Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Heard You Paint Houses - Updated Edition

"I Heard You Paint Houses", Updated Edition: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa,” by Charles Brandt is based on the deathbed confession of a mafia hit man who claims to have killed Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa on the orders of Russell Bufalino, the reputed mob boss from West Pittston.

“The book is huge. It flies off the shelves,” said Mike Ashworth, manger of Borders in Dickson City.

The book owes its resurgence to the travails of Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Louis DeNaples and his friend, diocesan priest Joseph Sica, who made headlines after indictments challenged their characterization of their relationship with Bufalino, his alleged successor William D’Elia, and others.

They won’t find direct answers in the book, which never mentions DeNaples or Sica. The book is based on the recorded deathbed confession of mafia hit man Frank Sheeran, who was a friend to both Bufalino and Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa. In the book, written by former Delaware Assistant Attorney General Charles Brandt, Sheeran admits to carrying out several hits. Most notably, Sheeran said he killed Hoffa on Bufalino’s order.

Thanks to David Falchek

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mafia Links of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

The musical Jersey Boys has made Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons the toast of the West End, winning them rave reviews and standing ovations Yet the pop stars whose appeal in the Fifties and Sixties was their clean-cut image had links to the Mob, who helped them in their early career - an unsavoury connection that they strove to keep secret from adoring fans.

Growing up on the streets of Newark, New Jersey, Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi had frequent brushes with the law themselves, as well as close links with the Mafia.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Gaudio, 65, the co-writer of many of the group's hits, has revealed that at the height of their fame in the Sixties, it would have been impossible for The Four Seasons to come clean about their lives.

"Back then, things were a little clean-cut, don't forget, so the idea of our story getting out was horrifying to us," he said.

Their stories included the struggling band robbing convenience stores in between gigs, breaking chairs over people's heads if they were not paid promptly and spending a weekend in jail after fleeing a hotel without paying the bill.

Massi and DeVito spent time in prison for breaking and entering and a series of petty crimes.

"We certainly rubbed shoulders with a lot of unsavoury characters, but you know, the clubs were essentially owned by the Mob so it was very difficult not to be involved or around them," Gaudio said. "I saw some pretty heavy things back then, and we almost bit the dust a few times. But it was always interesting."

But Gaudio says the world where they started out gave their music an edge that set them apart from their contemporaries and helped them achieve worldwide record sales of 175 million, securing their place as one of the few bands who survived the British invasion led by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

"We moved in a tough world, so our music was certainly not Beach Boys fun-in-the-sun in bikinis," Gaudio said. "It was more like backstreet in '57 Chevvys."

It was impossible to become a star in New Jersey in the Fifties and Sixties without the approval of the Mafia, who ran the clubs as well as the food and drink companies which supplied them.

Mobster Angelo '"Gyp" DeCarlo, who ran the DeCavalcante family's loan-sharking and gambling interests in New Jersey, helped the band early on. They returned the favour when he was jailed in 1972, flying down to Atlanta and performing for him and his fellow prisoners. But the relationship was not always so smooth: during the band's early days DeVito was threatened by the Mob over unpaid gambling debts.

When Jersey Boys was first rehearsed, its writers, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, were contacted by associates of DeCarlo who wanted to ensure his portrayal was given due respect.

The writers conducted interviews with Valli, Gaudio and Tommy DeVito - bassist Nick Massi died in 2000 - to tell the band's story.

Jersey Boys opened on Broadway in 2005 to rave reviews, winning four Tony Awards in 2006, including best musical.

The show, which includes 27 classic hits such as Big Girls Don't Cry, Can't Take My Eyes Off You and Walk Like a Man, depicts the band in their early days breaking into a club and stealing the safe.

Gaudio has been instrumental in taking the production to Broadway, and now the West End. He has also been in talks with both Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese about a possible film version.

He says he was inspired by the 1978 film The Deer Hunter, which used one of the group's songs, Can't Take My Eyes Off You. "It's very poignant, very powerful," he said. "I thought, wow, if this works in film, boy, it could sure well work on a stage some day."

Since he stopped performing, Gaudio has written and produced music for Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond. He dismissed today's pop stars who find chart success on the back of television shows such as American Idol, Pop Idol, and The X Factor.

"The manufactured stuff is disconcerting for me as I just don't believe in it," he said.

"In our case, we had a real 'f--- you' attitude: this is what we do and if you don't like it, don't put it out," he added. "It is probably impossible for bands to have that attitude now."

Thanks to Roya Nikkhah

Digging for the Truth: The Final Resting Place of Jimmy Hoffa

July 30 1975: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran allegedly murders Teamsters Leader Jimmy Hoffa in a house in northwest Detroit. The location of his body has been a mystery for over forty years. Follow Police Officer Jeffry Hansen's three-year journey as he investigates the most infamous disappearance of the twentieth century.

Digging for the Truth: The Final Resting Place of Jimmy Hoffa

Monday, November 28, 2016

Wrongly Executed?: The Long-forgotten Context of Charles Sberna's 1939 Electrocution

Was Charles Sberna wrongly convicted of the murder of Police Officer John H.A. Wilson? Was an innocent man sent to the electric chair in 1939? What reasons could the authorities have had for refusing to consider alternatives and rushing Sberna into Sing Sing Prison's death device?

