The Chicago Syndicate: Angelo LaPietra
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Showing posts with label Angelo LaPietra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Angelo LaPietra. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Feds Searching for Mob Money

Federal authorities have told top Chicago hoodlums to show them the money - ten million dollars in racketeering profits - and hand it over.

Some of the outfit figures claim they're broke, but federal investigators believe those mobsters are hiding millions in assets.

The trail of mob money begins with eight slices of Sopressata Italian salami and two men - convicted Chicago outfit boss Frank Calabrese and suburban lawyer Alphonse Talarico.

On August 16, during a courtroom break in the Operation Family Secrets trial, attorney Talarico was visiting with Frank the Breeze, whose family he'd represented in real estate. Federal marshals say Talarico passed contraband to prisoner Calabrese and is now banned from the courtroom. Talarico claims the contraband salami was his lunchmeat. "Must've fallen out of my pocket," he told the I-Team. "It wasn't anything devious. I wasn't trying to be a wiseguy."

He admitted to being related to wiseguys. SAFETY Buy 1 get 1 50 percent offHe is the brother of mob bookmaker Michael Talarico, who testified in the case; nephew of the late mob boss Angelo "The Hook" Lapietra and ex-in-law of mob hit man Frank "The German" Schweihs. But it's Talarico's role as the real estate attorney and taxman for Frank Calabrese that has the attention of federal agents far more than his fallen salami.

Since the early 1980's, Talarico has handled vacation land deals in Williams Bay, Wisconsin for the Calabreses. Authorities are said to be examining Walworth County deed records for Calabrese and Talarico as they try to determine find Frank the Breeze's assets.

At Talarico's Oakbrook law office, he declined to appear on TV but said the allegations are "totally inaccurate. I don't know anything about it. The U.S. government can follow anything they want."

U.S. prosecutors are also following the money behind mob leader Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, unraveling what they contend was an intricate scheme to camouflage his personal fortune.

The Clown was arrested last year after being on the lamb for months with $3,000 in his pocket. But he claimed to be in the poorhouse, living on Social Security with six-figure debts. His attorney was ordered paid with tax money.

The feds don't buy Lombardo's poverty act, and the I-Team has learned agents recently delivered a subpoena to the suburban home of his son, Joey Jr.

In what's called a "third party citation to discover assets," the junior Lombardo and other members of his family are being commanded to appear in federal court with records of money or property they may be holding for The Clown.

Feds want Joey Jr.'s tax returns and records of his father's trust account that names his mother, himself and his sister as beneficiaries. Prosecutors question how The Clown could have a trust fund if he was penniless.

According to public records, Joey The Clown and his wife, Marion, divorced in 1992. But federal authorities say the split-up was a sham, that they continued to live together in a West Side apartment building until he was indicted in 2005. And when the Lombardo family sold their Florida golf course property in 2003, eleven years after their divorce, Marion Lombardo still listed herself as "a married woman" while collecting $4.5 million.

In the past year, Mrs. Lombardo has sold two properties, totaling almost $800,000.

Joey Lombardo's lawyer and the others in the mob case are bound by a gag order because the jury is still deliberating murder charges. But Joe Dinatale, who represents Lombardo's ex-wife, son and daughter, said they're cooperating and plan to turn over documents early next month.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mum's the Word

Aheavy-set, gray-haired fellow stepped outside the Old Neighborhood Italian-American Club Monday afternoon, sat down at a picnic table and started trimming his fingernails with a set of pocket clippers just as I walked up.

I told him who I was and what I was doing, which was looking for reaction to Monday's across-the-board guilty verdicts in the big Family Secrets mob trial.

He glanced up without actually lifting his chin, shook his head, grunted and shook his head again.

I took it for a no comment.

The next guy out the door was friendlier. 5% Off any Purchase. Code: KGB5He laid his cane on the picnic table as he sat down, smiled when I made my introduction and said he reads the Sun-Times regularly. He even said he likes my column and mentioned another columnist here he doesn't like. I told him the other columnist was great.

"I'm just telling you the truth," he said. I told him that's all we can ask.

While this was going on, a big guy came to the door and asked the guy with the fingernail clippers if he could come inside a minute, which was just about the time I was asking the friendly guy about the verdict in the mob trial.

The friendly guy suddenly grew hard of hearing, a blank faraway expression crossing his face. I repeated my question. His look grew more pained. Words seemed to fail him.

Then the guy with fingernail clippers opened the door and told the friendly guy (he might have called him John) that he had a phone call. John asked me what the other guy had said, his mind having tried so hard not to hear me that it seemed to have blocked out all other sound as well. I told him he had a phone call -- and that he should assure them he hadn't told me anything.

By then, of course, the word was spread to everybody else inside the modern brick and stone structure at 30th Place and Shields that there was a reporter out front.

After that, most of them either slipped out the side door to get to the ONIAC members only parking lot surrounded by one of those black wrought iron fences favored by the mayor -- who after all grew up just down this very street -- or they marched past me without so much as a sideways glance as I tried to talk to them.

The reaction to my presence was only slightly different for those entering the club. They at least paused to hear me out before scurrying off.

"I no speak English. I no speak English," said one, not too convincingly.

It reminded me a little of the way defendants flee the Dirksen Federal Building, which was unfortunate, because I considered the Old Neighborhood Italian-American Club a good place to look for the opinion of older Italians, not older mobsters, and I do not consider one to be synonymous with the other. But the club also played a cameo role in the trial. Its founder was said to be Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, the onetime boss of the mob's 26th Street crew. Defendant Frank Calabrese Sr., a LaPietra lieutenant, was a club member. The current club president, Dominic "Captain D" DiFazio, was a prosecution witness who testified about being the go-between for extortion payments to Calabrese from the owner of Connie's Pizza.

This gave me time to contemplate the significance of the silent treatment, which obviously hadn't come as a complete surprise. Whether you call this Bridgeport or Armour Square, this is not a neighborhood known to be welcoming to outsiders. It's also an area where there historically has been a nexus between the mob and Chicago politics. And what struck me is that, as important and valuable as this prosecution was, it doesn't really change the fundamentals. This is still a town where in certain places they know you don't talk about certain people because they still have power and influence.

A young man across the street in a city General Services Department T-shirt was walking a basset hound puppy. Between the puppy, his job and working on a double major at DePaul, he said he didn't have time to think -- about the mob trial or anything else. But he said, "It's everywhere."

He wouldn't give his name, but said the dog's name was Dolce.

"That's sweet in Italian," he explained.

Finally, a guy arrived who was happy to talk. I told him about the verdicts.

"That's life," he said, mentioning that he knew Frank "The German" Schweihs, one of the original co-defendants.

"What disappointed me is that they were hurting legitimate people, their own people, Italians," he said of the accused.

Just then, the door opened and the big guy stuck out his head again.

"Larry!" he shouted. "You got a phone call."


Thanks to Mark Brown

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Calabrese Delivers Longwinded Testimony

Frank Calabrese Sr. went from eating oatmeal for dinner as a child to making millions of dollars from illegal street loans but denied Thursday from the witness stand that he ever killed anyone for the Chicago Outfit.

Calabrese is an allegedly prolific hit man, accused of 13 murders in the Family Secrets mob case in federal court.

The 70-year-old man, who complained about his bad hearing, took the stand for two hours in the case to deny each murder he's accused of. He described a life of doing business with people in the Outfit and hanging around mobsters but not being part of the mob himself.

Calabrese was dressed conservatively, in a tie, suit coat and slacks, and often looked directly at the jury as he was questioned by his attorney, Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, outfitted in a hot pink shirt, matching pink socks, lemon tie and black suit.

In his questioning, Lopez made the distinction between people who were "earners" and people who did "heavy work," in other words, murder.

"Were you an earner or did you did you do heavy work?" Lopez asked.

"Joe, my earnings spoke for themselves," Calabrese said.

"I made millions. How would I have time to do it?" Calabrese Sr. said, referring to the murders he's accused of.

As his lawyer asked him questions, Calabrese would go on and on -- so much so that the judge told him to just answer the questions he was asked.

From the witness stand, Calabrese appeared to be struggling not to lose his temper as Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scully repeatedly objected to Calabrese's expansive answers.

