contractor overseeing a project to convert an old rectory into a parish center nor the archdiocese's construction office apparently was aware of D&P's history.

After a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry to the archdiocese, the contractor agreed to hire a different firm, said Jim Dwyer, an archdiocese spokesman. "We don't micromanage our projects to the extent we would know who's doing the waste hauling," Dwyer said. "The contractor we had wasn't aware of anything like this, and they have volunteered to hire somebody else." Still, "we're not making any judgments about this company," Dwyer said, adding he was not aware of D&P being involved in any other current archdiocese construction work. A D&P dumpster, however, was at an archdiocesan facility on the Northwest Side in recent years.

D&P was widely publicized as a mob-linked firm in March 2001, when the Gaming Board took issue with D&P hauling trash from the Rosemont site where Emerald Casino Inc. tried to build a gambling barge. Emerald's use of D&P, the board stated, was one of many reasons Emerald discredited the integrity of state casino operations and deserved to have its gaming license revoked. Mikva's ruling last week supports the board's original finding. Emerald is expected to appeal the case.

Former federal prosecutor Gregory Jones was the Gaming Board chairman in 2001. Reached Wednesday, he said he wasn't surprised by D&P's growth. "It's a little hard to say what the public reacts to. . . . It could be there are so many allegations surfacing around today that they don't pay too much attention to it until there's some sort of action from a legal standpoint," Jones said. "Our views back from the Gaming Board were that you don't have to be convicted for something to be hurting your reputation or hurting the integrity of gaming. That's a much broader standard."

The DiFronzo brothers have had their share of legal trouble. John DiFronzo, whose family has residences in River Grove, McHenry County and southern Wisconsin, has more than two dozen arrests, and he was convicted in 1993 in a scheme to infiltrate an Indian casino. Peter DiFronzo did time in Leavenworth in the 1960s for a warehouse heist. Their younger brother Joseph, meanwhile, is imprisoned in Springfield, Mo., on federal drug offenses.

Peter DiFronzo's other trouble has stemmed from the Teamsters. In 1998, a government-union agency known as the Independent Review Board tried to kick him out of the group "for being a member of the Chicago La Cosa Nostra . . . and knowingly associating with other organized crime members," according to union documents.

Those reputed mob figures included John DiFronzo and Joseph Andriacchi, described as a childhood friend of Peter DiFronzo. "According to the FBI, [Peter] DiFronzo has a close relationship with his [older] brother," the union documents stated.

Peter DiFronzo was believed to be a liaison between his older brother and other reputed hoodlums, including James Marcello and the late Sam Carlisi, according to records and the law enforcement source. A confidential informant told the FBI in 2001 that John DiFronzo "visits Peter DiFronzo every morning at . . . JKS Ventures, and gives Peter DiFronzo instructions and orders for the day with regards to Chicago Organized Crime," according to testimony at the Gaming Board's Emerald Casino disciplinary hearing.

Peter DiFronzo resigned from the Teamsters in 1998, but did not admit to any of the charges.

Since then, it's clear that he's been part of D&P's operations.

Peter DiFronzo is listed as the D&P contact for the June charity golf event; he's the point person for the sale of an old JKS grinder, according to a U.S. Manufacturing Inc. Web site, and he regularly directs D&P workers, said the source familiar with the company. "He has daily contact with the drivers, or their supervisors," the source said.

Meanwhile, two workers from D&P ran unsuccessfully in the most recent Teamsters Local 731 election, raising concerns among some about whether Peter DiFronzo was trying to exert influence at his former union. "There seems to be a general attitude that there's no need to be concerned about the Outfit" any more, the law enforcement source said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Thanks to Robert Herguth and Chris Fusco

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New charges for 'Mafia cops'

The "Mafia Cops" have something else to digest over Thanksgiving: a new version of the federal indictment accusing them of being hitmen for the mob. Brooklyn federal prosecutors Wednesday released a retooled indictment, their fourth version, in the racketeering charges against ex-NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa.

Eppolito and Caracappa already face a total of 10 homicide charges in the racketeering case that started with their arrest in March. The new indictment didn't add any new murder victims but did add two murder-for-hire allegations to cover the killings of Gambino mobster Edward Lino in 1990 and diamond dealer Israel Greenwald in 1986. The new charges also added a 1982 bribery allegation against Eppolito,56.

News of a new indictment angered defense attorney Edward Hayes who is representing Caracappa, 63. Hayes said the defense now has to revise motion papers, which already cost tens of thousands of dollars to prepare, because of the latest grand jury action. He thinks prosecutors are trying to delay the trial, now set for February. "This is their fourth try to make this case," said Hayes. "I think it is fair to ask if there are facts they want to put before the jury or whether they want to postpone it because they don't see a way to try the case." A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorneys Office couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Caracappa and Eppolito are accused in the case of being hitmen for Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the now imprisoned former acting boss of the Lucchese crime family. Some of the murders took place while they were with the NYPD. Both defendants had been kept for a time in solitary confinement after their arrest in their home state of Nevada. But Brooklyn federal judge Jack B. Weinstein released them on house arrest with separate $5 million bail packages. Eppolito is living with relatives on Long Island while Caracappa is staying at his mother's house on Staten Island.

Weinstein has expressed concern that the original federal indictment has a serious statute of limitations problems. Generally, racketeering conspiracies like the kind Eppolito and Caracappa are charged with require some act to have been committed within five years of the time of indictment. The original indictment was filed in early March of this year.

The most recent homicide in the case was in 1991. However, prosecutors also originally said Eppolito and Caracappa took part in money laundering and a narcotics conspiracy in late 2004.

Challenging the indictment, the defense has claimed that the drug charges aren't related to the earlier Mafia-linked racketeering homicides and thus can't save the indictment from dismissal. After Weinstein also stated in court that he thought the case had a problem with the statute of limitations, prosecutors began revising the indictment to include crimes as late as October 2002. Prosecutors also made Eppolito and Caracappa the racketeering enterprise, instead of La Cosa Nostra. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned next Wednesday.

Thanks to Anthony DeStefano

Pier Pressure

Friends of ours: Alex "The Ox" DeBrizzi, Anthony Scotto, Gambino Family, Genovese Family, George Barone, Tommy Cafaro
Friends of mine: Al Cernadas

Mob domination of the dock workers' union is the stuff of legend in New York. For more than half a century, the International Longshoremen's Association has provided a haven for a rogues' gallery of hoodlums, ranging from Alex "The Ox" DeBrizzi, who kept his local union's treasury in a jar at home, to the urbane Anthony Scotto, the ex-Mafia capo who called mayors and governors his friends. With leadership like that, the ILA had a decades-long losing streak in the city's courtrooms, as scores of officials were convicted of extortion, racketeering, and worse crimes perpetrated from their waterfront roosts. But that streak ended dramatically this month when a pair of high-salaried ILA officials won acquittal on fraud and conspiracy charges in Brooklyn federal court. "This case is about the Mafia's stranglehold on the ILA," prosecutors promised jurors when the case got under way in late September. But eight weeks later, the jury found Harold Daggett, the head of New Jersey's most powerful local union, and Arthur Coffey, the leader of its growing Florida chapters, not guilty on all counts. Jurors even voted to acquit a third defendant, an alleged captain in the Genovese crime family who disappeared and was believed to have been murdered midway through the trial. "The jury was so disgusted they acquitted an empty chair," said Gerald McMahon, a defense attorney in the case.

The only conviction was of a man named Al Cernadas, the former leader of a large Newark local union who had the bad luck to have pled guilty before the trial began, admitting that he knew about, but failed to prevent, a mob plot to foist an expensive medical plan upon the members.

Immediately after the acquittals on November 8, the union issued a press release hailing the verdict. "Today is a wonderful day for our ILA," said international union president John Bowers, whose father and uncle once ruled the "pistol local" on Manhattan's West Side docks, so named because that weapon settled all disputes.

Two days later, Bowers's office announced that the union had taken additional cleanup steps. A new code of ethics that bars officials from associating with organized crime figures, among other prohibitions, was made a permanent part of the ILA constitution; an outside investigator - former state appellate judge Milton Mollen - was given an expanded, three-year term to look into corruption allegations, and a former top federal judge, George C. Pratt, was named to serve as a final arbiter on ethical matters. "It is a checks-and-balances system to show that the ILA is serious about reform and protecting members' rights," said union spokesman James McNamara.

The union's other acknowledged goal is to short-circuit a civil racketeering case against the ILA filed in Brooklyn by the U.S. Department of Justice this summer. The lawsuit alleges that the union has long been controlled by the Gambino and Genovese crime families and calls for a court-im posed trusteeship and the ouster of Bowers and other top officials. When the lawsuit was filed in July, Bowers accused the government of perpetuating "an outdated stereotype" of the union and focusing on "stale allegations of wrongdoing." Bowers said the feds had ignored its efforts to turn itself around, including adopting the ethics code and hiring Judge Mollen.