'Wrongly Executed?: The Long-forgotten Context of Charles Sberna's 1939 Electrocution' provides the details and historical background of the Sberna case. The story is a complex and controversial one, involving celebrity attorneys, Mafia bosses, violent political radicals, media giants and ruthless establishment figures, all set in a period in which Americans sought stability and government-imposed order after years of political upheaval, economic depression and Prohibition Era lawlessness.

Sing Sing Warden Lewis Lawes had no doubt on the evening of January 5, 1939: He had just presided over the electric-chair-execution of an innocent man. The prison chaplain and many guards also felt that convicted cop-killer Charles Sberna had been sent to his death unjustly.

Lawes made his feelings known in a published book a short time later. Syndicated Broadway columnist Walter Winchell also called attention to the flawed case against Sberna in the summer of 1939 and again early in 1942. According to Winchell, the government knew it had killed an innocent man and was providing "hush money" payments to Sberna relatives. Since then, opponents of capital punishment have included Sberna's name in collections of those deemed "wrongly executed" and have used the case as a somewhat vague example of the possibility of death penalty error. Still, little is generally known about Sberna or the circumstances that led him to the electric chair.

The story of Charles Sberna first came to Thomas Hunt's attention during research into capital punishment errors. Archived newspaper columns by Winchell revealed a story worthy of retelling. Conversations with publisher Rick Mattix relating to the startup of the On the Spot Journal of "gangster era" crime history led Hunt to assemble an article on the Sberna case for the journal's December 2006 issue. The article noted the relation by marriage of Charles Sberna and the Morello-Lupo-Terranova clan, which had been a major influence in early New York organized crime. Sberna's own family background was unknown until research into Amedeo Polignani of the NYPD shed light on the involvement by Charles Sberna's father Giuseppe in the anarchist-terrorist bombings of the 1910s. The decision to fully explore the Sberna case soon followed.

Wrongly Executed?: The Long-forgotten Context of Charles Sberna's 1939 Electrocution.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Original 1960 John F. Kennedy Presidential Poster

Original 1960 Kennedy Presidential Campaign Office Poster

This gorgeous red, white and blue John F. Kennedy poster is from one of the most important presidential elections in history. It was meant to be hung in a campaign office for the candidates (generally considered by experts to be used in Massachusetts or New York offices). It is in pristine, flawless condition and has been linen backed by one of the leaders in that field of expertise. It is also professionally double-matted and framed in cherry wood.



Known as a "jugate" because of the side-by-side cameo images of the candidates, it has the all-important union seal at bottom as well as the statement, "Issued by the Democratic National Committee, Washington" in lower right, so attesting to its originality and authenticity. This Kennedy poster (with Lyndon B. Johnson) is not typically found, especially in this top grade condition. It's simply extraordinary in every sense, in particular the blazing, rich colors. These colors tend to fade out over time, but these are as strong as the day the poster was printed. Obviously someone had the foresight to "squirrel" this one away. It will look great in an office or conference room. Accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chicago Crime Commission Honors Outstanding Crime Fighters

The Chicago Crime Commission held its Stars of Distinction, 2016 Awards Dinner to recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions in fighting crime. Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson was the keynote speaker at the event.

The program featured eight awards presented to individuals and the organizations they serve in recognition of their outstanding work in law enforcement. The recipients of the Stars of Distinction awards exemplify the commitment of all law enforcement in their efforts to fight crime in Chicago.

"While gang members and other criminals provide an unending threat to our safety and security, it is important to recognize the individuals who put their lives on the line every day and celebrate the victories they have won," according to J.R. Davis, Chairman and President of the Chicago Crime Commission.

"The Stars of Distinction, 2016 Awards Dinner is a chance to honor those whose efforts have been instrumental in the successful pursuit of justice. It is also an opportunity for us to thank them and celebrate their outstanding achievements along with their family, friends, and colleagues," he added.

Awards presented and recipients of the Stars of Distinction Awards included:

LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD
Because of an ongoing war between Killa Ward Gangster Disciples and the Bang Bang Gang Black P Stones (BBG), 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was murdered on November 2, 2015. The offenders – Corey Morgan, Dwright Doty and Kevin Edwards – all BBG members, were driving around the neighborhood, including Dawes Park, looking for Tyshawn's father, Pierre Stokes, a ranking member of the Killa Ward Gangster Disciples. The offenders entered Dawes Park and talked to several young teens playing basketball. They spotted Tyshawn across the park nearby on a swing. The offenders then lured Tyshawn into an alley with the promise to take him to the store for treats. However, in the alley, offender Doty shot Tyshawn in the head, hands and body. Immediately following the attack, Doty entered a car with the other offenders and fled the scene.

A few weeks after Tyshawn's murder, a task force was formed to investigate his murder and two other murders associated with the gang war in what was named "Operation Remember." The task force included members of the Chicago Police Department, CCDOC, FBI, HIDTA, and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Because of the immense dedication and hard-work by the members of the task force, Tyshawn's murderers were charged.

The Chicago Crime Commission proudly honors the following individuals: Cook County State's Attorney's Office ASAs George Canellis, Daniel Reedy, Jaime Santini, Brian Holmes, Emily Stevens, Thomas Darman, Nicholas Trutenko; Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Anthony Grubisic; HIDTA Analyst Carrie Moe; CCDOC Executive Director Brad Curry, Executive Director Daniel Moreci, Investigator Franco Domma; Chicago Police Department Officer Matthew Kennedy, Detectives Keith Allen, John Murray, Timothy Murphy, Daniel Stover, Michael Cummings, Jeffrey Rodenberg, Arthur Davis, Melvin Branch, Donald Hill, Patrick Ford, Michael Chiocca, Brian Drees, David Garcia, and Sergeant Will Svilar.

LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD (STREET GANGS)
Through effective multi-jurisdictional partnerships, the DEA-led Chicago HIDTA Group 43 - Violent Gang Conspiracy Group - has been investigating an international Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) believed to be affiliated with multiple Mexican based cartels including the Knights Templar, Jalisco New Generation, and Zetas.

This multi-agency operation, made possible only through strategic partnership, information sharing, and careful planning, yielded the successful seizure of vast amounts of bulk cash and narcotics in transit between Mexico and Chicago as well as the subsequent arrest of twelve defendants, including a high-ranking member of the Chicago based Spanish Cobras Street Gang.

This Group demonstrates the very real importance of effective collaboration between law enforcement agencies and officers. The Chicago Crime Commission is honored to announce the recipients of the Law Enforcement Task Force Excellence Award for their collaboration with multiple agencies to ensure the perpetrators of the TCO operation are brought to justice.

The Chicago Crime Commission proudly honors the following individuals: DEA Group Supervisor George S. Karountzos, Special Agents Jomarr Cintron, Craig Schwartz, Paul Park, Nicholas Albert, Fernando Gomez, Christopher Marshall; Task Force Officers Artyom Postupaka - Lisle PD, Brette Glomb – Darien PD, Kristopher Kush - Park Forest PD, Donald Stone - Glenwood PD, Phil Hahn - Chicago Heights PD, Sergeant Alonzo Harris - Chicago PD, Lafayette Triplett - Chicago PD, Angel Amador - Chicago PD, Edward Daniels - Chicago PD, Defonda Louie – Chicago PD; Customs and Border Protection Officer Jose Venegas; National Guard IRS Olivia X. Rivera; National Guard IRS Natalie Uchmanowicz; and DEA IRA Kristeena V. Jackson.

LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD (WEAPONS)
Again, the Chicago Crime Commission would like to honor another incredible instance of effective inter-agency partnership within the law enforcement community. For a significant amount of time, guns have been plaguing the neighborhoods of Chicago. Through the tireless efforts of ICE, HIS Chicago, FIG, and local law enforcement departments, guns that would otherwise be used to perpetrate unconscionable acts have been taken off the streets of Chicago.

Through meticulous investigative techniques and strategies, the multi-agency task force seized two live hand grenades, one grenade launcher, five .50 caliber assault rifles, a .22 handgun with a silencer, 25 other assault style weapons, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, six ballistic vests, and 1.5 kilograms of cocaine.

The trifecta of seizing guns, money, and drugs is indicative of the far-reaching tentacles of organized crime in our communities. The seizure and arrests of the subjects involved in perpetrating criminal acts is also telling of the hardworking and determined law enforcement members who collaborate each day to make our streets safer.

Based on the successful efforts of the task force, the Chicago Crime Commission is proud to announce the following recipients of the Law Enforcement Excellence Award: HIS Chicago Financial Investigations Group Special Agents Matt Daoud, Matt Gauder, Tino Gonzalez, Jan Markiewicz, Robert Melone, Stefanie Moton, Kenneth Popovits, Matthew Siffermann, Spencer Taub, David Vanderlaan, Criminal Research Specialist Maureen McDougall, Financial Analyst Louis Sastre; ICE Enforcement Removal Officer Frank Trevino, Task Force Officers Sami Alnemri – Chicago PD, Garrick Amschl – Olympia Fields PD,  Juan Carrillo – Streamwood PD, David Dileto – New Lenox PD,  Jose Gonzalez – Addison PD, Tom LaPak – Hoffman Estates PD, Joel Mantia – Will County Sheriff's Office, Daniel Raysby – DuPage County Sheriff's Office, Vicente Roman – Lombard PD, Bilos Thomas – Chicago PD; Kane County State's Attorney's Office First Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason, Assistant State's Attorney William Engerman; Kane County Sheriff's Office Bomb and Arson Unit Sergeant Kevin Tindall, Deputy Brad Zentmyer; Chicago Police Department Cage Team Police Officers Jacinta O'Driscoll, Robert Garcia, Enrico Dixon; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Group Supervisor Timothy Wilson, Special Agent Levi Tinder, Certified Explosives Specialist Tina Sherrow; Elgin Police Department's Special Investigations Unit Detective Sergeant Chris Jensen, Detectives Tom Wolek, Heather Robinson, Canine Officer Marshall Kite.

EXCELLENCE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT (ILLEGAL NARCOTICS)
Just over three years ago, the Chicago Crime Commission named Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera of the Sinaloa Cartel as its Public Enemy Number 1. Despite El Chapo being imprisoned in Mexico, his cartel continues to perpetuate crimes that impact the Chicagoland area. The efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), "Operation Tiburon" and "Operation Buzz Kill" – a joint state and federal investigation – have brought many members of El Chapo's gang enterprise to justice. Such individuals included many high-level members of the Sinaloa Cartel operating in multiple countries and multiple cities in the United States, including Chicago.

Through OCDETF's work they dismantled one of the largest drug trafficking organizations ever charged in Chicago, which was originally a simple Chicago street gang case. The Sinaloa Cartel supplied most of the heroin in the region and 1,500 – 2,000 kilograms of cocaine each month. To date, these investigations have resulted in federal indictments of 67 defendants, including Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera and other high level Sinaloa targets, the seizure of over $32 million in U.S. currency, 3,100 kilograms of cocaine, 72 kilograms of heroin, 704 pounds of methamphetamine, 25 weapons, and 32 vehicles.  In total, the investigation sought over $1.8 billion.