At one point, Calabrese was asked about a club he belonged to. He answered but added, "Can I tell you how they raised money for the club?"

"No," Lopez said, trying to cut him off.

"Just asking," Calabrese said.

Calabrese said he was partners with mob boss Angelo LaPietra in the street loan business but insisted he did not report to LaPietra as his boss.

"He did never control me -- never," Calabrese said.

"Many people feared him," Calabrese said of LaPietra, a brutal mob killer who had such nicknames as "Bull" and "The Hook."

"Many people couldn't look him in the eye when they talked to him. I never had that problem," Calabrese said.

Calabrese has seen both his son, Frank Calabrese Jr., and his brother, Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, testify against him at trial.

His son put his life on the line and secretly recorded his father while they were both in federal prison in 1999 on another case.

Jurors have already heard excerpts from those extensive conversations, in which Frank Calabrese Sr. apparently describes mob murders in great detail.

Frank Calabrese Sr. will have to explain those conversations to the jury. He's also expected to blame his brother, Nicholas; his son, Frank Jr., and a second son, Kurt, for conspiring to frame him for the mob murders to keep him in prison, so they could steal his money with impunity.

Kurt Calabrese is not a witness in the case but quietly slipped into court Thursday to watch his father's testimony. At one point, the two locked eyes briefly, and Calabrese Sr. appeared a bit unsettled.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Monday, July 30, 2007

Talarico Brothers Choose Sides at Mob Trial

Friends of ours: Michael Talarico, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nicholas Calabrese, Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra
Friends of mine: Al Talarico

In the Family Secrets mob trial in Chicago, a brother has testified against a brother, and a son has testified against a father. But in recent days, the trial has revealed another family twist.

Bookmaker Michael Talarico took the stand against Frank Calabrese Sr., who ran the street crew that made Talarico pay a "street tax."

Days later, another Talarico family member -- civil attorney Al Talarico, Michael's brother -- entered the courtroom and promptly sat a few feet away from Calabrese Sr. He sat on a courtroom bench and started taking notes, whispering comments to Calabrese Sr.

Al Talarico even wanted to enter the case officially on Calabrese Sr.'s behalf, but Judge James Zagel denied his request. Calabrese Sr. already has one lawyer, defense attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez.

Lopez, normally a font of quotes for inquiring reporters, declined to comment on Al Talarico's appearance. Lopez cited a gag order the judge has imposed. Lopez, though, appears to have grown increasingly irritated by Talarico's presence. Lopez now has his client and Talarico whispering advice to him at trial.

Calabrese Sr. may need all the help he can get. He is accused of murdering 13 people for the mob. His brother, alleged Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, and his eldest son have testified against him.

Michael and Al Talarico are nephews of the late mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, a brutal killer who ran the 26th Street/Chinatown crew to which Calabrese Sr. belonged.

Al Talarico could not be reached for comment Friday. He has done civil work for the Calabrese family involving real estate, records show. One deal involved a home that the feds contended Calabrese Sr. stole from a man who owed him thousands of dollars in juice loans.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Son of Mob Hit Man Takes Witness Stand

Ronald Jarrett looked at the video screen on the witness stand in the Family Secrets trial on Tuesday and saw the image of a mustachioed face staring back.
Ronald Jarrett

"That was my father," he said of Ronnie Jarrett, a noted Outfit hit man and bookie who was gunned down in 1999.

The younger Jarrett, 35, was one of a series of prosecution witnesses called Tuesday to corroborate some of prosecution witness Nicholas Calabrese's key testimony over the last week about mob murders, how the Chicago Outfit made its money and what role Frank Calabrese Sr. and other defendants played.

Jarrett, in a white dress shirt and buzz-cut hair, testified that his father was a member of Frank Calabrese's Outfit crew and ran a gambling operation. When his dad was sentenced to prison in 1980, both Calabrese brothers dropped by to visit him, he said.

On his father's release from prison, Jarrett said, the two of them began working together in a gambling ring that took bets on football, basketball and horse racing, among other sports. Some of the money went to Frank Calabrese's family. Ronnie Jarrett bankrolled the operation, his son said, keeping cash in a bedroom drawer or a coat pocket in his closet.

The operation expanded to two offices, one in Burbank and another in Chicago, Jarrett said. Gambling slips were hidden in the ceiling of the front porch of the Chicago office, he said. Times were good, he said, until his father's fatal shooting just before Christmas in 1999.

Jarrett said he once asked reputed mob figure Nicholas Ferriola who was responsible for his father's death. Ferriola, who has pleaded guilty as part of the Family Secrets prosecution, brought players to the gambling operation, he said.

According to Jarrett, Ferriola told him that Johnny "Apes" Monteleone ordered his father's hit. Nicholas Calabrese had testified that Monteleone took over as boss of the Outfit's 26th Street crew after the deaths of brothers Angelo LaPietra and Jimmy LaPietra in the 1990s. "He told me that my dad had a problem with Johnny 'Apes,'" Jarrett testified.

On cross-examination by Joseph Lopez, the attorney for Frank Calabrese Sr., Jarrett acknowledged that Calabrese had tried to push him away from bookmaking. Through his questioning, Lopez also suggested that Jarrett's father could have been killed for refusing to let his gambling operation be controlled by Monteleone. To his knowledge, the younger Jarrett said, his father didn't pay "street taxes" to Outfit bosses.

In the afternoon, prosecutors called witnesses in an attempt to bolster Nicholas Calabrese's account of the murder of Nicholas D'Andrea, who had been suspected in an attempt on the life of reputed mob capo Al Pilotto on a golf course in Crete.

The heart of the government case involves 18 long-unsolved gangland slayings. Calabrese's brother and four other defendants are on trial in the landmark case.

Calabrese had described the killing in detail last week, saying D'Andrea had been lured to a garage in Chicago Heights. Calabrese testified he had been told that a tall man and a short man would walk into the garage and that he was to club the short man with a bat.

On entering the garage, the tall man took off running, possibly tipping off the shorter D'Andrea, Calabrese had said. It then took several members of the hit squad, including Family Secrets defendant James Marcello, to overpower and subdue D'Andrea, Calabrese testified. D'Andrea's body was later found in the trunk of his car, according to testimony.

The surprise of the day came when Terri Nevis, D'Andrea's former wife, said a photo that prosecutors have shown to jurors was, in fact, not her husband. "Absolutely not," she said in a whispery voice when Thomas Breen, Marcello's lawyer, showed her the photo. It remains to be seen how much the apparent error will aid the defense because Calabrese, in his testimony, said he didn't recognize the photo as that of D'Andrea.

Calabrese had said that within days of the hit on D'Andrea, Outfit bosses showed him a newspaper story about another murder. He said he had been told that the victim was the taller man who had spooked D'Andrea in the garage. Prosecutors have told the judge they will show jurors that a mobster named Sam Guzzino was killed soon after the D'Andrea hit. The government contends he was the taller man in question.

Nevis, who had begun living with D'Andrea when she was 15 and he was in his late 40s, testified that on the day he died, it was Guzzino who called D'Andrea to set up a meeting. "He said to get Nick on the phone," said Nevis, now a 45-year-old mortgage banker living on the West Coast. Another witness, Karen Brill, testified that Sam Guzzino would come by his brother's cab company in Chicago Heights where she worked. The company had a garage that shared space with a bar and brothel called "The Vagabond Lounge," Nevis said.

Brill was shown a photo of an old brown garage she said was the one she was talking about -- the same photo Calabrese told jurors appeared to look like the garage where D'Andrea was killed.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Chicago's Mayor Friendly with Alledged Mob Associate?

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, Frank Calabrese Sr., John Fecarotta, Anthony Doyle
Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

Will Chicago reporters ask Mayor Richard Daley about the Fred Barbara issue Wednesday? It came up Tuesday during the Chicago Outfit trial of reputed mobsters in the Family Secrets case.

Barbara, successful trucking boss, waste hauler, and mayoral fashionista, has made fortunes on city deals under Daley and is currently a consultant on the city's blue bag program. He's a friend of the mayor, and of the mayor's political brain, Tim Degnan, who, like the mayor, is a son of Bridgeport.

