Thursday, June 21, 2007

Up-and-Coming Mobsters Will Replace Old Guard

The Family Secrets prosecution was a heavy blow to the Chicago Outfit, but surely not a fatal one, longtime observers of the city's organized crime syndicate say.
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If it finally removes some of the mob's biggest names from the scene, younger players are in place to step in and take over, the experts said. There always have been, after all, even in the wake of a case such as Family Secrets, which implicated an unprecedented three "made" members of the mob.

Street "sins" such as gambling, prostitution and narcotics are profitable, and organized crime will be there to control them and collect a cut, they said.

Up-and-coming mobsters step over the old guys, known as "Mustache Petes," said former FBI agent Lee Flosi.

"There are always guys who are anxious to get up the ladder and take over," said Flosi, who now works as a consultant. "The Outfit's not dead.

"They're masters of changing colors. They're chameleons," he said.

Today's Chicago Outfit may be smaller and more spread out, experts said, with more members living in the suburbs than in the city. But the syndicate still has influence in vice, labor unions and political corruption, Flosi said.

Organized-crime observers said the Outfit has evolved and taken on a lower profile as prosecutions have mounted over the years. The Chicago mob has improved its methods, experts said, having become better at hiding its activities and laundering money through legitimate businesses.

"They'll stay in control of what they have always controlled, as long as they're willing to enforce it with an occasional body in a trunk," Flosi said.

The last known mob hit occurred in November 2001 when Anthony "Tony the Hatch" Chiaramonti was shot in a suburban chicken restaurant. His name has surfaced in the Family Secrets case as an associate of some of the men facing trial. But one Outfit figure whose name also has surfaced in the case has been missing for months. Anthony Zizzo, a reputed underboss, was last seen leaving his Westmont home in August. Days later his Jeep turned up abandoned at a restaurant in Melrose Park.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

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