The Chicago Syndicate: Bruno Caruso
Showing posts with label Bruno Caruso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bruno Caruso. Show all posts

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

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Will Daley Bring Back Fugitive From Mexico to Testify?

As chairman of the new Chumbolone Museum of Grant Park, I have an important announcement regarding my top underling and museum co-chair, Mayor Richard Daley.

We at the Chumbolone Museum have ordered the mayor to lead an expedition into Mexico to find Chicago's missing link: Marco Morales, the notorious corrupt fugitive and bribe-paying city contractor.

The Chumbolone Museum doesn't care how Daley brings him back, as long as he brings him back. Alive.

What we don't need is Marco in pieces, wrapped in butcher paper. Sure, we'll stuff Marco, if that's what the mayor wants, but only after Marco testifies in federal cases about bribes at City Hall.

"I don't think that's a very good idea," said a real top Daley administration official when I explained the extradition expedition. "I don't think he'll want to go."

Not even to bring Marco back? Alive? "No, not even for Marco," the official said.

Well, too bad. He's going, whether he likes it or not. Daley has already traveled to France and demanded the French extradite a suspected murderer for trial in Chicago. How can my own Chumbolone Museum vice chairman not apply his rigorous extradition standards to Mexico?

As loyal readers know, the mayor and I are co-founders of the Chumbolone Museum, so he won't have to support that other museum nobody wants in Grant Park. Chumbolone is Chinatown slang for fool, and as election results prove, there are millions of us in the Chicago area. We need a museum more than rich kids need a museum.

So if you don't see the mayor, don't worry, he'll be in Mexico, on the Marco hunt, with a hand-picked team of experts. They'll wear pith helmets and cute khaki shorts, and carry big nets on long poles over their shoulders, as befitting a proper museum expedition. Except for the mayor.

He'll have his own net, but he won't wear a pith helmet. A pith helmet would smash his hair and make his head perspire. Instead, he'll wear his famous Indiana Jones hat.

On Thursday, Tribune reporters Ray Gibson, Dan Mihalopoulos and Oscar Avila broke the news on the Tribune's Web site that Mexican federal police had seized Morales.

Morales had a deal with federal prosecutors here in Chicago years ago that he'd testify about bribes he paid to Daley administration officials in exchange for lucrative city contracts. But he changed his mind, ran to Mexico instead, and his son began receiving $40 million in Daley administration contracts. Naturally, the mayor knew nothing about hush money.

Mexican authorities arrested Morales in 2004, but denied extradition on corruption charges. Recently, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Morales on drug charges, making extradition easier. It also makes City Hall nauseous.

"I miss Chicago so much," Marco Morales told me in a phone interview last September. "I miss everything about Chicago."

But not enough to come back? "No," he said then. "I've got issues up there."

The main issue was the Chicago Outfit promising to blow his brains out if he continued talking about bribes he allegedly paid to Tony Pucillo, Daley's former Department of Transportation boss. And about his relationship with Daley insider and trucking boss Michael Tadin.

Pucillo's brother and Tadin were involved in a company that paved the city's streets, in a contract overseen by Tony and supported by Daley.

Back in the day, at Department of Transportation golf outings, Tony, Mike and the mayor would ride in the same golf cart, saying hello to laborers and vendors in the asphalt business. It was Daley's way of advertising that his boys had his blessing. Only a chumbolone wouldn't get it.

So we at the Chumbolone Museum called Pucillo and Tadin on Thursday, telling them to report for duty with the mayor. They'll ride a golf cart around and around the walls of the prison in Mexico City. The mayor will yell from the back seat.

"Marco! Marco! Where are you? Marco?"

Every great expedition requires bait to lure exotic creatures into the open, so explorers can catch them in their nets. And I've got just the thing.

"There's no Polish sausage around here. No Italian sausage," Marco told me in our interview. "You know that place the Carusos have in Bridgeport? Well, I'd die for one of those Polish sausages."

He meant the Maxwell Street Polish stand on 31st Street, and brothers Frank "Toots" Caruso and Bruno Caruso. The FBI considers them to be the experts on the Outfit's Chinatown crew.

"I just remember what a Polish tastes like and I miss it, you know, like I miss Chicago," Morales told me.

Don't worry Marco. The Chumbolone Museum will pay Toots to bring a hot sack of sangwiches for you. You're coming home, buddy.

Mayor Daley is on his way. But before he persuades me to stuff and mount you in the Chinatown Asphalt wing at our Chumbolone Museum, you'll have to talk to other experts.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI. But they're no chumbolones.

Thanks to John Kass

Championcatalog.com

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

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


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