Tuesday's testimony of key Outfit witness Nicholas Calabrese also put Barbara with another son of Bridgeport: Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, the late boss of the Outfit's Chinatown crew. A key Outfit killer turned government informant said that LaPietra and Barbara were present at the arson bombing of Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park in the early 1980s.

It is important to note that Barbara has not been charged with any crime recently. We tried contacting Barbara on Tuesday to ask about Calabrese's testimony, only to be told that he wasn't available for an interview with me. And federal prosecutors and defense lawyers couldn't comment because of a gag order.

So, let's clear this thing up. Is the guy with "The Hook" at Horwath's the mayor's Fred Barbara or some cunning impostor? Who best to resolve this issue than Daley?

Surely, reporters will ask him Wednesday, if he doesn't bolt town for another fact-finding mission, not to Rio, but perhaps to trace the last steps of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, while the Outfit crew from his neighborhood turns under federal heat back home.

Barbara is a political donor who sold his South Side garbage-transfer station and landfill for $58 million. He knows his way around politics and business. But what's new today is that Nick Calabrese mentioned Barbara from the witness stand. Calabrese put him at the scene at one of the Outfit bombings of west suburban restaurants in the early 1980s, as the Outfit pressured businesses and sent unmistakable messages to them.

Some of the establishments Calabrese mentioned during questioning from assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars included the following: The bombings of the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, Tom's Steakhouse in Melrose Park, Marina Cartage (the Chicago trucking company owned by another mayoral buddy recently turned Barbara rival, Mike Tadin) and Horwath's on Harlem Avenue.

Calabrese testified that Fred Barbara was with LaPietra and that the two men bombed Horwath's together. Nick testified that he and brother Frank Calabrese Sr., who is one of the Outfit bosses on trial in this case, bombed Tom's Steakhouse. All four and others met at mobster John Fecarotta's hot-dog stand in Melrose Park before the bombings, and afterward, to compare notes, Nick Calabrese said.

"It was me, my brother, and Johnny Fecarotta at Tom's," Nick Calabrese testified. "At Horwath's, there was Fred Barbara and Angelo LaPietra."

These two sentences will most likely be buried in news accounts of the larger Outfit case, because Nick also described four brutal murders in which he held people down while his brother strangled them with a rope. And Nick also testified about the severed heads of dogs thrown onto front lawns, and dead chickens, and a bizarre Outfit assignment:

To kill several pet shop mice, put tiny nooses around their tiny necks, and dangle them from the windshield of an extortion victim. But the sentences about Barbara are important sentences, if Calabrese was telling the truth, if "The Hook" took Barbara on the Horwath's bombing. The act of arson would bind a businessman to the Chinatown crew, as insurance of sorts against any future testimony.

After they met at the hot-dog stand, Calabrese said the groups went their ways. Fecarotta was known to his friends and "family" as "Big Stoop."

Fecarotta later lived up to the nickname when he botched the burial of the Spilotro brothers, forcing the Outfit to kill him on Belmont Avenue. In that killing, Nick got wounded and left a bloody glove at the scene. It was held in the police evidence room where alleged Chinatown juice collector and Chicago cop Anthony Doyle (also of Bridgeport) worked. The FBI asked about the glove. Doyle allegedly told the Outfit. And the historic case began.

I'll write about the Calabrese murders in other columns, I have the right to delay that, since you're getting that news anyway and because, well, I broke the story about Calabrese disappearing from prison and into the witness protection program, which caused a panic among the Outfit.

For now, let's remember what the mayor's friend, Fred Barbara, told the Sun-Times in 2004 about the federal juice loan charge of which he was acquitted in 1983.

"Show me my connection to organized crime," he said. "Did I turn the corner? You show me anything in the last 24 years that reflects to that nature."

I'd bet Nick Calabrese hasn't talked to the feds just about the Outfit in Bridgeport. I'd bet he's talked to them about politics too.

Thanks to John Kass

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mob Testimony Better Than Any TV Drama

Friends of ours: Frank Calabrese Sr., Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra

Frank Calabrese Jr. says he was just a Holy Cross High School student when his father got him started in the family business by assigning him to help his Uncle Nick make the rounds to collect all the quarters taken in from peep shows at half a dozen adult bookstores.

The bookstores were owned by a guy named Vito, who got the idea the Calabreses were skimming -- which they were -- and decided to paint the quarters to help him get an honest count. Frank Calabrese Jr.'s father, alleged mob hit man Frank Calabrese Sr., didn't appreciate the tactic and confronted Vito, slapping him and telling him "not to worry," Frank Jr. told a federal jury Tuesday.

Soon thereafter, "Vito left and couldn't be found," said Frank Jr., who in short order was helping his "Uncle Joe" run the bookstores.

You hear for years about the big Family Secrets investigation of the Chicago Outfit and how a son helped make the case against his father by secretly tape-recording their conversations. You hear it so long it starts to become background noise, and then the son steps into the courtroom and you suddenly are witness to more real drama than any television show about the mob has ever captured.

Frank Jr. hobbled to the witness stand with the help of a cane in his left hand, necessitated by multiple sclerosis, with which he was diagnosed in 2000.

He is a big man with broad shoulders and a shaved head, imposing despite his illness and eyeglasses. He wore a striped golf shirt, which was untucked. And he is the spitting image of his father, who watched Frank Jr.'s first hour of testimony with seeming bemusement, a thin smile on his face that one could imagine concealed an urge to get up and slap his 47-year-old son. Frank Jr. said that's exactly what Frank Sr. did on more than one occasion after he stole and spent between $600,000 and $800,000 that he took from one of his father's hiding spots in the early 1990s.

Frank Jr. said he invested about $200,000 of the money into opening a restaurant, La Luce at Lake and Ogden, and a lesser amount on the Bella Luna Cafe on Dearborn. But he said he spent most of it on vacations and drugs. "I blew all the money. I just spent it all wildly," he testified, occasionally interrupting to take a swig from a bottle of Ice Mountain water.

His father figured out what had happened and came to Frank Jr.'s home in Elmwood Park to confront him. "He grabbed me by the arm and walked me down the street," Frank Jr. testified, admitting that he started to cry. "When I denied it, he cracked me in the head with an open hand."

After Frank Jr. confessed, his father told him he would have to find a way to pay the money back, because it actually belonged to mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra.

Soon thereafter, Frank Sr. went to the restaurant to check on his son and found he wasn't there. According to Frank Jr., his father then phoned him and instructed him to meet him outside a White Hen in Elmwood Park.

From there they drove to a garage in Elmwood Park where Frank Jr. said his father kept cars owned in other people's names that he used for his Outfit work.

Once inside the garage, "my father cracked me and started yelling at me," Frank Jr. testified. Then, Frank Jr. said, "He pulled out a gun and stuck it in my face and told me: 'I'd rather have you dead than disobey me.' "

"I started crying and hugging him and kissing him," Frank Jr. told the jury. "Help me. Help me," Frank Jr. said he pleaded. "I want to do the right thing."

His father relented. On the way back to the restaurant, though, Frank Sr. "punched me in the face . . . numerous times," Frank Jr. said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scully cut off the line of questioning at that point and took it another direction, though likely to return to it in the days ahead as the younger Calabrese continues his testimony. Frank Jr. then told stories of the first two times he accompanied his dad on his mob enforcement rounds, including helping with the attempted firebombing of an Elmwood Park garage.

It is in the nature of men to want to bring their sons into the family business, I suppose, and therefore illogical to think it would be any different when the family business is crime. But logic has nothing to do with it.

Thanks to Mark Brown

Monday, June 18, 2007

Family Secrets Mob Trial Capsule

The Judge

U.S. District Judge: James B. Zagel

A Reagan appointee, Zagel is generally considered a good draw for the prosecution and one of the brightest judges on Chicago's federal bench. He is also among the most experienced, marking his 20th year on the federal bench this month. Zagel, 66, was once married to TV investigative reporter Pam Zekman, wrote "Money To Burn," a fictional thriller about a plot to rob the Federal Reserve Bank, and played a judge in the 1989 movie "Music Box."

Who's on Trial?

