Showing posts with label Bill Daddano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Daddano. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Week that Frank Sinatra Performed at the Villa Venice for the Chicago Mob

In 1962, at the height of his fame, Frank Sinatra gave a benefit performance at the behest of a British princess. He gave another for the head of the Chicago mob.

In February, he sang at a ritzy London fundraiser for a children's charity favored by Princess Margaret. Later that year, he did a week's gig at the Villa Venice, a gaudy but financially ailing nightclub near Northbrook in which mafioso Sam Giancana had a piece of the action.

Will Leonard, the Tribune's nightlife critic, reported that Sinatra and his pals, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., "croon, carol, caper and clown to the biggest cabaret audiences this town has seen in years." And no wonder.

Gossip columnists had bestowed the honorific "Chairman of the Board" on Sinatra, whose 100th birthday on Dec. 12 is opening a floodgate of nostalgia. Giancana was the flamboyant face of the Chicago Outfit. The linking of the two luminaries turned those seven days in November and December into a requiem for an older show-biz era.

Chicago's entertainment scene was changing. Comedian Lenny Bruce had brought his obscenity-leavened act to the Gate of Horn, a hip club where the Chad Mitchell Trio also appeared. Their kind of folk music was already sufficiently popular for the Smothers Brothers to satirize it at the State-Lake Theater. The Rat Pack, Sinatra and his friends, were strictly old-school but still a magnetic draw to nightlife veterans of a time when Rush Street was home to celebrated nightclubs, not dating bars.

"The old Chez Paree crowd has yanked itself loose from the TV sets just once more," Leonard observed in another account of the goings-on at the Villa Venice. "The old waiters and doormen are back, showing the same old palms of the same old hands. There's a great big band on the stand, playing great big music. The chairs are pushed so closely together you can't shove your way between them. Flash bulbs pop in the audience during the show. All that's missing is the girl selling the Kewpie dolls and giant sized postcards."

Herb Lyon, the Trib's gossip columnist, proclaimed the hordes of screaming fans "Madness at the Villa." He quoted Sinatra and his buddies (or perhaps their publicist) as saying: "We've never seen anything like it anywhere — Vegas, New York, Paris, you name it."

Indeed, the Villa Venice had been tricked out in a style imported from Las Vegas. Giancana reportedly spent upward of $250,000 to restore it and its canals plied by gondolas. The showroom seated 800, was furnished with satin ceilings, tapestries, and statuesque, lightly clothed showgirls. Nearby was the ultimate accouterment of a Vegas-like operation: a gambling casino in a Quonset hut a few blocks from the Villa. High rollers were whisked between the supper club and the dice and roulette tables in a shuttle supervised by Sam "Slick" Rosa, identified by the Trib as "the syndicate's chief of limousine service," and his assistant, Joseph "Joe Yak" Yacullo.

The Tribune reported that among the mobsters on hand for Sinatra's opening night were Willie "Potatoes" Daddano, Marshall Caifano, Jimmy "The Monk" Allegretti and Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio. It was noted that "Sinatra's gangland fans from other cities appeared too." For a week, the Rat Pack's presence turned Milwaukee Avenue at the Des Plaines River into the hottest address in show biz.

Shortly before the Sinatra show closed, the casino shut down under belated pressure from law enforcement authorities who told the Tribune that the gambling operation had grossed $200,000 in two weeks. That threw a monkey wrench into Giancana's business plan, which depended on recouping his investment by attracting gamblers with a parade of big-name acts. But how could he hope to book stars like Sinatra and his buddies into a scarcely known venue in the hinterlands of Chicago? What kind of money did he dangle in front of them? Wondering if there might have been a nonmonetary enticement, the FBI interviewed the Rat Pack during their engagement. Perhaps the feds took a clue from Dean Martin's rewording of the old standard "The Lady is a Tramp":

I love Chicago, it's carefree and gay

I'd even work here without any pay.

According to James Kaplan, author of the recently published "Sinatra: The Chairman," the question was put to Davis. "I got one eye, and that one eye sees a lot of things that my brain tells me I shouldn't talk about," Davis told the agents. "Because my brain says that, if I do, my one eye might not be seeing anything after a while."

