Monday, August 03, 2015
Calabrese Jr. was dressed in dark clothes, sitting at a table with his back against a restaurant wall. He is not in the federal witness protection program, and he talked about that choice in a flat, quiet voice.
It was a voice that weighs things out, an unemotional voice, and if a meat scale could talk, it would have a voice just like that. Calabrese Jr. says he's changed his life, and made amends, but I could picture him years ago, using that voice on some bust-out gambler who owed his father Outfit juice, the son collecting, asking, "You're late this week. Where's my $5,000?" as he neutrally sized up the meat in front of him.
"I don't feel like a rat," he told me. "And afterward, I didn't go run and hide. But I'm not going to stand on the corner and flex my muscles.
"My father had these multiple personalities. There was the good dad and the evil dad. One minute, you're dealing with the caring, loving father who hugs and kisses you, and looks out for you. Then it changes. You see it in his eyes. I think he lost his soul," said Frank Jr. "I would have followed this guy anywhere. I didn't buy into the Outfit. I bought into my father. All I cared about was my father being proud of me. And he didn't watch out for me or my brothers."
Thus Frank Jr.'s book, "Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family". I get the feeling it is a must-read among Outfit types and their political puppets. And it is a story of fathers and sons.
Frank Jr. kicked off the famous Operation Family Secrets investigation of the Chicago Outfit. While in federal prison in 1998, he wrote a letter to the FBI volunteering to help them against a fellow inmate: his own father, Chinatown Crew boss Frank Calabrese Sr.
He wore a wire and recorded his father, and that led to the cooperation of hit-man uncle Nick Calabrese. By the time the Family Secrets trial was done, more than a dozen Outfit hits were solved, and his father, other hit men and bosses like Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo and Jimmy Marcello were given what amount to life sentences.
I remember Frank Sr. as stumpy old man in court, the one credited with strangling his victims before stabbing them in the head with a knife, a brutal loan shark and the hammer for the real boss of Bridgeport and Chinatown, the late Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra.
"Here's what he taught his son," said Frank Jr. "To manipulate. To find a guy with a business, with money, and he'd say, 'Make him feel close to you. Make him feel secure. And then somebody's going to come and scare the guy and he'll run to me. And then we'll get a piece of his business. And once we get a piece, there will be a little more, and a little more. If it's a bad week, I don't care, where's my money? And we'll slowly drain the business.'
"What happens is that you start getting numb to having feelings. And it becomes normal to threaten. These are the things my father taught me."
Calabrese's publicity tour this week began with Monday's story about Borders canceling his book-signing events after receiving anonymous threats. He's scheduled to be at the Union League Club for lunch Friday, discussing the case with former federal prosecutor T. Markus Funk, a member of the prosecution team whose own life was allegedly threatened by Calabrese Sr.
In the book there is talk of murders and beatings, extortion and treachery. But that is standard fare. What makes this book different is the dysfunctional family. The sons are in mortal fear of the patriarch. That's what will sell it as a movie.
Frank Sr. isn't receiving many visitors these days in federal prison. So I called Calabrese Sr.'s lawyer, criminal attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, who isn't impressed by the son.
"I think there are some people who would blame the father for the sins of the son," Lopez said. "Some might say the father was out of order by talking to the kid. But the father was angry. He beat up his son because the son admitted to using and selling drugs. And the son stole a lot of money from his father."
In the book, the son admits to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling proceeds from hiding places. During the trial, the father claimed the son stole millions more, a charge the son denies.
"The son has always wanted to be in the movies," said Lopez. "Now he's written this book, he's done the publicity stunt about the threats although he's not in danger from anyone, and now his book will probably become a movie."
I can see it as a movie that begins in sentimental fashion, a father and his sons spending quality time together. But they're not tossing a ball and having some boring game of catch. Instead, they spend time together, collecting.
Collecting politicians, collecting gambling debts, collecting victims.
Thanks to John Kass
Thursday, October 31, 2013
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.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Schweihs, who was said to be so psycho scary that even other tough guy mobsters went out of their way to avoid him, died of cancer in 2008 while waiting to go on trial in the landmark Operation Family Secrets case.
Later this week, sources tell me, the television network VH-1 is planning to announce Schweihs’ daughter Nora will be one of the stars of the new Chicago spinoff of its hit reality series, “Mob Wives.”
Is there still any doubt in your mind that The Outfit isn’t what it used to be? “Mob Wives,” which bills itself as a docu-soap, has never purported to spill any mob secrets during its now two season run following the exploits of a group of Staten Island women with familial ties to New York organized crime figures. “Mob Wives: Chicago” isn’t expected to be any different.
Instead, the program explores the lives of the women with the goal of showing how their mob surroundings have affected them personally—as mothers, daughters and wives. For anybody who has seen the prolific catfighting among the New York cast, the affect would appear to be pretty straightforward: it’s made them crazy.
Nora Schweihs, 48, is said to be a piece of work herself. I’ve only managed to get her on the phone a couple of times — both occasions resulting in her angrily yelling at me that she didn’t know what I was talking about and to never call again. Still, I can respect that. That’s how a real mobster’s family member is supposed to react when a newspaper reporter calls, not schedule a press conference.
The German’s daughter certainly has the bona fides for the show. Her ex-husband, Michael Talarico, was a mob bookmaker and nephew of mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra. In fact, when Talarico testified for the prosecution against Frank Calabrese Sr. in the Family Secrets trial, he told the jury he was still working as a bookie.
There’s a rather unflattering mugshot of Nora Schweihs on the Internet arising from a 2004 DUI arrest in Florida, where she and her father both used to live. She was also charged in the incident with resisting arrest and felony possession of cocaine. She was convicted on the DUI, but the other charges were dropped.
Joining Schweihs on the show will be her good friend, Renee Fowler Russo, the niece of mob loan shark and killer John Fecarotta, whose own 1986 assassination provided the break that set the Family Secrets dominoes in motion. Nicholas Calabrese, the hit man whose cooperation with authorities was at the heart of the Family Secrets case, is said to have flipped in large part because he left a bloody glove behind when he killed Fecarotta, which years later provided a DNA match.
What qualifies Russo for the show, we’re told , is that she and her mother Barbara, Fecarotta’s sister, lived with “Big John” while she was growing up. Russo, 44, now operates an eye care business in Ukrainian Village and has numerous other past entanglements that could add to the drama.
The other two women in the four-member cast are Pia Rizza, 40, daughter of Vincent Rizza, a dirty Chicago cop who doubled as a bookmaker and juice collector before he turned government witness, and Christine Scoleri, 41, daughter of a small-time Cicero-area hood described to me as a “knockaround guy.”
Rizza’s father was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1982 for drug dealing and ended up in the federal witness protection program. Perhaps most notably, he testified against Harry “The Hit” Aleman, maybe the only Chicago mob guy of his generation more feared than Schweihs.
Scoleri’s father shows up so infrequently in our news clippings that I’m not quite comfortable mentioning him by name with the rest of this crowd. Scoleri, by the way, is her married name.
I’m told there are another one or two Chicago mob women, as yet unrevealed, who aren’t part of the regular cast but might make cameo appearances during the season with an eye toward a bigger role in the future — if our mob women prove as popular as New York’s.
Might there be a “your daddy killed my daddy” story line sometime in the future?
Thanks to Mark Brown
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The tattoo was drawn by a fellow inmate, against prison regulations, with the connivance of a guard whom they bribed to look the other way.
Soon after he'd had it done, Calabrese was walking around the prison exercise yard. He was wearing a wire, his torso wrapped in recording equipment like a Christmas tree. Walking beside him was one of the world's most dangerous men – a killing machine from the Chicago mob whose preferred method of assassination was the rope and knife.
Calabrese had just succeeded in enticing the other man into telling him about a succession of murders he'd committed, including that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael, immortalised by the film Casino. The unwitting confession was captured by the wire and recorded for later analysis by the FBI.
Suddenly the older man stopped and asked to see Calabrese's new tattoo. "Why've you been covering it up? Let me see it," he said. It was an instant death warrant. If Calabrese lifted up his shirt and revealed the wire, the older man, who was shorter than him but immensely powerful, would know he had been betrayed and would kill him on the spot with his bare hands. It was 300 yards to the prison door and Calabrese calculated he wouldn't make it, deciding instead to stand his ground and bluff it. He pulled his shirt down and refused, saying it would get him into trouble. The older man looked puzzled for a second, then relaxed and backed off.
Should Calabrese have been exposed at that moment as an FBI informant, it would have put an end to the largest mafia investigation in American history. As it was, he went on to hold many more hours of taped conversations with the older man that helped to blow apart the Chicago mob. The Outfit, the organised crime syndicate of Al Capone that had terrorised the city for 100 years, had finally got its comeuppance.
That exchange in the prison yard was significant for another, more personal, reason. The older man whom Calabrese was secretly recording, condemning him in the process to spending the rest of his life in prison, had the same name as him: Frank Calabrese. Senior. His father.
Hollywood revealed to Frank Calabrese Jr the truth about his father. Until he saw his own domestic life play out on screen, he'd assumed he was from a normal family.
Home life in the heavily Italian and mafia-frequented neighbourhood of Elmwood Park was dominated by his father's Sicilian roots. Three generations of Italian-Americans – his grandparents, parents and uncles, brothers and cousins – were crammed into the house they called the Compound. Frank Jr was the eldest of three sons, and his father's favourite.