The perseverance of the dedicated and passionate law enforcement members again illustrates how impactful and powerful our collective efforts are in ensuring the safety of our communities. The Chicago Crime Commission honors those members of the OCDETF task force who strive each day to end the influx of guns, violence, and drugs into the Chicagoland area including: Drug Enforcement Administration Group Supervisor Todd C. Smith, Special Agents John Buonincontro, Billy Conrad, Louis Gade, Robert Fergus, Emilia Fernandez, Jessica Ipema, Matthew McCarthy, Christopher O'Reilly, Dorothy Sells, Jennifer Vann, Donald Wood; TFOs Craig Clark – Palos Heights PD,  Teddy Fox – Chicago PD, Jennifer Guest - IRS-CID, James Healy - Evergreen Park PD, Jason Lippy - DEA Intelligence Research, Calvin Lucius - Calumet City PD, Chris Pedicini - Oak Park PD, Vincent Zehme - IRS-CID; DEA Investigative Assistant – Barbara Wynne; Christopher Hotaling, Chief of Narcotics – NDIL; Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michael Ferrera, Erika Csicsila, Lindsay Jenkins, Renai Rodney, Sean Franzblau, Kathryn Malizia, Angel Krull, Georgia Alexakis, and James Durkin.

MITCH MARS PROSECUTORIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Law enforcement includes a host of essential foundations within society, and among them is the successful prosecution of criminal activity. Effective prosecution of crime and criminals serves as a truly foundational element of a healthy, law-abiding, and thriving humanity, and the law enforcement professionals dedicated to this service make a difference every day.

On the night of September 27, 2006, Metra Police Officer Thomas Cook was working a detail at the Harvey Metra rail station. The detail was formed in response to multiple armed robberies at that location. As Officer Cook sat in his squad car, Jemetric Nicholson approached the car and shot Officer Cook two times in the head. Nicholson then took Officer Cook's service weapon and fled the scene. Over the course of the next several weeks, the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, with the assistance of the Metra PD and the Harvey PD, led an investigation into Officer Cook's murder. The investigators followed up on hundreds of leads, executed search warrants, and interviewed dozens of people.

During the task force's investigation, they learned that Nicholson had shot two men as they stood in a car wash on the night of September 26, 2006, and that Nicholson and anther individual, Jeremy Lloyd, attempted a drive-by murder of rival gang members. As they fled that scene, Nicholson and Lloyd fired shots at a Harvey police officer. Furthermore, the task force learned that Nicholson shot a rival gang member in the face on October 2, 2006. Based on the task force's work, Lloyd was charged with First Degree Murder and agreed to testify against Nicholson in exchange for a sentencing recommendation of 20 years for murder and attempted murder of a police officer. In November 2010, Nicholson was charged with First Degree Murder in the death of Officer Cook.

Between 2011 and 2015, Nicholson was tried and convicted of attempted murder of five people in two separate shootings. He was sentenced to 125 years. Finally, in January 2016, Nicholson was convicted of First Degree Murder of Officer Cook. He was sentenced to Life in Prison. In all, five men were charged with violent crimes ranging from armed robbery to the murder of Officer Cook. Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of the investigators and prosecutors on the case, Officer Cook and his family received the justice they deserve.

The Chicago Crime Commission very proudly announces the recipients of the Mitch Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award: Cook County State's Attorney's Office Assistant State's Attorneys Joseph Kosman, Theodore Lagerwall, Cheryl Schroeder-Hagendorn, and Michael Golden.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
The background and credentials of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient stand and deserve tremendous commendation. Deputy Robert Skrypek began his career at the sheriff's office in May of 1995. Since then, he has served with honor in the following divisions: court security, highway patrol, tactical response team sniper, criminal investigations, warrants, cybercrimes unit, juvenile officer and field training unit.

During Deputy Skrypek's career, he helped track down Lake County's 10 Most Wanted fugitives, located parents who owed several thousands of dollars in back child support and managed approximately 180 registered sex offenders. Moreover, in 2006, he worked as a special investigator on a case involving the mayor of a local village in Lake County for distribution of child pornography. That case resulted in a conviction of the mayor for possession and distribution of child pornography.

The Chicago Crime Commission is proud to recognize these lifelong commitments and commends Deputy Skrypek for his many years of service and dedication to the law enforcement community and to the citizens of our country.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AWARD
This year, the Chicago Crime Commission added the Community Engagement Award to the evening's list of accolades. This award recognizes individuals and organizations that seek to significantly enhance the lives of others in the community and empower them to succeed.

In that spirit, this year's Community Engagement Award goes to Youth Guidance's Executive Director Michelle Morrison, Chairman Michael Crowley and Becoming a Man Founder Anthony Divittorio. Through their work, Youth Guidance championed and implemented the Becoming a Man (BAM) and Working on Womanhood (WOW) programs in Chicago with great success. The BAM program was launched to help young men navigate difficult circumstances that threaten their future. A safe space was created at Clemente High School for young men to openly express themselves, receive support and develop the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed. Now in its 15th year, the BAM program is set to serve 4,080 youth in 60-plus Chicagoland schools in the 2016-17 academic year. Specifically, BAM, which operates within many Chicago public schools in neighborhoods with high rates of gang violence, drugs and violence works on getting young men into their program before they're drawn into gang life or drop out of school. In June 2016 researchers from the University of Chicago Crime Lab released new findings from a randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of BAM during the 2013-15 academic years. Findings show that BAM reduced violent crime arrests by 50 percent, reduced total arrests by 35 percent, and improved school engagement for male Chicago Public Schools students.