"The ILA's commitment to honest trade unionism and vigorous representation of its members' interests is second to none," said Bowers. But not everyone's been convinced. Tony Perlstein, co-chairman of a group called the Longshore Workers' Coalition which has members at ports around the country, said the union has much further to go. "I don't believe having an ethics counsel is sufficient," he said. The coalition is demanding direct elections for members of the union's executive council and salary caps for officers. (At the Brooklyn trial, prosecutors made a point of introducing evidence of the high salaries paid Coffey, who took in $353,000 in 2003, and Daggett, who topped out at $475,000 the same year.)

Part of the government's problem was that the defendants were not accused of violent crimes, while its own witnesses had murder and mayhem on their resumes.

The prosecution's most compelling testimony came from George Barone, an ailing 81-year-old former top ILA leader and Genovese mobster. Barone, whose testimony helped convict a group of Gambino mobsters at an earlier trial, said he had committed more hits than he had counted. "I didn't keep a scorecard, y'know," he barked at one point. His tool of choice was a gun, and his deadly m.o., defense attorney McMahon pointed out, was one shot to the chest to stun the victim, followed by a kill shot to the head.

At some point in the early 1980s Barone had threatened to kill Daggett, then a young union official. Barone told the story in a matter-of-fact manner, acknowledging that Daggett's demise was discussed and that someone had pegged a shot in his direction during the confrontation. But then an unusual thing happened. Guided by George Daggett, his attorney (and cousin), Harold Daggett took the stand and gave his own account of the incident.

He was in the midst of making plans to build a new headquarters for his union, Local 1804-1, moving it from the lower West Side docks to northern New Jersey, where the jobs had already migrated, when a mob messenger named Tommy Cafaro told him that Barone wanted to see him. Daggett said he agreed to get in the car, and it raced up the FDR Drive to East 115th Street. There, he was escorted into a large fruit and vegetable store, through a steel door to a darkened room at the rear. "It was dark, boxes all around, no windows," said Daggett. A single lightbulb illuminated Barone, who sat with his back to him. Two other men stood at the door. On the floor was a large, empty canvas bag with an open zipper. All of a sudden, Barone threw down the paper he'd been reading and snarled at Daggett: "You motherfucker, who the fuck are you to take this local away from me? I'm going to fuckin' kill you." Daggett broke down sobbing as he told the story ("blubbering," as the Daily News' John Marzulli reported it). Judge Leo Glasser told him to relax and take a drink of water. Daggett soldiered on. " 'This is my fuckin' local; I built this local,' " he said Barone screamed. " 'I'll kill you, your wife, and children.' He pulled out a gun and shoved it in my head. I said, 'Please, don't do this to me,' and he cocked back the trigger, and he said, 'I will blow your brains all over the fuckin' room. I'm going to kill you.' "

Barone didn't shoot. Instead, after some more growling, he told Daggett he could leave. But he couldn't. "I was so nervous I urinated all over myself," Daggett testified. "I couldn't walk. I said, 'I can't move.' I thought one of them was going to shoot me in the back of the head, and I opened the door, and I could hardly walk. I walked and I kept thinking, 'They're going to shoot me.' " At the door, Barone dismissed the staggering Daggett. "Take this guy back to his local," Barone instructed his emissary.

Pending the outcome of the trial, Daggett and Coffey were both suspended from their posts, albeit with pay. Since their acquittal, "they're unsuspended," an ILA spokesman said. But Judge Mollen, the union's ethical-practices counsel, still has jurisdiction over any violations he finds. "I have obtained the transcript of the trial and I have a big stack of it on the floor," he said. "I am reading."

Thanks to Tom Robbins - Village Voice

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'Sopranos' actor sentenced to anger management therapy

Friends of ours: Soprano Crime Family

"Sopranos" actor Vincent Pastore pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to assault a former girlfriend last spring. As part of the plea deal, Pastore will perform 70 hours of community service, attend six months of weekly anger management therapy and pay a $190 fine. If convicted at trial, he could have been sentenced to as much as a year in jail.

Big PussyPastore, 59, was accused of attacking Lisa Regina, 44, during an argument in the Little Italy neighborhood. Prosecutors said he punched her in the back of the head, grabbed her hair and forced her head down on a car's gear shift. When the judge asked Monday whether he attempted to strike Regina, Pastore replied, "Yes, I did."

The actor, a Navy veteran, said he wanted to serve his community service at a Veterans Administration hospital in the Bronx neighborhood where he was born. Pastore's attorney Dominic Barbara said his client has been receiving anger management therapy for 10 months.

Pastore is most noted for his role as gangster Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, who was killed early in the series as payback for snitching on the mob. He has appeared in three subsequent episodes in flashbacks and dreams.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Come out, Joey, wherever you are

Friends of Ours: Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Frankie "The German" Schweihs, Mike Swiatek, John "No Nose" DiFronzo

Dear Joey, It happened again this week. Somebody called to say they had spotted you in a restaurant on Grand Avenue. "Swear to God," the tipster told me, "it was the Clown."

As you know, a lot of folks are spending a lot of time looking for you. Chief among them, of course, is the FBI. They're still pretty embarrassed about the fact that you weren't home in bed last spring when they came early one morning to wake you up and haul you away.

It certainly didn't help matters that your co-defendant, Frankie "The German" Schweihs, has also given them the slip. For a couple of guys in their late 70s, you two are really "The Sunshine Boys" of the federal fugitive list.

Monday in Chicago, U.S. District Judge James Zagel is going to set a trial date for you and other defendants in your case. I know from the letter you sent to the judge last summer that you said you're an innocent man. And that you had nothing to do with those 18 unsolved mob murders. The feds don't buy that, of course, and really wish you'd attend your own trial. Because of all the attention you're getting, Joey, I think you should know your friends are getting just a bit jittery.

I say that because of another tip I got a couple of weeks ago. It seems there was an anniversary party at the Victoria Banquet Hall in Norridge last month. I'm sure you've been there many times over the years for weddings and parties and funeral lunches. It's a great place. Good food.

Anyway, this party was in full swing. And according to the tip, among those in the room was Mike Swiatek. You know Mike, of course. The feds list him as a member of your Grand Avenue crew. Like you, he's done time in the joint but is out on parole now. Also at the party supposedly was the infamous mobster, John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Right in the middle of this party, I'm told, the weirdest thing happened! Quoting the tip I received, "During the event an individual's foot came through the ceiling of the room, and when the partygoers investigated, they discovered that it was the foot of an FBI agent who was filming and recording the event. Needless to say, the partygoers departed rapidly."

They fled, according to the tipster, believing that the feds had come looking for you. Well, Joey, I just had to find out if this was true. So first I called the FBI. Special Agent Frank Bochte told me he had "no knowledge that that had occurred." If it had, he said, he would have heard.

Then I called Mike Swiatek. He wasn't home, but the woman who answered (she didn't think it was a good idea to give me her name) said, "Oh, my God!" when I explained why I was calling. She took my number and said she'd have Mike call me. He must be busy because he hasn't called back.

Finally, I called the Victoria Banquet Hall and talked to the manager. He was very nice but also not eager to read his name in the paper. "Oh, my God!" he said in a now familiar refrain. "That's a false rumor tip," he said.

Well, yes and no.

"We did have an incident where a dishwasher [was up in the attic and] stepped on a heater vent . . . and pushed a ceiling tile down from the ceiling, yes, we did have that happen." He went on, "There was something [a foot] through the ceiling, but that's the only part that's correct. The FBI were never in the building unless they were here unbeknownst to any of us. There were no cameras in the ceiling, I can guarantee you that."

Oh, by the way, Joey, I asked him if by any chance John DiFronzo or Mike Swiatek was at that party."One of those names was at the party," he told me.

Can you say which one? "I don't think I should," he said. "You're putting me on the spot."

He was a very nice man, Joey, and I didn't want to be pushy.

All of this is to say we haven't heard from you lately. Your last letter, mailed to your attorney, Rick Halprin, in August, was postmarked Chicago and included several clippings from the Sun-Times in which you noted the FBI had done you wrong.

So since there is a chance that you might be reading this, how about a call or a letter? I won't even put in for the $20,000 reward the FBI has offered for information. Or better yet, why not show up in person? You've had your fun with the feds, scared your friends and lived up to the reputation for being "The Clown."

It's time to turn yourself in.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mob Movies: Chicago Style

Movie Producer and native Chicagoan J. Kenneth Ezra explains, Chicago still has the typical mobster types, you know like Johnny Garlic, Snake Man, and Bobby the Hitmen types. But the Chicago mob is different than other cities. First off, the mob in Chicago took on characteristics like the city itself. They worked hard. I mean, they wake up early and leave work very late. And seldom do they show off like their granddad Al Capone. Those days are long gone.