Fourteen alleged mobsters and associates were indicted in the case in 2005, but only five are expected to go on trial. Two of the original defendants died, one is too ill to face trial, four have pleaded guilty and two more are set to plead guilty as soon as Monday.

Joey "the Clown" Lombardo

A reputed capo in the Grand Avenue street crew, Lombardo has been alleged to be a mob leader who committed murder while controlling pornography and other Outfit business in the city. Known for his alleged penchant for violence and an odd sense of humor, he once took out a newspaper ad to publicly announce that he was officially retired from the mob. He is charged in connection with the murder of Daniel Seifert in September 1974. He was separately convicted of attempting to bribe a U.S. senator and conspiring to skim $2 million from the Stardust casino in Las Vegas along with mob bosses Joseph Aiuppa, John Cerone, and Angelo LaPietra.

James Marcello

Marcello, 65, was described by Chicago's top FBI agent as the boss of the Chicago Outfit when the Family Secrets indictment came down in the spring of 2005. The Lombard resident had previously been convicted in 1993 on federal charges of racketeering, gambling, loan-sharking and extortion. Authorities have alleged he passed on money to the family of mobster Nicholas Calabrese to try to buy his silence on gangland slayings. Federal agents recorded conversations he had with his brother, Michael, while James was in a federal prison in Michigan. The men allegedly discussed gambling operations and Calabrese's possible cooperation with law enforcement.

Frank Calabrese Sr.

The one-time street boss of the mob's South Side or 26th Street crew, the 70-year-old Calabrese once was alleged to be the city's top loan shark. He is charged in connection with the 1980 murder of hit man William Petrocelli in Cicero as well as a dozen other slayings. Calabrese pleaded guilty in 1997 to using threats, violence and intimidation to collect more than $2.6 million in juice loans. He was in prison when the Family Secrets indictment came down. His brother, Nicholas, is the key turncoat witness in the case, and Calabrese's son, Frank Calabrese Jr., also is expected to testify against his father.

Paul "the Indian" Schiro

A 69-year-old mob enforcer who is charged in one of the gangland killings, Schiro was an alleged associate of murdered mobster Anthony Spilotro. At the time of his Family Secrets indictment, he was in prison for taking part in a jewelry-theft ring headed by William Hanhardt, a former Chicago police chief of detectives.

Anthony Doyle

Doyle, also known as "Twan," is a former Chicago police officer. He is charged in the conspiracy for allegedly passing messages from the imprisoned Frank Calabrese Sr. to other members of the Outfit. Calabrese was trying to find out if his brother was cooperating with authorities, and Doyle allegedly was keeping him up to date on a law enforcement investigation into the murder of mob hit man John Fecarotta, authorities alleged. The 62-year-old was arrested at his home in Arizona as federal prosecutors and the FBI were announcing the Family Secrets case.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blood vs. Blood in Operation Family Secrets

The mob hit men were under the gun -- literally -- as they exited the brown Ford LTD and approached their target in front of the His 'N Mine Lounge in Cicero.

One of them, Nick Calabrese, felt he had a choice. Either kill the intended victim, Richard Ortiz, an alleged dope peddler who had crossed the mob -- or be killed himself.

Nearby, in the car he just left, sat his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., with a gun aimed out the window. Frank Calabrese Sr. was providing cover for the hit men. He could just as easily mow them down if they froze on the job.

Nick Calabrese had no doubt his brother would do it if he didn't complete the job, according to federal court testimony. It was not a new feeling for Nick Calabrese. He and other family members often worried that Frank Calabrese Sr. was going to kill them. In fact, Frank Calabrese Sr. instilled fear and terror into his family every day.

Interviews with friends and acquaintances of the family and law enforcement sources along with a review of court records provide fresh details on life in the Calabrese family. The stereotype of the mobster -- whether it's Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone -- is that while he does business brutally, he treats his family with honor and respect. Calabrese Sr. shattered that perception, according to interviews and court records.

In the 1983 murder of Ortiz, the victim had been stalked for months. Nick Calabrese had called off one hit attempt because he believed it was too risky. But rather than tell his brother the truth and incur his wrath, he told him another hit man, James DiForti, froze during the job.

Frank Calabrese Sr. told Nick Calabrese he should have killed Ortiz anyway. And then Frank Calabrese Sr. told his brother he should have killed DiForti, as well.

Such brutality and ruthlessness may help explain why Calabrese Sr. has not one but two family members cooperating against him in a case that has been called the most important mob prosecution in Chicago history. The investigation is called Family Secrets, and it indeed will reveal some of the deepest family secrets of the Chicago Outfit. But underlying the case are other family secrets -- those of the Calabrese family -- that many never saw but that still haunt the family.

At the trial starting in May, Nick Calabrese will testify about the mob killings he and his brother went out on together, such as the Ortiz killing. In that case, Nick Calabrese and DiForti went through with the hit at the His 'N Mine.

Calabrese Sr.'s son Frank Jr. was less involved in the mob life and has gone clean. He will tell jurors about the conversations he had with his father as they walked the yard while in prison together on another case in 1999 -- conversations he secretly recorded at great risk to himself to ensure his father never saw freedom again.

In those conversations, Calabrese Sr. may have believed he was advising his son on mob life and planting the seeds with him to continue the Calabrese legacy in the Outfit. Instead, he may have been sowing his own destruction.

Frank Calabrese Sr. is even recorded once on tape telling his son he would send "his blessing" if other top mobsters determined his brother Nick was cooperating and had him killed.

How Frank Calabrese Sr. treated his children became a sore point between Calabrese Sr. and his brother Nick. The tension reached a high point during the first federal case against them in 1995, according to law enforcement sources.

While Frank Sr. and Nick had deep involvement in their street crew, Frank Jr., had much less involvement, while his son Kurt's role was virtually nonexistent.

Nick Calabrese felt his brother could have better looked out for his sons in the case and worked to reduce any chance of prison time for the two young men. But in the end, both went to prison. While Calabrese Sr. was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison, son Frank got 57 months and Kurt got 2 years.

When Frank Calabrese Jr. and his younger brother, Kurt, were growing up in Elmwood Park, their childhood, from the outside, seemed normal and all-American, according to people who know them. They lived in a tight-knit, Italian-American neighborhood, going to school at John Mills Elementary and to what was then Holy Cross High School.

In the community, Frank Calabrese Sr. worked to portray himself as a great father, one who was always friendly with the neighborhood kids. Inside the home, though, was a radically different story.

Calabrese Sr. would at times erupt in rages, even over the smallest matters, and scream like a maniac at his two sons, according to sources who know the family. Following the humiliation would come the beatings, with Kurt Calabrese often taking the worst of it. It was a reign of terror that left both sons dreading the time their father came home every day. The abuse continued into adulthood.

When Kurt Calabrese, for instance, got married in the early 1990s, the matter was not a cause of celebration for his father. Kurt was seeing the granddaughter of Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, a brutal mobster who was Calabrese Sr.'s mentor in the mob.

Neither Calabrese Sr. nor LaPietra wanted the two young people to see each other, but the two fell in love and secretly got married.

On his wedding night, Kurt Calabrese broke the news to his father while they were sitting down at a restaurant in the west suburbs. Calabrese Sr. was stunned that his son would disobey him and punched him in the face. Fearing for his life, Kurt Calabrese hightailed it out of the restaurant and drove off. The two engaged in a high-speed chase, with Kurt Calabrese eventually eluding him.

Chicago political operative Frank Coconate, a friend of Frank Jr.'s, pointed to that confrontation as an example of the price the family paid for Calabrese Sr.'s decisions. "That's what the Outfit does, it makes you choose between them and your family," Coconate said. Frank Calabrese Sr. "chose the mob and threw his family in the gutter."

Despite often taking the worst of the abuse, Kurt Calabrese is not cooperating in the case, law enforcement sources said.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney Joseph Lopez denied that his client ever abused his children and said the elder Calabrese loves both sons dearly. But Lopez also went on the attack on Frank Calabrese Jr., calling him a con artist who "could sell air conditioners to Eskimos."

Calabrese Jr., who is believed to be living out of state, put his life on the line by secretly recording his father, according to court testimony and law enforcement sources. FBI agents did not have the ability to listen in on the conversations as they happened, and if his father attacked him, agents -- whose presence at the prison was a secret -- were not close enough to protect him, law enforcement sources have said. Calabrese Jr.'s key reason for cooperating with the government was to keep his father locked up for good, sources said.

