The Chicago Syndicate: Fred Barbara
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Fred Barbara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fred Barbara. Show all posts

Thursday, September 30, 2021

James Banks, Attorney & Banker, whose Father Represented Reputed Mobsters & Who's Bank was Affiliated with Operation Family Secrets Mafia Trial, Denied Video Gambling License

Chicago attorney and banker James J. Banks, who has served on the board of the Illinois Tollways system for decades overseeing the state agency, has been rejected his application for a video gambling license in the state. The Illinois Gaming Board said he does not meet the requirements for a lucrative state license.

In a letter written by the gaming board administrator Marcus D. Fruchter earlier this year, it was explained that the board conducted an investigation which included a review of the attorney’s business and social associations, and concluded that they would “adversely affect public confidence and trust in video gaming and would discredit or tend to discredit the Illinois gaming industry”, Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The gaming board then decided that granting Banks’ company the “terminal operator license” that he had applied for would “not serve the interests of the citizens of Illinois”. The letter does not give any details of the gaming board’s findings, or which associations they found troubling. The 58-year-old attorney is appealing the decision, and is expected to be considered at a closed-door hearing.

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, a spokeswoman for Banks’ company said: “Since this matter is ongoing, our comments are limited and our attention is focused on the IGB administrative process. Mr. Banks is pleased that the IGB granted Gaming Productions’ request for a hearing and looks forward to further establishing that it is suitable and deserving of a license consistent with the IGB’s standards”.

“Mr. Banks is proud of his career to date as well as his personal and professional relationships, and strongly disputes that any of them disqualify him from holding a license”, she concluded.

Illinois law says an “applicant has the burden to demonstrate its qualifications and suitability for licensure to the satisfaction” of the gaming board, Fruchter explained in the letter. He also cited a law that bars anyone from getting a gaming license if they have “a background, including a criminal record, reputation, habits, social or business associations or prior activities that pose a threat to the public interests of the state or to the security and integrity of video gaming.”

Fruchter also noted that state law says the board may not grant any video gaming license until the board is satisfied that the applicant is someone who “does not present questionable business practices and financial arrangements incidental to the conduct of video gaming activities” and who does not associate with “persons of notorious or unsavory reputation or what have extensive police records.”

In 2006, Banks founded Belmont Bank & Trust on the Northwest Side. The bank’s board of directors’ early members included his father Samuel V.P. Banks, a criminal defense lawyer who represented reputed mob figures.

Other members of the bank board have included Fred B. Barbara, longtime friend of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and former state Senator James A. DeLeo.

Four Belmont Bank board members’ names came up during the landmark 2007 Operation Family Secrets trial of Chicago Outfit bosses and others, though none of the four was charged.

A convicted burglar testified that he bribed police officers by passing money through Samuel Banks, who was not charged with any crime. A mobster’s widow also said that James Bank and DeLeo cheated her when she sold them a restaurant. And Nick Calabrese — a prolific mob hit man who, at the Family Secrets trial, became the first “made” member ever to testify against the Chicago Outfit — testified that Barbara participated in the bombing of an Elmwood Park restaurant in the early 1980s, though he was never charged.

DeLeo was indicted in 1989 by a federal grand jury in the Operation Greylord investigation that charged him with failing to pay taxes on bribes he said he took while a top aide to Cook County’s chief traffic court judge. The jury could not reach a verdict, and DeLeo ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in a deal that let him hold onto his legislative seat.

Banks was first appointed to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority in 1993 by then-Governor Jim Edgar. Governors George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Quinn and Bruce Rauner all kept him on the board.

Since then, he has become one of Chicago’s most influential zoning lawyers. Banks and his wife Grace Sergio own a real estate company, Sergio & Banks. He also runs the Loop law firm that formerly was his late father’s firm. A fellow attorney at the firm is listed as the incorporating agent for Banks’ gaming company.

According to paperwork filed with the gaming board, Banks’ gaming company would “own various gaming terminals” and it would “place such terminals for use in those establishments which are permitted by the Illinois Video Gaming Act.” Such devices are legal for gambling in restaurants, bars and other establishments in many suburbs but not in the city of Chicago.

