The Chicago Syndicate: Ice Bar Has Mob Links
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ice Bar Has Mob Links

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Ernest "Rocky" Infelice, Kenneth Bratko, Marshall Caifano

An owner of Ice Bar -- the site of the slaying of Chicago Bear Tank Johnson's bodyguard -- once invested in a mob-tied casino and is the daughter of an associate of Outfit boss Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo.

Bar owner Anna Marie Amato also pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession case in 2005 but under the special probation she received, she did not have a felony conviction entered on her record, allowing her to keep her liquor license, according to court records and a city spokeswoman. Amato, 50, has not returned phone messages requesting comment in recent days.

Amato is the daughter of Kenneth Bratko, a longtime associate of Lombardo and a convicted felon. Bratko was convicted in February 1970 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking part in the hijacking of more than $300,000 in cameras from a truck headed to Melrose Park. Bratko was charged with Ernest "Rocky" Infelice, the late Cicero mob boss whose conviction was later thrown out.

Five years before, Bratko was acquitted along with top Chicago gangster Marshall Caifano in a $48,000 insurance fraud scheme in Chicago.

Bratko was the subject of a confidential 1975 memorandum by an investigator from an Illinois state commission looking into an organized crime takeover of the truck-hauling industry. Bratko was accused of initiating the takeover while he was still in federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., but never charged. Bratko did not return phone messages on Tuesday.

Bratko's daughter, Amato, and another Bratko family member were among the investors in the mob-tied casino, the Curacao Caribbean Hotel & Casino, according to an investor list from 1989 obtained by the Sun-Times. The casino operation, suspected of washing money for the Outfit, was the subject of an IRS criminal investigation, but no charges resulted, sources said. The hotel later declared bankruptcy.

As for Amato, she pleaded guilty last year to possession of crystal meth after police caught her paying $400 for 3.2 grams of it. Amato received a special two-year probation for first-time drug offenders that allowed her to avoid having the felony entered on her record as long as she successfully completes her probation. Without a felony on her record, the city did not have grounds to revoke her liquor license, said Rosa Escareno, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Licensing.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir and Fran Spielman

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