J. Kenneth Ezra is producing a package of 10 movies. In the remake of the independent "The Right thing" (see trailer at Razor Films ), his partnership with director and writer Vito Brancato gives us an authentic viewpoint in the Chicago mob scene. Tony Russo a low level street guy gets caught up in the power struggle between the Chicago Police Department, which is notorious for getting in the way of the mob, and a powerful mob boss, who if you didn't know any better you'd think was a retired electrician living in the posh Chicago suburban sprawl.

We have many stars interested in the roll of Tony Russo who plays the low level mob guy, who takes desperate measures when he's thrown in a desperate situation. "Russo really embodies Chicago mob characteristics in 70's and 80's." Ezra explains. "This guy is bitter about his roll in the stingy Chicago mob hierarchy, who moves like a big old money corporation, very slow to try new things. He hates that the tops guys. They don't get out sync and let some of the little guys in on bigger deals. Just like any Chicago entity, the Chicago mob has a notorious lack of funding for research and development.

They'd rather live on the power and royalties of the old proven products. Successful corporations keep solid growth and market share" In this truth life story you see when things get out of hand the Chicago mob handles the situation like IBM, they isolate the problem, come up with a solution and follow-through so the product and efficiency is not disrupted. In the end, they get up early, work hard, bear the freezing Windy City and keep collecting.

"I try to develop talent that is passionate and highly knowledgeable about their subject. A love for putting it on film is a must. Vito turns out to be just that. I was impressed by his original script "Blackstone" which aired on PBS. He took a well known Chicago street rumor. Kennedy was to be assassinated during his trip to Chicago before he moved on to Dallas." I loved that Vito took that rumor and filled in the blanks. Especially, when he did the hard work of actually interviewing people "supposedly close to the story". I don't think you find that kind of authenticity in filmmakers today. I want to produce and development people with that kind of talent, passion and knowledge about what they're filming. The rest will translate on the big screen and the funding and great audience reaction will follow.

A prominent Hollywood agent reports, "It's a pleasure to see someone for the last 7 years stay the course and rise up." Ken is so committed to authentic films he volunteered to work the craft-service table on the set of After Freedom, director Vahe Babian, a film about Armenians adjusting to life here in Los Angeles. "If it's true, real and authentic. I want to part of it. Even if I have to literally serve everyone on the set. Being part of his film continues my journey of authenticity. I think our film "The Right Thing" is the right thing for authenticity.

Thanks to J. Kenneth Ezra - Razor Films

Shake-up at top of Chicago Crime Commission

There has been a shake-up at the top of Chicago's oldest citizen crimefighting organization. The ABC7 I-Team has learned Chicago Crime Commission President Tom Kirkpatrick is out after more than 10 years.

The Chicago Crime Commission is the oldest crimefighting force of its type in the nation. The organization of 200 business, civic and professional leaders from metro Chicago has been at the forefront of crime prevention in the city for 85 years. It is not unusual for such a group to make a change at the top. What is astounding is that the president of the crime commission resigned back in July and we have just now learned about it.

"When I first came there 10 years ago, it had sort of stalled in the water a little bit," said Thomas Kirkpatrick, former crime commission president. Tom Kirkpatrick's tenure at the Chicago Crime Commission was the longest of any president in decades. When Kirkpatrick submitted his resignation last summer, there was a mutual parting of the ways. "I'd say he did a pretty good job. Over the last 10 years the crime commission branched out into different areas," said Douglas Kramer, crime commission board chairman.

The crime commission first made its name in the roaring 20s, establishing a citizen's frontline against the Chicago mob. For decades, the commission focused on how to rid Chicago of the outfit, criminal rackets and the public corruption it takes to keep the mob in business. Under Kirkpatrick's reign, the crime commission widened its sights.

"You can't always rest on our past glories," said Kirkpatrick. "We have to focus on crime today, which turned out to be gangs, street crime. Remember when Chicago was murder capital? Now look at us, we've reduced murders by fantastic amounts through coordinated efforts."

In the well publicized safe neighborhoods project, the crime commission and the US attorney in Chicago alerted convicted felons that if they committed another crime with a gun, they would serve time in federal prison.

"In the last four years they have put into the federal penitentiary system about 800 former or convicted felons who were caught on the street with a firearm," Kramer said. "Don't you think that has had something to do with the reduction of murders in Chicago?

Kirkpatrick says that he is most proud of the crime commission's role in establishing multi-suburb task forces to investigate major crimes. The crime commission was highly critical of how local police bungled their investigation of the Brown's Chicken massacre in 1993.

Despite new criminal threats in Chicago, Kirkpatrick says the commission should still keep one eye on the outfit. "It's certainly not dead," he said. "There is certainly more money to be made. Gambling, sports betting, still controlled by an organization. You have to have an organization to cover those bets."

The fact that almost four months passed before anybody noticed that the crime commission had no president might be taken as a sign that the commission has lost its public edge. But commission board chairman Doug Kramer says they just wanted to mount a quiet search for Kirkpatrick's replacement.

The board has hired someone and wanted to name him Tuesday night at the crime commission's annual dinner. But the new president has outside commitments until next month and won't be named until then.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie ABC7Chicago

Mobster's son can star in "House Arrest"

Friends of ours: Joseph Colombo

The son of an infamous Mafia don can remain under a lenient house arrest that allows him to do a reality TV show in which he visits a strip club and parties with poker pals, a federal judge ruled on Monday. Christopher Colombo, son of the assassinated mob chief Joseph Colombo, was indicted on racketeering charges in March 2004 and released on $1 million bail. His bail terms were eased for "family needs."

Prosecutors said the show "House Arrest" for the cable channel HBO "makes a mockery" of the house arrest set up initially to give Colombo more time to spend with his family. He used it "to generally gallivant around town with his associates" for the "docu-comedy," they said, and argued he should be barred from making more episodes of the show. But Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald disagreed, saying she would reconsider her ruling "if the government can produce evidence that Mr. Colombo has violated the terms of his bail."

The initial HBO episode, which is set to air November 24, purports to show a day in the life of Colombo, who wears an ankle bracelet that tracks his movements. The camera follows Colombo as he showers in the marbled bathroom of his plush home, spends time with his children and wanders his upstate New York county looking for a priest to hear his confession. When he does, the confession is largely done on camera.

Along the way he visits his Bronx tailor, a strip club, his favorite Chinese restaurant and sees a show by a Judy Garland impersonator. Then he races back to his country home to beat a court-imposed curfew. He ends up in a basement poker game with friends and two women guests who bare their breasts for the camera and promise a "happy ending" to his day.

Throughout the episode he jokes about his legal dilemma. When a stripper asks him whether he did something bad to get arrested, he says, "I don't know if I'm innocent. But I'm not guilty."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Illinois Gaming Board and Emerald Casino

Friends of Ours: Sam Giancana, James Marcello, John DiFronzo
Friends of Mine: Donald Stephens, Vito Salamone, Joseph Salamone, Nick Boscarino, Peter DiFronzo, Michael Marcello

Recommendations to the Illinois Gaming Board
In the Matter of Emerald Casino, Revocation of License Proceeding
Abner J. Mikva
Administrative Law Judge.

This matter officially commenced on March 6, 2001 when the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB, the Board) formally revoked the license of Emerald Casino, Inc. (Emerald) pursuant to Section 5(c) of the Illinois Riverboat Gambling Act (The Act) and Subpart K of the Rules of the IGB (Rules). Emerald duly answered (Answer) the complaint for disciplinary action (complaint) and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was appointed to hear the matters in dispute concerning the revocation.

Protracted hearings were held by Herbert Holzman, ALJ, until August 4, 2004 when he recused himself from further proceedings o the matter. On April 14, 2005 the undersigned was appointed as successor ALJ and continued the hearings until their conclusion. A short procedural history of Emerald and its Owner's license follows.

On July 9, 1992, Emerald, then known as H.P. Enterprises, was issued a three - year Owner's License by the IGB for a riverboat gaming operation in East Dubuque, Illinois. Subsequent renewals of that license were granted in July, 1995 and July, 1996.

On December 1, 1994, the Board issued a disciplinary complaint against Emerald for its failure to obtain prior Board approval to change its equity and debt capitalization and for failure to notify the Board of its source of funds. Emerald had entered into various loan agreements in July, 1994 that were not timely disclosed to or approved by the Board. Emerald was fined $30,000.00.

In June, 1997 IGB denied Emerald's renewal application for its failure to submit a responsive renewal application, significant compliance shortcomings and failure to adhere to the overall requirements of the Act. Emerald stopped gaming operations in July, 1997. Emerald requested an administrative hearing regarding the denial of its renewal application and in 1999, at the conclusion of hearings, the ALJ concurred with the Board and recommended that the Board take final action to deny the renewal of Emerald's license.