Thanks to Yogonet.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Chicago Way Ideas Week Tour

There's this thrill running up my leg — and I haven't had it too often — but it sure has been tingling like mad ever since I heard about Chicago Ideas Week.

According to the website, "Chicago Ideas Week will bring the world's top speakers, together with Chicago's best thinkers, to create an ecosystem of innovation, exploration and intellectual recreation."

Excellent. Bring a bunch of politicians to Chicago, have them mix with Chicago politicians, feed them, and then encourage them to make speeches about how smart they are, and if that's not an ecosystem, I don't know what is.

"Meet the Press" is in town to help kick off the week on Sunday. Former President Bill Clinton will be hanging around, so you'll probably see him prowling the Viagra Triangle. But the highlight will be Monday's fantastic tour (only 15 bucks) by former Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago's fabulous Millennium Park, though I prefer to call it Billennium Park, since it cost about $50 million an acre. Sadly, Daley's tour is not open to the media.

Daley is expected to explain how he created the park, and how great it is. The prospect got me so tingly, I wanted to contribute to this "ecosystem" of ideas. And eureka, I think I've found it:

The Chicago Way Ideas Week Tour.

Daley could begin by opening it up to the media, particularly the "Meet the Press" crowd and other foreign correspondents. They'd rather hear Daley/Obama mouthpiece David Axelrod entertain them with songs of hope and change, but it's time the national media understood the Chicago Way.

The tour would begin at the park's Clout Cafe — Park Grill — where Daley's political adviser Tim Degnan somehow became an investor. Another investor was Daley's friend and fashionista, trucking boss Fred Bruno Barbara, who once, according to federal testimony, served as driver to Chicago mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra.

Once we fill up on those bland Clout Cafe chicken sandwiches, we could set off on our tour. First thing would be to stand before that gigantic $40 million silver bean, and look deep inside of it, to see all the wonders:

Like Chicago's budget drowning in $600 million or more of red ink, and all those contracts to cronies over the decades that sopped up the cash, all those hungry parking meters, and all those kids who drop out of school each year.

Stare further into the bean and you'd see businesses that received city development bucks and kicked into former first lady Maggie Daley's After School Matters charity, and all those cops who still aren't on the street because all the money is gone.

Daley could point out the city sewers that were inspected by President Barack Obama's political godfather, former state Senate President Emil Jones, who is now chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Jones spent decades as a political double dipper, crafting legislation and also inspecting city sewers. But legend has it that during all those years of sewer inspecting, Jones never smudged his camel-hair coat. Not even once.

We'd then drive down to Kenwood, to the president's home, the one that convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko helped him with, and then back across the city, to the federal criminal courts, where Rezko's confidant, Republican boss Big Bill Cellini, is standing trial on corruption charges.

After that stop, we'd need some sunshine and a happy place, and you know where we could find it? Stearns Quarry Park.

The quarry was in Bridgeport, at 29th and Halsted streets, a few blocks from the mayor's home, and it was where, decade after decade, city trucking bosses would dump their construction debris.

There was nothing illegal per se about the dumping. What was illegal was all the bribery and other crimes committed by city officials and trucking bosses in the city's infamous Hired Truck program. So City Hall covered up the quarry, to erase our political memory. And it worked.

"Today," proclaims the Park District website, "visitors to Stearns Quarry Park can go fishing in a pond that retains old quarry walls; stroll along a wetland area that drains into the pond; watch for birds and other wildlife attracted by the site's vast range of native plants; fly kites in an open meadow; or take in the views of the cityscape."

Ponds. Kite flying. Meadows. Nice.

Later, Daley might want to take the "Meet the Press" panel to Division Street. There in 2004, a slight, 5-foot-3-inch, 125-pound David Koschman, age 21, was reportedly slugged by Daley's muscular nephew, Richard J. Vanecko, 6-3, 230 pounds.

Koschman died, there were no charges, and according to the Sun-Times, the files went missing, the Rush Street police detail didn't see anything, and nobody knows nothing.

Official Chicago doesn't have any idea what happened, even during Ideas Week.

