The west suburban home of a reputed mobster was among the locations raided by federal agents investigating a 2003 pipe-bombing outside a Berwyn video and vending machine business.
Authorities confirmed searching a home in the 3000 block of Kensington Avenue in Westchester that is registered to Michael Sarno, 50, who was convicted in the early 1990s of being part of a crime family led by mobster Ernest Rocco Infelice. Sources said Sarno, who was released from federal prison in 1999, was the target of the search and that a large amount of cash was recovered.
Sarno has not been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the bombing. He could not be reached Thursday for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment.
On Thursday authorities unsealed an indictment against Samuel Volpendesto, 84, of Oak Brook and Mark Polchan, 41, of Justice, following a series of raids across the Chicago area Wednesday by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In addition to the search at Sarno's home, raids were conducted on Polchan's Cicero pawn shop, Goldberg Jewelers, and three clubhouses of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club in Chicago, Elgin and Kankakee.
During an initial appearance Thursday in federal court, Volpendesto was all smiles. "Looks like I'm having fun, huh?" he said as he held up his handcuffs for reporters.
Both Volpendesto and Polchan were charged in connection with a nighttime explosion outside C&S Coin Operated Amusements in Berwyn. No one was injured, but the blast blew out windows and caused extensive interior damage.
A lawyer for Volpendesto and Polchan denied either has connections to the Chicago Outfit or the Outlaws. "Sam couldn't get his leg over a motorcycle," attorney Alexander Salerno said of Volpendesto, who he said has bladder cancer and needs to be on oxygen.
Volpendesto was charged in 1990 in the baseball-bat beating of a government witness who was cooperating against Infelice. Salerno said the charge was later dismissed.
The FBI SWAT team on Thursday brought in its military-style armored vehicle to pop off heavily fortified steel doors at the Outlaw's North Side chapter in the 3700 block of West Division Street. Agents later used a torch to remove a padlock from a door. The assault vehicle's presence in the Humboldt Park neighborhood brought curious onlookers with their cameras to the scene.
Kyle Knight of Merrillville was charged last year with supplying materials for the Berwyn pipe-bomb as well as conspiring to rob a series of jewelry stores. Court records show he is scheduled to plead guilty later this month. Prosecutors have said Knight and at least five other undisclosed individuals robbed the jewelry stories of a combined $1.27 million and shot a New York salesman during one holdup.
Volpendesto and Polchan pleaded not guilty Thursday in the bombing case and were ordered held by U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox until a detention hearing next week. Neither was charged in the jewelry heists.
According to court records, Polchan has a record of arrests for felony aggravated battery and burglary charges as well as numerous misdemeanor charges from the 1980s and 1990s.
Last year, a patron at a downtown nightclub where Polchan worked as a bouncer sued Polchan after an altercation at the club. Polchan ordered the patron, Adam Cavitch, to leave the club because the flip-flops he wore on the dance floor violated the club's dress code, said Cavitch's lawyer, Kevin McNamara.
As Polchan was escorting Cavitch from the club, the two exchanged words. Polchan allegedly punched Cavitch, shattering his cheek bone, McNamara said. Attorney Al Ambutas, who represents Polchan in the lawsuit, said his client denies the allegations.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the scope of the investigation that snared Polchan and Volpendesto. Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk, who is assigned to the organized crime section, told the judge he expects to play audio and video tapes from the investigation in court at the detention hearing Wednesday.
Both face up to life in prison if convicted, authorities said.
Thanks to Jeff Coen and Todd Lighty
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