What his father did all day was a mystery to the young boy. When other kids at school asked him how his dad made a living, he was nonplussed.
"Tell them I'm an engineer," Frank Sr would say.
"What, like a choo-choo-train engineer?"
"No, tell them I'm an operating engineer."
Calabrese was 12 when The Godfather came out. The Corleone family it portrayed was strikingly similar to his own. Art was imitating life, or was it the other way round? His father was friendly with Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi, the Godfather's son-in-law, in the movie. One night, Russo was being interviewed on a show and pulled out a knife he said had been given to him by a mobster.
"I gave him that knife," Frank Sr said as they sat watching TV.
Years later, in one of the taped conversations Frank Jr had with his father, Calabrese Sr remarked that Mario Puzo's account in the original book of the initiation ceremony for "made men" was spot on. "Whoever wrote that book, either their father or their grandfather or somebody was in the organisation," said Calabrese Sr, who, as a "made man" himself, knew what he was talking about.
"So you mean they actually pricked the hand and the candles and all that stuff?" Frank Jr asked.
"Their fingers got cut and everybody puts the fingers together and all the blood running down. Then they take pictures, put them in your hand, burn them. Holy pictures."
A few years after The Godfather came out, Frank Sr began to draw his son into the family business. It was a slow, almost imperceptible process. "He started to involve me in little things," Calabrese said. "It was like, 'Hey, son, do this for your dad. Go take this envelope, go deliver this to a store.'"
Calabrese was encouraged to keep a low profile. "We were taught to blend, to fly under the radar. My father told me to drive Fords and Chevies, not Cadillacs or BMWs. Wear baseball caps, not fedoras, ski jackets, not trenchcoats."
At 19, Calabrese was allowed to take part in mob activities, starting with collecting money from peep shows and graduating into keeping the books. It was an education of sorts. "I learned all my maths through the juice loan business." As he became more central to his father's racketeering and gambling concerns, the lessons became more specific. Calabrese was shown by his father how to hug someone to see if they were carrying a gun or wearing a wire.
Calabrese embraced his new life. "When I bought into it, I bought into it strong. Whatever my father told me to do, that's what I did. I didn't fear law enforcement, or jail, or death. If my father told me to walk full-speed into that wall, I would."
Then, at the age of 26, Calabrese was invited to take part in an initiation ceremony all of its own – his first gangland murder.
For a key prosecution witness in a massive mob case that took down 14 top mafia bosses, Frank Calabrese Jr comes across as remarkably relaxed. He's not in a witness protection scheme, lives under his own name, and when I visit him in a condo apartment outside Phoenix in Arizona, he readily opens the door and welcomes me in without so much as a frisking. How does he know I'm not a hit man sent from Chicago to exact revenge? "I don't," he says.
Calabrese looks the part of a Chicago hard man. His head is shaved, accentuating his large ears and piercing blue eyes. He's wearing a sleeveless vest and slacks, which display the product of hours spent pumping iron. When he speaks, though, Calabrese does so with a surprising softness and introspection. It's a bit like listening to Tony Soprano talking to his therapist (Calabrese is a big Sopranos fan – he watched the whole series with his mother and ex-wife, wincing at the parallels with his own family).
Hanging on the wall of his apartment is a framed photograph of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr from the original Ocean's 11. His father, he explains, was friendly with Sinatra's bodyguard.
Frank Calabrese Sr – aka Frankie Breeze – was born in 1937 into a poor Italian family on the west side of Chicago. He left school at 13 and could barely read and write. By 16 he had begun to make money as a thief and later developed a "juice" loan business, extracting exorbitant rates of return. It was a lucrative enterprise: at its peak he had $1m out on loan with collections of up to 10% per week. After the trial ended and the elder Calabrese was given multiple life sentences, the FBI searched his home and found $2m-worth of diamonds and almost $800,000 in bills and property deeds.
In 1964, Calabrese Sr was "whistled in" to the Outfit by a much-feared mafia underboss called Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. The nickname came from what LaPietra would do to anyone who fell behind with their loan repayments: hang them on a meat hook and torture them with a cattle prod or blowtorch. Cause of death – suffocation from screaming. The younger Calabrese grew up thinking of LaPietra as "Uncle Ang".
Together with LaPietra and his own brother, Nick, Calabrese Sr developed a specialist role as the Outfit's murder squad. Calabrese Jr was given an insight into that as a teenager one night when his father came home and hurried him into the bathroom. With the fan on and the water running so no one else could hear, he breathlessly recounted a hit he'd just carried out. "We got 'im… Our guy wasn't listening to the rules, so we shotgunned him."
Those who were "retired" by Calabrese Sr and his brother included Michael "Bones" Albergo; John Mendell, who rather foolishly robbed the home of the Outfit's consigliere, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo; a business rival called Michael Cagnoni, who was blown up in his car; rogue mobster Richard Ortiz; and Emil Vaci, a Las Vegas-based gangster the Outfit feared might inform against them. Then there were the Spilotros of Casino fame. Tony Spilotro was head of the Outfit's Vegas arm, running a gambling and "skimming" business (skimming off casino profits without telling the tax authorities). He got too big for his boots, and when the bosses found out he was having an affair with another made man's wife, they wanted him gone.
Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael were lured to Chicago under the pretext that Michael would be "made" and Tony would be promoted to capo. Instead, they had ropes thrown around their necks and were strangled – the legendary "Calabrese necktie".
The younger Calabrese's own brush with murder came in 1986 when he was chosen to take part in a hit on John "Big Stoop" Fecarotta. He was to sit in the back seat of the getaway car. "I was ready to murder for my dad," Calabrese says. "You always need two guys in the car, and I was to go with my uncle Nick. If I'd crossed that line, there would have been no coming back. But my uncle talks me out of it. He tells me, 'This ain't for you. You don't want this life.' He saved me."
That was a turning point for Calabrese, in both his relationship with the mob and, by extension, with his father. When he was young, his father was loving towards him, always ready with a hug. But as Calabrese Sr came increasingly under the influence of the murderous LaPietra, he changed, growing colder and more brutal towards his son. "His temper became shorter, he would be quicker with his hands, more controlling. He didn't think twice about cracking you in the face."
The younger Calabrese came to see how manipulative his father was, switching personalities at the click of his fingers. "If you were sitting with him here right now, you'd love him. He'd charm you. But when you'd gone, he'd turn into his second personality – a controlling and abusive father. And his third personality was the killer."
To try to wriggle out of his father's tight embrace, Calabrese set up in business on his own. He opened Italian restaurants, and later began dealing cocaine. He kept that hidden from his father, knowing that if he was found out "the old man would have killed me". He also kept secret his own intensifying addiction to the drug. In a desperate move to break free and to keep his habit fed, Calabrese began stealing from a cache of about $700,000 in $50 notes his father had tucked behind a wall in his grandmother's basement.
Not a good idea. When his father discovered the losses, and who was responsible, he issued a decree. "From now on, I own you," he told his son. "The restaurants are mine, your house is mine, everything is mine."
A few months later his father asked Calabrese to join him for a coffee. They met at a lock-up garage used by the crew. "As I opened the door I realised, oh shit! He's setting me up. He slams the door, turns and sticks a gun in my cheek. Then he says: 'I would rather have you dead than disobey me.'"
Calabrese started sobbing and begging for forgiveness. "Somehow I got out of that garage. As we got back in the truck, he started punching me and back-handing me in the face. My tears were rolling down and all I could think about was how I could never trust this man again. From that day on, I have never trusted anybody. Nobody."
The decision to turn informant against his own father was taken in 1998 inside Milan prison where both Frank Calabreses were sent after being found guilty of racketeering and illegal gambling. Imprisonment was the best thing that happened to the younger man. It allowed him to kick his cocaine addiction, and to become healthy once again. Most important, it freed him from his father's control.
He became determined that as soon as he was released he would make a new life for himself. "I decided that I was going to quit the Outfit. I'd wound up in prison, on drugs. That wasn't what I wanted any more. I had to find a way to go straight when I came out."
But he knew a huge hurdle stood in his way: his father. He had a choice. Either he could wait until they were both out, then confront his father and tell him he wanted to leave the family business, in which case there would almost certainly be a showdown and one of them would end up dead. Or he could cooperate.
The FBI called their investigation Operation Family Secrets. The 2007 trial lasted three months and took into account 18 murders. In addition to his father's life sentences, long prison sentences were eventually handed out to seven other Outfit bosses. It was an extraordinary result given the history of the Chicago mob. In its 100 years, the Outfit had committed more than 3,000 murders, yet before this only 12 convictions had been secured. Until Calabrese took the stand, backed up by his uncle Nick, who had also turned prosecution witness, not a single made member had been held accountable.
During the trial, the younger Calabrese gave evidence against his father standing just feet away from him in the courtroom. "The one thing I wasn't ready for was the emotional part. I walk into the courtroom and it's the strangest feeling I've ever had. There was my dad. Part of me wanted to go over to him and hug him and say, Dad, I'm going to take care of you. It's going to be OK. Man, I wasn't prepared for that."
As he left the courtroom at the end of his testimony, "the tears just started streaming. An agent asks me, 'Are you OK?' And I say, 'No, I've just realised that's the last time I'll ever see my dad.'"
