He was in tax trouble with the law.
His marriage was on the rocks.
His former pals in his mob-connected neighborhood had labeled him a “rat” for cooperating with the feds. And Tuesday night, it seems, it all got to be too much for Michael DiFoggio.
The 58-year-old — a key government witness who helped convict former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno and former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano of corruption — shot himself in the mouth in the office of his Bridgeport plumbing business, authorities said.
Though DiFoggio’s passing immediately prompted speculation, police ruled out foul play, and his death was Wednesday ruled a suicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
His life had been falling apart for years.
Even as DiFoggio remarried in 2010, his tax problems were leading him to become an undercover FBI informant. Revealed by the Sun-Times three months before he pleaded guilty to tax evasion in October 2012, his cooperation meant he was ostracized in his tight-knit neighborhood, sources say.
Though he’d yet to be sentenced, his critical help for the feds meant he had a good chance of avoiding prison.That made him unwelcome at the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, a hangout for businessmen and mobsters that his father co-founded, along with mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra. DiFoggio was told months ago that his membership wouldn’t be renewed.
At home, too, things were going badly. He’d been trying to sell his luxury house with indoor pool for $1.5 million, without luck. And less than two weeks ago, his wife, Fran Prado, filed for divorce.
His sad, final days were described in court papers she used on Monday to win an order of protection that banned DiFoggio from the family home on the 3700 block of South Normal.
According to Prado, DiFoggio recently canceled her credit card and took back her wedding ring, then — during an ugly argument that saw police called to their home Saturday night — shoved and grabbed her.
DiFoggio falsely told the cops that his wife had held “a butcher knife to his throat” and “had put poison in his ice cream,” Prado wrote, adding, “I fear that Michael will physically grab me again ...”
DiFoggio’s demise at 3126 S. Shields came after he’d had a phone conversation with his wife, sources said. It prompted fresh rumors about his cooperation with the feds and whether more indictments are expected.
“According to my clients on the street, there was a Second Act coming,” said prominent defense attorney Joseph “The Shark” Lopez, who has represented many organized crime figures.“There was actually a feeling that something else was about to happen — whether it’s true or not, who knows?”
Spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office both declined to comment.But there’s little doubt DiFoggio proved himself invaluable in his secret recordings of Medrano and Moreno.
Posing as a crooked developer willing to pay bribes to get a garbage transfer station located in Cicero, he, in December 2010, passed $5,000 to Moreno to grease the deal. Just months before, Moreno had been appointed to a Cicero business assistance committee by the town’s president, Larry Dominick.
At one point, Moreno told DiFoggio: “I don’t want to be a hog, I just want to be a pig. Hogs get slaughtered, pigs get fat.”
DiFoggio also helped snare Medrano in a health-care contracting sting last year.
Medrano’s lawyer, Gal Pissetzky, said that DiFoggio’s death left Medrano “shocked and saddened.”
Whatever DiFoggio did, “We’re all human beings,” Pissetzky said.
Thanks to Michael Sneed and Kim Janssen.
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