Thanks to John Kass

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Millennium Park's Grill, AKA "Clout Cafe" Linked to Mob, Yet Pays No Property Taxes

It wasn't long after the hinky backstory to the the Park Grill in Millennium Park earned it a moniker among political insiders isn't given easily: the Clout Cafe. It continues to earn its nickname.

For example, it's connected owners still don't have to pay property taxes. "In late June the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in favor of the Park Grill in its fight against the Cook County assessor, dropping the curtain on the latest act in one of the more sensational scandals of Mayor Daley's reign," the Reader reports.

"The ruling received little coverage, but at one point the restaurant, right under the Bean in Millennium Park, was front-page news, yet another example of the connected and powerful in this town managing to catch multimillion-dollar breaks at taxpayer expense.

"That was back in 2005, when the Sun-Times revealed that the owners had managed to win the Park District's competitive bid process for the right to operate in the prime space -- even though their bid was the lowest of three. Officials said they liked the group's experience.

"The investors included Matthew O'Malley, who also owns the Chicago Firehouse, where Daley took George W. Bush in 2006 to celebrate the president's 60th birthday; relatives of Tim Degnan, the mayor's former chief of staff and political strategist; and Fred Barbara, a Daley friend, millionaire businessman, and nephew of the late alderman and mobster Fred Roti."

That's a powerful roster, but Cook County Assessor James Houlihan thought the Grill oughta pay property taxes no matter who backed it -- and no matter what kind of sweetheart deal Daley's park district gave his pals. But the state apellate court's recent ruling upheld a Cook County court's ruling that the restaurant has a concession agreement with the park district, not a lease, and therefore is immune to property taxes.

Pretty sneaky, Sis!

"Restaurants and other businesses that lease property from the government typically pay what’s called leasehold taxes, while vendors who sell hot dogs or ice cream operate under a concession license agreement and aren't required to pay real estate taxes," Crain's explains. "Even though it serves food at a restaurant - and not a pushcart - Park Grill was awarded a 20-year concession license that requires annual payments to the park district of $245,000 plus a percentage of sales."

Under Houlihan's valuation, the restaurant would have reportedly owed more than $350,000. But then, that's assuming that the Park Grill is a restaurant leasing property from the city, which clearly it is not.

Thanks to Steve Rhodes

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Courtroom Outbursts Don't Prevent Life Sentence for Reputed Mob Crew Boss Frank Calabrese Sr.

With the national media finally interested in Illinois corruption, it's too bad they were focused on Springfield's dancing monkey show and not on what happened in a federal courtroom in Chicago on Wednesday.

That wasn't a monkey dancing on a string. It was an ape. The kind of ape that pulls the strings on the dancing monkeys.

His name is Frank Calabrese, the former Chicago Outfit Chinatown crew boss, convicted of racketeering conspiracy involving seven murders in the FBI's historic Operation Family Secrets case of 18 unsolved hits. Six other bodies were attributed to Calabrese at his sentencing.

Calabrese, 71, wore a wrinkled orange jumpsuit, with old man glasses attached to his head with a thick felt strap. Yet when he'd raise his paws you could see they were once powerful enough to strangle a man until his eyes popped out. Or stab him to death. Or beat him to death. Or pull a trigger. Or set off a bomb and more.

One of the victims was Paul Haggerty, who was 27 in 1976 when the Calabrese crew picked him up to question him about missing jewels. Haggerty was handcuffed, his eyes and mouth taped shut and tortured. Frank strangled him with a rope. They cut his throat and dumped him in the trunk.

On Wednesday, Haggerty's widow, Charlene Moravecek, confronted Calabrese as a parade of victim families told their stories to U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel.

"God bless you!" Calabrese told Moravecek. She rounded on him, shouting, "Don't you mock me! Don't! Your honor, I don't want to hear from him."

Calabrese's own son, Kurt—a convicted Outfit loan shark—appeared before Zagel as a victim, saying his father beat him, belittled him, threatened to bite the nose off his face and kill him. "He was more an enforcer than a father," Kurt said, turning to Frank. "And I want you to apologize for what you did to me and my brother."