However, before the Board acted on the ALJ's recommendations, the Illinois General Assembly amended the Act by adding a provision that "A licensee that was not conducting Riverboat Gambling on January 1, 1998 may apply to the Board for renewal and approval of relocation to a new home dock location ... and the Board shall grant the application and approval upon receipt by the licensee of approval from the new municipality or county as the case may be in which the licensee wishes to relocate...". This provision, Section 11.2 of the Act, became effective June 25, 1999.

Emerald accordingly applied for renewal of its license and for relocation for its operations to Rosemont Illinois. IGB undertook an investigation of Emerald and its key persons and proposed stockholders. The Board denied the renewal of Emerald's license on January 30, 2001. Emerald took an appeal from IGB's denial of the license and the case was heard both by the Appellate Court of Illinois and the Supreme Court of Illinois. Both these courts agreed with Emerald's contention that "shall" is mandatory in Section 11.2 of the Act and that the Board had no discretion in terms of the renewal of the license. However, both courts specifically upheld IGB's authority and discretion in all other respects under the Act and specifically told IGB that it could pursue the revocation hearings, which had previously been instituted. (Philip N. Crusius v. The Illinois Gaming Board, et al., Case No. 98351 September 22, 2005) IGB accordingly modified its directive to the undersigned to pursue only the revocation proceeding and to discontinue any reference to the denial of the renewal which had been previously been heard as part of the same proceeding. The findings of fact and conclusions of the law, which follow, pertain, therefore, to the revocation.

Two lengthy and complete staff reports were prepared pertaining to the Board's revocation action. Both of those reports are included in the record and made available to Emerald as part of this proceeding. There were 59 hearing days in this matter. The record consists of 6498 pages. The Board offered 440 exhibits and Emerald offered 112 exhibits, all of which are made a part of this record. All subpoenas requested by Emerald were carried out except that I rejected efforts to call Chairman Jaffe as a witness in this proceeding, since he is one of the ultimate adjudicators. (R. 5223) The Inspector General also resisted a subpoena as to one of its investigations of a board employee. Emerald conducted interrogation as to that investigation through another witness. And in both instances Emerald made offers of proof which are part of the record. The Board made an offer of proof in lieu of cross-examining one of Emerald's witnesses. I did not deem any of the allegations in any of the offers of proof to be pertinent to the outcome of this proceeding.

I recommend to the IGB that it confirm its order of revocation against Emerald and that order be made final pursuant to the Act. My Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are as follows:

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. EMERALD AND ITS PRINCIPALS DISSEMBLED ABOUT ITS PLANS TO MOVE THE LICENSE LOCATION TO ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS.

Emerald's gambling operations at East Dubuque, Illinois had been financially unsuccessful for some time. At least since 1995 Emerald had been making efforts to move those operations either by obtaining permission from IGB or by lobbying to get legislation passed, which would allow such relocation. IGB did not have the legal authority to authorize such relocation.

(R. 2846)

In November, 1997 an entity known as Lake County Riverboat LP entered into negotiations with Emerald to create a joint venture for gaming operations in Lake County, Illinois. (R. 1880) On or about November 6, 1997, the parties entered into a non-disclosure agreement. (R. 1887) On November 12, 1997, the parties entered into a joint venture agreement. Neither of the agreements were ever disclosed to the IGB and were not discovered by the IGB until subsequent litigation between Emerald and the Davis Companies. (R. 473-75, 485-88, 2963) These negotiations were largely conducted by Joe McQuaid and Kevin Flynn on behalf of Emerald. Their roles in this matter will be further discussed below.

In 1997, Kevin Flynn and Victor Cassini, on behalf of Emerald met with Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens at the mayor's office (R. 393, R. 5301-5304). At that meeting, Flynn and Stephens discussed the possibility of relocating the Emerald Casino operation to the Village of Rosemont, according to Stephens in his sworn statement and in his testimony in this hearing. (R. 395-96) Kevin Flynn acknowledged that he met with Mayor Stephens, but testified that they only talked about the Flynn's Blue Chip operation in Indiana. Kevin Flynn's testimony in this aspect was not credible. (R. 2431-32)

In October, 1998 Kevin Flynn and David Filkin, then Vice President and General Counsel of Duchossois Industries, met with other representatives of Duchossois to discuss legislative efforts which would allow the relocation of the Emerald Casino. (R. 1783) Kevin Flynn commented that the Village of Rosemont was "a no brainer" as far as relocation. (R. 1785-86) At or about that same time the Davis Companies of California were also interested in owning or investing in a casino in Illinois, particularly in Rosemont. Michael Colleran was a Vice President of the Davis Companies. (R. 1789) In December, 1998, Kevin Flynn agreed to sell an ownership interest in the Emerald operation to the Davis Companies and to the Duchossois group. The Davis Companies would purchase 37.5 percent of the Emerald operation, while the Duchossois group would purchase 20 percent of the Emerald operation. The parties agreed to cooperate to pass legislation that would allow the casino to relocate. (R. 1806-07) This was all set forth in the First Amended Complaint in the Davis litigation. In addition to the three way split between the Flynns, the Davis Companies, and the Duchossois group , a 5 percent ownership interest in the casino was reserved for "local investors". (R. 1806-07) In Mayor Stephens sworn statement to IGB of September 2000, Mayor Stephens testified that as to the 5 percent designated for local investors, "that was for me". (Stephens sworn statement at 69-70) At or about that same time, Filkin telephoned Kevin Flynn and Kevin Flynn confirmed to Filkin the terms of the agreement. (R. 1809-10) The IGB was not notified of any of these agreements at any time until the Davis Companies tried to enforce the agreements through litigation. (R. 1844-45)

Throughout 1998 and 1999, the Duchossois group and the Davis group were actively involved in and supported the legislative initiative to authorize Emerald's relocation. (R. 1815-16) The Village of Rosemont and Mayor Stephens also participated in the lobbying efforts in 1998-99 to pass the legislation allowing relocation of Emerald's license. (R. 5352) In his sworn statement Mayor Stephens stated "you get a bill down there and I can probably kill it with people that I know in the forty-five years I have been around. I can convince enough people to squash your bill unless it is something the public really wants." (Stephens sworn statement at 47).

Emerald repeatedly told IGB that it never considered Rosemont as its prospective site until after Section 11.2 of the Act was passed by the General Assembly. As late as the filing of its Verified Answer in this proceeding, paragraph 15, it maintained that position. Everybody else seemed to know differently. The legislative history of the debate during which Section 11.2 of the Gaming Act was approved, was replete with references to Rosemont as the designated city for the relocation.

Representative Hoeft said "We're [taking the riverboat] and putting it in Rosemont and anyone here that tells me that we're not doing that, pardon the pun folks, but you want to make a bet, because that is where this boat is going." (Transcript from May 21, 1999, Illinois House of Representatives debate on SB 1017, at 102). Senator Shaw said: "and most of us do not come from such rich districts as up in Rosemont and up in Arlington ...I do not have anything against Rosemont... [Now] the argument is going to be, but do I know it is going to Rosemont. Let me tell you this; Those of us who are elected to this Body we did not come out of the dust closet to get here: we understand this process." (Transcript from May 24, 1999, Illinois Senate debate on SB 1017 at 117)

Senator Welsh stated, "the question that we have to ask is why it is going where it is going. Is that really economic development or are we just cutting a deal that started out being dock site gambling for ---- to keep a few boats going... [W]e've come to some kind of - secret agreement that it is going to Rosemont. And to get it there, another person, who wanted it up in Arlington Heights, agreed to give up his contention that he deserved it in exchange for a piece of the pie... what we have here is akin to a run-away train." (Transcript from May 24, 1999, Illinois Senate debate on SB 1017 at 123)

It was not until July, 1999, that Emerald's attorney advised IGB that it intended to move its operation to Rosemont. (R. 182, 183)

In October, 1999, the parties who had cooperated to see that the legislation allowing the new location had passed were still cooperating with each other and with Mayor Stephens. A fundraiser for the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund produced the following contributions:

a. American Trade Show Services Inc. -donated $25,000 to the Fund. Nick Boscarino- husband of a new Emerald investor, Sherri Boscarino, is a principal of that company. The Boscarino interests, persons who were called to testify in these hearings, asserted their Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer any questions. The Individuals contributed $21,000 to the Fund.

b.
D & P Construction, which ended up a contractor for Emerald,
contributed $5,000 to the Fund.
c.
The Davis interests contributed $20,000 to the Fund.
d.
The Duchossois interests contributed $21,000 to the Fund.
e.
The Flynn interests contributed $25,000 to the Fund.

Loans to by Parkway Bank to the Fund were extensive. Apparently there was one gift of over $208,000 (R. 6095) As will be detailed below, principals of Parkway were included as secret investors in Emerald. These included its president, Rocco Suspenzi. Mr. Suspenzi as well as Jeffrey Suspenzi were subpoenaed to testify in this proceeding, but exercised their Fifth Amendment rights.

