The Chicago Syndicate: Anthony Zizzo
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Anthony Zizzo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthony Zizzo. Show all posts

Monday, May 05, 2014

Review of "A History of Violence: An Encyclopedia of 1,400 Chicago Mob Murders"

From his boyhood memories of the raid on a bookie joint under the Chicago apartment where he grew up to the murder cases he worked on as an officer with the Chicago Police Department's organized crime division, Harper College professor Wayne A. Johnson has been steeped in the violence of mobsters.

Isolated murders, such as the infamous Valentine's Day Massacre or the beating deaths of brothers Anthony "Tony the Ant" and Michael Spilotro, have become scenes in mob movies. "But nobody ever put it in one place before," says Johnson, who has done that with his new book, "A History of Violence:: An Encyclopedia of 1400 Chicago Mob Murders.1st Edition."

From the stabbing death of Harry Bush during the newspaper "circulation war" on July 6, 1900, to the Aug. 31, 2006, disappearance of 71-year-old Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo of Westmont, Johnson has used court documents, police records, newspaper accounts and 14 years of personal research to compile more than a century of suspected mob murders.

"You know what makes it so insidious? Their ability to get into places that affect every aspect of our lives," says Johnson, who notes cases where politicians, judges and police officers cooperated with mobsters. "Once you are into these guys, they own you."

Appearing in countless articles and TV shows as an expert on the mob, Johnson spent 25 years as a Chicago police officer and served as chief investigator for the Chicago Crime Commission before getting his doctoral degree in education. He's now an associate professor and program coordinator of law enforcement programs at Harper College.

The stereotype of the Chicago mob as the Italian Mafia known as Cosa Nostra is a myth, says Johnson, who says organized crime boasts a diverse collection of people, including many immigrants, who learned how to make money through illegal methods. The criminal groups formed partnerships and cut deals with each other, he says.

Of the 1,401 murders Johnson details, he lists only 278 as "solved," and the number of people convicted of those murders is even lower. "Just because they weren't charged doesn't mean it's not solved," says Johnson.

In teaching his "Organized Crime" class, Johnson tells the Harper students that reputed mob boss Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, who died in 1992 at the age of 86, lived the last years of his life just a short drive away, on Algonquin Road in Barrington Hills.

Student Jackie Cooney, 30, of McHenry wrote a research paper that ended up adding early 20th-century murders to Johnson's book.

"I logged 108 murders, and, of those murders, a portion of them were mob murders," says Cooney, who says she's been interested in the mob since she got her bachelor's degree in history from Roosevelt University in 2008. "I find it fascinating how people make alternative choices to provide for themselves and their families."

Studying A History of Violence: An Encyclopedia of 1,400 Chicago Mob Murdersto become a physical anthropologist while excelling in her art classes at Harper, Daniella Boyd, 21, of Wheeling responded to Johnson's request to draw a grisly scene for the cover of his book. "I did some research," says Boyd, who spent about 12 hours making a graphite drawing of the toe tag on the left foot of mobster Sam Giancana, who was gunned down in his Oak Park home in 1975.

The suburbs are home to some of the most infamous mob murders. On Feb. 12, 1985, the body of 48-year-old Hal Smith of Prospect Heights was found in the trunk of his Cadillac in the parking lot of an Arlington Heights hotel. Suspected of being a sports bookie who had run afoul of the mob, Smith was lured to the Long Grove home of his friend William B.J. Jahoda and was tortured, had his throat cut and was strangled. Jahoda, who became a friend of Johnson's before his death of natural causes in 2004, testified against the mob and helped send reputed mob leaders including Ernest Rocco Infelice and Salvatore DeLaurentis of Lake County to prison.

Another gambling operator who angered the mob, Robert Plummer, 51, was found dead in a car trunk in Mundelein in 1982. He was murdered in a Libertyville house already notorious before it was purchased by a mobster and turned into an illicit casino. In 1980, in a crime that went unsolved for more than 15 years, William Rouse, 15, used a shotgun to murder his millionaire parents, Bruce and Darlene Rouse, in a bedroom of the family home.

"Some people romanticize the mob," says Johnson, who adds that he hopes his book not only makes people recognize the heinous brutality of mobster killings, but might also help solve some of the remaining mysteries. "I hope they read my book and say, 'Yeah, it was 20 years ago, but I know who killed so-and-so.' Maybe we can still do something."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Upper Echelon Chicago Outfit Members Informing for the Feds?

Federal authorities in Chicago have been cultivating information from two "upper echelon" members of the Outfit for decades, according to a court filing in a current Mob prosecution.

The existence of a pair of Mob moles, called "Confidential Informant One" and "Confidential Informant Two," were disclosed by the defense team in an Outfit-related bombing conspiracy.

"Confidential Informant One is an alleged upper echelon member of the 'Outfit' and has been providing information to the government for over 25 years" states the court filing.

Confidential Informant Two is "another upper echelon Outfit associate who had been providing information to the government since 1994."

Both snitches are said to have handed federal authorities information about Outfit boss Michael "Big Mike" Sarno of Westchester.

Sarno, 52, is among several men charged with a scheme to blow up a video poker company in Berwyn that was competing with a mob-controlled firm.

FBI spokesman Ross Rice declined to comment on whether the government had two high ranking Mob moles, noting that the court motion in which they were disclosed was "filed by the defense."

Rice said that "the government/prosecution has not yet responded. As such, there is nothing further I can say at this time."

The top-ranking Outfit informant told authorities that Mike Sarno was in charge of certain Mob rackets during the time Jimmy "The Man" Marcello and his brother Michael were in prison, according to the court filing.

That informant also reported that Sarno was "feuding" with west suburban Mob boss Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, an imbroglio that "came to a crescendo just before Zizzo was last seen."