People who associated with Calabrese Sr. say no one was safe from his wrath. Even having breakfast at a restaurant with Calabrese Sr. could turn into a free-for-all. Calabrese Sr. would be very particular about his order. If the waitress should make an error, the mobster would erupt in a fury, spewing obscenities.

Calabrese Sr.'s demanding nature has not mellowed with age.

Well-known Chicago private investigator Ernie Rizzo learned that firsthand when Calabrese Sr. hired him last year to help him prepare for trial, according to a source familiar with Rizzo's account. Calabrese Sr.'s trial strategy is to try to dig up dirt on his son Frank Jr. in an attempt to undermine his testimony.

It's unclear how attacking the son, though, will counter Calabrese's Sr. own words on hours of secretly recorded conversations in which he discusses mob hits. His attorney has suggested in court that Calabrese Sr. was merely bragging about things he actually never took part in.

Calabrese Sr. wanted Rizzo's office number. And his cell phone numbers. Plus his home phone number. And the phone numbers of any bars where he hung out.

Calabrese Sr. also was frustrated with his attorney, Lopez, because Lopez allegedly wasn't taking his calls -- or calls from his representatives -- as often as Calabrese Sr. wanted.

So Calabrese Sr. wanted to find out if Rizzo had better luck with Lopez. Calabrese Sr. wanted Rizzo to keep a log on how many phone calls it took before the attorney answered Rizzo's calls. That way, Calabrese Sr. would have something to badger Lopez about.

Calabrese Sr. "orders people around like a hit man," Rizzo would say, according to the source.

The thing that disturbed Rizzo most was that Calabrese Sr. would try to get to meet him alone, away from his lawyer, at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop, where Calabrese Sr. is being held. The one-on-one meeting never took place.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Alledged Mob Social Club: We Do a Lot of Good Things

Friends of ours: Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, Bruno Caruso, Fred Roti, Frank "Toots" Caruso, Michael Talarico
Friends of mine: Robert Cooley

Leaders of the Chicago mob's 26th Street Crew established the Old Neighborhood Italian-American Club in 1981.

Members said it was just a private social club. But the FBI tapped the club's phones in the 1980s, suspecting it was a nerve center for gambling and "juice loans" -- illegal, high-interest loans enforced with the threat of violence. The wiretaps became part of a case against 10 men accused of running an illegal gambling operation in Chinatown.

Some reputed mob figures still hang out at the club. But one of them says reputed mob members no longer run the place as they once did. He put it this way: "We're not influenced by us any more."

The club -- which includes members of the powerful Roti family -- has broadened its membership since it was founded in 1981 by the late Angelo "The Hook'' LaPietra, who ran the 26th Street Crew. The members include doctors and lawyers, and people from different ethnic backgrounds.

The club has sponsored youth baseball teams, hosted anti-drug seminars for kids and held civic events featuring, among others, former Los Angeles Dodgers baseball manager Tommy Lasorda. It's opened its doors to church functions and school graduations. It's hosted "breakfast with Santa" and huge July 4th parties. "We do a lot of good things," one longtime member says. And when the White Sox are playing, its big-screen TV is blaring. Sox Park is just a few blocks south of the club, a red-brick building at 30th and Shields -- a big improvement over its former home in a Chinatown storefront. "It started out as a storefront, they'd play cards, sit around," said one veteran mob investigator. "Now, it's a Taj Mahal, with dues, workout rooms."

One past member is Robert Cooley, a former Chicago cop who became a mob lawyer, then government informant. "Everybody that I knew from the Chinatown area belonged, all of the bookmakers that I represented, that I knew," Cooley said in a July 1997 deposition to union investigators examining alleged mob ties of labor leader Bruno F. Caruso.

Caruso, a nephew of the late Ald. Fred B. Roti, was identified in a 1999 FBI report as a "made" member of the mob. He is also a member of the Old Neighborhood Italian-American Club. The group's "purpose . . . was to keep the neighborhood very active with children," Caruso said in a deposition six years ago.

Other current or recent members include two other men the FBI identified as "made" mob members: Caruso's brother Frank "Toots'' Caruso and Michael Talarico, a restaurant owner who married into the extended Roti family.

The club president is Dominic "CaptainD" DiFazio, a longtime friend of "Toots" Caruso. In a recent interview, DiFazio allowed that he was involved in illegal gambling but said that was years ago.

"Twenty five years ago, I was arrested for taking bets on horses -- 25 years ago," DiFazio said. "You learn your lesson quick in life, and that's it. Everyone's made a mistake in their life.

"Whatever I do now I do now, my heart's in this organization . . . It was always for the community, never anything sinister, believe me."

Thanks to Robert C. Herguth, Tim Novak and Steve Warmbir

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Wiseguy's Son, Ronne Jarrett Jr., Tells How The Chicago Mob Rewards Loyalty

I thought I'd see Ronnie Jarrett's name on the chart of those 18 previously unsolved Chicago Outfit homicides this week, with the indictments of mob bosses in the FBI's Operation Family Secrets.

So did his son, Ronnie Jarrett Jr., 32, who told me what Outfit loyalty means and about the day his father was shot in 1999. "I slept late, and I was in bed and thought it was firecrackers and heard my mother run outside, and Mom was screaming and stuff," Ronnie Jr. told me Tuesday during an interview in his Bridgeport home.

"He was outside on the ground, and Mom was scared to go over by him. I ran out on the porch, and he was laying there by his car."

Ronnie Jarrett Sr. was a close friend of the FBI's key Outfit informant, Nicholas Calabrese, and was killed about the time Calabrese began falling out with his brother, mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr.

He had been a reputed hit man for the Chinatown Crew, an accomplished burglar, and a bodyguard for Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. On the day he was shot five years ago, he was on the books as working for Marina Cartage trucking boss and mayoral friend Mike Tadin.

I visited Tadin on Jan. 26, 2004, and taped our interview. I asked him why he hired Jarrett. "I know Ronnie all my life from being in the neighborhood," Tadin said then. "He needed a break. I helped him out. He did a good job here, never had no issues here, never had no complaints from the supervisors."

Absolutely. Tadin's supervisors aren't stupid, and you don't complain about a man who is handy with tools. Ronnie was with Nick and Frank Calabrese, and the other 26th Street guys, and nobody in the 11th Ward ever tells them what to do. But Jarrett's killing wasn't on Monday's list of solved homicides in the federal building. On Tuesday, I drove out to the 11th Ward, to Jarrett's home on Lowe Avenue, to ask what his family knew.

Convicted burglar Ronnie Jarrett Jr. was home, without a leg monitor, just getting used to the idea of not wearing one. He had been given an 8-year sentence for burglary and served it by spending a few weeks in the sheriff's boot camp and a few months at home. He thought Nicholas Calabrese's information would close his father's hit. "I figured that with Nick talking and everything, I figured if anyone knew anything it would be Nick," Ronnie Jr. said. "The FBI actually told my mother that it would be part of the indictment."

A federal official said such a conversation would have been highly unlikely and added that other mob homicides are still being investigated.

The FBI "called about 6 a.m. that day," he said, meaning Monday, indictment day, when Outfit figures such as Joey "Lumby" Lombardo and Frank "The German" Schweihs were among those indicted in a murder conspiracy and extortion plot.

The father was--and the son is--a convicted criminal. Yet the Jarretts were welcome at City Hall. The Jarrett kids got City Hall jobs. Ronnie Jr. was slinging asphalt in the Department of Tony (Transportation). His younger brother trims trees. Jarrett Sr.'s widow, Rosemary, also has a political job. She's a clerk for Cook County Circuit Judge Barbara J. Disko. Mrs. Jarrett declined to comment.

Ronnie Jarrett Sr. was shot outside the home on Dec. 23, 1999. "I ran and got the comforter off my bed because it was freezing out," his son said in our one-hour interview. "He was talking to me, like, `Oh, my arm.' He was in pain."

If Jarrett knew who shot him, he didn't say. "He never said nothing," said his son. "I always tell my mom I should have asked him."