Frank shouted that his sons and his hit man brother Nick, who turned federal witness, had betrayed him with lies. "You better apologize for the lies you are telling, that's what you better do!" Frank bellowed, the old man gone now, the Chinatown strangler rampant. "Tell them about the money you stole, the million dollars [cash] you stole from me and the $110,000 that didn't belong to you!" Frank Calabrese said, of mob cash he'd stashed away before going to prison in the 1990s. "If I was such a bad dad, why didn't I do anything to you then? You were treated like a king!"

Kurt stalked out of the courtroom, and I followed him down the hall, where he was leaning against a wall, emotional. "That's the last time I'm ever going to see my father," Kurt told me. "I just wanted him to apologize."

What about the missing $1 million? Did you take it? "No," Kurt said. "All I wanted was an apology. But you see how he was. He still thinks he's the boss."

Frank Calabrese finally got his say, insisting he never killed or beat anyone, that he helped Connie's Pizza, not merely charged them street tax, and that his juice loans were more user-friendly than payday loans. "I'm not no big shot," he said. "I'm not nothing but another human being." He added that his brother Nick was a coward. "Which is why I called him Alfredo, from ' The Godfather,' " speaking of the fictional Corleone who betrayed his own brother.

Zagel gave Frank Calabrese life in prison, saying he'd never seen a case in which two sons and a brother testified against a father. "Perhaps you didn't have a loving family," Zagel said. "Your crimes are unspeakable."

During the Family Secrets trial, the connection between Chicago politics and the Outfit came up often. In one bit of testimony in 2007, Mayor Richard Daley's friend Fred Bruno Barbara, the trucking boss and Rush Street investor, was identified by Nick Calabrese as a willing driver for mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra on bombing runs.

Daley got so angry when asked about Barbara that he turned purple and shrieked. The governor of Illinois could have called him "cuckoo."

For generations, the Outfit has formed the base of the iron triangle that runs things, and no understanding of politics in Illinois is complete without them.

Sentencing of other bosses continues on Monday. The dancing monkey show in Springfield will be over by then, but if the national media wants to understand Chicago, they should show up in federal court to see how the apes behave.

Thanks to John Kass

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cook County State's Attorney Candidate Lobbied for Reputed Mob Associate's Company

Larry Suffredin -- a self-styled reformer running for Cook County state's attorney -- lobbied for a landfill controlled by Fred Bruno Barbara, a businessman once charged with extortion and implicated in the mob bombing of a restaurant, the Sun-Times has learned.

Suffredin, a Cook County commissioner (D-Evanston), has come under attack by rivals for his work as a lobbyist on behalf of casino and drug-company interests. State records show he also lobbied for Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC -- a company tied to Barbara -- in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

"I don't think I've ever met Fred [Barbara] in my life," Suffredin said. "I didn't know he had an interest in it."

Barbara, 59, is a multimillionaire involved in trucking, waste hauling, banking, and other businesses. A friend of Mayor Daley's, Barbara at one time got more than 60 percent of his garbage-hauling business from city contracts. He has also been a consultant to the city's much-criticized blue bag recycling program. He has been arrested five times, including a 1982 arrest for extortion in an FBI sting. Barbara was acquitted in that case -- and has never been convicted of any crime.

During the Family Secrets mob trial last year, Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese said Barbara participated in the 1980s bombing of Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park. Barbara is the grandson of Bruno Roti Sr., an organized crime boss, and the nephew of late Ald. Fred Roti, who allegedly represented mob interests on the City Council.

Documents on file with the state list Barbara as Kankakee Regional's manager as far back as May 31, 2006. The company's address is given as 2300 S. Archer Ave., the address of other Barbara businesses. At a hearing held last June, an official from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency identified Barbara as one of three partners in the landfill.

Barbara did not return calls seeking comment.

Kankakee Regional has been trying to build a 240-acre dump in Kankakee since at least 2004. But the project has faced opposition from local groups and from Waste Management, the trash-removal giant that has a competing proposal. Kankakee Regional has been granted a development permit to build infrastructure but not to accept waste, according to IEPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson.

The project has been approved by the Kankakee city council and the Illinois Pollution Control Board, but it is bogged down in litigation and has not opened. In June 2007, Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Kankakee Regional for illegally dumping construction and demolition debris at the site. That suit and another are pending.