The rotund Zizzo, 71, was last seen on Aug. 31, 2006 by his wife as he drove to a meeting from his Westmont home.

There were no names provided for the two informants. A third mole was also disclosed in the court filing, but no details were provided about that person's role in the Outfit.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo Murdered According to Fed Theory

It's a Chicago mob mystery that's still unsolved: Reputed Outfit boss Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo -- an aging, longtime survivor of mob intrigue and betrayal -- drove away from his Westmont home on Aug. 31, 2006, never to be seen again.

His abandoned Jeep turned up at a Melrose Park restaurant, and speculation ran rampant.

Was Zizzo, 71, cooperating with the feds?

Was he trunk music?

Now, new information in a court record obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times sheds new light on the circumstances leading up to Zizzo's disappearance.

Investigators think Zizzo was murdered. New information suggests he was clashing with another top mobster just before his disappearance, according to the court filing.

Zizzo was feuding with reputed Cicero street crew boss Michael "Big Mike" Sarno, 52, and "that came to a crescendo just before Zizzo was last seen," according to a confidential federal informant described in the court document as an upper-echelon member of the Outfit who has been providing information to the government for more than 25 years. The informant is not identified.

Sarno is charged with ordering the bombing of a Berwyn company in 2003 that was competing with an Outfit-sanctioned video poker business. Federal prosecutors T. Markus Funk and Amarjeet Bhachu have alleged that Sarno used his ties to a motorcycle gang leader to carry out the pipe-bombing.

Sarno has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with Zizzo, and Sarno's attorney, Michael P. Gillespie, rejected Friday any suggestion that Sarno had anything to do with Zizzo's fate. "That's absolutely ridiculous," Gillespie said. The attorney also said that claims that Sarno is a mob leader are "just not true."

The dispute between Sarno and Zizzo is not specified in the court document, which quotes an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

Both men, though, have allegedly been involved in a highly profitable mob business that has resulted in violence before.

Zizzo, at one point, oversaw video gambling for the mob. He was the boss of Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, who was gunned down outside a Brown's Chicken and Pasta in suburban Lyons in 2001 in a dispute over video poker territory.

Sarno is also allegedly involved in the video poker business, along with illegal bookmaking and juice money collection, and is known for his fearsome reputation on the street.

Both Sarno and Zizzo were among the reputed mobsters listed as threats to the physical safety of Nicholas Calabrese, a mob killer turned star federal witness in the historic Family Secrets case against mob leaders.

Sarno, now under house arrest, recently made headlines when he was allowed to attend a family Christmas-time dinner last year at the swanky Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in downtown Chicago.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Sunday, July 12, 2009

John Dillinger Was Bad for the Business of the Chicago Outfit

After watching the excellent new Johnny Depp movie "Public Enemies" -- the story of romanticized desperado John Dillinger's murder in Chicago with the help of the Outfit -- Wings and I realized something.

We were hungry. So we walked over to Volare, the fine Italian restaurant at Grand and St. Clair on Wednesday evening, where three amazing things happened:

1. We had the most superb sausage and peppers in the universe. The sausage was beyond tasty, the peppers perfectly cooked, the sauce to kill for.

2. A group of people came in, the women in red dresses, the men in 1930s gangster outfits, fedoras for the guys, the women with much cleavage, feathered hats, tiny veils, red lips. It was a surprise party for Craig Alton, the fellow who runs Untouchable Tours, taking tourists to famous mob murder scenes, including where Dillinger fell facedown, near the Biograph Theater on Lincoln. We went over to say hello. He seemed like a nice fellow, dressed in a straw hat with suspenders, a fat, painted tie and a curly mustache. They were all going to the movie afterward. I asked: Don't you tour some of the newer sites, like the Melrose Park restaurant where Tony Zizzo disappeared a few years ago? Or the 2001 hit of street boss Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti in Lyons? "No," Alton said, sheepishly. "The guys who did that are still alive."

3. At another table nearby was a handsome Italian family. Mother, father, sons and grandsons, proud, straight backed, polite. They proved their good manners by quietly chanting "chumbolone" at us.

The father, who said his name was John, announced to his family and half the restaurant that he grew up on Chicago's Taylor Street and then in River Forest.

"You wrote about Al Capone, and you also wrote about the real boss, the old man," said John. "You went past Capone and wrote about the real boss."

Paul Ricca?

"Yes," said John. "Paul Ricca."

Capone got all the attention. Ricca, a quiet fellow, never wanted to be a star. He let Capone get the applause and wisecrack with reporters. Ricca made the decisions and built modern organized crime in America. Hollywood has never made a movie about Paul Ricca. That should tell you something.

The Ricca mention by a stranger in a nice restaurant brings me back to "Public Enemies," directed by Michael Mann.

Mann gets it. He was born in Chicago, and produced one of my favorite films, one that actually speaks truth about this city: "Thief," starring James Caan. In that film, real Chicago cops played gangsters, and real gangsters played Chicago detectives. In any other town this might be seen as ironic. Not here.

So in "Public Enemies," Mann allows truth to press up against the Dillinger myth, the one with which generations of Americans were led to believe that The Lady in Red caused Dillinger's demise.

All The Lady in Red got was deported back to Romania, if she got that far and didn't end up on the bottom of the Cal-Sag Canal. And the Chicago Outfit got what it wanted: happy cops and happy FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, who kept winning at the racetracks while insisting there was no organized crime in America.

Mann understands Chicago. I'm not going to spoil anything. Anyone with a room temperature IQ knows how this one ends. But it was Mann's method of revealing this real Chicago truth that I found fascinating. It was in a big speech, by one of the actors playing an Outfit guy, talking to Depp's Dillinger.