PAWS OF DISTINCTION AWARD
The final award this evening is always one of great interest, and despite its recipient being a canine, is nevertheless illustrative of an important and meaningful contribution in the law enforcement community.

This year the PAWS of Distinction Award goes to Deputy Somerville and his Deputy K-9, Diesel, of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. Diesel is a two-year old German Shepherd. Deputy Somerville and Diesel have been partners since completing an intensive 8-week training program together in June 2015. They have been inseparable since that time. Through their time together on the streets of Lake County, they have proven to be forces to be reckoned with. Though examples of their heroism are boundless, two necessitate sharing. After a report came in of an individual who was trying to commit suicide, was badly bleeding, and fled, Diesel picked up that individual's scent and tracked her through a heavily traveled trail. Diesel located the individual under some brush and alerted other officers of his findings. The individual was rushed to the hospital. Had it not been for Diesel, the individual may not have lived. Furthermore, Diesel assisted the North Chicago Police Department with a search for a bank robbery suspect who robbed a credit union at gun point. North Chicago PD dispatched Deputy Somerville and Diesel to assist them after the bank robbery suspect fled on bicycle and foot. Diesel tracked the suspect's scent found on the bicycle and went through yards and over fences before locating the suspect in a crawl space in the back of a house. Diesel commenced barking and growling once on site, and the suspect surrendered to North Chicago PD without incident or injury.

The Chicago Crime Commission is pleased to present this year's Paws of Distinction Award to Deputy Somerville and his canine partner, Diesel. Their deserving contributions have enhanced the quality and capacity of our criminal justice system.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Flashback: Prison Release of Betty Loren-Maltese Awakens Organized Crime Mystique of Cicero

Prohibition was the law of the land when Al Capone took over Cicero in 1924, muscling his way in with gun-toting hoodlums on Election Day. And many residents were happy to hear his beer wagons rumbling through the streets en route to speakeasies.

More than 80 years later, this sleepy-looking suburb of blue-collar bungalows and strip malls a few miles west of Chicago still hasn't shaken its reputation for mob influence, political scandal and corruption, even as leaders insist they've put it behind them.

"The organized crime mystique _ that's the reason for our image," says town spokesman Ray Hanania, insisting President Larry Dominick has "taken politics out of town government" since taking office in 2005. The story of Cicero and the mob, he said, is "a great story and it's easy to write but it's unfair."

Critics, though, say corruption still hangs thick in the air.

About a week ago, former town President Betty Loren-Maltese returned to Chicago after 6 1/2 years in prison for fleecing taxpayers of more than $12 million in a mob-related insurance scam. The money paid for an island golf course in Wisconsin, a horse farm and a summer home for reputed mob boss Mike Spano, who went to prison along with Loren-Maltese.

Loren-Maltese was boosted into politics by her late husband, former Cicero town assessor Frank "Baldy" Maltese, who was indicted on corruption charges in the early 1990s along with Rocco Infelice, reputed one-time boss of the Cicero mob. Maltese pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 1993 but died of cancer before going to prison. Infelice died behind bars.

No sooner had the once-jovial Loren-Maltese _ sporting her trademark flamboyant hairdo but grim and silent behind large dark glasses _ arrived Monday to start a four-month term in a halfway house, than news surfaced that she and her elderly mother were receiving health insurance benefits from the very town fund that Loren-Maltese was convicted of looting.

Hanania said Loren-Maltese received the benefits under a law she "rammed through" while still in office that provides coverage to all Cicero elected officials for life, and her mother got insurance for serving on the police and fire commission for 10 years.

By Tuesday, officials in the town of about 85,000 decided her mother wasn't entitled to the coverage because she never held elective office, and terminated it. But that wasn't the only problem, critics say. Dominick, a hefty ex-cop who served on the Cicero force for years, also has found jobs for a number of his relatives on the town payroll, including a son who works as the human resources director.

"I think they haven't really changed since the Al Capone era in their approach to government and politics and civic decency," says Andy Shaw, head of Chicago's Better Government Association. "This is the town that time forgot."

Not that some things haven't changed.

Scantily clad prostitutes no longer saunter in the neon haze outside the mob-connected strip joints that flourished along Cicero Avenue in the 1950s and 1960s. Gone are the no-name prize fighters who once slugged it out in a little arena in a cloud of colored smoke and flickering strobe lights.

"The place was crawling with vice and gambling," said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit," a history of the city's organized crime family. "It was the same story in some other little suburbs where the mob could get its hooks in, but Cicero was sort of the crown jewel, maybe because of its location close to Chicago and because Capone pushed his way in there."

Now it all seems comparatively tame. Almost.

In February 2003, a massive pipe bomb erupted on a quiet street in Berwyn, a neighboring suburb. The explosion blew away the front of a company that distributed the video poker machines that federal prosecutors say were used for illegal gambling throughout Chicago and its suburbs.

Prosecutors said it was organized crime's way of delivering the message that horning in on its monopoly on video poker machines was dangerous _ and at the time, the biggest distributor of the machines in the western suburbs was based in Cicero.

