Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Tale of Two Mobsters

Two men with connections to Chicago organized crime, both of them believed to be outfit enforcers, one is dead the other is in court. In this Intelligence Report: the tale of two mobsters.

There are really only two ways out of the mob life and one is more permanent than the other. You are either murdered...or put in prison. This is...a tale of two mobsters-enforcers-with deep connections to the Chicago outfit. One was found buried in a suburban construction site. The other was found in court...extending his long criminal record.

We begin with Robert Charles " Bobby" Cruz...who spent 14 years on death row for a contract hit on an Arizona businessman and his mother-in-law, a conviction eventually thrown out. Cruz came to Chicago for the 1997 trial of his hitman-cousin, Harry Aleman. A few days after Aleman was convicted, Cruz vanished. Last week--ten years later -- Cruz' corpse was found by a sewer crew in DuPage County...minus his trigger finger and a few other digits...a subtle message that the assassin would never work again.

As authorities were identifying the remains of one mob enforcer...the i-team found another one walking to court.

This is long-time Chicago outfit enforcer Victor "Popeye" Arrigo, arriving with his daughter for a hearing in Maywood. Arrigo's rap sheet reaches back to 1956 and reads like a crime encyclopedia, but at age 70 he admits to be going soft.

On this day, he stood before criminal court judge William Wise on theft charges--but not the big jewel capers or cartage heists he and the outfit are known for. "They accuse me of taking salami, cheese...stuff like that," said Victor "Popeye" Arrigo.

One of the mob's toughest enforcers, Arrigo was hauled away by west suburban Berkeley police on charges that he stole $40-dollars worth of Italian and Hungarian salami from a grocery store.

Arrigo chalks-up the larceny up to old age. "When you hit 69, 70, you do goofy things...just to see if you can get away with it...i got caught. That's about it," Arrigo said.

Arrigo contends the grocery store plunder was not an outfit job--and authorities believe him.

Like many of the old time wise guys he grew up with, Arrigo's public demeanor could win him citizen of the year. "Nice talkin' to you. Anything else you want to say? Say hello to Chuck for me."

I met the mobster more than ten years ago--during his last run in with the law on gun charges...and at that time, learned the heritage of his mob nickname: "Popeye". It's for the detachable glass eyeball he wears as the result of barroom shootout.

When Arrigo is bellying up to the bar he says he enjoys popping out his eyeball and placing it on top of his beer money...then telling the bartender he is merely keeping an eye on his cash.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

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