Big speeches are usually disasters and belong only in manipulative TV shows like "Law and Order," where the big speech is delivered before the final commercial by a wise old actor with crinkly eyes.

In a movie, the big speech can ruin things. It can pull you out of that willing suspension of disbelief directors work so hard to achieve, and it can plop you back into reality, tasting the stale popcorn and the stale message from the actor delivering the big speech.

You might guess that I'm not a big fan of the big speech. Except the one in "Public Enemies," with the Outfit giving the message to Dillinger.

It's set in a wire room, with bets coming in on the phone, and Dillinger is told that the old freelance days are done. Freelancers bring heat and embarrass the locals. Businesses don't need heat. It costs money.

"You're bad for business," Dillinger is told.

It was almost subtle by comparison to other big speeches. But it was necessary, because the romantic outlaw had to learn the truth from the guys who snap their fingers and have chiefs of detectives and mayors shine their shoes.

Freelancers were entertaining, once. But freelancers cost too much. They get crushed.

Like John Dillinger.

Thanks to John Kass

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Not the Hollywood Mob, It's the Chicago Outfit

In the mobster movies, a car pulls up and heavy men in hard shoes get out. And in the quiet suburban house, the wiseguy turned government witness stands foolishly in his new kitchen, oblivious in his bathrobe, scratching, boorishly guzzling milk from the carton.

The guns come up. The milk spills. The feds lose another witness.

Happily, it didn't happen in real life to Nicholas Calabrese, the Chicago Outfit hit man turned star government witness in the Family Secrets trial that sent mob bosses, soldiers, even a corrupt cop to prison. Calabrese is very much alive. Yet in federal court this week, the story of Outfit penetration of witness security is playing out in the case of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, accused of leaking sensitive information about Calabrese—including his movements—to Chicago's mob.

It's a difficult case to prove, since U.S. District Judge John Grady tossed out key evidence on Thursday. He invited an appeal by telling the jury "I made a mistake" in allowing secret prison tapes to be played linking Ambrose's late father, a Chicago cop convicted in the Marquette 10 police drug scandal, with other crooked cops connected to the Outfit.

Whether Ambrose is found guilty or not, it's obvious that imprisoned Outfit boss Jimmy Marcello and his sleepy brother Michael—who testified in a rumpled orange jumpsuit Thursday—believed they'd cracked the security around Calabrese.

The Marcellos knew of Calabrese being driven around town to murder locations where he briefed the FBI on unsolved hits that formed the basis of Family Secrets, which sent Jimmy and others to prison for life. They knew Calabrese called his wife from a phone dialed as Ambrose guarded Calabrese.

The Marcello brothers knew all about it in January 2003, weeks before I revealed in a Feb. 21, 2003, column that Calabrese was talking to the FBI about a series of unsolved homicides—including the murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro—and that his federal prison records had disappeared.

Though I'm flattered the Marcellos are loyal readers, and that Ambrose's defense would try to use my column to argue that the leak could have come from just about anywhere, Mickey Marcello testified Thursday that he knew about Calabrese because a law-enforcement source was spilling.

According to Marcello, a fat reputed Chicago mobster, Johnny "Pudgy" Matassa Jr., would tell him what the source learned. Then Marcello would drive to federal prison to tell Jimmy. Then, unbeknownst to the Marcello brothers, the FBI would tape what they said.

"John says his source was giving him a list of names," the balding Mickey testified. "... I had John. He had who he had, who I presumed was a law-enforcement officer."

Matassa and Marcello would meet, but not over checkered tablecloths, candles stuck in bottles of Chianti.

"One time it was Dunkin' Donuts, various restaurants, places like that," Marcello said.

He said Matassa told him about others Nick Calabrese was helping the FBI to investigate, including the boss, John "No Nose" DiFronzo—implicated but not charged in the sensational Spilotro murders. And about Anthony "The Trucker" Zizzo, who later disappeared from a Melrose Park restaurant lot and has never been found.

Mickey Marcello, a font of information, developed a severe case of Fedzheimers when asked about Joe "The Builder" Andriacci, and those two brothers from Bridgeport, Bruno and Frank "Toots" Caruso. Andriacci and the Carusos were not charged.

"Andriacci. 'The Builder,' " said Ambrose lawyer Frank Lipuma during cross-examination. "Is he a mob boss?"

"I don't know," Marcello deadpanned.

"Are you aware of the Carusos who run Chinatown/Bridgeport?" Lipuma asked.

"No," Marcello said. "I'm not aware of that."

"Aren't they associated with organized crime?"

"They know a lot of people," sighed Marcello. "I guess you could say that. That they know a lot of people."

So do the Marcello brothers. They knew a guy who knew a guy who knew Nick Calabrese was taking the FBI to places where murders were committed.

That's not Hollywood.

It's Chicago.

Thanks to John Kass

Friday, February 06, 2009

Will Multiple Mob Murders be Solved by Operation Family Secrets - Part Two?

One of my loyal readers, Chicago mob boss James Marcello—captured on grainy federal recordings eating salty corn chips while discussing my column—will be sentenced in the "Family Secrets" case on Thursday.

Marcello, 66, may receive life in prison for his conviction of racketeering conspiracy in connection with previously unsolved Chicago Outfit murders.

The movie "Casino" incorrectly depicted Chicago mob brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield in 1986. But the trial showed that Marcello drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville home, where Michael thought he was going to become a "made member" of the Outfit. Bosses from every crew waited in the rumpus room for the brothers, who were beaten, strangled, their bodies dumped in the corn.

Dr. Pat Spilotro—dentist brother of the slain men—is scheduled to give a statement before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel. Dr. Pat has been secretly working with the FBI for years. He's expected to name other mobsters he believes should also pay for the killings.