He was right about that. The elder Calabrese, now 74, is being held in a maximum security institution in Missouri where he has been kept for the past two years in almost total isolation. He is permitted no visitors, nor any contact with other prisoners in a regime reserved for a handful of the most serious terrorists and serial killers.
Calabrese left Chicago after the trial and moved to Phoenix, partly to get away from his past and partly because the hot, dry air of Arizona is good for his health. A few years ago he discovered he had MS and though he keeps it at bay with exercise, it causes him to limp.
He lives with his two children, Kelly and Anthony, and makes a living as a motivational speaker, telling law-enforcement conferences and self-help groups how he has turned his life around. He is unmarried, but his former wife Lisa lives nearby and they remain close. She is still deeply afraid, he says, that his father will seek retribution and she has pleaded with him to enter witness protection. But he continues to refuse. As he writes in his book: "I'm pragmatic. If people can kill presidents, they can kill me. Nobody is invincible and completely safe in today's world."
When I ask to see the tattoo that nearly got him killed, he pulls up his shirt to reveal that his back carries not only the drawing of the map of America with prison bars, but also seven small tattoos depicting bullet holes – like the ones you get on cowboy posters. "I feel I'm always going to have to watch my back," he explains, "so those bullet holes are a reminder to me to be alert every day."
Regrets, he has a few. He still finds it difficult to come to terms with the fact that he committed the mobster's ultimate sin by ratting on another. And though he is convinced he made the right decision, he is still deeply troubled by the outcome. "At this stage in his life, as my dad gets old, I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be his protector, not his executioner."
Can there be forgiveness between them, the Frank Calabreses? "I can forgive him. I love my dad to this day, I just don't love his ways. But I don't think he can forgive me. I really don't. I wish he could."
Calabrese says he's resigned to the grip his father has, and will for ever have, over him. "I know in my heart that the day my father dies he'll haunt me," he says. "This will go on for eternity. I don't know what to expect in the next life, but I do know that wherever it is he will be waiting there for me. And he's not going to be happy with me."
Thanks to Ed Pilkington
Sunday, October 09, 2011
According to the website, "Chicago Ideas Week will bring the world's top speakers, together with Chicago's best thinkers, to create an ecosystem of innovation, exploration and intellectual recreation."
Excellent. Bring a bunch of politicians to Chicago, have them mix with Chicago politicians, feed them, and then encourage them to make speeches about how smart they are, and if that's not an ecosystem, I don't know what is.
"Meet the Press" is in town to help kick off the week on Sunday. Former President Bill Clinton will be hanging around, so you'll probably see him prowling the Viagra Triangle. But the highlight will be Monday's fantastic tour (only 15 bucks) by former Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago's fabulous Millennium Park, though I prefer to call it Billennium Park, since it cost about $50 million an acre. Sadly, Daley's tour is not open to the media.
Daley is expected to explain how he created the park, and how great it is. The prospect got me so tingly, I wanted to contribute to this "ecosystem" of ideas. And eureka, I think I've found it:
The Chicago Way Ideas Week Tour.
Daley could begin by opening it up to the media, particularly the "Meet the Press" crowd and other foreign correspondents. They'd rather hear Daley/Obama mouthpiece David Axelrod entertain them with songs of hope and change, but it's time the national media understood the Chicago Way.
The tour would begin at the park's Clout Cafe — Park Grill — where Daley's political adviser Tim Degnan somehow became an investor. Another investor was Daley's friend and fashionista, trucking boss Fred Bruno Barbara, who once, according to federal testimony, served as driver to Chicago mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra.
Once we fill up on those bland Clout Cafe chicken sandwiches, we could set off on our tour. First thing would be to stand before that gigantic $40 million silver bean, and look deep inside of it, to see all the wonders:
Like Chicago's budget drowning in $600 million or more of red ink, and all those contracts to cronies over the decades that sopped up the cash, all those hungry parking meters, and all those kids who drop out of school each year.
Stare further into the bean and you'd see businesses that received city development bucks and kicked into former first lady Maggie Daley's After School Matters charity, and all those cops who still aren't on the street because all the money is gone.
Daley could point out the city sewers that were inspected by President Barack Obama's political godfather, former state Senate President Emil Jones, who is now chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Jones spent decades as a political double dipper, crafting legislation and also inspecting city sewers. But legend has it that during all those years of sewer inspecting, Jones never smudged his camel-hair coat. Not even once.
We'd then drive down to Kenwood, to the president's home, the one that convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko helped him with, and then back across the city, to the federal criminal courts, where Rezko's confidant, Republican boss Big Bill Cellini, is standing trial on corruption charges.
After that stop, we'd need some sunshine and a happy place, and you know where we could find it? Stearns Quarry Park.
The quarry was in Bridgeport, at 29th and Halsted streets, a few blocks from the mayor's home, and it was where, decade after decade, city trucking bosses would dump their construction debris.
There was nothing illegal per se about the dumping. What was illegal was all the bribery and other crimes committed by city officials and trucking bosses in the city's infamous Hired Truck program. So City Hall covered up the quarry, to erase our political memory. And it worked.
"Today," proclaims the Park District website, "visitors to Stearns Quarry Park can go fishing in a pond that retains old quarry walls; stroll along a wetland area that drains into the pond; watch for birds and other wildlife attracted by the site's vast range of native plants; fly kites in an open meadow; or take in the views of the cityscape."
Ponds. Kite flying. Meadows. Nice.
Later, Daley might want to take the "Meet the Press" panel to Division Street. There in 2004, a slight, 5-foot-3-inch, 125-pound David Koschman, age 21, was reportedly slugged by Daley's muscular nephew, Richard J. Vanecko, 6-3, 230 pounds.
Koschman died, there were no charges, and according to the Sun-Times, the files went missing, the Rush Street police detail didn't see anything, and nobody knows nothing.
Official Chicago doesn't have any idea what happened, even during Ideas Week.
Thanks to John Kass
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
In this Intelligence Report: We've learned that the government witnesses may include one of the city's most controversial businessmen, the man known as "the Mayor of Little Italy."
He is Oscar D'Angelo, whose Chicago political influence began in the 1950s with Richard J. Daley, yielded him millions as a well-connected developer and rainmaker, and ended in a feud with Richard M. Daley almost 10 years ago. D'Angelo is the flamboyant, self-styled "mayor of Little Italy."
Now, at age 79, D'Angelo finds himself on the prosecution's list of potential witnesses in the city's next big mob trial.
Next month, in the trial of three Chicago hoodlums, D'Angelo may have to speak publicly from the witness stand in federal court.
Jerry Scalise, Art Rachel and Robert Pullia are charged with plotting to hold-up suburban banks and with scheming a break-in at the home of deceased South Side rackets boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra.
Scalise and Rachel are best known for stealing the famous 40-carat Marlborough diamond in 1980, a daring daylight robbery from a popular jewelry store in London, England. The men did long prison stretches in the UK and returned to Chicago, authorities say, to resume their careers as Outfit burglars.
While it is not clear why the government would want D'Angelo to testify against them, it would be an unusual and potentially uncomfortable position for him.
First, D'Angelo is a defrocked attorney himself, in 1989 having been disbarred for giving rental cars as gifts to city officials, judges and other politicians. In 2000 he then scarred his three-decade long relationship with the Daley family by loaning money interest to a top Daley official and working as an unregistered lobbyist.
Federal authorities aren't talking about why D'Angelo is on the witness list, although with a park along the Eisenhower Expressway named after him and with his historical perspective of Taylor Street where the gangland thugs operated, perhaps D'Angelo will merely be a foundation witness for the prosecution.
It is not unusual for the government to put people on the witness list who don't end up being called to testify just to cover their bases. But D'Angelo's name certainly attracts attention. And, there is another well-known name on the prosecutor's list, former Chicago police chief of detectives William Hanhardt, who is in prison for his own role in an Outfit jewel theft racket.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Mobbed-up thief Joseph Jerry “The Monk” Scalise allegedly targeted Daley mayoral pal and controversial lobbyist Oscar D’Angelo for a robbery and corresponded with imprisoned Chicago cop William Hanhardt, writing that “Oft times, defendants forget that they DID do the crime,” according to a federal court document filed Tuesday.
Scalise, who is in his early 70s, has a storied criminal career that most recently found him charged last year with two alleged accomplices with conspiring to knock off an armored car at a La Grange bank and rob the home of the late, brutal Chicago mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra.
The court document, filed by federal prosecutors, lays out the case against Scalise and two other senior citizens, Arthur “The Genius” Rachel and Robert Pullia. The men go to trial next month.
Scalise stole the 45-carat Marlborough diamond in London in 1980, was a reputed member of an Outfit crew of killers called “The Wild Bunch” and more recently was a consultant to famed Hollywood director Michael Mann on his film “Public Enemies.”
The court document is heavily redacted in parts and does not reveal any detail about the men allegedly conspiring to rob D’Angelo, but the criminal deed was never done. D’Angelo, who was involved in scandals in the Richard M. Daley administration, is expected to be called as a prosecution witness at trial against the three men.
The court document does quote at length a letter that Scalise allegedly sent to Hanhardt after Scalise was arrested last year. Federal prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu contends in the government filing that Scalise admits his guilt in the letter.