Tom Volini, one of the partners in the project, said the landfill is environmentally sound and the dumping was permitted by the city and under state law. "The issuance of the Illinois EPA permit is the best evidence of the soundness," said Volini, the brother-in-law of former 48th Ward alderman Marion Volini.

Suffredin -- who has made fighting political corruption central to his campaign for state's attorney -- said he "interacted with the Illinois EPA" and dealt with "hydrology issues" on the landfill's behalf.

Suffredin said he has not worked on the project in over a year, and pointed to a public filing made by his law firm, Shefsky & Froelich, stating it withdrew on July 27, 2007.

"Tom Volini is the only person I ever dealt with on this project," Suffredin said.

Suffredin said he was told "there was a falling out with the partners, and Tom was removed as the person in charge," prompting the Shefsky firm to stop representing the landfill. But in its own filing dated Aug. 23, 2007, Kankakee Regional lists both Suffredin and the Shefsky firm as its lobbyists. The company has not yet filed a lobbying disclosure form for 2008, according to the secretary of state's office.

Suffredin is competing in a tight race against five other candidates for the Democratic nomination to succeed state's attorney Dick Devine. The winner in the Feb. 5 primary will face Republican Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica. In a recent TV ad, Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool says of Suffredin, ''On the county board he's a reformer. He'll take on political corruption.''

Suffredin said he saw no problem with representing the Barbara-controlled company. "He's not been a client. He's been an owner of a client that I worked for ... If I had directly represented him, it'd bother me," Suffredin said.

Thanks to Eric Herman and Tim Novak

Black Hound New York - Valentine's Day Collection

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Fedzheimer's -- the terrible malady that saps the memories of politicians when the feds begin snooping around -- claimed another victim on Thursday:

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

I think he needs a nice Marco Island vacation -- Tommy D. style.

"I've never heard of that," the mayor said when asked by reporters about a front page Tribune exclusive that the FBI was investigating allegations that city inspectors were used to pressure property owners in Daley's 11th Ward to sell their land to politically connected developers.

Reporters: Are you aware of the investigation?

"No," Daley said.

It's not the first time he's been pixilated by Fedzheimer's. He usually recovers, until some underling gets indicted, then it flares up again. But this case seems especially severe.

The Daley family runs the 11th Ward. If inspectors were used to muscle local property for his friends, you could bet the inspectors pensions' the Daleys would know.

One of the developers reportedly involved is his loyal political supporter, and second favorite developer, Thomas DiPiazza. Tommy D., as he's known on Rush Street, is no chumbolone -- Bridgeport slang for idiot or fool.

No chumbolone could buy a polluted lot for $50,000 and sell it to Daley's administration a few years later for $1.2 million.

Tommy D. is a friend and business associate of Daley's top political brain, Tim Degnan. And, as I reported a few weeks ago, Tommy D. was also in business with a top convicted Outfit bookie from the 11th Ward, Raymond John Tominello, known as Rayjo.

Tommy D. is also close to Fred Bruno Barbara, the renowned trucking boss and mayoral fashionista. They own the pricey real estate under the famous Tavern on Rush, in the city's Viagra Triangle. But the mayor wasn't asked about Tavern on Rush. He was asked about Thursday's Tribune story by reporters Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty.

"I've never heard of that at all," said the mayor.

Fedzheimer's is heartbreaking. If the FBI keeps asking questions about DiPiazza, Degnan, and the alleged use of city inspectors to threaten property owners on deals backed by Tommy D. and Degnan, the Fedzheimer's might increase.

Daley might forget he's the mayor. And Tim Degnan might forget how to count.

So, as an amateur psychiatrist, I'd like to write a prescription. Let the FBI do its work, establishing what could someday turn into a racketeering case against somebody, and I'll prescribe a remedy for Daley and Degnan.

Degnan should go on a golf vacation, say to Ireland, and take the mayor's brother Michael and the mayor's former law partner and zoning lawyer Jack George along, to relax while smashing a little white ball.

I'll send the mayor to take the Tommy D. cure, in Florida, at Tommy D.'s gorgeous penthouses on Marco Island.