It was owned by Michael Marcello, whose brother, James Marcello, went to prison for life following the 2007 Operation Family Secrets trial, the biggest mob case in Chicago in decades. Michael Marcello also went to prison after pleading guilty to racketeering and other offenses for running a gambling business and paying the government's star witness in the Family Secrets case, Nicholas Calabrese, to keep mum.

Then in 2008, Cicero jewelry store owner Mark Polchan and Samuel Volpendesto, a tiny, white-bearded, 86-year-old former manager of a Cicero strip joint, were indicted on charges of blowing up the Berwyn video poker company.

Last year, the charges against the two men became part of a larger, racketeering indictment that added five other defendants, including a Cicero police officer. All have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in September.

Originally reported by Mike Robinson on 2/21/10.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ed Vrdolyak indicted for 2nd Time in Last Decade

Former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak earned the nickname "Fast Eddie" for his bare-knuckled ability to work the angles. But for the second time in the past decade, Vrdolyak has been indicted on charges of using his influence to shoehorn his way into a big-money deal and turn a handsome profit for himself and his connected friends in spite of doing little or no work.

In charges made public Tuesday, federal prosecutors alleged Vrdolyak muscled in on one of the biggest bonanzas of them all — the record $9.2 billion settlement with the tobacco companies from the late 1990s.

Prosecutors charged that Vrdolyak worked out a secret deal with other attorneys to collect as much as $65 million even though he'd done no work on the tobacco case. The indictment did not make clear just how much the former alderman actually pocketed. The case was unsealed last week without fanfare by low-key U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon's office. His spokesman, Joseph Fitzpatrick, declined comment Tuesday.

Vrdolyak, who turns 79 next month, could face up to five years in prison if convicted of both counts of impeding the IRS and income tax evasion. His lawyer, Michael Monico, said he was dismayed by the government's decision to charge Vrdolyak. He said the former longtime alderman will plead not guilty to the two-count indictment Tuesday in federal court.

Vrdolyak was added to an indictment against attorney Daniel Soso, a former Chicago police officer who once ran for alderman with Vrdolyak's backing. Soso was originally indicted alone in May 2015 on charges of failing to pay about $780,000 in taxes related to the settlement money.

Despite Vrdolyak's reputation for skirting criminal probes, the case marks the second time in less than a decade that the onetime political powerhouse faced criminal charges. In 2010, Vrdolyak was sentenced to 10 months in prison for his role in a $1.5 million real estate kickback scheme that had links to the federal probe that felled then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Like many Chicago politicians, Vrdolyak got his start by working precincts at election time and within a few years he had grown a formidable ward organization. In 1970, he survived scandal when his brother, Peter, was indicted on charges of gambling and using prostitutes as door prizes during Vrdolyak ward events, according to Tribune stories from the time. Peter Vrdolyak was convicted; his brother was not charged.

First elected alderman of the Far Southeast Side's 10th Ward in 1971, Vrdolyak, the son of Croatian-born tavern keepers, quickly earned a reputation as a consummate Chicago politician, brash at times but with a keen sense of how to do business the old-fashioned way. A Tribune editorial from his freshman term called Vrdolyak an "influence-peddler and backroom wheeler and dealer almost without peer in a city noted for them."

In an interview that year, Vrdolyak said he lived by the axiom that "if you're good to people, they reciprocate."

"They send business your way, so you get jobs for people," he said. "That's the way it's done. Me — it's the only place these people can go. I'm the committeeman, alderman, father confessor, cop, lawyer, employment agency. Me. I'm the man."

In the 1980s, Vrdolyak became Cook County Democratic chairman, led the "Vrdolyak 29" block of white aldermen who frustrated Mayor Harold Washington and twice ran unsuccessfully for mayor. After Washington's death, Vrdolyak ran as a Republican for mayor but made his worst showing ever — and the bitterness of that race still showed years later as Mayor Richard M. Daley tightened his grip on City Hall.

"You've got to understand something about the Irish, the Daley Irish," he told the Tribune in 1996. "It's the Irish first, and everybody else is a Polack."

Through the years, Vrdolyak has had to defend himself against allegations he was cozy with the Chicago mob. In 1983, Vrdolyak wrote a letter to the Tribune detailing his close relationship with Joe Salas, a reputed hit man who was convicted in the 1979 abduction and murder of a Florida agriculture inspector. Vrdolyak, who had sponsored Salas for a city job, wrote that he'd been friends with Salas' family for years and "attempted to counsel (them) against any anti-social behavior."

Later, after his power at City Hall waned, Vrdolyak found political refuge in the alleged mob stronghold of Cicero, where he was paid millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded fees under then-town President Betty Loren-Maltese, who was later convicted of corruption.

The indictment made public Tuesday alleges Vrdolyak was in the middle of a scheme that stemmed from a series of lawsuits brought by some 46 states seeking to recover Medicaid funds the state had spent treating smoking-related diseases from tobacco giants such as Phillip Morris. The tobacco companies eventually negotiated a series of settlements totaling $206 billion.

The $9.2 billion settlement in Illinois' suit sparked controversy after it was revealed that then-Attorney General Jim Ryan had negotiated a contingency arrangement promising 10 percent of the payout to four law firms that handled the litigation. That figure was dramatically reduced after years of court arbitration, but in the end, Ryan agreed to pay a total of $188.5 million to several law firms.