Hanhardt, a former Chicago chief of detectives, was sentenced to nearly 12 years behind bars after pleading guilty in 2001 to running a sophisticated theft ring that stole more than $5 million in diamonds and gems from jewelry salesmen across the country. The FBI has contended that Hanhardt was on the take from the mob early in his police career.
“Since I am soon to be out of time (but with, maybe a lot of ‘time’) I am getting as much done . . . while I am out (on bond),” Scalise writes in one letter to Hanhardt, according to the court filing.
“I am finally going through everything with a fine tooth comb and conferring with Eddie G. on a plan of attack,” Scalise wrote, apparently referring to his legendary defense attorney, Edward Genson.
“Oft times, defendants forget that they DID do the crime. So, what do we do to mitigate the charges? The only approach I can see is to attempt to move the goal posts — to make something else the issue. My contention is that the ‘evidence’ is just not good enough. Yes, these culprits were up to something, but the ‘problem’ is in the technological evidence.”
Hanhardt is listed as a prosecution witness. Genson could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Thanks to Steve Warmbir
Saturday, October 02, 2010
So City Hall repeatedly sent estimated water bills to the 6,000-square-foot home, where LaPietra's daughter, JoAnne Lascola, lives.
City workers finally got inside on Aug. 26, 2009, to install a new meter -- one that can be read electronically by a meter reader driving past the house.
In removing the old meter, though, they found they had been drastically underestimating how much water LaPietra's family was using.
So, on Oct. 10, 2009, the city sent the family a bill for $1,156.66 -- $625.22 of that for about 355,000 gallons of water and $531.44 for sewer service.
The family balked. Three weeks later, the city slashed the bill to $256.55.
"In implementing the [automatic meter-reading] program, we found some readings from old meters came under question by customers, especially when they had not been read over a period of time," City Hall said in response to questions from the Chicago Sun-Times. "In these cases, customers were given the benefit of the doubt and charged on the basis of an average of previous bills."
In the LaPietra family's case, "A one-time adjustment of $900.11 was made to the account . . . because the customer had been estimated for a period of time, as a result of our inability to access the meter to obtain a meter reading."
Authorities say LaPietra, a brutal Chicago Outfit boss who died in 1999, ran the mob's 26th Street Crew, overseeing gambling in the Loop and Chinatown. He was once convicted of skimming millions of dollars from Las Vegas casinos.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The 72-year-old Scalise has been in the Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest last April along with Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71, and Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69, as they allegedly scouted banks to rob in the western suburbs. Federal authorities picked up the three as they were preparing to rob the Bridgeport mansion of deceased Chinatown Outfit boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. They were arrested outside LaPietra's one time home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents. At the time of their arrest, there was speculation by mobologists that Scalise and crew were going into LaPietra's former castle-like residence to retrieve the famous Marlborough diamond-missing since a daring daylight burglary in 1980. The 45-carat diamond was stolen from Graff Jewelers in London, UK. Scalise and Rachel were arrested as they arrived at O'Hare International Airport that evening, minus the diamond. Both men were convicted in the theft of the diamond, among $4 million in stolen gems, and served time in a British penitentiary.
Last month, in an effort to prevent Scalise's bond, prosecutors connected him to a Chicago mob hit squad known as The Wild Bunch based on testimony by an admitted mob assassin during the renowned Family Secrets trial. "In its attempt to connect Mr. Scalise to the 'Wild Bunch,' the government relies on the testimony of Nick Calabrese, a confessed murderer, and Frank Calabrese, a convicted murder, given during the 'Family Secrets' trial," wrote Scalise's attorney Edward Genson. "The testimony regarding Mr. Scalise's involvement in the "Wild Bunch" was based solely upon hearsay and was not substantiated by any independent evidence at trial, nor was it substantiated by any evidence on the record&. Furthermore, Mr. Scalise was never arrested or questioned regarding his participation in any of these alleged homicides either before or after the Family Secrets trial."
Scalise will be under house arrest while he's out on $500,000 bond, secured by property posted by his girlfriend, family and friends. His co-defendant's Arthur Rachel and Robert Pullia are currently out on bond.
Thanks to Ann Pistone, Barb Markoff and Chuck Goudie
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Marc Martin and Terrence Gillespie will appeal to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber on September 7th saying they do not want to work for free, or pro bono, on behalf of Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69 or Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71. According to motions filed this week, Martin and Gillespie will tell the judge that the Outfit-related case has "over 50 hours of recordings and many hours of surveillance video," according to motions filed Tuesday.
This comes two weeks after a hearing at which Judge Leinenweber asked Pullia, Rachel and a third defendant Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, 73 if they had issues with being represented by attorneys from a related law firm. The judge noted that such an arrangement could result in conflict of interests during legal proceedings. The men agreed to have the attorneys continue their representation and waived any future conflict claims.
Pullia and Rachel are out on bond. Scalise was granted bond but prosecutors are appealing and he remains in custody pending the a district court ruling. Scalise was part of a gangland hit squad and involved in numerous mob murders, according to government filings in the case.
Federal authorities say they arrested the three aging mob figures as they were preparing to rob the Bridgeport mansion of deceased Chinatown Outfit boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. The men were arrested outside the LaPietra home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents.
At the time, mobologists speculated that Scalise and crew were going into LaPietra's former castle-like residence to retrieve the famous Marlborough diamond-missing since a daring daylight burglary in 1980. The 45-carat diamond was stolen from Graff Jewelers in London, UK. Scalise and Rachel were arrested as they arrived at O'Hare Airport that evening, sans diamond.
Although both men were convicted in the theft of the diamond-among $4 million in stolen gems-and served time in a British penitentiary, the royal Marlborough diamond was never recovered.
Some investigators have long held that the huge diamond was mailed to mob bosses in Chicago.
Thanks to Ann Pistone and Chuck Goudie
Monday, August 09, 2010
Attorney Edward Genson on Monday filed a motion in U.S. District Court asking that Scalise be granted pre-trial release because he has "secured additional property from his family and friends to post for bond." Genson noted in the motion that Scalise had been told by a federal judge during previous court hearings that bond would be possible if more property were posted.
Scalise, 73, is the suspected leader of a so-called "Geriatric Trio" of aging mobsters. His not-so-subtle mob nickname "Witherhand" is in recognition of having been born minus four fingers on his left hand. Arrested last April with Scalise were Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69, and Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71 as they allegedly scouted banks to rob in the western suburbs.
Federal authorities picked up the three as they were preparing to rob the Bridgeport mansion of deceased Chinatown Outfit boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. They were arrested outside the LaPietra home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents.
At the time, there was speculation by mobologists that Scalise and crew were going into LaPietra's former castle-like residence to retrieve the famous Marlborough diamond. The 45 carat sparkler was swiped in 1980 during a daring morning hold-up at Graff Jewelers in London, UK. Scalise and Rachel were arrested as they arrived at O'Hare Airport that evening− the diamond.
Although both men were convicted in the theft of the diamond-among $4 million in stolen gems-and served time in a British penitentiary, the royal Marlborough diamond was never recovered.
Some investigators have long held that the huge diamond was mailed to mob bosses in Chicago.
When Scalise finally got out of the UK prison, he returned to Chicago and found work as a movie consultant. Most recently he was hired by director Michael Mann as a crime consultant in the Johnny Depp film, "Public Enemies." Mann told the LA Times he wanted to know what it was like inside a robber's psyche.
According to federal prosecutors Scalise knows all about how to rob-because he is still un-gainfully self-employed as one. According to the federal court motion which will be argued Tuesday, Scalise's family and friends agree to post as security for his release:
- A Clarendon Hills Home, owned by Linda Pizza, Value $690,000, Equity $181,000
- Land in Hawaii, owned by Thomas Seaman (brother-in-law), Market Value per Property Assessment $365,200, no mortgage
- Monee Home, owned by Algiras A. Macevicius (friend), Appraised at $225,000, Equity $136,000
Ms. Pizza is Scalise "longtime companion" according to the motion filed by attorney Genson. The couple lived together in a Hinsdale apartment before she purchased the home in Clarendon Hills, according to law enforcement sources. Scalise promised in the motion that Ms. Pizza "was also willing to act as the designated person for Mr. Scalise should he be released." That may be determined during tomorrow's hearing.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Authorities have said the house in Bridgeport was the target last month of burglars who believed a fortune had been stashed there — perhaps including the famed, 45-carat Marlborough diamond.
The search began this morning at the fortress-like home at 30th and Princeton. Agents appear to be looking for any stolen items.
Earlier this month, three men — including Joseph "The Monk" Scalise — were arrested as federal authorities said they cased the home for a burglary.
Scalise and one of his alleged partners, Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, were arrested in 1980 after stealing the Marlborough diamond from a London jewelry store.
They were convicted and sent to prison, but the diamond was never found. Its fate has been the subject of speculation ever since.
It was unclear if federal agents were executing a search warrant or if they were searching the home with the consent of the owner. LaPietra's daughter still lives in the home and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The search comes after federal agents recently went through the home of another Chicago mobster, Frank Calabrese Sr. FBI agents found more than $1 million in cash and jewelry in that search last month — much of it hidden behind a secret storage area behind a family portrait.