According to Florida real estate records, DiPiazza spent $5 million to purchase Penthouse 201 at the lush Madeira on Marco Island development on Sept. 18, 2006. That same day, Fred Bruno Barbara purchased Penthouse 202 at Madeira, for $5.5 million. Barbara didn't take any loans to buy the property, at least none leveraged against the penthouse. The penthouses were estimated between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet.

Also on Sept. 18, 2006, another DiPiazza/Barbara buddy and 11th Warder, city worker Charles Scalfaro, purchased Unit 1504 at Madeira, for $1.9 million. Scalfaro makes around $60,000 a year overseeing paving for the city's Department of Transportation. Collier County real estate records show that no loans were taken out to purchase Scalfaro's condo. Living on about $60,000 a year, no loan, Scalfaro must be a good saver.

One month later, the records show that Barbara and Scalfaro sold their Marco properties to a Tommy D. company. The records don't show how much was paid. A few days later, Tommy D. leveraged them, and another home he owned, for a $6.6 million loan from Cole Taylor Bank, records show.

It sure seems to be prudent investing. But, if the FBI wants to poke around in Florida, hey, it's a free country. I hope they take some sunscreen.

Marco Island is a nice place. My parents bought a retirement home there years ago, back when I covered City Hall and the mayor liked me. In those days, he was under stress, too, telling us how he was reforming the city, and I became worried for him. So I offered him the use of my folks' place, with a boat and pool, so he could rest.

Take the boat out, fish, catch some snook, drink beer, relax, I said. I wasn't taking. I was giving, to a reformer. He thought about it for a few days then politely declined. A few years later, my dad died and it was sold.

Today, any amateur shrink can see the Fedzheimer's gripping the mayor. He can't remember. He doesn't know.

Some quality time with Tommy D., and Freddie B., on Marco Island, reflecting on life's many mysteries might be just the thing.

Thanks to John Kass

Monday, July 23, 2007

Daley Refuses to Answer Questions on Pal's Mob Connections

Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

'Journalists don't carry guns . . . no, they carry the ink, the ink,'' railed Daley last Thursday at a City Hall news conference.

Hizzoner has been on a tear, ripping the local news media with the fury of a hurricane hitting the coast.

The mayor can be a bully at times.

Nobody wants to say it in so many words, but every department head at City Hall, certainly his 10 previous chiefs of staff who have been put through the mayoral wringer and spun out City Hall's revolving door, know what it's like to be in the woodshed. When they leave, their tongues have been torn out. Not one has ever publicly spoken of what it's like to work for Daley, understanding that it is best never to talk of he-who-shall-not-be-named.

The mayor's wrath was on full display last week. Part Jack Nicholson, part Richard Nixon, Daley roared like a blast furnace, lashed out like a wounded lion, fulminating when reporters dared to inquire about his relationship to Fred Barbara.

''I think it's ridiculous,'' fumed the mayor, refusing to answer, barking back at reporters, ''Any other questions?''

Barbara is a millionaire many times over thanks to lucrative connections to city waste hauling contracts, his wife's now-defunct trucking firm tied to the city's scandal-scarred Hired Truck program, and his ongoing banking business in partnership with well-connected politicians. But many years ago, long before he ever golfed or dined with the mayor or contributed thousands of dollars to Daley-backed candidates, Barbara had caught the eye of the feds. They believed he was mobbed up and indicted him in 1982 in a gambling and juice operation. Barbara was acquitted, never convicted of that or any other crime.

Suddenly, last Tuesday, Barbara's name was vaulted back into public view thanks to the massive Family Secrets mob trial playing out at the federal building. Nick Calabrese, aging hit man-turned-government-witness, told a spellbound courtroom about all manner of mob horrors, including how the Chicago Outfit blew up or burned down certain unlucky suburban restaurants. Fred Barbara, according to Calabrese, was a member of one of the mob's bombing crews back in the 1980s. Barbara didn't respond to my phone calls.

The front page Sun-Times headline the next day read, "Hit man: Daley pal in on mob bombing.''

For Daley, the ink hit the fan. The mayor was apoplectic. For two days, he lashed out at reporters.

''You have the power of the pen, you have a lot of power,'' he declared. ''We don't even know who you are.''

And yet he seems to know where we grew up.

''Most of you never grew up in Chicago,'' said the Baron of Bridgeport.