One of those firms was the Seattle-based Hagens Berman, which was headed by attorney Steve Berman. According to the indictment, Berman entered into a secret agreement in 1996 to pay Vrdolyak and Soso fees from the settlement and hide the payments from the attorney general and tobacco companies. Under the final deal struck in 1999, Vrdolyak expected to receive about $65 million from Berman. The firm has denied any attempt to conceal payments.

In 2005, while investigating Soso for failure to pay income taxes, the Internal Revenue Service learned that he had been receiving large payments from Vrdolyak and failed to report the income, the charges alleged. The IRS then served Vrdolyak with a levy notice requiring him to pay the IRS instead of Soso because of all the back taxes owed.

That November, Vrdolyak sent a fax to an IRS investigator claiming that he was no longer paying Soso and therefore he owed them no money. The fax stated that if there were any payments made in the future he "intended to honor the 2005 levy served on him" and remit the funds to the IRS, according to the charges. But according to the indictment, money again began changing hands two years later, with Soso hiding funds paid to him by Berman and Vrdolyak in accounts used by his relatives and girlfriend.

In 2011, Vrdolyak sent payments totaling $170,000 to Soso, including checks that a Vrdolyak relative wrote, the indictment alleged.

The indictment comes five years after Vrdolyak was released from prison on his 2007 case. He pleaded guilty to fraud for his role in a kickback scheme in which a Gold Coast real estate deal was rigged so he could secretly split a $1.5 million finder's fee with corrupt insider Stuart Levine, a close friend who later secretly wore a wire on Vrdolyak.

In 2009, U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur spurned prosecution calls for prison and sentenced Vrdolyak to probation for a fraud conviction, but prosecutors appealed.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals later ordered that a different judge resentence Vrdolyak, calling Shadur's punishment a "slap on the wrist" that ignored Vrdolyak's status as one of Chicago's most influential insiders. The appeals court also held that Shadur gave too much weight to dozens of letters — including one from then-Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher — attesting to his acts of generosity.

In October 2010, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly sentenced Vrdolyak to 10 months in prison as well as five months in a work-release center and an additional five months in home confinement.

Reported by Jason Meisner and Jeff Coen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Details on Indictment of Former U.S. Representative Aaron Schock, for Fraud, Theft of Government Funds, False Statements and Filing False Income Tax Returns

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging former U.S. Representative Aaron Schock with allegedly defrauding the federal government and his campaign committees and covering it up with false and fraudulent statements, claims and invoices.

“I appreciate the time and attention that the grand juries have given this matter, to thoroughly review the facts and the evidence and to reach this decision,” said U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois. “These charges allege that Mr. Schock deliberately and repeatedly violated federal law, to his personal and financial advantage. Mr. Schock held public office at the time of the alleged offenses, but public office does not exempt him or anyone else from accountability for alleged intentional misuse of public funds and campaign funds.”

According to allegations in the 24-count indictment, from as early as 2008, and continuing to at least October 2015, Schock, 35, of Peoria, engaged in a scheme to defraud the government, his campaign committees, and others for his direct personal benefit and for the benefit of others. Schock allegedly repeatedly submitted and caused false and fraudulent claims, invoices, and vouchers to be submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives (House) for payment from his Member’s Representational Allowance and from funds of his campaign committees: Schock for Congress (SFC); Schock Victory Committee (SVC); and GOP Generation Y Fund (Gen Y).

Schock allegedly generated income to himself, which resulted in a loss of more than $100,000 to the government, Schock’s campaign committees, and others. In addition, Schock is charged with filing false federal income tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2015, for failure to report additional income he received.

Several of the alleged instances of fraud from the indictment are summarized below:


  • From as early as 2008 and continuing to about October 2014, Schock received total mileage payments from the House and his campaign committees of approximately $138,663, for official and campaign-related travel. Assuming all of the miles driven on Schock’s vehicles were official and campaign-related, and no personal miles were driven during this time period, Schock allegedly caused the House and his campaign committees to reimburse him for approximately 150,000 miles more than the vehicles were actually driven.
  • In July 2014, Schock caused Schock for Congress to purchase a new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe for him at a total cost of $73,896. Schock then caused the Tahoe to be titled in his name. To accomplish the purchase, Schock caused SFC to purchase his used 2010 Tahoe from him for $31,621. He then caused SFC to trade in the 2010 Tahoe with a $26,000 used car or trade-in allowance, and wrote a SFC check to the dealership for $73,896, thus causing a loss to SFC. As part of the scheme, and to conceal and cover it up, Schock allegedly caused SFC to file a false report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that the entire $73,896 payment was for a transportation expense of SFC rather than the purchase of a vehicle for Schock’s exclusive use. Schock allegedly made no effort to reimburse SFC for his personal use of the 2015 Tahoe.
  • Schock allegedly caused the House to fraudulently reimburse him $29,021 for his September 2014 purchase of camera equipment. The equipment was for his use and the use of a congressional and campaign staff member who was also his personal photographer and videographer. In November 2014, Schock allegedly instructed the staff member to create and submit a false invoice for ‘multimedia services’ to Schock’s congressional office. After various changes to the invoice, it was submitted to the House, which authorized payment of $29,021 to the staff member. The funds were deposited in the staff member’s bank account and were later used by the staff member to make direct payments to Schock’s personal credit card account for the camera equipment purchase.
  • In late 2013, Schock allegedly accused a former staffer of inappropriately accessing a friend’s social media account and falsely advised the former staffer that the FBI and Capitol Police were investigating the matter. As a result of Schock’s accusation and false representation, the former staffer retained a lawyer and incurred legal fees of more than $10,000, which were paid by the former staffer’s father. Schock later acknowledged that his allegation of a law enforcement investigation of the matter was false and after being confronted by the former staffer’s father, agreed to reimburse the former staffer’s father for $7,500 of the legal fees. In February 2014, Schock allegedly wrote a check for $7,500 payable to the former staffer’s father. In April 2014, Schock had his political director issue a check from Gen Y to him in the amount of $7,500, which was falsely reported to the FEC as payment to a Washington D.C. attorney for legal fees incurred by Gen Y. In addition, Schock allegedly caused Gen Y to pay legal expenses that he personally incurred, and to file additional false reports with the FEC that the payment was for Gen Y’s legal fees.
  • In November 2014, Schock hired an Illinois decorator, who in 2010 had decorated Schock’s Peoria apartment and Cannon congressional office, to redecorate and provide furnishings for his Rayburn congressional office at a cost of approximately $40,000, including a $5,000 chandelier. Schock allegedly caused vouchers and claims to be submitted to the House totaling $25,000 to be paid to the decorator. In the submission of the vouchers and claims, Schock allegedly made false representations that the claims were, “for services to assist the member in setting up our district and DC offices” and, “includes using materials from our district and rearranging/designing/structuring the space to best suit the member and staff’s needs.” In addition, Schock caused his three campaign committees to pay a total of approximately $8,263 in additional costs for carpentry, paint, and travel and lodging expenses for the decorator/designer, who provided no product or service to these committees.
  • A summons will be issued to Schock by the U.S. Clerk of the Court for a date when Schock is to appear in federal court in Springfield for initial appearance and arraignment.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Hansen are prosecuting the case on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. The charges are being investigated by the FBI, Springfield Division; IRS Criminal Investigations; U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Chicago Division; FDIC Office of Inspector General; and the Illinois State Police. These agencies participate in the Central District of Illinois’ U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Task Force.

U.S. Attorney Lewis thanked the investigative agencies and commended their respective agents who he said, “have worked long, hard and well to present this matter fairly.”

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty for each offense charged is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as sentencing is determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Bobby DeLuca Pleads Guilty in Connection with Murder of Boston Club Owner #LaCosaNostra

A former New England La Cosa Nostra (NELCN) caporegime pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Boston to obstructing a federal investigation into the murder of a Boston nightclub owner in the 1990s.

The New England Mafia Illustrated: with testimoney from Frank Salemme and a US Government time line..

Robert P. DeLuca, 70, pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for Feb. 1, 2017. In June 2016, DeLuca was arrested in Florida and indicted.

DeLuca pleaded guilty to lying to federal prosecutors and investigators regarding the 1993 disappearance of Stephen DiSarro who operated The Channel, a South Boston nightclub. In March 2016, authorities discovered DiSarro’s remains behind a mill in Providence, R.I. According to court documents, DiSarro disappeared in May 1993 after then LCN boss Frank Salemme and Frank Salemme, Jr.’s involvement with The Channel became the focus of a federal grand jury investigation.

DeLuca also pleaded guilty to lying about his knowledge of other organized crime murders. He made false statements in connection with his cooperation deal with federal authorities in Rhode Island after his 2011 racketeering arrest and indictment. Despite a cooperation agreement with federal authorities, DeLuca lied about his knowledge of DiSarro’s disappearance and other LCN-perpetrated murders.

DeLuca has also agreed to plead guilty in Rhode Island Superior Court to conspiracy to commit the 1992 murder of Kevin Hanrahan.

The obstruction of justice statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The false statements statute provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds

A New York Times bestseller from the author of Bringing Down the House. The incredible true story of how Semyon Dukach and his fellow MIT classmates cleaned out casinos around the world.

Discover how these bright young minds legally beat the house in this intense story of greed, violence, and excess.

He played in casinos around the world with a plan to make himself richer than anyone could possibly imagine -- but it would nearly cost him his life.

Semyon Dukach was known as the Darling of Las Vegas. A legend at age twenty-one, this cocky hotshot was the biggest high roller to appear in Sin City in decades, a mathematical genius with a system the casinos had never seen before and couldn’t stop -- a system that has never been revealed until now; that has nothing to do with card counting, wasn’t illegal, and was more powerful than anything that had been tried before.

Las Vegas. Atlantic City. Aruba. Barcelona. London. And the jewel of the gambling crown -- Monte Carlo.

Dukach and his fellow MIT students hit them all and made millions. They came in hard, with stacks of cash; big, seemingly insane bets; women hanging on their arms; and fake identities. Although they were taking classes and studying for exams during the week, over the weekends they stormed the blackjack tables only to be harassed, banned from casinos, threatened at gunpoint, and beaten in Vegas’s notorious back rooms.

The stakes were high, the dangers very real, but the players were up to the challenges, consequences be damned. There was Semyon Dukach himself, bored with school and broke; Victor Cassius, the slick, brilliant MIT grad student who galvanized the team; Owen Keller, with stunning ability but a dark past that would catch up to him; and Allie Simpson, bright, clever, and a feast for the eyes.

In the classroom, they were geeks. On the casino floor, they were unstoppable.

Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds, is Dukach’s unbelievably true story; a riveting account of monumental greed, excess, hubris, sex, love, violence, fear, and statistics that is high-stakes entertainment at its best.

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