A law-enforcement theory is that he was on his way to the wake of a relative. A Bridgeport theory is that he hated the relative and was on his way to see two men known as "the twins." Another theory is that the killing of Jarrett was a message to Nick to keep his mouth shut.

When his father died in the hospital a month later, Ronnie Jr. noticed that his fathers' friends stopped visiting. "A few came, only a couple, that's about it," he said, adding that the condolence calls didn't resemble the movies, with bags of cash for the Outfit widow and kids.

Jarrett Jr. said that while on probation, he has had trouble finding a job. He remembers how great he thought it was to be a wiseguy's kid. "I'm not going to lie, it was cool. But now, you see them, you get the big hug and the big kiss in public, and you know it don't mean nothing."

His father spent much of his life behind bars and never squealed, even when facing 25 years in prison. "It's @#$% {circ} &* brutal, terrible," he said. "He did all that time for those guys, and the feds wanted him to flip and he didn't. I just felt [the Outfit] owed him more."

No matter what they owed him, they did pay him.

They paid him their way.

Thanks to John Kass

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Mob Ties Run throughout City Truck Program

When the FBI was trying to bring down the mob's 26th Street crew two decades ago, it was investigating men such as Chicago Alderman Fred Roti, his nephew, trucking magnate Fred Barbara, and Mickey "Gorilla" Gurgone, a city worker and noted safecracker.

Today, many of those men or their families are linked to trucking firms that get a big cut of a $40 million annual City of Chicago program where nothing goes out to bid. Business is done with a handshake, without any contracts.

Nick "The Stick" LoCoco was arrested in 1986 on a gambling charge which was later thrown out. At the time of his arrest, he was a city foreman overseeing truck drivers. He rose to be the city's official point man in the Transportation Department for the Hired Truck Program. Indeed, nearly one out of every 10 trucking firms in the city's Hired Truck Program is either owned by alleged mobsters or Outfit associates or by family members, often women, of reputed mob figures, the Sun-Times found.

Robert Cooley, a former mob attorney who cooperated with federal authorities to destroy the Outfit, has told authorities that organized crime in the 1970s and 1980s controlled what is now called the Hired Truck Program. The late Alderman Roti, a made member of the mob, had influence over the program, Cooley has said.

The trucking companies often operate out of the owners' homes, and several lease a single dump truck to the city along with a driver. The firms are paid typically $40 an hour and up.

Trucking companies wanting work in the program for the city's transportation department had to deal with city employee Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, a reputed juice collector and bookie. Mayor Daley's administration put LoCoco in charge of hiring trucks for the no-bid program from 1994 until July 2002 when LoCoco retired.

When the Sun-Times told Daley's budget director, William Abolt, about its findings about the truck program and the mob, he said he was not at all surprised. Abolt is responsible for the Hired Truck Program. "It's something you find in trucking," he said. "I can't say that I'm shocked that you found connections to organized crime in the trucking industry."

"You need better standards for people coming in. There was far too much informality, far too much discretion, as to not enough things written down, how do people get in, how do they get kicked out, how they get put on probation," Abolt said, vowing reform.

The Daley administration is no stranger to embarrassing brushes with the Outfit. Last year, two members of the Duff family were indicted on charges they set up false minority- and women-owned firms to get $100 million worth of work. Family members have alleged ties to organized crime and are longtime political supporters of the mayor.

In 1995, the Daley administration backtracked on a $5.5 million loan to an allegedly mobbed-up deal for a movie studio project on the West Side.

Here are snapshots of some of the men with links to firms in the Hired Truck Program and the Outfit.

MICHAEL ‘THE GORILLA’ GURGONE: Gurgone drove a truck for Streets and Sanitation while moonlighting as a top-notch safecracker, authorities say. For more than 25 years, Michael "The Gorilla" Gurgone drove a truck for Streets and Sanitation while moonlighting as a top-notch safecracker, authorities say.

Gurgone, 67, of the South Side, has a history of arrests but only one significant conviction for a botched $600,000 heist at Balmoral Race Track in 1983.

Gurgone and another man were sitting outside in a vehicle, keeping a lookout for the cops, while their partners were inside, subduing the security guards. But the heist fell apart when a fresh shift of security guards arrived, and the burglars fled.

The men got busted years later when Duke Basile and Paul "Peanuts" Panczko, two men involved in the case, wound up squealing to federal agents. Gurgone was eventually convicted. Gurgone got seven years for the botched burglary, the first time he was convicted. It was a stiffer-than-normal sentence because the federal judge determined that Gurgone had spent much of his life as a burglar.

Gurgone is the brother-in-law of Carmen Schadt Gurgone, the president of Schadt's Trucking, which is in the Hired Truck Program.

Records show Schadt's was set up with the help of a man named Michael Gurgone who lived in the South Side Mount Greenwood neighborhood. It's the same address as the convicted burglar named Michael Gurgone, who has alleged ties to the mob, according to federal authorities. But Gurgone, the burglar, insisted in an interview he was not the Gurgone who helped create Schadt's. "I don't know nothing about it," the burglar said.

Carmen Schadt said in a written response that her company was created with the help of her nephew, Michael Gurgone, a CPA. He is the burglar's son and namesake.

The city paid Schadt's Inc. $396,562 for the first 10 months of 2003 in the Hired Truck Program, records show.

Schadt's is among many firms the city has designated as both a disadvantaged business and female-owned. The city certified Schadt's as a disadvantaged business because it is owned by a woman and it makes less than $17 million annually. So whenever the city hires trucks from Schadt's, it helps the Daley administration meet its goals to set aside business for disadvantaged and female-owned firms.

Schadt's leases eight trucks from Michael Tadin, whose firms make more money than any other in the Hired Truck Program. Tadin is a longtime political supporter of the mayor and grew up in the same neighborhood. Schadt's pays Tadin 88 percent of what those trucks gross, state records show. Schadt's and Tadin say those trucks are not used in the city Hired Truck Program.

After Michael Gurgone got out of jail for the botched Balmoral burglary, he got a job as a truck driver with Tadin's Marina Cartage, police records show. Gurgone said he still works for Tadin.

Out of Schadt's came another female-owned firm owned by a Gurgone, Rhonda Vasquez-Gurgone. She created her company, STR Enterprises, in August 2001, while she was a dispatcher for Schadt's. The growth of her business has been remarkable.

In 2001, when her business started, she made $3,000 from private business, records show. The next year, STR took in a total of $438,949, including about $117,000 from the Hired Truck Program. STR got into the program that year. Last year, the city paid STR $132,875 during the first 10 months, according to the most recent figures.

JAMES INENDINO: Jimmy Inendino’s JMS Trucking firm was approved for the program seven months after he was convicted of ripping off the Town of Cicero in a kickback scheme. Another Outfit figure, once described as a whiz at stealing stuff off trucks, owns a trucking firm that got into the Hired Truck Program.

James "Jimmy I" Inendino has been linked to planning at least one murder and threatening to kill debtors who are behind in their juice loan payments. But his most recent criminal conviction would seem to make him an unusual candidate for the program.

In March 2002, Inendino was convicted with the reputed Cicero mob boss and the town's crooked police chief in a kickback scheme to rip off the town. Inendino is now serving 6 1/2 years behind bars.

While he was awaiting trial, federal prosecutors tried to revoke his bond when they alleged he bribed a city building inspector, with $1,000 tucked inside a Chicago Sun-Times, for occupancy permits for town homes Inendino was building in Little Italy.

Despite that highly publicized background, Inendino's firm, JMS Trucking, got into the Hired Truck Program in November 2002, after he had been convicted. That's despite city rules that can ban from the program people who have been convicted of bribery or other crimes involving the government. City records show Inendino operated the business out of his Darien home. JMS has taken in about $3,200 from the Hired Truck Program. The city just started using JMS last year, after Inendino was convicted.

Inendino, a convicted loan shark, has a history of threatening to hurt people. When one debtor didn't pay up $250, Inendino, who has been investigated by the FBI and IRS, warned that the man "will never ride a . . . horse the rest of his life."

When another man failed to make his payment, Inendino told a colleague to tell the man "he doesn't owe anything, because when I see him, and I am going to see him, I'm going to break his f------ head."