Thanks to NewsRadio780
Monday, April 12, 2010
During a short appearance in court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan ordered Joseph Jerome "Jerry" Scalise, Art Rachel and another hoodlum, Robert "Bobby" Pullia, held at the MCC without bond until a detention hearing next week. They were represented by high profile attorneys Terry Gillespie and Marc Martin. After court, Mr. Gillespie said that all three defendants would enter pleas of not guilty. He said questions about the existence of the Marlborough diamond would best be asked of the federal authorities, who declined to comment.
The men were arrested as they tried to hit the one-time home of Chinatown boss Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra. "The Hook," known for a fondness of hanging wayward gamblers on meat hooks, died in 1999. The arrests reportedly happened late Thursday night in the 3000-block of South Princeton, near LaPietra's former estate. For years Scalise lived in the Bridgeport neighborhood and reported to LaPietra.
The three men, still attired in the dark clothes they were wearing while allegedly staking out LaPietra's home, looked more like they were ready for a shuffleboard game then a burglary. Scalise is 73, Rachel is 71 and Pullia is 69 - and they told the judge about medications they are on, to insure adequate treatment at the MCC.
"I'm not sure exactly what they were expecting to get when they broke into the residence. The residence was occupied last night so it would have been a home invasion. Whether it was a robbery, whether they hoped to get ransom money, a kidnapping, we don't know," said Ross Rice, FBI spokesman.
"I heard a blast, like an M80 going off, like a firecracker. I said, 'who the hell is shooting firecrackers off this time of year?'" said Dan Bujas, neighbor.
The suspects ran a three-man crime wave for the past several years, according to the FBI, whose agents began following the trio last December and listening in on their phone calls after obtaining wiretap approval from a federal judge. An FBI affidavit filed with Friday's criminal complaint reveals cell phone conversations between the men that were intercepted by federal agents.
According to the affidavit, Pullia says, "while we are there we will grab it." Authorities are uncertain if the "it" they were going to grab was the long-missing Marlborough diamond. One theory has been that Scalise and Rachel handed off the stone in London or actually mailed to someone in the U.S., possibly their mob crew boss at the time, LaPietra.
Authorities say they watched the men conduct surveillance on several banks, including the First National Bank of LaGrange where they were allegedly plotting to overtake an armored car delivery of cash by spraying mace in the face of the guards. That hold-up, and others allegedly planned by the Outfit crew, were not actually carried out during the time that federal agents watched the men.
They are, however, suspected of numerous other unsolved bank robberies since 2007, according the federal investigators.
Scalise and Rachel are best known for the Sept. 11, 1980 theft of the famous Marlborough diamond from Graff Jewelers in London. The men were arrested at O'Hare Airport returning on a flight from the UK. They both served long stretched on the Isle of White prison of the UK. The 45 carat stone, once one of the Crown jewels, was never found.
The attempted break-in at LaPietra's former home is certain to spark speculation that the 45 carat sparkler was stashed somewhere in the home. The three men were arrested late Thursday night outside LaPietra's former "fortress" on the south side, carrying an elaborate supply of burglary tools according the feds. Investigators also say they had discussed abducting LaPietra relatives who still reside in the home and taking them hostage.
"All my client has told me so far is it's nonsense. I don't know any of the particulars as of yet," said Terry Gillespiel, defense lawyer.
The Marlborough heist in 1980 was pulled off by Scalise and Rachel, armed with a revolver and a hand grenade. They got away in less than a minute with millions of dollars in gems.
No one was hurt during the morning raid, and customers on the other two floors of the three-story shop were unaware of anything taking place.
A security guard let the first well-dressed thief into the exclusive store shortly after opening, thinking he was a customer.
Once inside the man - dressed in blue check pants, a jacket and a hat- pulled out a gun and ordered the staff and customers to lie down on the floor.
The second robber then walked in brandishing a hand grenade.
The Marlborough diamond, was packed into a briefcase with other jewels by the robbers before they fled to a getaway car parked about 50 yards away.
One of the store clerks followed the men and noted the registration number of the Fiat Mirafiore they used to escape.
The profanity-riddled affidavit also reveals discussions between Scalise and Rachel about potential mob murders, including the killing of a key witness from the Operation Family Secrets prosecution two years ago that resulted in numerous convictions of top mob bosses.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
Thursday, January 29, 2009
That wasn't a monkey dancing on a string. It was an ape. The kind of ape that pulls the strings on the dancing monkeys.
His name is Frank Calabrese, the former Chicago Outfit Chinatown crew boss, convicted of racketeering conspiracy involving seven murders in the FBI's historic Operation Family Secrets case of 18 unsolved hits. Six other bodies were attributed to Calabrese at his sentencing.
Calabrese, 71, wore a wrinkled orange jumpsuit, with old man glasses attached to his head with a thick felt strap. Yet when he'd raise his paws you could see they were once powerful enough to strangle a man until his eyes popped out. Or stab him to death. Or beat him to death. Or pull a trigger. Or set off a bomb and more.
One of the victims was Paul Haggerty, who was 27 in 1976 when the Calabrese crew picked him up to question him about missing jewels. Haggerty was handcuffed, his eyes and mouth taped shut and tortured. Frank strangled him with a rope. They cut his throat and dumped him in the trunk.
On Wednesday, Haggerty's widow, Charlene Moravecek, confronted Calabrese as a parade of victim families told their stories to U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel.
"God bless you!" Calabrese told Moravecek. She rounded on him, shouting, "Don't you mock me! Don't! Your honor, I don't want to hear from him."
Calabrese's own son, Kurt—a convicted Outfit loan shark—appeared before Zagel as a victim, saying his father beat him, belittled him, threatened to bite the nose off his face and kill him. "He was more an enforcer than a father," Kurt said, turning to Frank. "And I want you to apologize for what you did to me and my brother."
Frank shouted that his sons and his hit man brother Nick, who turned federal witness, had betrayed him with lies. "You better apologize for the lies you are telling, that's what you better do!" Frank bellowed, the old man gone now, the Chinatown strangler rampant. "Tell them about the money you stole, the million dollars [cash] you stole from me and the $110,000 that didn't belong to you!" Frank Calabrese said, of mob cash he'd stashed away before going to prison in the 1990s. "If I was such a bad dad, why didn't I do anything to you then? You were treated like a king!"
Kurt stalked out of the courtroom, and I followed him down the hall, where he was leaning against a wall, emotional. "That's the last time I'm ever going to see my father," Kurt told me. "I just wanted him to apologize."
What about the missing $1 million? Did you take it? "No," Kurt said. "All I wanted was an apology. But you see how he was. He still thinks he's the boss."
Frank Calabrese finally got his say, insisting he never killed or beat anyone, that he helped Connie's Pizza, not merely charged them street tax, and that his juice loans were more user-friendly than payday loans. "I'm not no big shot," he said. "I'm not nothing but another human being." He added that his brother Nick was a coward. "Which is why I called him Alfredo, from ' The Godfather,' " speaking of the fictional Corleone who betrayed his own brother.
Zagel gave Frank Calabrese life in prison, saying he'd never seen a case in which two sons and a brother testified against a father. "Perhaps you didn't have a loving family," Zagel said. "Your crimes are unspeakable."
During the Family Secrets trial, the connection between Chicago politics and the Outfit came up often. In one bit of testimony in 2007, Mayor Richard Daley's friend Fred Bruno Barbara, the trucking boss and Rush Street investor, was identified by Nick Calabrese as a willing driver for mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra on bombing runs.
Daley got so angry when asked about Barbara that he turned purple and shrieked. The governor of Illinois could have called him "cuckoo."
For generations, the Outfit has formed the base of the iron triangle that runs things, and no understanding of politics in Illinois is complete without them.
Sentencing of other bosses continues on Monday. The dancing monkey show in Springfield will be over by then, but if the national media wants to understand Chicago, they should show up in federal court to see how the apes behave.
Thanks to John Kass
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Barack Obama's key fund raiser, Tony Rezko, went on trial last week. It's important to take a broader look at America's most corrupt large city: Chicago. (We apologize from the outset,some links no longer exist or passages we quote never existed on the web.) Chicago has had a Democratic Mayor since 1931,and today in 2008,49 of 50 Chicago Aldermen are Democrats.This long post is about the Chicago Mob and the Democratic Party machine.
Former Alderman Dick Simpson, who's now a professor at University of Illinois-Chicago, has some disturbing numbers on Chicago and Illinois politicians:
Since 1973, the U.S. attorney has indicted 30 aldermen and convicted 27 (one died before trial and two stand trial this spring). The Public Corruption and Accountability Project at UIC calculates that there have been more than 1,000 local and state governmental officials convicted since the 1970s. The "corruption tax," or cost of government corruption for Cook County residents, is now more than $300 million a year, greater than the local government tax increases this year. We can't really afford more local "Hired Truck" schemes, patronage hiring, or the state pension and driver license scandals of recent years.Sounds like becoming an elected Alderman in Chicago has an unusual felony conviction rate,which certainly says something about the people who seek elected office in Chicago and the voters who put them in office.Yes,there have been many corrupt Aldermen in Chicago. But,one man stands above all other in terms of institutionalizing corruption in Chicago: Alderman Fred Roti.