The problem is the mayor thinks everything is unfair these days. Just about any question, let alone criticism, rankles him. City Hall reporters take the brunt of the mayoral battering as the mayor castigates some of them for living in the suburbs, suggesting they don't really know or care about the city he loves.

He wags his finger, reminding the press of its own dirty laundry, like recently convicted Sun-Times press boss Conrad Black and his creepy, crooked right-hand man, David Radler.

''Look at all the scandals you have received as journalists, every day there is another article, I mean, c'mon, every day there's an article,'' said Daley. ''Every day there's someone, you know, doing some misconduct."

And then he lectures us on our cold hearts and callousness.

''You report a gun killing on Page 25," the mayor jabs triumphantly. ''How about that one? Because it's not your son or daughter. They're not poor. You have a lot of power, don't you realize that?''

We do.

Then again, so does the 19-year occupant of the City Hall's fifth floor.

Mayor Daley has a difficult job that he performs with passion and skill. And we in the press are no shrinking violets. We can take the bullying and the bluster. But at the end of the day, it wouldn't hurt, along with the journalism lecture, to just answer the question.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Banker Becomes Focus of Mob Testimony

Friends of ours: Frank "Toots" Caruso, Nicholas Calabrese, Bruno "The Bomber" Roti, Fred Roti
Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

Mayor Daley's friend Fred Bruno Barbara -- who found himself accused in court this week of participating in a mob bombing two decades ago -- has had a lot of jobs over the years. Truck driver. Garbage kingpin. Multimillionaire investor.

His latest: banker.

Barbara, who once was found not guilty of trying to collect an illegal "juice" loan from an undercover FBI agent, last year joined the boards of directors of two banks -- one in Evergreen Park, another on Chicago's Northwest Side.

Barbara, who once was found not guilty of trying to collect an illegal "juice" loan from an undercover FBI agent, last year joined the boards of directors of two banks -- one in Evergreen Park, another on Chicago's Northwest Side.

In April 2006, he was appointed to the board of Evergreen Community Bank. A Barbara business partner, car dealer Joseph Rizza, was already a board member. The bank was purchased by Evergreen Private Bank earlier this year, and Barbara and Rizza remain on the board. "Fred's been a very good board member," said Darin Campbell, president and chief executive of Evergreen Private Bank.

Last October, Barbara and state Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago) got state approval to join the board of Belmont Bank & Trust, founded last year by James J. Banks, a zoning attorney who is the nephew of Ald. William Banks (36th).

Barbara, 59, who has homes in Oak Brook and Palm Beach, Fla., has been arrested five times but never convicted of any crime, records show. So state regulators had no reason to exclude him from a bank board, according to state regulators. "These are allegations, and we can't and don't make licensing decisions because someone is alleged to have done something," said Scott Clarke, assistant director of banks and trusts for the Illinois Division of Banking.

With his application to join the Belmont Bank board, Barbara submitted documents to the state showing he and four reputed mobsters -- including his cousin Frank "Toots'' Caruso -- were found not guilty 24 years ago when they were charged with trying to collect an illegal high-interest loan from an undercover FBI agent.

In court testimony Tuesday, admitted mob hit man turned government informant Nicholas Calabrese said Barbara joined two reputed mobsters when they bombed the now-defunct Horwath's Restaurant, a well-known mob hangout in Elmwood Park.

Barbara -- a grandson of early Chicago mob boss Bruno "The Bomber'' Roti -- never was charged in connection with the Horwath's bombing. He didn't return calls for comment.

Barbara built a fortune as a city contractor, getting city trucking business while his uncle, the late Ald. Fred Roti, was a powerful member of the City Council and -- according to an FBI document made public after Roti died -- a "made" member of the mob.

Barbara sold his company, Fred Barbara Trucking, in 1997 in a deal that could have brought him as much as $100 million, records show. He became a consultant to the company that now operates the mayor's much-criticized blue-bag recycling program.

Barbara's wife, Lisa Humbert, had a trucking company that was fired from the city's Hired Truck Program after, in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation, the city determined she wasn't running the business, as she'd claimed. She'd gotten city work by claiming to have a women-owned business.

Thanks to Tim Novak

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

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.



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