The refusal of Mr. Rocco Suspenzi and Mr. Jeffrey Suspenzi to testify at these board proceedings, notwithstanding their secret investment in Emerald, and notwithstanding their closeness to Mayor Stephens and his activities, entitled IGB to draw inferences from these political loans and contributions, notwithstanding the "legality" and "timing" of such loans and contributions.

Counsel for Emerald insisted that all of these contributions were legal and indeed they are. Illinois has no limit on contributions nor does it prohibit contributions from investors or would-be investors in the gaming industry. However, IGB was entitled to infer from contributions and their timing and the lobbying efforts acknowledged by the parties involved that there was indeed an agreement in 1998-99 to get such legislation passed through the General Assembly, to relocate the Emerald gaming operations to Rosemont, and to divide the pie in some kind of secret arrangement.

2. THE RENEWAL APPLICATION FILED BY EMERALD ON SEPTEMBER 28, 1999 WAS NEITHER ACCURATE NOR COMPLETE.

Joe McQuaid testified that as the responsible official of Emerald, he completed and filed the Renewal Application. He testified that he reviewed the instructions for the application carefully. (R. 3176-77) As would be detailed, Mr. McQuaid had extensive experience as the Chief Enforcement Officer and Interim Administrator of IGB for many years immediately prior to being employed by Emerald. Indeed he was the official of IGB who signed the first disciplinary action against Emerald in 1994, which resulted in the $30,000 fine against Emerald.

Notwithstanding Mr. McQuaid's experience and his testimony that he had reviewed the instructions, the application stated that none of the shareholders were public officials or relatives of public officials. A list of stockholders submitted to IGB included a relative of State Representative Ralph Caparelli, one of the prime movers of the relocation amendment to the Act, as well as two other public officials. McQuaid never asked any of the persons involved whether or not they were public officials and testified that he thought that it was not important to ask such questions because none of the stock purchased and transferred to these public officials had ever been approved by the IGB. Therefore, even though the proceeds of such sales and others were used by Emerald, McQuaid's position was that it was of no consequence who the stockholders were until the IGB finally approved the transfer. Neither McQuaid nor anyone else at Emerald had ever examined the Personal Disclosure Forms (PDF) which were submitted to the Board directly.

The application also requested that Emerald submit "all agreements, arrangements, and commitments related to proposed gaming facility and related projects". Emerald submitted five agreements, none of which were pertinent to this inquiry and stated it had not executed any other agreements. In fact, Emerald had executed a letter of intent with the Village of Rosemont; Emerald made no reference to any of the arrangements that it had made with the Davis interests (which were about to lead into a law suit filed by Davis).

The application specifically asked whether the licensee or any of its affiliates had been a party to any legal action, including pending or threatened litigation. Emerald did not include any information about the threatened litigation by the Davis companies, even though the Davis companies had already planned a complaint and notified Emerald of that fact.

One of the questions asked whether any current or proposed shareholders had been arrested, charged, indicted, convicted etc. of any felony or misdemeanor. Emerald answered by saying it relied on the PDF's that were submitted directly to the Board. Emerald thus sought to absolve itself of any responsibility for the identity of the stockholders other than perfunctory interviews by Mr. McQuaid. As will be detailed below, several proposed stockholders were covered by that question, but not disclosed to IGB.

In July and August 1999 Rosemont and Emerald entered into several letter agreements relating to the development of the proposed casino on the Rosemont property. (R. 3229) These letter agreements were not disclosed to IGB until sometime in 2000. IGB became aware of these letter agreements with Rosemont in September, 2000, pursuant to a letter received from the attorney for Rosemont. Emerald did not disclose these agreements with IGB until December, 2000. (R. 3220)

3. EMERALD FAILED TO NOTIFY IGB OF ITS CONSTRUCION ACTIVITES OR ITS LEASE AND DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT WITH ROSEMONT IN A TIMELY FASHION.

It would appear that after Emerald and its principals were successful in obtaining the amendment to the Act from the legislature pertaining to relocation, it decided that the rules and procedures of IGB need not be given too much concern. On July 21, 1999, Rosemont and Emerald had entered into a Letter of Intent regarding the construction of a casino at the site agreed upon between them. The Letter of Intent was "intended to memoralize key items that had been agreed to which are to be incorporated into a lease and development agreement". (R 1235-36) This Letter of Intent was extended and augmented by various letter agreements signed in August 1999 and December 1, 1999. Emerald did not include the Letter of Intent or any of the documents previously signed with Rosemont in its September 24, 1999 application. Indeed none of those agreements were sent to IGB by Emerald until December, 2000 more than one year after commencing construction and after IGB had obtained these letters from the Village of Rosemont in September, 2000. (R. 1235-36)

On February 10, 2000 Emerald submitted a fully executed copy of the Lease and Development agreement between Emerald and Rosemont. That Agreement contained many of the identical terms originally memoralized in the July 21 Letter of Intent. This February submission to IGB was long after Emerald had commenced construction at the site, and Rosemont had commenced construction of a parking garage. Indeed, on or about February 29, 2000 Emerald informed IGB that it had ceased all construction activities at the site as of that date.

The Lease and Development Agreement contained many provisions violative of IGB's rules and procedures. That Agreement allowed the Village of Rosemont to waive the requirement that Emerald obtain necessary regulatory approval from IGB prior to commencing construction of the casino. That Agreement committed Emerald to fund the construction of the parking garage addition even though Emerald did not have sufficient financing dedicated to do so. That Agreement failed to provide Emerald the ability to exercise appropriate control or supervision over the management of the contractor or sub-contractors for the casino and parking garage construction project. At the hearings, Emerald took the position that submission of construction contracts or review of construction contractors was not necessary because IGB would always have an opportunity to reject anything that had been built in the final instance before the "casino" became a "casino". Such a position is contrary to the statute.

At least one of the subcontractors doing work on the casino construction project was a company known as D & P Construction. The FBI in its memorandum of April 16, 2003 identified D & P Construction as controlled by Peter and John DiFronzo. The Memorandum stated that D & P obtained contracts through illegal payoffs or intimidation (IGB Exhibit 397). During the hearings, none of the witnesses, either for Emerald or for any other party would admit that they hired D & P Construction.

4. KEVIN FLYNN, AS A MAJOR STOCKHOLDER AND PROPOSED CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF EMERALD, CONSISTENTLY DISSEMBLED TO IGB AS TO HIS ACTIVITES ON BEHALF OF EMERALD.

Kevin Flynn identified himself as a stockholder of Emerald in December, 1996. However Kevin Flynn, both in sworn statements and letters to the IGB, insisted that he did not become involved in the activities or management of Emerald until June of 1999 when he was appointed to the new post of Chief Executive Officer of Emerald.

As far back as November, 1997 Kevin Flynn had negotiated on behalf of Emerald with the Lake County Riverboat L.P. to discuss a joint venture for a riverboat in Lake County Illinois. Kevin Flynn acted as the primary spokesman for Emerald in those negotiations. (R. 1890-91, R. 1900-01) In November, 1997 Emerald and Lake County Riverboat entered into a nondisclosure agreement and a joint venture agreement to pursue a Lake County operation. (R. 1887) These agreements and Kevin Flynn's role in negotiating these agreements were not disclosed to IGB. IGB only become aware of the circumstances through a review of material produced in the Davis litigation at a much later time. (R. 473-75, R. 485-88)

In 1997, Kevin Flynn met with Mayor Stephens at the Mayor's office. They discussed the possibility of moving the Emerald Casino operation to Rosemont. (Stephens' sworn statement at 12; R. 5301-04) Kevin Flynn insisted that Rosemont "was not anything considered as far as I know until the legislation passed" in 1999. (R. 2439) Kevin Flynn lied about his 1997 meeting with Mayor Stephens and the possibility of moving to Rosemont.

In October, 1998, Kevin Flynn met with representatives of Duchossois Industries including David Filkin, Vice President and General Counsel for Duchossois. Kevin Flynn stated at that meeting that Rosemont was a "no brainer" as to relocation. (R. 1785-86) While Kevin Flynn testified that he was just there listening, that he "had no role" as to Emerald. (R 70) Filkin and others testified that Kevin Flynn was the primary spokesman for Emerald. (R 1785-86) In the Fall of 1998 Kevin Flynn told Filkin that any negotiations or deal among Emerald, Davis, and the Duchossois group, need be kept secret. (R. 1802-03) Kevin Flynn had meetings with representatives of the Davis Companies around the same time.

