The Chicago Syndicate: Harry Aleman pleads for parole

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harry Aleman pleads for parole

Reputed mob hit man Harry Aleman pleaded for mercy from state parole board members Wednesday by insisting he was set up by government "stool pigeons" for a 1972 murder he didn't commit. Dressed in blue prison-issued garb and his hands curiously manicured for a prison janitor, Aleman told members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board that he is undeserving of the 100- to 300-year prison term he received for the shotgun murder of a union official once married to his cousin.

"Serial killers get that," Aleman said in disgust, seemingly oblivious to the notion that some officials pin 20 mob killings on him, though he has been convicted of murder only once. "I caused no problems for anybody, and I'm no threat to anybody. And 27 years is a long period," Aleman said. He has spent most of the last 27 years in state or federal custody for various crimes. "That's double for what they give in this state for murder."

Aleman, 66, is locked up for the murder of William Logan, a Teamsters Union steward, on Chicago's West Side. In a 1977 trial, Aleman was acquitted of that crime, but it was later determined that the judge in the case had been bribed with the help of mob lawyer Bob Cooley, who later became a government informant. With Cooley's help, Aleman was retried in 1997 and convicted.

Aleman said his former "partner," William "Butch" Petrocelli, now dead, killed Logan in a dispute over the affections of Logan's ex-wife and allegations that Logan "used to knock Phyllis around and give her black eyes all the time."

During Wednesday's hearing at Western Illinois Correctional Center, Aleman also denied ever being affiliated with the mob, complained about having art supplies withheld from him and feigned ignorance when asked by one Prisoner Review Board member whether he had ever read Cooley's tell-all book on the mob, When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down. Pausing for a moment, Aleman asked, "Bob Cooley, the stool pigeon guy?"

"He's the lawyer who allegedly carried the $10,000 to Frank Wilson, the judge," replied board member David Frier. "Oh, now I know who you mean, yeah. No, I never read his book," Aleman said. "He's a rat. He's going to say anything they want him to say, sir. C'mon. A rat, that's what they do. Give him a script, and he reads it."

Contacted by the Sun-Times afterward, Cooley called Aleman's foggy memory about him "comical," particularly given the role he played in helping bring Aleman down. "Maybe Harry is trying to get out on a medical. He must have Alzheimer's," Cooley cracked.

The board is expected to make its determination on Aleman's parole request at its next meeting on Dec. 15.

Scott Cassidy, the Cook County prosecutor who helped put Aleman behind bars, urged the board not to show any leniency toward him because he evaded prosecution for the crime for so long, prompting Aleman to interrupt. "Look at me and say that. I got 27 years in prison, almost half of my life," Aleman snapped. Staring back into Aleman's penetrating dark eyes, the veteran prosecutor continued to say his piece.

"Harry should be denied parole because the fact he escaped justice for so many years, and he lived the best part of his life while Billy Logan was dead," Cassidy said.

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