Many of the murders involved Nick Calabrese, the hit man turned federal witness, who spilled what he knew on his family and others, giving this case the name "Family Secrets."

So, how do I know Jimmy Marcello reads this column? It came up in trial evidence and federal tape.

In late February 2003, at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., the imprisoned Marcello is sitting with a visitor, his close friend Nick "The Caterer" Vangel, a Greek businessman so nicknamed by wise guys because he once owned The Carlisle banquet hall in Lombard.

That was a day or so after my column of Feb. 21, 2003, about Nick Calabrese entering the witness protection program, prepared to testify about the Spilotro and other hits. Nick Calabrese killed dozens of men, but the prospect of his testimony terrified the Outfit and they were trying to find out more.

"I just saw this last thing in the Trib," Vangel tells Marcello on the FBI surveillance tape about the column.

Marcello responds in Outfit code, with winks and nods. He also does another strange thing: Since they're talking murder, Marcello begins chomping on a bag of tasty snack food: Fritos. That's a Super Bowl commercial if I ever saw one.

As Vangel tells Marcello of Nick Calabrese, of bosses swabbed for DNA, of the murders being investigated and speculates about the grand jury, Marcello makes furtive motions with his eyebrows and hands. But he can't stop gobbling his crunchy fried corn.

Family Secrets cleared many Outfit killings. But others remain unsolved, perhaps waiting for a "Family Secrets II."

One mystery is the disappearance of mob boss Anthony Zizzo in September 2006, as prosecutors prepared their case. Zizzo vanished. His car turned up in the parking lot of a Melrose Park restaurant. He had been scheduled to meet some guys on Rush Street, but never made it. Imagine that.

Another is the 2001 murder of mob boss Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, gunned down in a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Lyons, the sign out front inviting customers to eat their fill "The Chicago Way."

And the 1998 killing of Michael Cutler, who was scheduled to testify in the case against Frank Caruso Jr., the son of the current reputed Outfit street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso. Junior had been charged with the savage beating of Lenard Clark, a black teenager, in Bridgeport. Cutler saw it all. But before he could testify, Cutler was shot once in the chest in what was called a random West Side robbery.

Random? If you say so.

The unsolved 1999 murder of hit man Ronnie Jarrett, killed outside his Bridgeport home, was believed to have been ordered by mobster Frank Calabrese (brother of Nick Calabrese), who last week was sentenced to life, but was never charged with the Jarrett hit.

One incredibly puzzling death hasn't even been listed as a hit. Outfit bookie and city worker Nick "The Stick" LoCoco—tangled in the City Hall Hired Truck scandal—loved to ride horses. In November 2004, the bookie went for a canter in the woods, fell off his steed and died. On a Sunday, with NFL games under way and money on the line, a bookie goes for a horseback ride? Isn't that odd?

Marcello will have plenty of time to ponder all this and read my column while munching on his Fritos, day after day after day. Betcha Jimmy can't eat just one.

Thanks to John Kass

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deputy US Marshal Breaks Down Meeting with Prosecutors Regarding Mob Leak

A deputy U.S. marshal from Chicago, once a rising star in his office and now accused of leaking information to the mob, was questioned about possible contacts with other reputed mobsters, according to testimony in federal court Tuesday.

Investigators quizzed Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose about any contacts he had with top reputed mobsters John "Pudgy" Matassa and Tony Zizzo, who is now missing, according to testimony. Ambrose denied even knowing who the men were.

Ambrose, 39, is charged with lying to the feds about leaking secret information about mob killer Nicholas Calabrese, who decided to cooperate with the government and was in the witness protection program.

The feds caught on tape two mobsters, reputed Chicago Outfit boss James Marcello and his half brother, Michael, talking about Calabrese's "baby-sitter" -- their code name for Ambrose -- and the information "the baby-sitter" was providing to them.

The hearing was to determine whether statements that Ambrose made to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Robert Grant, the head of the FBI in Chicago, should be tossed out.

Ambrose contends he was in custody when he made statements and was not read his Miranda rights, so the statements shouldn't be allowed in. The feds say he wasn't in custody and gave the statements freely in talks with Fitzgerald and Grant in September 2006. Fitzgerald testified Tuesday that he told Ambrose he was not under arrest -- which Ambrose denies.

U.S. Marshal Kim Widup, Ambrose's boss, backed Ambrose's account in one key detail. Widup said he believed Ambrose was in custody when he was being questioned, which could support Ambrose and undermine the prosecution's case. Ambrose's uncle, Gerald Hansen, a retired Chicago police officer and current federal court security officer, visited Ambrose while he was at FBI offices and also said he believed his nephew was in custody.

It's unclear how much those statements will assist Ambrose. U.S. District Judge John Grady said he likely wouldn't consider their opinions all that helpful.

Ambrose broke down on the witness stand as he described how he was confronted by Fitzgerald and Grant.

"I was thinking about my wife and how she was going to raise the kids if we were separated, how we were going to provide," Ambrose said, tears coming to his eyes. "I felt I had been hurled into a vat of quicksand, and Mr. Fitzgerald was throwing bricks at me," Ambrose said.

Investigators were worried that Ambrose might kill himself, and lured him to FBI offices on a ruse.

Ambrose had to hand over his gun, a customary procedure, before he went up to 10th floor conference room at FBI offices, where he was confronted by Fitzgerald and Grant.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Illinois Governor Blagovich Leads List of Politicians Receiving Contributions from Friend of Mob Boss

An Oak Brook businessman who has extensive financial and personal ties to the former head of the Chicago mob has given more than $200,000 in contributions to Illinois politicians through personal and corporate donations -- with Gov. Blagojevich receiving the most money, $35,000, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Among other top recipients of donations from the businessman, Nicholas Vangel, a longtime friend of mob boss James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, were former Gov. George Ryan, House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, an analysis of the political contributions shows.