One of Inendino's friends is Harry Aleman, the infamous hit man who was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison for a murder in which he was originally acquitted because the Outfit bribed the judge in the case, authorities said.

Aleman, Inendino and another partner in crime, Louis Almeida, planned the murder of a fourth associate, Robert William Harder, but the hit didn't go through because they couldn't find him, according to a federal judge's ruling.

Another Inendino friend, Greg Paloian, a convicted bookmaker, also found a sideline in the Hired Truck Program, with his firm Ruff Edge Inc.

Like Inendino, Paloian ran a small trucking company out of his home in Elmwood Park. The money came at a good time for Paloian. He was indicted in January 2001 on bookmaking charges, the same year the city began hiring about five trucks from him. That year, the city paid Paloian about $182,800.

In March 2002, Paloian pleaded guilty in the case and later was sentenced to nearly 3-1/2 years in prison in July in an IRS case. His company was paid nearly $181,500 by the city in 2002. The city stopped using Paloian's trucks after he went to prison.

ROBERT COOLEY AND FRED ROTI: Robert Cooley, a onetime mob attorney, maintains that the late Alderman Fred Roti, a made member of the mob, had influence over the Hired Truck Program. Family members of the late Chicago Ald. Fred Roti have one of the most extensive networks of trucking firms in the program.

Roti was convicted of extortion and racketeering and was called a "made member" of the mob by the FBI. He was also accused of packing the city's Streets and Sanitation Department with mob members and associates. He died in 1999 after serving a four-year prison sentence.

Roti's family members are linked to six companies in the Hired Truck Program, two of them certified as female-owned firms.

One nephew, Frank Roti, has three family members who each have trucking companies in the program. In turn, all three companies lease trucks from a firm owned by Frank Roti, city records show.

One of those three companies, Miffy Trucking, is owned by his daughter, Mary. There are no state or city records showing that Miffy owns any trucks. The firm leases its fleet from FMR Leasing, the firm owned by Mary's father. The city has certified Miffy as both a female-owned business and a disadvantaged business. Miffy, which was created in 1996, is one of the top firms in the Hired Truck Program, making $447,058 for the first 10 months in 2003, city records show.

Together, the Frank Roti family firms were paid about $1.4 million in 2002, trailing only Tadin's companies as the top earners in the program.

Another nephew of the late alderman, businessman Fred Barbara, has a father, wife and mother-in-law with firms in the Hired Truck Program.

Fred Barbara, 56, once owned a huge trucking firm that did business with the city, but he sold it several years ago. His wife, Lisa Humbert, owns Karen's Kartage, a firm she started in 1986 when she was Fred Barbara's secretary at his trucking company. The city paid Karen's Kartage more than $520,000 in 2002.

Fred Barbara says his brother now runs Karen's Kartage, not his wife, and it's no longer certified as a female-owned firm.

Fred Barbara's mother-in-law, Geraldine Humbert, owns a small trucking company that has been in the Hired Truck Program since 1999. She has hired out one truck and driver to the city for $38,720 during the first 10 months of the year.

Fred Barbara's father, Anthony, has one truck in the program.

Fred Barbara owned his trucking company when he was arrested on loansharking charges in 1982 along with Joseph "Shorty'' Lamantia, then a reputed top aide to mob boss Angelo "The Hook'' LaPietra. Also arrested were LaMantia's adopted son, Aldo Piscitelli Jr., and Barbara's cousin, Frank Caruso, another Roti nephew. Caruso's father was the reputed mob boss of Chinatown; his son Frank was convicted in the beating of Lenard Clark, a black teen who was riding his bike through Bridgeport.

Fred Barbara and the others were accused of trying to collect a $20,000 juice loan from an undercover FBI agent posing as a commodities broker. Barbara and his co-defendants were acquitted.

Barbara said those allegations are more than 20 years old and are "old news." "Show me my connection to organized crime. Did I turn the corner? You show me anything in the last 24 years that reflects to that nature," Barbara said.

Carl Galione, an associate of LaPietra's former bodyguard and driver, Ronald Jarrett, owns one company in the Hired Truck Program, while his daughter owns another. Both companies share common addresses on Chicago's Southwest Side and in Downers Grove.

Galione's company, CPS Trucking, started leasing trucks to the city in 2001. The following year, his daughter's company entered the Hired Truck Program.

Galione and Jarrett were indicted on charges of rape and kidnapping in 1980, but a Cook County judge found them not guilty.

Galione, 54, spent six months in a federal prison in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to income tax evasion.

Galione said he was a childhood friend of Jarrett's but that they went their separate ways. When asked if he had any ties to organized crime, Galione laughed and said: "I've got ties to my shoes."

Other companies owned by relatives of organized crime figures also provide trucks to the city:

*Andrich Trucking is owned by Donald Andrich, also known as Donald Andriacchi. He is a nephew of Joseph "Joe the Builder" Andriacchi, who authorities say is a reputed top crime boss. The city has done business with Andrich Trucking for decades.

*Chica Trucking is owned by Patricia Cortez, sister-in-law of Chris Spina, a former city worker once fired for chauffeuring reputed mob boss Joseph "the Clown'' Lombardo on city time. Spina later got his job back. Cortez started hiring out trucks to the city water department in November 2002.

The city paid Greg Paloian about $182,800 for trucks in 2001, the same year he was indicted on bookmaking charges.


Sunday, August 18, 2002

The new 'Outfit'

In a secretly recorded conversation between two Chicago mobsters, the late "Singing Joe" Vento croons a love song of sorts about a top Outfit leader.

"You know the guy we met?" Vento asks mob enforcer Mario Rainone.

"Yeah," Rainone says.

"You think he's a nobody?" Vento asks.

"No, I know he's somebody," Rainone says.

"You better believe he's f------ somebody," Vento says.

That somebody is James Marcello.

James "Little Jimmy" Marcello has climbed his way to the top of organized crime in Chicago through murder and mayhem, law enforcement sources say. But Marcello’s biggest edge in getting the top job may simply be his age - he's only 58, a full 15 years younger than the gray old men thought to be running the show while Marcello waits to get out of prison.

At the moment, "Little Jimmy," as Marcello is known, is sitting in a federal prison in Milan, Mich., serving out his 12-1/2-year sentence for racketeering, extortion and illegal gambling. But when he gets out next year, mob watchers say, he's expected to take on a big new job--head of the Chicago Outfit. But if Marcello is a somebody, he's still not a really big somebody--and he never will be--at least not when compared with the infamous men who ran the mob before him, powerful hoods like Al Capone, Anthony Accardo, Sam Giancana and Joseph Aiuppa.

Marcello is doomed to be a lesser mob boss because the Chicago mob itself today is less of a power, squeaking along with much less money, far fewer members and a fraction of its old political influence.

In Capone's day, his boys raked in more than $100 million a year--more than $1 billion in today's dollars. Today, the Chicago Outfit pulls in just $100 million, according to law enforcement estimates.

In the 1980s, the Chicago mob had roughly 200 "made" members, each of whom ran his own various illegal businesses. Today, according to the FBI, the mob is down to about 50 made members--not enough hoods to fill up a small prison cellblock. And in the mob's heyday, the tentacles of organized crime in Chicago, like organized crime families across the nation, reached deep into labor unions, city and suburban police departments, city halls and the Statehouse.

The mob at its most powerful was impressively diversified, drawing hundreds of millions of dollars from loan-sharking, pornography, bookmaking, prostitution, extorting legitimate businesses, looting union pension and insurance funds, ghost payroll jobs in government, burglary, profit skimming at casinos, robbing jewelry salesmen, bankrolling drug dealers and whatever else somebody could dream up to grab a buck.

Who's the MOB BOSS lite of the Chicago underworld?