(R. 1793-98) At a meeting on December 1, 1998, Kevin Flynn agreed or reached an understanding to sell an ownership interest in the Emerald operations to the Davis Companies and to the Duchossois group. (R. 246364, R. 1799-1801) (R. 1806-07) In addition to agreeing about the division between the three groups at the meeting, a 5 percent interest was reserved for "local" investors. (R. 1806-07) Mayor Stephens in his sworn statement to IGB testified that the 5 percent designated for local investors, "that was for me." (Stephens sworn statement 69-70)

After talking to the parties representing Davis, Filkin called Kevin Flynn and Kevin Flynn confirmed that the terms of the agreement that had been outlined to Filkin were correct. (R. 1809-10)

In 1998 and 1999 the Duchossois group and the Davis Companies were actively involved in lobbying the legislature to allow Emerald to relocate. (R. 1815-16)

After the legislation was passed which allowed the relocation, Filkin learned that Emerald might not abide by the agreement that had been reached in December 1998. (R. 1814-15) McQuaid advised Filkin in the summer of 1999 that the Duchossios group would be able to invest in Emerald but that the Davis Companies may be cut out of the deal. (R. 181617)

On September 20, 1999, Emerald organized a meeting with the Duchossios group. At the meeting Kevin Flynn told the Duchossios group that they would not be given the opportunity to invest in Emerald regardless of the prior agreement or understanding. Kevin Flynn stated that, "things change." (R. 1817) (R. 2495)

Notwithstanding all these negotiations and agreements, Kevin Flynn repeatedly denied that he had made any kind of deal with the Davis Companies or the Duchossios group. (R. 423-24; Kevin Flynn sworn statement 107-08) Indeed, in all his presentations to IGB and in subsequent litigation with the Davis Companies, Kevin Flynn insisted that he had nothing to do with running Emerald until June, 1999.

Kevin Flynn attended four of the five Emerald Board of directors meetings held between April, 1997 and April, 1999. Kevin Flynn insisted that the only reason he was at the Emerald meetings was because they coincided with the dates of the Blue Chip Casino Board meetings. Kevin Flynn testified that at some Emerald meetings he would get up and leave and sometimes he would stay. Donald Flynn gave similar testimony about Kevin Flynn's attendance at board meetings. Donald Flynn, father of Kevin and principal stockholder of Emerald, was not in town often and apparently relied heavily on his son to represent his interest. In fact, only one of the five Emerald Board of Directors meetings coincided with a Blue Chip Casino Board of Directors meetings. (R. 499-501; R. 2451)

In sum, the record is replete with clear and convincing evidence that Kevin Flynn dissembled to IGB about his activities on and in behalf of Emerald prior to June of 1999. Whether his reasons for such dissembling was to establish deniability of responsibility for agreements reached with such groups as the Davis Companies and the Duchossios group or negotiations with other dissenting stockholders or to deny how long Emerald was involved in its desire to relocate to Rosemont, he did not tell the truth to IGB.

Between April 1996 and 1999 Kevin Flynn was the CEO of Blue Chip Casino, a gambling boat operating in Michigan City, Indiana. In 1999, Blue Chip was sold to Boyd Gambling. (R. 5704-05) On June 27, 1999 as part of the sale of Blue Chip to Boyd, Kevin Flynn created a company known as Field Street. That company entered into a consulting and lobbying agreement with Boyd. Under this agreement, known as the Field Street Agreement, Kevin Flynn agreed to lobby to prevent tribal gambling from entering into southwest Michigan; such gambling would compete with Blue Chip in Michigan City. The agreement was also to cover activities in Indiana and Illinois. (R. 5726-27) Under the agreement Kevin Flynn was to be paid $500,000 a year plus expenses. If Kevin Flynn was successful in keeping tribal gaming out of southwest Michigan for five years, he would be paid five million dollars as a bonus. One of the activities that Kevin Flynn agreed to pursue was to facilitate the funding of money from Boyd to grass roots anti-gambling interests that were opposed to gambling and the expansion of gambling in Michigan. (IGB Exhibit 306, page 129, R. 572627)

Neither Kevin Flynn nor Boyd disclosed the existence of the Field Street Agreement either to Indiana or Illinois authorities. The Indiana authorities determined that it was Boyd's responsibility to disclose the agreement and for such non-disclosure the Indiana Gaming Board fined Boyd the equivalent of one million dollars. IGB first learned of the Field Street Agreement in late 1999 on receipt of a telephone call from the Indiana Gaming Commission. (Supplemental staff report at 63) Kevin Flynn did not disclose the existence of the Field Street Agreement until June 29, 2000. (IGB Exhibit 210) Whether such an agreement would or would not be against public policy under Illinois precedents, such a contract could affect the gaming industry and the reputation of persons in the gaming industry in Illinois.

5. EMERALD FAILED IN ITS OBLIGATION TO PREVENT INELIGIBLE INTERESTS FROM INVESTING IN ITS CASINO. AS A RESULT, NUMBEROUS INELIGIBLE INTERESTS WERE SOLD STOCK IN THE CASINO AND THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH SALES WERE USED TO FINANCE CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW CASINO FACILITY AT ROSEMONT.

Throughout these proceedings Emerald insisted that it was IGB's obligation to investigate the eligibility and background of investors in the casino, since no stock purchase was complete until IGB approved it. It claimed its only responsibility was a very perfunctory review of the eligibility of the proposed stockholders; it caused such stockholders to fill out a Personal Disclosure Form 1 (PDF) and submit it directly to IGB. Emerald insisted that it could not look at the PDF's, since they were confidential. As a result, at least three of the individuals to whom stock was sold were ineligible because of their status as public officials or relatives of public officials. (R. 233) This has been covered above.

In addition to persons ineligible to be stockholders as a result of the public official disqualification, several persons and interests who had some association with organized crime were allowed to purchase stock in Emerald. In a complicated transaction involving a trust instrument with his daughter and a loan from Parkway Bank in the amount of $1,500,000, Nick Boscarino was allowed to acquire an interest in Emerald. Boscarino did business with the Village of Rosemont and was a partner in a company with Mayor Stephens' son, Mark Stephens. The company cleans office buildings including the Rosemont Exposition Center. Mayor Stephens acknowledged that he had been close to Nick Boscarino until Boscarino was indicted and convicted for defrauding the Village of Rosemont. (R. 5330-32)

Boscarino, his mother Ida L. Hansen, and his wife were all subpoenaed to testify in this proceeding; all of them took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions regarding the transactions or anything else about their background.

Vito Salamone was identified by the FBI as being close with members and associates of organized crime. (R. 1353) The stock certificate issued by Emerald was originally in the name of Vito Salamone but was changed to Joseph Salamone, his brother. Whatever the effect of this crude change of ownership, there was in fact a secret memorandum of agreement, not provided to the Gaming Board, which showed that both brothers, as well as officers of the Parkway Bank and Trust Company, were sharing in the ownership interest purchased in the name of Joseph Salamone. Rocco Suspenzi was the chairman of Parkway Bank and Trust, and he as well as the Salamone brothers and Jeffrey Suspenzi were all subpoenaed to testify in this proceeding. All of them refused to testify, claiming their Fifth Amendment rights when asked questions about the secret agreement or any other questions pertaining to Emerald. Parkway Bank served as Mayor Stephens' bank in many other transactions.

Agent John Mallul (Mallul) testified as a special agent employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations since 1986. In 1988, Mallul was assigned to an organized crime squad and has been assigned to that position since that time. For the last two years Mallul has been a supervisory special agent within the organized crime division of the FBI. (R. 2178) Mallul testified as to various terms used to describe organized crime in Chicago. (R 2182-85) Mallul directed the preparation of five letterhead memorandums, which were introduced into evidence. (R. 2186-94) These memoranda, from confidential sources, provided information regarding Nick Boscarino and the Salamone brothers and their relationships to organized crime. They also described activities of Peter DiFronzo and Joseph DiFronzo and D & P Construction Company, one of the contractors performing work at the Rosemont casino site. (IGB Exhibit 251, 252, 397, 396) Agent Mallul testified that he was satisfied as to the veracity and credibility of the source information which was used in these memoranda. (R. 2199-2200) Agent Mallul's testimony was credible and the FBI had determined to its satisfaction that the sources of the material contained in the memoranda were credible. IGB was entitled to use this information to make decisions concerning Emerald's conduct and its relocation move to Rosemont. This is particularly true since most of the individuals identified in the FBI memoranda that were involved in stock ownership in Emerald or construction activities in Rosemont refused to testify in these proceedings.

Mayor Stephens, who was identified in several of the FBI memoranda, vigorously denied any associations with organized crime. He stated that he severed his personal relationship with Mr. Boscarino after Boscarino was indicted. He acknowledged knowing Mr. DiFronzo (Sworn statement at 99-100) and others identified by Mallul. Mayor Stephens acknowledged that he at one time purchased a hotel from Sam Giancana who was then the head of the Chicago Outfit. (R. 5368-71) Mayor Stephens acknowledged that he had brushes with law enforcement early in his career.