Vangel has not been accused of any wrongdoing and did not return phone messages Friday. He has denied in court documents any connections to organized crime. Some politicians who received contributions from Vangel or his businesses told the Sun-Times they were either unaware of Vangel's relationship with Marcello or had no idea who he was.

"We don't know much about the person in question and are still reviewing the contributions," said Doug Scofield, a spokesman for the governor's campaign.

A spokesman for Madigan, who received more than $17,000 over 10 years, had no idea who Vangel was and noted the amount contributed was relatively small per year. Saviano, who got more than $20,000, did not return phone messages.

Vangel, 66, and his family have extensive investments in several nursing homes throughout the Chicago area, as well as other businesses, but another side of him was shown during the recent Family Secrets mob trial.

In a secret videotape made by the FBI and played to jurors, Vangel was shown chatting as he visited Marcello at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., in February 2003. As Marcello snacks on a bag of Fritos, Vangel talks with him about the secret ongoing federal investigation of unsolved mob murders, including which mob leaders have been swabbed for DNA testing. Vangel tells Marcello he will find out what he can.

The men at times speak in code, and Vangel tells Marcello he wishes an unnamed individual had gone to testify before the grand jury investigating the mob murders. "Fact is, I mean to tell ya the truth, I was almost hopin' he'd a gone to find out what they were gonna ask him," Vangel tells Marcello.

His assistance to Marcello did not end there.

Vangel at times would deliver cash to Marcello's mistress, according to the woman's testimony. The woman was also put on the payroll of one of Vangel's businesses, so she could get health insurance.

After Marcello was arrested in the Family Secrets case in 2005, Vangel offered to put up his home, which had more than $1 million in equity, for Marcello's bond.

The judge refused to release Marcello, but if he had gotten out, Marcello could have returned to the job Vangel gave him, which involved calling upon several nursing homes on behalf of Vangel's management company.

In the Family Secrets case, Marcello was convicted of racketeering and was found to have taken part in the 1986 murders of the mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother, Michael.

Marcello drove the brothers to what they believed was a mob meeting at a Bensenville area home, where they were lured into a basement and beaten to death, according to court testimony.

Vangel is an investor in another company with the wife of a Marcello associate. Vangel is listed on the corporate records of a temporary worker business called Patriot Staffing Management Inc. with Susan Zizzo, wife of missing mobster Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, records show.

Vangel's interests do not end there. He has been, for instance, an investor in the well-known Rush Street restaurant Tavern on Rush, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Vangel is the former owner of the Carlisle banquet hall in west suburban Lombard and was among nine people arrested there during a gambling raid of a Super Bowl party in 1991. Among those arrested were William Galioto, who is a former Chicago Police officer and Marcello's brother-in-law. Galioto has been identified by the Chicago Crime Commission as a mob lieutenant. Also there were two union leaders, who lost their positions after their locals were found to be mobbed up.

Charges against all the men were dropped when prosecutors missed a filing deadline, authorities said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

The  Wine Messenger

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Smaller Christmas Tree for Chicago Outfit

While under investigation in 2001, mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr. was captured on tape predicting what the Chicago Outfit's future might look like, describing the crime syndicate in coded language as, of all things, a Christmas tree.

"It's gonna be a smaller Christmas tree that's gonna have the loyalty that once was there," Calabrese, then in prison for loan-sharking, said on the undercover recording. "And the, the big Christmas tree ... it'll never hold up. It's gonna fall. Watch it," he said.

Thanks in part to Calabrese's own recorded words, the Christmas tree tumbled last week as the Family Secrets jury found three Outfit figures responsible for 10 of 18 gangland slayings. Earlier this month, the same jury convicted the three as well as two others on racketeering conspiracy charges.

As a result, Calabrese, 70, a feared hit man blamed by the jury for seven of the murders; James Marcello, 65, identified by the FBI in 2005 as the head of the Chicago Outfit; and legendary mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, 78, face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison. But as sweeping as the case was -- resolving some of the most notorious mob murders in modern Chicago history -- organized-crime experts say the Family Secrets prosecution won't derail an entrenched Outfit that dates to Al Capone.

After the trial Thursday, Robert Grant, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office, said the Outfit remains a priority because of its propensity for violence and corruption. "They're much like a cancer," Grant said. "Organized crime, if not monitored and prosecuted, can grow, can corrupt police departments, can corrupt public officials."

"We have dozens of open investigations," John Mallul, supervisor of the FBI's organized crime unit in Chicago, said in an interview.

Calabrese's prison musings about a slimmer but more focused mob appear to be on the mark, the experts said.

Law enforcement officials and the Chicago Crime Commission say the mob is now run in northern and southern sections, with street crews consolidated from six geographical areas to four: Elmwood Park, 26th Street, Cicero and Grand Avenue. Mallul estimates the Outfit has about 30 "made" members and a little more than 100 associates.

Although the mob may be smaller and more tightly controlled, it remains a force with an ability to deliver its trademark illicit services as always, the FBI and experts said.

The mob continues to push its way into legitimate businesses and infiltrate labor unions, offer gambling and high-interest "juice loans," as well as extort "street taxes" from businesses, Mallul said. "In a lot of ways, it's still the same rackets -- 50 years ago, 25 years ago and today," Mallul said.

The Outfit still controls dozens of bookies who rake in millions of dollars a year in the Chicago area, he said, giving the mob its working capital for juice loans and other ventures.

"Sports bookmaking is still a huge moneymaker for them," Mallul said. "On the low end, that can include parlay cards in a tavern all the way up to players betting $5,000 or $10,000 or more a game across the board on a weekend."