For generations, there was seldom any question. Capone was the man. Then Nitti. Then this guy or that guy. Some were unfamiliar names to the public, but ask anybody paying attention—the cops, the U.S. Justice Department, some punk breaking into houses trying to make his Outfit "bones" - and they could tell you exactly who was boss of the mob. No longer. If there is a top boss now, he's more of an underworld boss lite. Law enforcement sources, disagreeing even among themselves, say one of these three men is in charge. (Some mob experts believe Lombardo runs the mob now. He's 73. Other mob watchers say John ''No Nose'' DiFronzo runs the show. He's also 73. Still others say it's Joe ''the Builder'' Andriacchi. He's 69.) Today, the mob is still into a lot of that stuff, at least along the edges, but it relies heavily on a single source of income--illegal gambling. The Chicago Outfit is simply too decimated to be doing much more, brought low by relentless federal prosecutions and changing times.

In the last 20 years, federal prosecutors in Chicago, armed with evidence produced by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service, have put mob leader after mob leader behind bars--more than 150 made members, associates and workers.

Mob boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi, for whom Marcello worked as a chauffeur, died in prison in 1997. (Carlisi was sentenced to serve 13 years for convictions on mob racketeerings, loan sharking and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in the Chicago area and the West suburbs.) Mob boss Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa went to prison in 1986 and died in 1997, a year after his release. (Joey Doves started as a gunman for Capone. He served time for skimming profits from the Mob's interests in its Las Vegas casinos.) Top mob counselor Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra went to prison in 1986 and died in 1999, shortly after his release. ("The Hook" was a member of the Mob's 26th Street Crew that patrolled South of the Eisenhowser Expressway including the gambling dens of Chinatown and Chop Shops on the Southside.) Top mob lieutenant Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo went to prison in 1982 and was released in 1992.

What's left of the mob's leadership is getting old. This, of course, assumes that anybody is really in charge. Adding to the Outfit's problems, many top mobsters moved from the city to the suburbs years ago, abandoning those tough old Chicago neighborhoods that were always the mob's best recruiting grounds. New talent can be hard to find.

The Chicago Outfit today makes most of its money from illegal gambling. Those video poker machines in the back of local bars and social clubs feed millions a year to the mob. Illegal sports gambling, whether through a neighborhood bookie or an offshore betting operation somewhere in Central America, feeds millions of dollars more to the mob.

The mob also continues, though at a slower pace, to finance drug deals, engage in loan-sharking--lending money at exorbitant rates to those people no bank will touch--and to wield influence in organized labor, despite a strong federal effort to purge the mob from such unions as the Laborers and the Teamsters.

Indeed, the mob's continued influence within unions remains so strong that it--along with the mob's influence in politics--will be the subject of a future installment of the Chicago Sun-Times' "Crime, Inc." series.

As the sons of old-time mobsters pick up law degrees and MBAs, the new Chicago mob also has developed a fondness for setting up quasi-legit companies, such as insurance firms, designed to rip off clients at the first opportunity.

One example the feds point to is Specialty Risk Consultants, a reputed Outfit insurance company that is accused of siphoning more than $12 million out of the town of Cicero.

That scheme, though, didn't fare well on two fronts. Eight reputed players in the scam, including Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese, are on trial in federal court, and the jury in the case is expected to start its seventh day of deliberations Monday. (On January 9th, 2003, Betty Loren-Maltese revieved a sentence of eight years in prison from U.S. District Judge John Grady)

While the scam showed some sophistication, the profits from it weren't invested well. Key members of the scheme are accused of plowing millions of dollars into an isolated Wisconsin golf course that they had hoped to turn into a casino. The feds dubbed it the mob's "Fantasy Island," and that's all it ever was. No casino ever opened, and a white elephant remains.

Though the Chicago mob's top leadership has been decimated, young Turks have begun to turn more to violence, threatened and real, according to FBI experts and other law enforcement sources. Most obviously, two men have been shot dead in mob hits in recent years, but there's also the cheap day-to-day viciousness.

Consider, for example, the business tactics of the Giuliano brothers, Thomas and Christopher, who were convicted in 1999 of using muscle--beating a man up--to force the man to pay gambling debts. The victim owed Thomas Giuliano $75,000 and was told that amount would skyrocket to $200,000 in about 30 days if he didn't pay up. Thomas Giuliano, 33, allegedly warned the victim that he should show up to one meeting or "I'm gonna come through the window and grab you." When the brothers finally did track down their man, at his place of work, Christopher Giuliano, 29, grabbed the man's neck with both hands and began pushing his head into the wall. Fortunately, FBI agents, who had the business under surveillance, rushed in and saved him.

Or consider the case of alleged mob soldier Anthony Giannone, from suburban Bartlett, who made this colorful threat to a man who owed him $55,000: "When I find you, every day it rains, I'm gonna make you remember me." The implied threat, authorities explained, was that Giannone would break the man's bones. And even after the victim healed, his mauled body would ache when it rained.

Who's the boss?

Is it Joey the Clown?

Or No Nose?

Or the Builder?

The fact that mob watchers are not even sure who's running the Chicago Outfit these days--Lombardo, DiFronzo or Andriacchi--is seen by some as a sign of great sophistication.

"That very fact that you need to ask that question shows how effective the Outfit is," argues St. Xavier University Professor Howard Abadinsky, who has written on Chicago organized crime.

Or it could mean there is no clear leader willing to step up and take the heat from the feds, other observers argue.

The Chicago mob, Abadinsky points out, wisely keeps a low profile, especially compared with the New York mob, which has a way of gathering headlines through gunplay. Or as then mob boss Tony Accardo once told FBI agents in the early 1970s, "We're gentlemen in Chicago. They're savages in New York." But there have been those two mob hits in the last three years. In 1999, mobster Ronald Jarrett was shot dead outside his Bridgeport home. Two years later, Anthony "the Hatch" Chiaramonti was shot outside a Brown's Chicken & Pasta in south suburban Lyons. And so, some observers wonder if the violence will escalate over turf disputes.

Abadinsky, for one, doubts it. "They've been successful, they've been controlled, they are much more hierarchical," he said. "They've been able to control the kind of violence that would generate attention."

To rise to the top of any organization, you have to build an impeccable resume and pay your dues. And it helps to have family in right places.

By these standards, law enforcement sources say, James Marcello is perfectly positioned to take command of the Chicago Outfit. Especially given his relative youth--he's 58.

He worked for Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation as a laborer from 1960 to 1973, but it has been his other jobs, like working as the No. 2 man for "Wings" Carlisi, that spoke to his true talents.

Marcello, who lived in the Lombard area, has shown he's crafty and paranoid about surveillance. He's feared. And stone-cold ruthless.

At his trial, prosecutors said Marcello took part in planning the hit of a mob associate, Anthony "Jeeps" Daddino, which never took place, and was a prime mover behind the unsuccessful torching of the Lake Theatre in Oak Park. But Marcello is best known in mob circles for his alleged part in the slayings of the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and Spilotro's brother Michael.

In 1986, the Spilotros were stripped to their underwear, beaten senseless and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield. No one has ever been charged in the case, but investigators have long believed Marcello helped set up the brothers for the hit.

Marcello's brother-in-law is former Chicago police officer William Galioto, whom the Chicago Crime Commission named a mob lieutenant in its 1997 organization chart.

Galioto was an investor in a new movie studio being planned on the West Side in 1995. The project attracted front-page headlines--and fell apart--when Mayor Daley killed a $5.5 million low-interest loan for the studio after learning about the mob ties. And Marcello's nephew is John Galioto, business manager of Laborers' Local 225 in Des Plaines until it was forced into trusteeship in the late 1990s because of alleged ties to organized crime and extravagant spending. Both Galiotos have denied any connection to organized crime.

Even without such impressive connections, Marcello's name is enough to invoke dread. Take, for instance, this secretly recorded conversation between Richard Spizziri, who worked for Marcello, and a man behind on juice loan payments.

"I don't want to give this to Little Jimmy," Spizziri says. "If I give this to Jimmy, he's gonna send somebody. He's gonna send f------ . . . f------ nine guys out, and they will find you."

During another chat, Spizziri describes the talents of the dedicated professionals to be dispatched.

"I don't want youse to get hurt," he tells the debtor. "I really don't want you to get hurt, 'cause they don't send f------ people like Sean," Spizziri says, referring to a big guy who works for him.

"Sean's a f------ goof. . . . Sean does what you tell him to do, a couple of slaps and it's over.

"These people, when they send these people, they like what they're doin'. This is their job.

"They love it."

Reported by Steve Warmbir


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