(R. 5337) However, he vigorously denied that he was present at a meeting where organized crime figures planned their involvement in the Rosemont Casino. He also denied that he had anything to do with selecting shareholders in Emerald or contractors that Emerald hired for the construction. He did not make any effort to explain his earlier statement to IGB that under the arrangement that Emerald made prior to the amendment allowing the relocation to Rosemont, 5 percent of the stock was set aside for him. (Stephens statement at 69-70).

It is not necessary to resolve the conflicts between Mayor Stephens' testimony and the information provided by the FBI. It is not even necessary to resolve the conflict between Mayor Stephens testimony as to the selection of shareholders at the hearing as compared to his earlier sworn statement. There was sufficient credible evidence about Emerald's stock transactions, about its construction activities and about its lack of candor in its statements and submissions to IGB to warrant the revocation action taken by IGB.

Similarly it is not necessary to rely on the tape of a conversation between James and Michael Marcello, which has been recorded by the FBI pursuant to court authorization. (R. 5921-24) James Marcello is a member of organized crime and was in prison at the time the tape was made. Michael Marcello was visiting his brother and the tape of the conversation was made at that time. An approximate two and one half minutes portion of recorded tape was presented at the hearing and agent Mallul stated that no other portion of the conversation pertained to Mayor Stephens or the casino in Rosemont. (R 5932) The tape and the accompying testimony of agent Mallul were not useful in resolving any of the controversies involved in this proceeding. The tape itself had very poor fidelity and the brothers were speaking in some kind of cryptic code. Agent Mallul had to testify as to the words and as to the true meaning. Even if he were confident as to both fidelity and his interpretation of code words and phrases, there is no way that anybody could verify the facts related in the conversation. The brothers may have been puffing their own exploits and influence to each other, or they may have been deliberately trying to confuse law enforcement or anybody else that might be overhearing their conversation. In any event, notwithstanding the admissibility and relevance of agent Mallul's testimony concerning this conversation, I give it no weight in my findings of fact.

6. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF BIAS ON THE PART OF THE STAFF OR OF THE MEMBERS OF IGB IN THIS REVOCATION PROCEEDING.

Throughout the proceedings, attorneys for Emerald insisted that staff and members of IGB were biased against Emerald. These bias challenges raised questions about everyone from former Governor James Edgar to Chairman Aaron Jaffe to the staff of the U.S. Attorney's office, to the various ALJ's that were involved in this proceeding and to numerous members of the IGB staff. No evidence was presented to back up the charges. Emerald presented some evidence concerning a "voodoo doll" which was given to a departing employee on the day of her departure from IGB. She allegedly stuck a pin into it and stated that the pin was for Joe McQuaid. (R. 4481-82) There was never any connecting evidence to show that if this incident took place, it was anything more than jest or an expression of irritation against Mr. McQuaid who had previously been the employee's supervisor. There was nothing to indicate that this employee did anything, said anything, or wrote anything which affected the decision to revoke Emerald's license because of any bias.

It is always unfortunate when lawyers decide to challenge the tribunal or the process rather than present their case. In this instance, Mr. Ficaro, then attorney for Emerald, delivered his opening statement in this proceeding by turning his back to the presiding officer, ALJ Holzman, and announcing to the assemblage of reporters and others who were present in the room "I would like to welcome everybody to Kangaroo Court. This proceeding is a sham." At the same time, various computers were displayed to the audience showing kangaroos jumping on the screen.

Four separate motions to disqualify previous ALJ Holzman were made; he granted the fourth one. I denied three separate motions to disqualify me; two were taken to the Gaming Board for review. Motions were made to disqualify Chairman Jaffe, and add him as a witness. The motions were all denied. On two occasions I had to remonstrate with Mr. Clifford to behave in a professional manner. (R 4919-20, 5084-85)

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1. When gambling was first authorized in Illinois in 1990, the Legislature

declared, that gambling would only be good for Illinois

"if public confidence and trust in the credibility and integrity of the gambling operations and the regulatory process is maintained. Therefore, regulatory provisions of this Act are designed to strictly regulate the facilities, persons, associations and practices related to gambling operations pursuant to the police powers of the State, including comprehensive law enforcement supervision." (230 ILCS 10, Riverboat Gambling Act)

2. IGB rules adopted pursuant to the Act provide that licensees shall be subject to revocation of their licenses

"for any act or failure to act...that is injurious to the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the people of the State of Illinois or that will discredit or tend to discredit the Illinois Gaming industry of the State of Illinois. (IGB Rules 3000.110(a))

As examples of such acts which can lead to revocation, the rule provides

in subsection 5:

"associating with, either socially or in business affairs, or employing persons of notorious or unsavory reputation or who have extensive police records, or who have failed to cooperate with any officially constituted investigatory or administrative body and would adversely affect public confidence and trust in Gaming."

Section 3000.140(a) of such Rules states that "Board licensees and applicants for licenses issued by the Board shall have a continuing duty to disclose promptly any material changes in information provided to the Board." Section (b) of that same rule requires licensees to disclose agreements, whether oral or written relating to "construction contracts", "agreements with or involving Key Persons", "agreements to sell… or otherwise transfer or share", "agreements in lieu thereof, relating to ownership interest or interest in an owner's license."

Subsection (c) of the same rule specifically provides that the failure to meet the requirements of subsection (a) or (b) may result in discipline "up to and including revocation of a license."

Emerald insist that revocation of its license was too harsh a remedy even some or all of the alleged conduct occurred. It suggests that transgressions of other riverboat gambling licensees were disciplined by settlement short of revocation of their licenses. Indeed, the instant matter was tentatively settled at one point and the hearing process was held in recess; however Emerald violated the terms of the tentative settlement, and the hearings were resumed. In any event the Board has discretion to judge the seriousness of the transgressions and the fitness of the penalty that should be applied. The fact that no license had been revoked before would not cause the revocation authority of the Board to lapse.

The record discloses that numerous lawsuits were filed in both federal and state court seeking to halt or terminate these proceedings and to challenge the Board's authority to act. As previously indicated, both the Appellate Court of Illinois and the Supreme Court of Illinois specifically found that IGB had continued authority to engage in these disciplinary proceedings for revocation notwithstanding the action of the legislature in making the renewal process for Emerald a mandatory matter. Most recently, Judge Thomas P. Quinn of the Circuit Court of Cook County and Judge Matthew T. Kennelly of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois specifically refused to halt these proceedings or to intervene. (Emerald Casino, Inc. v. Aaron Jaffe, et al Case No. 05 C 4077, October 12, 2005)

3. Section 3000.1140(a) of the Rules states "the licensee bears the burden of

rebutting the charges contained in the complaint by clear and convincing

evidence." Section 3000.1145(a) states that

"the hearing need not be conducted according to technical rules of evidence. Any relevant evidence may be admitted and shall be sufficient in itself to support a finding if it is the sort of evidence on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule which might make improper the admission of such evidence over objection in a civil action."

Hearsay evidence, which might normally be inadmissible in a civil action, thus was allowed to be admitted into evidence. Specifically, the FBI reports and the testimony accompanying such reports by agent Mallul were admitted under the evidence rules adopted by IGB. The reports which were identified as reliable by agent Mallul and which were made in the course of law enforcement procedures of the FBI, were admitted and given appropriate weight. The tape conversation between the Marcello brothers, while admitted, was not given weight because of the circumstances described above.

4. Case law of this state and of other states where gambling is allowed, is replete with statements of reviewing courts that the regulatory authorities of gambling have wide discretion in exercising their judgement on matters relating to licensure and revocation thereof. See Archview - Casino Cruises Inc. v. the Illinois Gambing Board 263 ILA 3rd 375 (1994); Balmoral Racing Club v. Illinois Racing Board 240 ILA 3rd 112 (1991); Oklahoma Park Inc. v. Oklahoma Horseracing Commission 716 P2d 666 (1986); Circuit Court of Virginia v. City of Richmond and Harold R. Wall, 1982 WL215-291 (VA Circuit Court, (1982)).

Section 3000.1105 of IGB Rules provides that "All Board licensees have a continuing duty to maintain suitability for licensure. A Board license does not create a property right, but is a revocable privilege granted by the State contingent upon
continuing suitability for licensure." This provision has been in the Rules since 1993 and makes clear IGB’s authority to revoke a license if it finds that the licensee is not suitable to maintain its license.

At least since 1997, when Emerald first lost its license, it and its principals have played fast and loose with the law and with the rules and regulations of IGB. Its modus operandi seemed to be "Catch me if you can", rather than abide by the legal and ethical standards that the law imposes on those privileged to get a gambling license.