Kaplan's verdict was that it was unclear whether the Rat Pack got paid. As a favor to Giancana, Sinatra had previously persuaded a reluctant Eddie Fisher to play the Villa Venice, reportedly for chicken feed. Sinatra owed Giancana for lending his muscle in the critical state of West Virginia when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, according to Giancana's daughter Antoinette's memoir "Mafia Princess: Growing Up in Sam Giancana's Family."

Still, the Rat Pack's Villa Venice appearances were wildly successful, as the Tribune's Lyon reported: "It is now estimated that the total Villa loot for the seven-day Sinatra-Martin-Davis run will hit $275,000 to $300,000, a new night club record." But Dinah Shore, the next scheduled performer, canceled at the last minute, and Sheilah Graham, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote: "I've been told that Sinatra picked up the hotel tab for his group, to the tune of $5,000. The whole business sounds somewhat odd."

In fact, the Villa Venice never again hosted big-name stars, operating thereafter as a catering hall, with a new management taking over in 1965. Two years later, it was destroyed by a spectacular, if mysterious, fire. The spot is now a Hilton hotel.

Giancana was gunned down in his Oak Park home in 1975.

To the end of Sinatra's days, he sang the Windy City's praises. But fellow Rat Packer Peter Lawford reportedly said the song was an encomium not to the city but to Giancana, calling the song "his tribute to Sam, an awful guy with a gargoyle face and weasel nose."

Either way, "Chicago" was Sinatra's theme song:

I saw a man and he danced with his wife in Chicago

Chicago, Chicago that's my hometown.

Thanks to Ron Grossman.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Reputed Ties of New O'Hare Airport Janitorial Contract Winner, United Maintenance, Grows

A high-ranking employee of the contractor who recently won a $99.4 million janitorial contract with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration once served a prison sentence after he was charged in the same corruption case as late Chicago mob boss Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo.

Paul A. Fosco was convicted on racketeering charges in 1987, sentenced to a 10-year prison term and left federal prison in 1993, public records show. He now is an executive vice president of United Service Companies, according to his profile posted on the LinkedIn networking website.

United Service is owned by Richard Simon, a former Chicago Police officer who led the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau from 2002 to 2005. On Oct. 31, Emanuel’s administration chose one of United’s many companies, United Maintenance Co. Inc., to clean O’Hare International Airport for five years starting Dec. 15.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported last week that Simon had partnered in yet another firm with William Daddano Jr., who was accused of organized-crime ties by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Chicago Crime Commission.

After shrugging off Simon’s business ties to Daddano this week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked Wednesday to comment on Fosco. The mayor again defended the deal, which has faced heavy criticism from organized labor leaders. They say it will result in the dismissal of hundreds of union workers.

“Look, it was competitively bid,” Emanuel said, adding that United Maintenance would hire about 100 employees who currently clean O’Hare. “We will have a vigorous enforcement and make sure everybody lives by and appropriately stands by the law.”

Thanks to Dan Mihalopoulos.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mafia Articles Re-Emerge in Rockford after 21 Years.

Friends of ours: Frank G. Saladino, Salvatore "Sam" Galluzzo, William Daddano Jr., Anthony A. Cardamone
Friends of mine: Nick S. Boscarino


The Chicago Mob has not limited its activities to just the Windy City. In fact, in the Rock River Top 10 , the Mafia jumped to #3 on the list of Rockford's top stories for 2005.

Even before U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced in late April the indictment of alleged Mob hitman from Rockford, Frank G. Saladino, The Rock River Times published articles concerning past Mob activity in the area. According to the Kane County coroner, Saladino was found dead of "natural causes" in a rural Kane County hotel room April 25-the same day he was indicted on federal charges of murder and other undisclosed "criminal" allegations that were performed by Saladino on behalf of the Chicago Mafia, which is known as "The Outfit."

After the indictment, several articles described Saladino's links to former business partner Salvatore "Sam" Galluzzo and the Rockford Housing Authority. Galluzzo was identified as an alleged Mob member in a March 4, 1984, article published by the Rockford Register Star.

Paul S. Nicolosi, City of Loves Park attorney and owner of the law firm Nicolosi and Associates, P.C., was also business partners with Galluzzo in the development firm Buckley Partners LLC-a frequent contributor to local political campaign coffers.