James Wagner, head of Chicago Crime Commission, said his organization's intelligence from law enforcement sources indicates Joseph "the Builder" Andriacchi controls the north while Al "the Pizza Man" Tornabene runs the south.

Wagner, a former longtime FBI organized crime supervisor, said the Caruso family runs the 26th Street crew, Andriacchi leads the Elmwood Park crew, Tony Zizzo controlled the Cicero crew until he disappeared a year ago and Lombardo still held influence over the Grand Avenue crew before his arrest.

Authorities believe John "No Nose" DiFronzo also continues to play a prominent role for the mob. His name came up repeatedly in the Family Secrets trial as an Outfit leader, sometimes under another nickname, "Johnny Bananas."

Neither Andriacchi, Tornabene nor DiFronzo has been charged in connection with the Family Secrets investigation. None returned calls seeking comment. An attorney who has represented DiFronzo in the past declined to comment. Wagner said all three reputedly rose in the ranks of the Outfit through cartage theft and juice-loan operations and have since moved into legitimate businesses.

Authorities have said Andriacchi earned his nickname through his connections in the construction business. In the undercover prison recordings, Calabrese identified Andriacchi as the boss of the Elmwood Park crew.

DiFronzo has long had a reputation as a car expert who attended auctions and worked at dealerships, Wagner said. He was convicted of racketeering in the early 1990s for trying to infiltrate an Indian casino in California. He also had connections to waste hauling, Wagner said.

Tornabene, believed by some to be the Outfit's current elder boss, earned his nickname from his family's ownership of a suburban pizza restaurant, authorities said. Law enforcement has recently observed Tornabene, who is well into his 80s, being taken to "business" meetings at his doctor's office, Wagner said.

"Many of these guys are obviously trying to stay out of the limelight as much as they can," he said.

The Family Secrets convictions could further embolden prosecutors in their assault on the Outfit. The verdicts appear to vindicate Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, one of the most significant mob turncoats in Chicago history, who provided crucial testimony on many of the gangland slayings.

His testimony could still spell trouble for DiFronzo and others he named in wrongdoing but who were not indicted, said John Binder, a finance professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and mob researcher who wrote the 2003 book, "The Chicago Outfit."

Calabrese testified that DiFronzo was among the dozen men or more who fatally beat Anthony Spilotro, the mob's Las Vegas chieftain, and his brother Michael in 1986.

"This trial showed how many of these guys had jobs where they worked for the city or at McCormick Place," Wagner said. "When you look at the number that have been connected to the Department of Streets and Sanitation, the Water Department, it's hard to explain without the idea of clout being a factor."

In addition, a former Chicago police officer, Anthony "Twan" Doyle, was convicted of leaking inside information to the mob about the then-covert Family Secrets investigation.

"It's a problem Chicago has preferred to ignore," Wagner said.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Up-and-Coming Mobsters Will Replace Old Guard

The Family Secrets prosecution was a heavy blow to the Chicago Outfit, but surely not a fatal one, longtime observers of the city's organized crime syndicate say.
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If it finally removes some of the mob's biggest names from the scene, younger players are in place to step in and take over, the experts said. There always have been, after all, even in the wake of a case such as Family Secrets, which implicated an unprecedented three "made" members of the mob.

Street "sins" such as gambling, prostitution and narcotics are profitable, and organized crime will be there to control them and collect a cut, they said.

Up-and-coming mobsters step over the old guys, known as "Mustache Petes," said former FBI agent Lee Flosi.

"There are always guys who are anxious to get up the ladder and take over," said Flosi, who now works as a consultant. "The Outfit's not dead.

"They're masters of changing colors. They're chameleons," he said.

Today's Chicago Outfit may be smaller and more spread out, experts said, with more members living in the suburbs than in the city. But the syndicate still has influence in vice, labor unions and political corruption, Flosi said.

Organized-crime observers said the Outfit has evolved and taken on a lower profile as prosecutions have mounted over the years. The Chicago mob has improved its methods, experts said, having become better at hiding its activities and laundering money through legitimate businesses.

"They'll stay in control of what they have always controlled, as long as they're willing to enforce it with an occasional body in a trunk," Flosi said.

The last known mob hit occurred in November 2001 when Anthony "Tony the Hatch" Chiaramonti was shot in a suburban chicken restaurant. His name has surfaced in the Family Secrets case as an associate of some of the men facing trial. But one Outfit figure whose name also has surfaced in the case has been missing for months. Anthony Zizzo, a reputed underboss, was last seen leaving his Westmont home in August. Days later his Jeep turned up abandoned at a restaurant in Melrose Park.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Chicago Mob Consigliere Revealed?

Friends of ours: Nick Calabrese, James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello, Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa, Alphonse "Al the Pizza Man" Tornabene, Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Anthony "Little" Zizzo
Friends of mine: Leo Caruso

Federal documents reveal a new name in the upper crust of the Chicago outfit, a man that some mob experts believe may have become the mob's "elder statesman."
Documents filed by federal prosecutors in the case against 14 top mob figures revealed the identity of what some mobwatchers say is the Chicago outfit's current consigliere. The man's name was blotted out -- redacted --from the government filing. But, the ABC7 I-Team reveals the name behind the black mark.

Mafia initiation ceremonies are not open to the public. The only pictures are cheesy Hollywood reenactments. So when Chicago wiseguy Nick Calabrese started deep dishing outfit details to federal authorities a few years ago, one story stood out. It is explained in a government filing known as a proffer, or play-by-play, of the case that federal prosecutors plan to put on against Chicago hoodlums charged in Operation Family Secrets. The proffer states that Nick Calabrese will testify that a number of individuals were "made" (or inducted) with him in 1983, including co-defendant James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello.

