Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mob Contract Under Review at UIC

Friends of ours: John "No Nose" DiFronzo, Peter DiFronzo

University of Illinois at Chicago administrators are taking a fresh look at a longtime snowplowing contract their institution has held with a construction firm that authorities say is controlled by two "made" members of the Chicago mob. The company, D&P Construction, has been paid nearly $500,000 by the public university during the past two years. D&P was widely publicized as linked to organized crime in 2001, when the Illinois Gaming Board took issue with it hauling trash from the site of what was supposed to become a Rosemont casino.

A recent report by a board hearing officer cited an internal FBI memo from 2003 that stated that D&P "obtained contracts through illegal payoffs or intimidation," though UIC officials said they've never witnessed such acts since the firm began plowing snow at their Near West Side campus in the late 1990s.

D&P, on paper is run by Josephine DiFronzo, whose name appears on the recently extended contract that D&P holds with UIC. But authorities contend the firm is "controlled" by her husband, Peter, and his brother, John. Law enforcement documents identify John "No Nose" DiFronzo, 76, as one of the three top organized crime leaders in the city. Peter DiFronzo, 72, allegedly is his chief lieutenant.

Thomas Hardy, communications chief for all University of Illinois campuses, said the D&P contract is now under review after inquiries by the Chicago Sun-Times. University officials initially told the newspaper they saw no reason to review the contract, but Hardy said Sunday that the university's vice chancellor for administrative services, Joseph Muscarella, will oversee a review that's set to begin this week. "We are reviewing the contract to ensure all procedures were followed properly and that the contractor remains a qualified bidder under state law," Hardy said. "You've raised a lot of questions, so we want to get to the bottom of it."

Josephine and Peter DiFronzo did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

The university paid D&P $203,574 in its 2004-2005 budget year and $267,740 in 2003-2004 to augment its own in-house snow-removing crews. In addition, UIC paid D&P about $10,000 each of those years to deliver mulch to the campus.

D&P is known more as a top waste-hauler in the Chicago area than for plowing snow. UIC officials asked six companies to bid on the snowplowing contract in 2002, but only D&P submitted a bid. (This is a common technique that was used in the past by the Mob. They would divide the work up among themselves first and then only the choosen company would bid on the contract.)

Thanks to Chris Fusco.

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