Unless we understand the prolific criminal legacy of Alderman Roti,we can't understand how today,in 2008,Alderman Roti along with his friends,relatives,and associates have turned Chicago's city government into a racketeering enterprise.We must go back in time to a Chicago Tribune article on February 14,1982 titled BEST AND BRIGHTEST NO MATCH FOR OLD GUARD AT CITY HALL to understand the power of Alderman Roti:
Roti has placed nearly as many city employees on the payroll as the city personnel department,and many of them are his own family members.This is not a new trend under [Mayor] Byrne,however.Under former Mayors Richard Daley and Michael Bilandic,members of the Roti clan have always had spectacular success gaining public employment.Last fall it was disclosed that Roti family payrollers include his daughter,Rosemary,a press aide to Mayor Byrne at $25,992 a year;and Rosemary's husband,Ronald Marasso,who had been promoted from city painter to $34,000 -a -year general manager of maintenance at O'Hare International Airport.Fourteen other Roti clan members were on various other city payrolls.Because of his ward number,Roti's name is always called first during council roll calls,and he revels in that privilege.His initial response gives other administration alderman their cue as to what Roti-and,therefore,the mayor-wants.It's often said that roll calls could stop after Roti votes-the outcome is already known.Roti,an affable fellow, controls the Chicago City Council with an iron fist.Years later in May of 2006,The Chicago Sun-Times gave a more disturbing explanation of who Alderman Fred Roti really was:
Roti became 1st Ward alderman in 1968. He soon became one of the most powerful, well-liked and respected members of the City Council. Roti was also a "made member" of the mob, according to the FBIThink about it,the Chicago Mob ran a "made-member" for political office to take control of a city.This is why the Chicago Mob went on to become the most powerful organized crime family in all of U.S. history.As criminal defense attorney Robert Cooley explains the history of Chicago :
The city’s grim reputation is rooted back in the Roaring Twenties when Al Capone emerged victorious from gang warfare and went on to become a household name. Oddly enough, far less is known about his successors and their grip on the city during the last half of the twentieth century. But that is when Chicago’s Mafia became the single most powerful organized crime family in American history. While Mob bosses knocked each other off on the East Coast, in Chicago they united into a monolithic force called the Outfit. They would literally control the cops, the courts and the politicians – a corrupt trifecta that Capone dreamed about, but never came close to achieving. The Outfit demanded a cut of every criminal enterprise in the region, from a lowly car theft or private poker game to a jewelry heist. To enforce this “street tax,” their Hit Men killed with impunity, knowing that crooked judges would throw out any case against them. Their bookies brazenly took bets in nightclubs, at racetracks and even in government office buildings, confident that contacts in the police department (at one point as high up as the Chief of Detectives) would warn them before the vice squad could make a raid. Mobsters ran Chicago union locals, and national organizations for the Laborers and the Teamsters. This unprecedented combination of brute force and political clout let the bosses feed at the public trough with no-show jobs for their goons and municipal contracts for themselves and their associates. Government became one of their most lucrative rackets.Here's an amazing chart of the Roti family from May 2006 from the Chicago Sun-Times(remember this is a conservative chart,the black dots are "made-members" of the Chicago Mob).
In his 1969 book, Captive City, investigative journalist Ovid Demaris called the Outfit, “the most politically insulated and police-pampered ‘family’ this side of Sicily” and estimated, even then, that their take was in the billions. With such total domination of their home turf, they could wander far and wide. By the Seventies, the FBI reported that Chicago’s Mob controlled all organized criminal activity west of the Mississippi – including and especially Las Vegas. Millions were skimmed from casinos like the Tropicana and the Stardust, and bundles of cash, stuffed in green army duffel bags, found their way back to the Outfit’s bosses. Meanwhile New York’s mobsters had to content themselves with the slim pickings of Atlantic City.
With all of Alderman Roti's power it's instructive to look at two of his major accomplishments in strengthening the power grip of the Chicago Mob over Chicago.The Chicago Mob couldn't operate without a corrupt police force.When Mayor Byrne had honest Superintendent Joe DiLeonardi run things for a while Alderman Roti put his foot down.As Robert Cooley explains:
According to Roti,he issued an ultimatum to Her Honor:either she got rid of DiLeonardi,or the municipal unions would shut down the city during the upcoming contract negotiations.Just as the Mob thought she would,Jane Byrne buckled.With DiLeonardi gone,Roti demanded that William Hanhardt be appointed Chief of Detectives.Hanhardt was the Chicago Mob's long term plant on the police force.The position of Chief of Detectives is the fifth highest ranking position in the Chicago Police Department.Here's a quote from a federal indictment on Hanhardt and his achievements as a Chicago Police Officer and running the most successful jewelry theft ring in United States history :
The SPECIAL JANUARY 1999-1 GRAND JURY charges:
1. At all times material to this indictment:
(a) From July 13, 1953, until his retirement on pension as a captain on March 26, 1986, defendant WILLIAM A. HANHARDT was employed by the Chicago police Department (CPD"), and held several supervisory positions, including Chief of Detectives, Chief of Traffic, Commander of the Burglary Section, Deputy Superintendent for the Bureau of Inspectional Services, and District Commander. For a portion of the period of the indictment until the date of the indictment, defendant HANHARDT resided at 835 Heather Road, Deerfield, Illinois.
Defendant WILLIAM A. HANFLARDT (hereafter "HANHARDT^), was the leader of the enterprise. In that capacity he supervised codefendant JOSEPH N. HASINSKI and together they directed the activities of others employed by and associated with the enterprise- HANHARDT directed the other defendants and others in their gathering of information on potential jewelry theft victims and the surveillance of several such individuals. He utilized certain CPD[Chicago Police Department] officers to do database searches of CPD and other law enforcement computers to obtain information concerning jewelry salespersons. Similarly, he caused a private investigator to conduct credit bureau database searches and other database searches to gather information concerning individuals who were traveling jewelry salespersons. At times, HANHARDT used the telephone at his residence at 835 Heather Road, Deerfield, Illinois, to direct certain defendants and others to further the interests of the enterprise. HANHARDT personally participated in the theft of jewelry.So,Hanhardt loaded up the Chicago Police Department with individuals who'd help him commit criminal acts long after leaving the police force.To understand the magnitude of Hanhardt's danger to Chicago citizens we'll quote U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 2001:
"It's remarkable that a person who was chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department admits to being part of a racketeering conspiracy," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said afterward.Here's what U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar said about Hanhardt's operation:
"There's no controversy over whether Mr. Hanhardt is guilty -- he stood up in court and said that today," Fitzgerald said.
"Hanhardt's organization surpasses, in duration and sophistication, just about any other jewelry theft ring we've seen,"With the appointment of Hanhardt to Chief of Detectives, what else could Alderman Roti and the Chicago Mob do to become a more effective criminal organization?? Disarm the citizens of Chicago so they'd be no match for the Chicago Mob and corrupt Chicago police officers.Guess who lead the fight for gun control in Chicago and voted on Chicago's strict gun control ordinance leaving innocent Chicago citizens defenseless against corrupt police officers like Hanhardt and his cronies? None other than Alderman Roti.As the Chicago Tribune reported on March 20,1982 in an article titled MAYOR'S FORCES WIN HANDGUN CURB:
As Friday's council session began,[Mayor]Byrne feared the vote was too close to call.There was extensive backroom debate to determine if the matter should be brought up.But,Byrne allies,primarily Alderman Fred Roti(1st),Edward Burke(14th)and Wilson Frost(34th),moved through the council chambers,persuading wavering aldermen to back the mayor's proposals.Still,Some of Byrne's staunchest allies,including Alderman Robert Shaw(9th) and Richard Mell(33rd),deserted ranks and voted against the ordinance.Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Donovan made a last-minute deal with at least three aldermen who threatened to walk out of the meeting to avoid voting for the proposal.Donovan promised to improve city services in their wards.Today,in 2008,Chicago has a major police corruption problem because of the handgun ban.Here's a recent look at Chicago's elite police officers officers:
A major police corruption probe is under way in Chicago.In 1999,the Justice Department announced to America what many had long suspected:Alderman Roti was a "high ranking made member" of the Chicago Mob(look at pages 27 and 47 of this civil racketeering indictment).Here's the description of Alderman Roti:
Its target: an elite police tactical unit. Its alleged ringleader: a highly decorated police officer who, with other cops, allegedly committed home invasions and robberies.
FRED B. ROTI, a politically powerful former Chicago First Ward alderman, is the uncle of former CLDC president/ business manager Bruno Caruso and former CLDC official and Pension Fund Director Frank "Toots" Caruso. In 1992, in the case of United States v. Pat Marcy, et al. 90 CR 1045 (N.D. Illinois), Fred Roti was convicted of RICO conspiracy, bribery and extortion regarding the fixing of criminal cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County, including murder cases involving organized crime members or associates and was sentenced to 48 months' imprisonment. Roti was released from prison in 1997. As First Ward alderman, Roti was a key political patronage boss and, along with his co‑defendant Pat Marcy, a fixer for the Chicago Outfit. Roti has directly participated in interfering with the rights of the members of LIUNA in the selection of their officers and officials in that he has improperly influenced the selection of officers of the CLDC and has been responsible for the pervasive hiring of LaPietra crew members and associates at the Chicago streets and sanitation department. Roti is a made member of the Chicago Outfit.Two points of note here on the above quote.LaPietra is the infamous Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra ,Chicago Mob Capo who earned his nickname by torturing people by putting them on meat hooks.Pat Marcy,at the time of his indictment,in the early 1990's was one of the people Roti reported to in the Chicago Mob.Marcy was the number 3 man in the Chicago Mob.Here's the New York Times on the Roti and Marcy operation:
This is at least the third major Federal inquiry into official corruption in the Chicago courts and political system within recent years. Operation Graylord, a sweeping investigation into corruption in the Cook County courts, has resulted in the convictions of more than 70 people, including 15 judges, since the mid-1980's. Operation Incubator has obtained about a dozen convictions or guilty pleas, including those from five members of the City Council and a former aide to the late Mayor Harold Washington. 'Fixed' Murder TrialsWith Alderman Roti and Pat Marcy indicted the Chicago Mob was never the same.The frequent Mob killings stopped because the Mob couldn't be guaranteed any longer of going up in front of judges on their pad.So who took control of Chicago's political system? One of Alderman Roti's colleagues,a close friend,Alderman Ed Burke.