During the "making ceremony," each 'inductee' was accompanied by his crew boss or "capo," according to the government. Two men "conducted the ceremony, which included an oath of allegiance to the organization."

One of the concelebrants was the late Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa, then considered the top ranking boss of the mob. Aiuppa's partner in the blood ceremony was blacked out in publicly filed documents. But, the ABC7 I-Team has seen an un-redacted copy of the filing. We can reveal the name under the black mark: Alphonse Tornabene.

Tornabene is now 84 years old. He is known in mob circles as "Al the Pizza Man." A suburban pizza parlor is still in his family. Even though he owns a summer home in William's Bay, Wisconsin, the I-Team found Tournabene at the front door of his suburban Chicago house and asked him whether he was the grand mobster at an outfit initiation.

GOUDIE: "Know about that?"

TORNABENE: "I don't remember."

GOUDIE: "You don't remember?"


GOUDIE: "You and Mr. Aiuppa?"

TORNABENE: "I don't remember."

GOUDIE: "You administered the oath of the Outfit according to the feds?"

TORNABENE: "I don't remember."

"Well, it shows significance, one that they took him under their trust to make such a significant ceremony, in making some mob guys," said Robert Fuesel, former federal agent.

Former IRS criminal investigator Bob Fuesel says Tornabene grew up as an outfit bookie but was apparently being groomed for higher office. With the three elder statesman of the outfit all dead, Joey Aiuppa, Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo and Sam "Wings" Carlisi, some federal lawmen believe that the role of consiglieri has fallen on Carlisi's cousin, Al Tornabene, who may have a hard time getting around these days, but is still meeting with known outfit associates.

GOUDIE: "The Crime Commission is saying that you run the mob?"

TORNABENE: (laughs) "I can't even move..."

On several days I-Team surveillance spotted Leo Caruso at Tornabene's home. Seven years ago Caruso was permanently barred from the Laborers' International Union after a federal investigation linked him to the mob's 26th Street crew. A Justice Department report stated that Caruso was "deeply involved with organized crime figures in a substantial manner."

TORNABENE: "He's just a friend..."

GOUDIE: "Mr. Caruso is a friend?"


The FBI is currently investigating the disappearance of Tornabene's top lieutenant, Anthony "Little" Zizzo. The two men met frequently until last August, when Zizzo mysteriously vanished after leaving his west suburban condo for a meeting on Rush Street.

"Well, these indictments through the US attorney's office, just put everything in disarray, and so do they know what happened to Zizzo. I'm sure somebody does. It's hard for me to believe based upon his reputation that he has not been uncovered and/or is probably deceased," said Fuesel.

"Pizza Al" has no criminal record but comes from a mob family. His late brother Frank was convicted of vote fraud and prostitution and authorities say was active in outfit vice rackets.

The Tournabenes are also related by marriage to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Frank Tournabene was a great uncle to Blagojevich's wife Patty. A spokeswoman for the governor's wife says that while she is aware of her late uncle Frank Tornaebene, she doesn't recall a relative named Al and has no memory of ever meeting such a person.

The I-Team attempted to reach former union boss Leo Caruso about his relationship with pizza l Tornabene. A woman who answered the phone at Caruso's Bridgeport home said he wasn't interested in talking.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When it Comes to the Chicago Mob: Who's the Boss?

Friends of ours: Al "Pizza Man" Tornabene, John "No Nose" DiFronzo, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Michael Marcello, Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nick Calabrese

Who will be the new Tony Soprano of the Chicago mob?

With so many mob leaders on trial or dead, the Chicago Outfit is in disarray, law enforcement sources say.

It could be the "Pizza Man" acting as caretaker.

Or "No Nose" could still be pulling the strings, some Outfit watchers believe.

The "Pizza Man" is Al Tornabene, the 84-year-old former owner of a suburban pizza parlor. He has kept an extremely low profile for a reputed mob leader and has never been arrested by the FBI. Recently, his name has come up in conversations the FBI secretly recorded in prison between reputed top Chicago mob boss James "Little Jimmy" Marcello and his younger brother, Michael Marcello.

Tornabene has been seen eating in Rush Street restaurants with another top reputed mobster, Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, who was last seen leaving his Westmont home in August last year and hasn't been heard from since. Zizzo was responsible for overseeing one of the Outfit's most lucrative enterprises, the illegal video poker machines in bars throughout Chicago.

Tornabene has long been a mob leader, authorities say. In 1983, for instance, he presided over a ceremony at which several mobsters were inducted into full membership rights of the Outfit, court records show. Among the men who were made were Zizzo, reputed mob hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother, Nick Calabrese, who has admitted in a plea agreement with the feds that he killed at least 14 people for the Chicago Outfit. He is cooperating with the FBI.

"No Nose" is the much better known John DiFronzo, who is in his late 70s and has long been reputed to be a respected elder of the Chicago Outfit. DiFronzo is known for his business acumen and wide range of investments, including car dealerships. Some mob watchers think DiFronzo has long been rivals with James Marcello and is not overly upset over his arrest.

Tornabene hung up during a phone call Friday when asked if he was running the Outfit.

DiFronzo could not be reached for comment.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

FBI Looking for Missing Reputed Mobster, "Little Tony"

Friends of ours: Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, Al "The Pizza Man" Tornabene, Anthony "Big Tony" Chiaramonti

Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced today that the FBI was joining local authorities in the search for missing Westmont resident ANTHONY ZIZZO, a reputed top Chicago mobster.

The 71-year old ZIZZO was last seen on August 31, 2006, when he left his residence is his 2005 Jeep Laredo for an appointment with unknown individual(s). ZIZZO has not been seen or heard from since and there has been no reported use of either his credit cards or cellular telephone since that date.