Kevin Flynn flat - out lied and others dissembled as to when Emerald first attempted to move its gambling operations to Rosemont. Instead of advising IGB of its plan to sell interests in it s operations to others, Emerald claimed that "Letters of Intent" do not count as anything and that Kevin Flynn did not have "authority" to make such deals. When Emerald was confronted with undeniable facts that persons ineligible by law to be stockholders because they were public officials or related to public officials, Emerald said it was IGB's responsibility to determine such facts. When Emerald was confronted with evidence that persons associated with organized crime had obtained interests in Emerald's operation, Emerald's defense was that it was IGB's responsibility to determine such facts and that such stock transactions were not binding. When asked about making Joe McQuaid its principal enforcement officer even before he had gone off the State Police payroll for his terminal leave, (R. 2607) Emerald insisted that it was not against the law at that time. When Emerald was asked about the propriety of the Field Street Contract and why it was not reported to either the Indiana or the Illinois authorities, Emerald insisted that it was somebody else's responsibility, not Kevin Flynn's.

Any one of these defaults probably would have been sufficient to justify IGB's action in revoking Emerald's license. The sum of the parts far exceeded the making of a prima facie case against Emerald's suitability. The rebuttals by Emerald were wholly insufficient. The operation of gaming by Emerald in Rosemont would greatly undermine "public trust and confidence in that credibility and integrity of the gambling operations and of regulatory process" in Illinois.

I recommend that IGB make permanent its order of revocation and that any efforts by Emerald to engage in gambling in Illinois at any location be denied.

Dated : November 15, 2005

Abner J. Mikva
Administrative Law Judge

Thanks goes out to Jim McGough, Director of the Laborers for Justice, for bringing this to my attention. You can find a lot more additional information at IPSN .

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Vegas Syndicate

For those interested in Bugsy Siegel and Moe Dalitz, I have posted a column at The real Bugsy? His era was very short-lived

De Niro rejoins Mob

Robert De Niro"Goodfellas" and "The Godfather Part II" star Robert De Niro is reportedly heading back to the mob.

Daily Variety reports De Niro's Tribeca Films is producing and he is expected to star in the film adaptation of Don Winslow's new novel, "The Winter of Frankie Machine." The yet-to-be-published novel is about a mob hitman who retires to run a bait shop. He jumps back into the fray, however, when he finds out he has been targeted for a hit.

Although De Niro once vowed to give up mafia-related roles, he found "Frankie Machine" too good to pass up, his Tribeca partner, Jane Rosenthal told Variety. "The lesson here is, never say never," she said.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reduced time for Loren-Maltese?

Friends of ours: Michael Spano Sr., Al Capone
Friends of mine: Betty Loren-Maltese

Betty Loren-MalteseDefense attorneys are asking a judge to reduce the eight-year prison term he imposed on the former town president of suburban Cicero so she can be reunited with her young daughter. The request comes two months after an appeals court ruled that Betty Loren-Maltese and five others convicted in 2002 should be resentenced. Prosecutors want her sentence extended to more than 11 years. Keep in mind that Loren-Maltese only adopted her daughter at the urging of "Fast Eddie" Vrydolyak after she come under heavy scrutiny by the Feds. She specifically did this so that she could play this card and appear more sympathetic.

Loren-Maltese and her co-defendants were convicted of racketeering for using an insurance scam to bilk $10 million from the town. Prosecutors had spent years investigating the small, blue-collar suburb just outside the Chicago city limits that has been known as a haven for corruption since the 1920s, when Al Capone made it the hub of his bootlegging empire.

A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the trial judge, U.S. District Judge John F. Grady, made an error in imposing the sentences. The appeals court ruled that after Grady calculated the amount of the loss at $10.6 million he wrongly rounded the number down to below $10 million. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the greater the loss the harsher the sentence. Grady's decision cut 10 months or more off the sentences. Grady said he rounded the number down because it was merely an estimate and an estimate could be unreliable.

Court papers filed last week by Loren-Maltese's lawyers included a letter from her mother, Kitty Loren, who cares for her daughter, Ashleigh, 8, in Las Vegas. Kitty Loren, who turns 85 on Tuesday, wrote: "I do the best I can; however, no one can replace a mother's nurturing." The defense lawyers want Loren-Maltese's sentence reduced to four or five years, which could get her out of prison as early as 2006. They said that after nearly three years in prison, she's a changed woman.

Prosecutors, however, want to extend her sentence by three years. In court papers filed last week, they noted that Grady said at the original sentencing he considered putting Loren-Maltese away for longer. During that sentencing, prosecutors questioned Loren-Maltese's desire to be a parent by noting how often she gambled in Las Vegas and in the Chicago area. Apparently, this figure approached $18,000,000 over the years 2000 and 2001. Prosecutors said they also will seek to extend the sentences for her co-defendants.

Grady could set a resentencing date as early as this week. Among the others convicted with Loren-Maltese were alleged Cicero mob boss Michael Spano Sr. and Emil Schullo, one-time head of the Cicero police department.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

JOE BONANNO'S SON DIES

Joseph Bonanno Jr., younger son and namesake of the late mob boss who headed one of New York's five original crime families, has died. He was 60. The younger Bonanno died Nov. 2 at his ranch in Ione, Calif., of a heart attack, his older brother, Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno said last night.

Bonanno, the youngest of three children born to Joseph and Fay Bonanno, followed a different path than his father and older brother. Joseph Bonanno Jr., studied animal husbandry at the University of Arizona, and later owned a 20-acre ranch near Sacramento, Calif. He and his wife of 34 years, Karen, had no children.

Joe Bonanno Sr. died of heart failure in 2002 at age 97. Derisively nicknamed "Joe Bananas," Joe Bonanno Sr. had retired to Arizona in 1968 after allegedly running one of the most powerful Mafia groups during the 1950s and 1960s, though the family had lived in Tucson part-time long before that.

Hollywood and the Mafia

Friends of ours: Bugsy Siegel, Mickey Cohen, Al Capone, Sam Giancana, Vito Genovese, Tommy Lucchese, Tony Accardo, John Rosselli, Johnny Stompenado, Dominic "Donny Shacks" Montemarano
Friends of mine: Frank Sinatra, Steve Bing

Bollywood's connections with the underworld are common knowledge. There is a certain level of romanticism attached to the lives of the mafiosi and their molls. But, the fact remains that even Hollywood greats like ol' blue eyes Frank Sinatra and the original bombshell Marilyn Monroe were rumoured to have underworld links. Here's a look at some of the folklore:

The ChairmanFrank Sinatra, actor-singer: Special agents from the CIA and FBI had kept tabs him on the since 1947 when he took a four-day trip to Havana. He had painted the town red with a gaggle of powerful Cosa Nostra members. Sinatra's other rumoured criminal associates included Joseph and Rocco Fischetti, who were cousins of Al Capone and reigning Chicago boss Sam Giancana. When Giancana had been arrested in 1958, the police found Sinatra's private telephone number in Giancana's wallet. In the summer of 1959, Sinatra allegedly hosted a nine-day, round-the-clock party at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City where Chicago wise guys rubbed elbows with top East Coast mobsters, including Vito Genovese and Tommy Lucchese. Charges like these plagued Frank Sinatra throughout his life, and he repeatedly and vehemently denied having any association with the mafia.

MarilynMarilyn Monroe, actress: The extensive influence the Chicago mafia had over Hollywood is best illustrated in 1948 when Chicago Mafia boss Tony Accardo had told John Rosselli to force powerful Columbia Pictures' president Harry Cohn into signing then-unknown actor Marilyn Monroe to a lucrative multi-year contract. The usually highly combative Cohn quickly complied without opposition, mainly because Cohn had obtained control of Columbia through mob funds and influence provided by both Accardo and Rosselli.

Bugsy SiegelBugsy Siegel, mobster: Siegel had a number of mistresses, including actor Ketti Gallian and Wendy Barrie With the aid of DiFrasso and actor friend George Raft, Siegel gained entry into Hollywood's inner circle. He is alleged to have used his contacts to extort movie studios. He lived in extravagant fashion, as befitting his reputation. The highly fictionalised motion picture Bugsy was based on his life with Warren Beatty in the title role.

Lana TurnerLana Turner, actor: After acting in 'Johnny Eager', a mafia flick, Lana began her own involvement with a real life mobster, Johnny Stompenado, a crew member for the Hollywood mob organisation headed then by Mickey Cohen. Stompenado had confronted several of Turner's screen co-stars, including a celebrated tiff with Sean Connery.





Mickey Cohen
Mickey Cohen, mobster:
He begun his mafia career as a thug for Vegas boss Ben Siegel before moving to Hollywood. Cohen inherited Siegel's racing interests and operated a small haberdashery in Los Angeles that served as a front for a book making enterprise. Always high profile, he dressed lavishly and flaunted his money and friendships with Hollywood heavy-weights.


Steve BingSteve Bing, producer: Best know for being the father of Elizabeth Hurley's son Damian, Bing's friends are said to include Dominic 'Donny Shacks' Montemarano, a felon and one time capo in the mafia.

Thanks to After Hrs.