Among the accusations are that two of the men were involved in efforts to fix two separate murder trials. In both instances, the murder defendants were acquitted by judges, who heard the cases without juries.
In the first murder case, prosecutors say Pasquale Marcy, a 77-year-old official in the First Ward Democratic organization, fixed the 1977 murder trial of Harry Aleman, who was accused of killing a teamsters' union steward, by paying $10,000 to the judge assigned to hear the case. In the second, Mr. Marcy and Fred Roti, the First Ward's Alderman since 1969, are accused of having accepted $75,000 in exchange for fixing the trial of three men accused of a 1981 murder in the city's Chinatown neighborhood.
The indictment does not name the judges who presided over the murder cases. Prosecutors refused to answer further questions at the news conference about the murder cases beyond the few details laid out in the indictments.
The allegations involving the murder cases are in the first of the three indictments. That indictment charges Mr. Marcy and Mr. Roti with multiple counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and extortion in various attempts to fix a wide range of matters, including the results of civil bench trials, other criminal cases, zoning chanaes and judicial appointments. Indictment of Judge
In the second indictment, Federal prosecutors named David J. Shields, 58, formerly the presiding judge of the Chancery Division of the Cook County Circuit Court; and Pasquale F. De Leo, 45, a lawyer, on charges of extortion, false statements and other criminal acts in connection with attempts to fix a civil case -- filed by undercover Federal agents posing as litigants -- before Judge Shields in 1988.
In the third indictment, prosecutors charged John A. D'Arco Jr., 46, an Illinois State Senator for 13 years, with extortion and tax fraud. The indictment says Mr. D'Arco, whose district includes parts of Mr. Roti's ward, extorted $7,500 in exchange for promising to introduce into the Legislature a bill to allow a travel insurance business to sell insurance without the required state license.
Most of America thinks Mayor Daley runs Chicago.Those on the inside know that's not the case.The man who runs Chicago from behind the scenes,since the early 1990's, is Alderman Ed Burke,Chairman of Chicago's Finance Committee.Burke went from being an errand boy for Alderman Roti to the most powerful elected figure in the state of Illinois.In a corrupt state like Illinois,the guy with the most money in his campaign fund is the man at the top.In Illinois,it's not Chicago's Mayor Daley or Governor Blagojevich but Alderman Burke.The Chicago Tribune explains:
But the state’s richest political family was Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. Together, their political committees held $8.3 million in cash. The Tribune reported Monday that Anne Burke’s campaign was returning a large portion of her cash to donors because she is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.The guy with the most money obviously had the track record to get things done.Alderman Burke has never had a serious opponent run against him but sure has amassed a massive campaign fund.Not only is Burke the boss of Chicago's City Council, he's the person that slates all the judges in Cook County.With all judges in Cook County members of the Democratic Party, that makes Ed Burke the boss of the judicial branch.No man in America has more unchecked power than Alderman Burke with his control of the tax code in Chicago and the judicial branch of government.Alderman Burke also runs a law firm in the property tax appeals business:
Mayor Richard M. Daley, who traditionally ceases fundraising after elections, raised just $43,000 in the last six months, but had $3.1 million in cash on hand.
The primary focus of the firm involves contesting real estate tax assessments in the office of the respective county assessors, before boards of review and, when appropriate, in the trial and appellate courts.Recently, a founder of Illinois Family Court Accountability Advocates (IFCAA) has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to investigate Alderman Burke and his wife justice Ann Burke.One of the allegations concerned fixing a murder trial for Alderman Roti :
I am co-founder of the non-profit organization known as Illinois Family Court Accountability Advocates (IFCAA) which was created to stop the public corruption in the family courts in Illinois that is hurting the children of Illinois families.Politicians are called many things but fixing a murder trial is well... very serious business.Just why didn't Alderman Burke sue Robert Cooley for claiming Alderman Burke fixed a murder trial for the Chicago Mob?
Multiple IFCAA co-members, including myself, have had or are having our cases heard in the domestic relations court of the Circuit Court of Cook County in which it is apparent that rampant, unchecked, improper, and illegal activities have taken and are taking place.
It is clear that the corruption does not just involve a few judges and attorneys on the trial level. The material evidence in court records reveals that the corruption is systemic up through the reviewing courts. Further research has revealed that a critical intervention point is with the individual primarily responsible for which attorneys end up on the Chicago bench, specifically, Alderman Edward Burke.
One could argue with confidence that there is no way Chicago’s court system can or will be cleaned up until there is an investigation of Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, the newest appointee of the Illinois Supreme Court, Justice Anne Burke.
I have read the book, When Corruption Was King, by Robert Cooley, and have been in contact with him. Mr. Cooley is the former criminal attorney who was responsible for the FBI investigation, Operation Gambat, which resulted in the successful prosecution and conviction of three judges, one alderman, several attorneys, and multiple other Circuit Court of Cook County and City of Chicago officials. After reading Mr. Cooley’s book, I researched other sources regarding the professional and personal backgrounds of Justice Anne Burke and her husband, Edward, the longtime alderman from the 14th Ward, and the powerful and influential chairman of Chicago’s City Council's finance committee and chairman of the Democratic Party’s judicial slate-making subcommittee, the alleged “gatekeeper” of who becomes a judge in Chicago’s courts.
As a resident of the State of Illinois, I am writing to you and all your colleagues on the Illinois Supreme Court to formally request an investigation of Justice Anne Burke and her husband as well as others who were specifically named by Mr. Cooley in his book, When Corruption Was King. I am formally requesting that you, as a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, cause an investigation to be initiated by the appropriate authorities.
I respectfully call your attention to the information and allegations presented herein as well as to your Oath of Office, and to the absolute duty to report misconduct of judges and attorneys under Illinois Supreme Court Rules, which rules mandate an investigation of the allegations herein. [Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 63 (B)(3)(a) and/or Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 8.3(a)&(b); See Endnotes.] Further, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District opinion entered on November 1, 2005 in Case No. 05 C 0283, Golden and Golden v. Nadler, Pritikin & Mirabelli, LLC, et al, stated in pertinent part, “The court notes that Illinois attorneys have an absolute duty to report misconduct of other attorneys. See Skolnick v. Altheimer & Gray, 191 Ill.2d 214, 226, 730 N.E.2d 4, 246 Ill. Dec. 324 (2000)”
In Mr. Cooley’s book, he specifically stated that Alderman Ed Burke contacted Judge Cieslak, recently deceased, regarding at least two murder cases and tried to influence his decision on those cases. In his book, that was printed and distributed nationally, Mr. Cooley stated that Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, were involved in a molestation case that he, himself, was asked to fix. After these allegations were published, when Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, Justice Anne Burke, were asked to comment on the allegations, they stated, “No comment.”
These and other very serious allegations that were made sometime ago about these individuals have gone unopposed and uninvestigated After these allegations were made public, Justice Anne Burke was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court and her attorney husband, Alderman Ed Burke, has been allowed to remain as Chairman of the Democratic Committee that slates judges.
After I read the book, I was able to make contact with Robert Cooley and he told me that he was informed years ago that Ed Burke was to be indicted for a number of illegal activities he was involved in, including the fixing of murder cases. He also told me that there were a number of cases he was involved in fixing and a number of other illegal activities and yet no one from any state investigative agencies ever contacted him or the late Judge Cieslak nor anyone else who witnessed illegal acts involving the Burkes. [He indicated that the Burkes are still involved in alleged illicit activities including recently attempting to get the Emerald City Casino license returned to a number of close friends.] He told me that within the past year, Judge Cieslak gave an interview to two members of the media in which Judge Cieslak verified that all the allegations made in Cooley’s book were true. After the judge gave the interview, the two separate reporters specifically told Mr. Cooley that they were “not allowed to do the story because it involves Ed Burke.”
Mr. Cooley told me that he has talked to a number of people and has provided information about Ed and Anne Burke similar to that which resulted in indictments and convictions in Operation Gambit. He told me that major newspaper and television entities flat out told him that they could not do a substantive story on Ed Burke or Anne Burke.