During former Illinois Governor George Ryan's term, owners of Buckley Partners-Nicolosi, Galluzzo and Galluzzo's brother Natale Gallluzzo-were recipients of at least two state contracts. One of those contracts was between the Illinois Attorney General's office and Buckley Partners, which leased office space for the attorney general's regional headquarters at 7230 Argus Drive in Rockford. Nicolosi also announced he would develop a $5 million mixed-use office building at South Church and Chestnut streets, across from the new federal courthouse. Nicolosi or attorneys in his firm represent the municipalities of Rockton, Roscoe, Loves Park and Caledonia.

Also in the news was reputed Mob associate and millionaire Nick S. Boscarino of South Barrington. He purchased a local restaurant and other area properties since 2004. Boscarino is currently serving time in federal prison on fraud charges for bilking the Village of Rosemont of money related to undisclosed insurance fees.

And Rockford Police Chief Dominic Iasparro revealed he and other police officers destroyed files in the mid-1980s, which concerned alleged Rockford Mob members. Iasparro said the file purging was connected to a nationwide effort to destroy such files.

Rockfordian Joseph W. Saladino Jr., 59, a cousin of Frank G. Saladino, reported to federal prison Jan. 25 in Sandstone, Minn.

Joe Saladino's trip up the river to the Gopher State comes nearly eight years after being caught with a machine gun, butcher knife, bolt cutter, hand saw and other weapons in the trunk of his car.

The Rock River Times revealed Edolo J. "Zeke" Giorgi, former Rockford alderman and state representative, once worked for a Mob-owned distributing company. The now-defunct Northern Illinois Music, Inc./Midwest Distributing Company in Rockford was partially owned by Chicago Mafia members William Daddano Jr., and Anthony A. Cardamone.

Giorgi died in October 1993.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Did feds kill off the mob?

Friends of ours: Fred Roti, Frank Maltese, Joe Ferriola, Sam Giancana, Bill Daddano, Tony Accardo, Vincent "Jimmy" Cozzo
Friends of mine: John D'Arco Sr., Pat Marcy, Betty Loren-Maltese, Robert Natale, John Serpico, Don Stephens, John Duff, Ed Hanley, William Hanhardt, James Vondruska, Bob Cooley

A mere decade ago, the Chicago Outfit's political wing still had an address: Room 2306 of the Bismarck Hotel, at Randolph and LaSalle, the 1st Ward offices of Committeeman John D'Arco Sr. and Ald. Fred Roti, a made member of the mob. Downstairs at Counsellors Row Restaurant, D'Arco and Roti held court with mob-friendly aldermen, judges and state legislators like John D'Arco Jr. The feds installed a hidden camera at Counsellors Row and wired lawyer Bob Cooley. They caught D'Arco and Roti discussing mob business such as rigging elections, bribing judges to fix cases and greasing zoning and license deals.

"Yes sir," the judges and aldermen--some still in office--told ward Secretary Pat Marcy, and rushed off to get him a liquor license or whatever he asked for.

Roti and D'Arco Sr. went to jail and have since died. Counsellors Row was torn down and the old 1st Ward mapped out of existence. Even the Bismarck has a new name: Hotel Allegro. At the same time, the feds took over some of the most mobbed-up unions to try to clean them.

So did the feds kill the mob? Are local pols right to call mob influence in Chicago "ancient history?" Have the mobsters gone straight and quit trying to cultivate friends in government? Mob-watchers and cops say, "No."

The mob has always wanted friendly judges on the bench for help on cases and cops on the force to keep some crimes unsolved. Controlling unions provides jobs for flunkies and money for pols. Friendships with legislators prevent bills cracking down on video poker, which some say nets $100 million a year for the mob.

Most of all, the mob wants friends in government for jobs and contracts. The mob doesn't offer health insurance--mob lackeys need day jobs for that. "It used to be you'd give him $200 a week to get the [illegal betting] books--now you get him a city job," a city worker said at a Northwest Side coffee shop as he looked around cautiously and sipped coffee on his 11 a.m. break. "There's a lot of power with jobs," said Terrance Norton, the Better Government Association executive director.

A slew of convictions this year shows the downsized mob has just diversified and moved west. And the video poker games stay in the bars.

Stone Park Mayor Robert Natale went to prison this year for taking mob bribes to allow illegal video poker gambling at mob-linked bars.

Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese, widow of convicted mobster Frank Maltese, will be sentenced next month for an insurance scam that skimmed $4 million from employee policies. The firm behind the scam gave $21,000 to Gov. Ryan, state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and others.

Union boss John Serpico--appointed and reappointed by Gov. Jim Thompson and Gov. Jim Edgar to head the state port authority even though Serpico testified in 1985 he regularly met with mob boss Joe Ferriola--was sentenced this year on a loan scheme. Serpico showered union money on pols.

Still, elected officials whose campaigns benefit most from the generosity of businesses the state Gaming Board or the Chicago Crime Commission call mob-tied say the mob is dead: "I don't think there's a mob around anyway to run anything," said state Rep. Ralph Capparelli (D-Chicago). "They're still talking about 1924 and 1930. I think you use the word 'mob' because some guy has an Italian name." Saviano and state Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago) have made similar statements.

If a mob-linked legitimate business does good work and offers the low bid, why shouldn't it get the contract, one west suburban mayor asked.

With no official address or go-to guy in local government, it's hard to know the mob's legislative agenda. Mob-watchers say a new casino in Rosemont, or better yet, downtown Chicago, tops the list, along with more video poker.

The state Gaming Board refused to allow a casino in Rosemont, finding mob-linked firms already working on the site. Former Crime Commission chief investigator Wayne Johnson blasted twice-indicted, never-convicted Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens for ties to men the commission says are associated with organized crime, such as Sam Giancana and Bill Daddano.

Stephens sued Johnson for libel but admitted the ties to Giancana and Daddano in court filings. Stephens' suit silenced Johnson, the most vocal mob-watcher in town. Johnson left the commission and has been advised by attorneys not to discuss Stephens' alleged mob ties.

Mayor Daley has not cut all ties to the mob-linked Duff family, which donated $8,875 to his campaigns and reaped $100 million in local government contracts. Patriarch John F. Duff Jr. was a character witness for mob boss Tony Accardo. "I just know them. That's all," Daley said. "I'm not personal friends with them. I know them. So what?" A federal grand jury subpoenaed records of Duff contracts with local governments.

Daley's main ally in pushing a downtown casino in the early '90s was Ed Hanley, who had to give up control of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers union amid a federal probe of mob ties.

William Hanhardt was convicted this year of running a jewelry theft ring that stole more than $5 million while Hanhardt climbed the ranks of the Chicago Police Department to deputy superintendent. Cooley warned officials more than a decade ago that Hanhardt was the mob's main plant on the force, getting mob lackeys hired and promoted.

Police Supt. Matt Rodriguez quit five years ago after admitting a close friendship with a mob-linked felon questioned in an oil executive's murder.

Chicago police have watched as powerful ward committeemen still in office today huddled with mob higher-ups such as Vincent "Jimmy" Cozzo.

"What does the mob want from government? No. 1, money, and No. 2, power," Cooley said. "Nobody could ever get a city job or a promotion without the approval of the 1st Ward. They had all the jobs in McCormick Place, all the city jobs, police, sheriff's, state's attorney."

Mobbed-up unions provide an entree for mob types to get jobs in departments like Transportation and Streets and Sanitation that hire union members. A raid at Streets and Sanitation found 37 employees AWOL, including Chucky Miller, who was robbing a Wisconsin jewelry store of $250,000 on city time.

Transportation Department 'worker' James Vondruska, whom the commission calls a mob associate, pleaded guilty this year to playing the horses on city time. WBBM-TV reporter Pam Zekman taped him and other mob-linked workers playing hooky.

Mob-watchers say the mob wants to unionize workers at any new casino that opens in Rosemont or Chicago to work their way into the operation there. "John Serpico was out there with John Matassa 'cause they were going to unionize all the workers at the casino," one mob-watcher said.

The feds have taken over one union after another, from the Teamsters to the Laborers and Hotel and Restaurant Workers' locals, to try to purge them. Serpico was kicked out of the Laborers Union, then committed his loan fraud at Central States.

"The attraction of a union to a mob organization is the union's pension fund investments and medical plans, which are supposed to go to benefit union rank and file, most of whom could never enter the same restaurants ... as Hanley and his syndicate friends," said Combined Counties Police Association President John Flood. "And the main attraction of a union like that controlled by Hanley to the politicians also is the ability to dish out cash contributions."

Thanks to ABDON M. PALLASCH

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