ZIZZO's Jeep Laredo was found abandoned, two days later, in the parking lot of Abruzzo's Restaurant in Melrose Park. The vehicle was undamaged and no signs of foul play were noted. ZIZZO has an extensive criminal history, including a 1993 conviction for Racketeering, for which he was imprisoned for eight years, being released in 2001. ZIZZO is a suspected associate of the Chicago LCN crime family. As such, it is possible that his disappearance might be tied to this association.

ZIZZO is an associate of Al "The Pizza Man" Tornabene, who has been referred to in court documents as the man running the Chicago mob. ZIZZO allegedly became a made member of the mob in 1983. ZIZZO was involved in the lucrative but violent, mob-controlled world of video poker machines. A close associate, Anthony "Big Tony" Chiaramonti, was slain in 2001 in the last known Chicago area mob hit, in a dispute over video poker revenue

ANTHONY ZIZZO is described as a white/male, 71 years of age, 5'3" tall, 200 pounds, heavy build, gray hair and blue eyes with prescription eyeglasses. When last seen, ZIZZO was wearing a gray shirt, black pants and a black jacket.

Anyone having any information regarding ZIZZO's current whereabouts is asked to call the Chicago FBI at (312) 421-6700.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chicago Outfit's #2 Man is Missing

Friends of ours: Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi

Anthony Zizzo is currently the major domo of the Chicago mob, considered by law enforcement to be the outfit's No. 2 man or "underboss." Officially, Zizzo is considered a missing person. But in the mob, "missing" is historically defined as "deceased but not located." And in Zizzo's case, the clues left behind certainly point that direction.

Anthony Zizzo drove away from his condominium in the west suburbs three weeks ago, August 31. He said goodbye to his wife Susan and left to conduct some business, possibly a meeting in the Rush Street area on Chicago's near North Side.

When the bespectacled Zizzo didn't return home, his wife came to the Westmont Police Station to fill out a missing persons report. The report, obtained by the I-Team, states that the 71-year-old Zizzo is very ill with kidney failure but left home without his daily medication. He was wearing a grey shirt with black pants black shoes and a black jacket.

Susan Zizzo told police he possibly diverted to their vacation home in Lake Geneva but his I-Pass had not been used. That's because her husband apparently only made it as far as Melrose Park. His Jeep was found in a restaurant parking lot on Division Street. The restaurant owner tells the I-Team that Zizzo was a regular customer but that he doesn't recall seeing him there the day he vanished. According to an alert sent to Chicago area law enforcement, the car was undisturbed and Zizzo's cellular telephone equipped with a GPS tracking device was still in the car.

Zizzo was a key operative of the late Chicago rackets boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi. Zizzo specialized in loan sharking and extortion, is considered a trusted outfit enforcer and claimed to be a legitimate trucking business owner. He goes by a list of mob aliases including: Little Tony, LT, Tony Z and Tony the Hat. He is "Little Tony" in height, just a bit over 5 feet tall, but hardly small in girth -- his 200 pound frame prompting the official police report to describe his build as "pot belly."

Law enforcement sources say the FBI crime scene technicians processed Zizzo's car looking for clues as to who might have hustled him off. The FBI role strongly suggests that Zizzo was not suddenly put into federal witness protection.

Mobwatchers and outfit lawyers say they cannot explain why there might have been a contract on Zizzo's life. He did prison time in a mob racketeering case in the 90s but was not charged in the current operation family secrets.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Missing Mobster?

Friends of ours: Anthony Zizzo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Anthony Chiaramonti, Anthony Spilotro, James Marcello
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro, Phillip Goodman

Westmont police Wednesday asked the public for information about the whereabouts of Anthony Zizzo, an elderly organized crime figure who was last seen Aug. 31 driving away from his home in the suburb.

While the Police Department is taking the lead in the investigation, which was launched after Zizzo's wife filed a missing person report, federal authorities are now also participating in the investigation, law enforcement sources said.

Westmont officials confirmed Wednesday that Zizzo's vehicle was recovered Saturday in the parking lot of a restaurant in Melrose Park. Police said he suffers from kidney failure and did not take medication with him when he left home.

Zizzo's wife reported him missing Friday morning. She had last seen him the day before as he drove away from their home in the 5700 block of South Cass Avenue, police said. When last seen, Zizzo, who is 5-foot-3 and 200 pounds, was wearing a gray shirt, black pants, a black windbreaker and black athletic shoes. He has thinning gray hair, blue eyes and wears metal-rimmed glasses.

It is unclear what his plans were when he left home, but some sources familiar with the case said he may have been headed for a meeting in the Rush Street area of Chicago.

Zizzo, 71, was a major figure in the organization of mob kingpin Sam Carlisi and went to prison with his boss and several others in 1993. He was released in 2001.

Zizzo, who lived in Melrose Park before his conviction, was described as the No. 3 person in command of the late Carlisi's crew. He supervised loan sharking and gambling operations, prosecutors said.

According to court records, Zizzo was the former boss of a Carlisi crew enforcer and debt collector, Anthony Chiaramonti, who was gunned down outside a Brown's Chicken and Pasta restaurant in Lyons in November 2001. That killing was the last-known hit in the Chicago mob world.

At the time of Zizzo's conviction, federal authorities said he and some co-defendants were believed to have information about several unsolved mob murders. Each was named in connection with events that preceded the murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro and bookmaker Phillip Goodman, according to a prosecution filing in the Carlisi case. It did not link anyone to the actual crimes, however.

Last year, federal prosecutors charged several reputed Chicago mob leaders in connection with a number of unsolved murders. Zizzo was not named, but one of his 1993 co-defendants, James Marcello, was charged in the massive federal conspiracy case.

Thanks to David Heinzmann and Jeff Coen


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