Cammon and Remy Murder Cases
In his book, Mr. Cooley stated Ed Burke and Anne Burke along with Attorney Pat Tuite fixed a murder case before Judge Maloney. Herbert Cammon’s case was a murder case in which it was alleged that Herbert Cammon, a gay black man, murdered his wife with the help of his gay lover by stabbing her over 40 times and leaving the knife sticking out of her mouth. It was alleged that he murdered his wife to obtain the proceeds of a $250,000 life insurance policy. The case was originally assigned to Judge Arthur Ceilsik. After a mistrial because of a hung jury, Ed Burke approached Judge Cieslik and told him to withdraw from the case. When the judge refused to withdraw from the case, he told the judge, “What’s the big deal. It’s only a fucking nigger.” Ed Burke’s wife, Anne, had filed an appearance in the case as co-counsel with Pat Tuite. Anne Burke also requested that the judge withdraw from the case saying, “My husband was the one who put you on the bench.” [Judge Cieslek lived in the 14th ward.] When the judge finally withdrew from the case due to media pressure initiated by the attorneys, the case was assigned to Judge Tom Maloney. Judge Maloney dismissed the case in a bench trial. Cooley revealed that he was wearing a wire when the aforementioned events took place such that the FBI was fully informed. Cooley revealed that he was in communication with Judge Cieslik and he tried to encourage the judge to not let the case go. He also reported to the feds that the case would be assigned to Judge Maloney who would fix the case.
Mr. Cooley revealed that this was the second murder case that Ed Burke tried to fix before Judge Ceislak. Prior to the Cammon case, Cooley wrote about a murder case that Ed Burke tried to fix before Judge Cieslik as a favor to one of the mob bosses, Angelo “The Hook” LaPeitra. This was the Remy murder case in which some Chicago Police officers beat a black man to death for smoking on an “L” train. Cooley stated in the book that one of the police officers was a relative of LaPeitra. He also reported that when Ed Burke was talking to Attorney Sam Banks, Ed Burke made similar racist statements as in the Cammon murder case, specifically, “It’s only a fucking nigger. I can’t see why the judge is making such a big deal about it.”
He also reported that when Ed Burke was in Counselors Row he made a similar racist statement as in the Cammon case. When he specifically said to the group at the First Ward table “I can’t see why the judge is making such a big deal about it. It’s only a fucking nigger.”
At the time the book came out, Anne Burke was a sitting judge on the appellate bench and she never sued the author or publisher when they made these statements. The accusations appear to be true.
A report by Abdon M. Pallasch from Chicago Lawyer dated January 1998 stated that WBBM-TV reported “U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated rumors in 1988 that [Ed] Burke bribed judges to fix two murder cases.”
Why weren’t Anne Burke and/or Ed Burke questioned about their involvement in the Cammon or Remy murder cases? If there was an investigation, why weren’t Judge Arthur Cieslik or Attorney Robert Cooley interviewed?
With Tony Rezko's trial,who do you think Rezko went to for some legal work? None other than Alderman Ed Burke.The Chicago Sun Times reports:
Why did Ald. Edward M. Burke vote to approve Tony Rezko’s plans to develop the South Loop’s biggest piece of vacant land even as he was working for Rezko on that same deal?In conclusion,Alderman Roti is gone but his legacy lives on.On August 11,1999 the Justice Department named Alderman Roti as a high ranking "made member" of the Chicago Mob.Did Roti deny it? No.He died just weeks later on September 20,1999.When the Chicago City Council came back to meet on September 29,1999 one of the first orders of business was to honor the life of Alderman Roti.No we aren't joking.Being convicted for felonies on the job as Alderman Roti was, is to be honored by Chicago Democrats.We'll quote to you the full resolution entered on pages 11238,11239,and 11240 of the Journal-City Council-Chicago on September 29,1999 :
Burke says: I forgot to abstain.
Burke says: I forgot to abstain.
The much-conflicted alderman says he meant to sit out the vote. He’d even sent a letter to the Chicago Board of Ethics in August 2003 saying he would abstain from any Council votes on Rezko’s plan to put as many as 5,000 homes and stores on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River at Roosevelt Road.
The much-conflicted alderman says he meant to sit out the vote. He’d even sent a letter to the Chicago Board of Ethics in August 2003 saying he would abstain from any Council votes on Rezko’s plan to put as many as 5,000 homes and stores on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River at Roosevelt Road.
But then Rezko’s project came before the City Council on March 31, 2004, and Burke cast his vote — in favor.
“An error occurred,” the alderman said in a written response to questions, “and Rule 14 was not invoked.”
That would be the Council rule under which aldermen are supposed to abstain from a vote when they have a conflict of interest.
Of course, it’s up to the alderman who has a conflict to invoke the rule.
Burke’s legal work for Rezko’s Rezmar Corp. is referenced in records on the 62-acre site Rezko wanted to develop with $140 million in city subsidies. The project fizzled, and Rezmar sold the land.
Rezko has since been indicted on federal corruption charges that accuse him of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state contracts under Gov. Blagojevich.
When Burke voted for Rezko’s project, the alderman’s law firm was trying to get a 77 percent cut in the site’s real estate taxes, arguing that Cook County Assessor James Houlihan was wrong to have used the sale price to determine the property’s value.
If it had succeeded, the appeal would have saved Rezmar more than $390,000 in real estate taxes. And Burke would have gotten 20 percent of that savings, according to Daniel Mahru, Rezko’s former partner.
But Burke lost and got nothing. Because he didn’t get paid, he never had to publicly disclose his legal work for Rezmar.
“The ordinance did not require me to disclose that my law firm represented this company,” Burke said in his statement to the Sun-Times. “The rule is very simple: You must receive ‘compensation in excess of $5,000,’ as outlined in the city’s own disclosure form. In fact, my law firm received no compensation at all.”
Burke spent at least six months trying to win the tax cut for Rezko:
• On Nov. 24, 2003, Burke asked Houlihan to lower the assessed value. He didn’t get what he wanted.
• On Dec. 16, 2003, Rezmar hired Burke to appeal to the Cook County Board of Review.
• On March 31, 2004, Burke joined fellow aldermen to approve Rezko’s development plans for the 62-acre site.
• On May 25, 2004, Burke appealed to the Board of Review, which refused to give Rezmar a tax break.
Burke has a history of voting on legislation involving his legal clients. Ten years ago, the Sun-Times found Burke voted to approve city leases for two airlines represented by his law firm. Burke then used a rare parliamentary move to change four “yes” votes to abstentions. Burke blamed those “yes” votes on the late Ald. Thomas Cullerton, claiming he told Cullerton that he planned to abstain from voting on the airline leases.
Rules Suspended--TRIBUTE TO LATE ALDERMAN FRED B.ROTI.There you have it: Mayor Daley,Alderman Burke, and the rest of the Chicago City Council believes a "high ranking made member" of the Chicago Mob was a "committed public servant" and "leaves his family a legacy of public service".These are the values of the Chicago Democratic Machine.
The Honorable Richard M.Daley,Mayor,presented the following communication:
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
CITY OF CHICAGO
To the Honorable,The City Council of the City of Chicago:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN--I transmit herewith a resolution honoring the life and memory of Alderman Fred B. Roti.
Your favorable consideration of this resolution will be appreciated.
Very truly yours,
(Signed) Richard M.Daley
Alderman Burke moved to Suspend the Rules Temporarily to permit immediate consideration of and action upon the said proposed resolution.The motion Prevailed.
The following is said proposed resolution:
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti passed away on Monday,September 20,1999,at the age of seventy-eight;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti,one of eleven children,the son of southern Italian immigrants,was born in an apartment over a store in Chinatown,the near south die neighborhood where he spent his whole life;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti spent more than fifty years in government service,the jobs ranging form state senator to city drain inspector to a post at the city morgue;and
WHEREAS,In 1968 Fred B. Roti was elected alderman of Chicago's great 1st Ward;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti loved his work as alderman,and he counseled mayors,encouraged downtown development,helped shape the Chicago skyline and served the citizens of the 1st Ward ably and with vigor until 1991;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti's talents,hard work and friendly,humorous manner earned him the respect and affection of former colleagues,constitutients,citizens and the press;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti is remembered as a kind,considerate person,who had great love for his family and community;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti is survived by his loving son,Bruno;his loving daughters,Rose Mary Marasso and Mary Ann Walz;and his two sisters;and
WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti was much loved by his six grandchildren;and
WHEREAS,Fred B.Roti, a committed public servant, a cherished friend of many and good neighbor to all,will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by his many family members,friends and associates;now therefore,
Be it Resolved,That we ,the Mayor and members of the City Council of the City of Chicago,assembled this twenty-ninth day of September,1999,do hereby extend to the family of the late Fred B. Roti our deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies upon their loss;and
Be it Further Resolved,That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to the family of the late Fred B. Roti as a sign of our sympathy and good wishes.
On motion of Alderman Burke,seconded by Aldermen Granato,Tillman,Beavers,Balcer,Rugai,Solis,Suarez,Mell,Allen,O'Connor,Natarus,Hansen and Schulter,the foregoing proposed resolution was Adopted by a rising vote.
At this point in the proceedings,The Honorable Richard M. Daley,Mayor,rose and on behalf of his own family and the people of Chicago extended condolences to the family of former Alderman Fred Roti.Mayor Daley remembered the Alderman as a true Chicagoan who served his constituents without regard to wealth or status,as a public official who refused to permit the intensity of the political debate to impinge upon the civility of personal relationships.Fred Roti loved politics and loved government because he loved people,Mayor Daley declared,and he leaves his family a legacy of public service.
Thanks to Steve Bartin
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