The Chicago Syndicate: Harry Aleman
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Showing posts with label Harry Aleman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harry Aleman. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Judge with Distinquished History, Including with Jeff Fort El Rukn Trial and Mob Hitman Harry Aleman Retrial, Denied Endorsement by Democratic Party, in Reputed Retaliation Over Jussie Smollett Fake #MAGA Attack Case

The Cook County Democratic Party on Monday voted not to endorse the judge who ordered a special prosecutor to investigate how State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office prosecuted charges that actor Jussie Smollett staged a hate crime against himself.

The Tribune reported Cook County Democrats led by Foxx's former boss, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, voted to not endorse Toomin, citing an investigation of his record on overseeing the juvenile justice division, and not the Smollett case.

Toomin cited "unprecedented irregularities" in Foxx's handling of the Smollett case. He appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as a special prosecutor to investigate. Webb found Foxx and her office abused its prosecutorial discretion and lied to the public, but didn't commit crimes.

On Monday, Toomin issues a statement saying the Democratic Party "ignored 40 years of distinguished service and sought retribution" related to the Smollett case, according to published reports.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, said she was "deeply concerned" about the party's decision. "The optics of this are terrible it looks like retaliation. Not something we should have in this time and I'm deeply concerned about it," the mayor said at an unrelated news conference Monday.

Toomin has a long history handling high-profile cases. In 1988, he sentenced El Rukn gang leader Jeff Fort to 75 years in prison for murder. Toomin ordered a new trial for Chicago Outfit hitman Harry Aleman after it was determined he was acquitted on murder charges after a judge handling the case was bribed. Aleman was convicted and died in prison.

The Smollett case wasn't the first time Toomin ordered Webb to investigate whether political connections in the State's Attorney's office had stood in the way of justice.

In 2012, Toomin ordered a special prosecutor to investigate whether law enforcement officials suppressed evidence to impede the investigation of the death of David Koschman.

Ultimately, Webb indicted former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko of delivering the punch that led to Koschman's death. Vanecko ultimately pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

The Cook County Democrats also decided not to endorse Judge Mauricio Araujo, who has been accused of sexual harassment.

Among the judges that did win the party's support was Judge Jackie Portman-Brown, who was caught on video locking up a 10-year old girl in a courthouse jail cell earlier this year to teach her a lesson. Portman-Brown was placed on administrative duty following the incident.

Thanks to Mark Konkol.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Harry Aleman Dies in Prison

Much-feared Chicago mob hit man Harry Aleman has died in prison of cancer, prison officials said. (In-depth Harry Aleman Profile)

Aleman was convicted of killing Teamster steward William Logan in 1972, but was a suspect in more than 20 other killings, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday.

He was serving a 100- to 300-year sentence, having been convicted in 1997 in his second trial for the killing -- a trial conducted 20 years after his first trial for the murder, which ended with an acquittal.

The second trial was granted for the same crime as prosecutors argued the "double jeopardy" rule -- barring a second trial for the same crime -- did not apply because the judge in the first trial was found to have been bribed, which implied that trial did not put the defendant in any jeopardy.

"He was the hammer of the Chicago mob," the Chicago Tribune quoted former FBI agent Lee Flosi as saying about Aleman. "You never want him sitting in the back seat of your car."

Aleman died in the Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg, Ill. He was 71.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sharyn Elman said "there was no foul play" in the mobster's death.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Reputed Chicago Outfit Informant Battles Cook County State's Attorney for Child Custody

A politically connected Cook County state's attorney's office employee threatened to use her position to expose her ex-boyfriend as a federal informant against the Outfit, voice mail messages played in court suggest.

Prosecutors are investigating two cell phone messages that narcotics unit administrator Patti Simone left the father of her children, Nicky Rosales, during a bitter split earlier this year, Cook County State's Atty. Anita Alvarez's spokeswoman Sally Daly said. The tapes were played by Rosales on Friday for a family court judge handling the couple's custody battle.

In the first message, Simone refers to several alleged Outfit-connected suburbs and neighborhoods, threatening to expose Rosales unless he moves out of their Palos Hills apartment. "Everyone will know that you are working with the government," she warns. "Do you understand?"

In the second, Simone tells Rosales, "There are several investigators who will be more than happy to let certain people know you are cooperating with the Feds -- do you understand?"

Simone left the messages April 4 after Rosales told her he had a gun and implied he would abduct the couple's daughter and son, evidence showed.

Rosales had sent a series of "scary" text messages to her before she responded by recording the voice mail messages, an emotional Simone on Friday told Judge Martha Mills. "I thought he was capable of anything," Simone added, saying Rosales had held a gun to her head in 2008.

She and Rosales, who had been together on-and-off for 10 years, finally separated this spring. Mills on Friday awarded Simone a protection order against Rosales, saying she found his claims that he hadn't threatened Simone "incredible."

Rosales denies pending charges of violating an earlier interim protection order.

Daly said the state's attorney could still bring "disciplinary or criminal" charges against Simone over the voice mail messages.

Simone works in Alvarez's narcotics unit. She has continued to work at the Criminal Court building since the tapes surfaced. She is the daughter of Palos Township Democratic Committeeman Sam Simone.

The godfather to her children is Richie "The Cat" Catazone, reputed to run the Chicago Outfit's 26th Street gambling operation, while Rosales' cousin is convicted mob hit man Harry Aleman, Rosales said.

Speaking outside court, he denied being a federal informant.

Simone declined to comment. Her attorney, Joseph Parisi, said the judge's decision to grant an order of protection showed Simone was in the right.

FBI spokeswoman Virginia Wright declined to comment.

Thanks to Kim Jannsen

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rule 53

Andy Austin has dedicated the past 40 years to a life in crime.

Neither notorious suspect nor mob mole, she has played her part in the era’s highest profile cases—John Wayne Gacy’s among them—as Channel 7’s courtroom artist, with her sketches appearing on the nightly news. Her new book, Rule 53, takes its title from the federal statute that prohibits photography or the broadcasting of courtroom proceedings, and in it, Austin trades in the colored-pencil portraits for a captivating blend of trial transcripts, reporting and personal musings on the war waged daily between right and wrong.

An artist during the helter-skelter ’60s, Austin felt the action was not in painting “rotten oranges and apples in a makeshift [dining room] studio,” she says, but in the streets where momentous political, racial and sexual upheavals were under way. She wanted to exchange her still-life existence for the allure of trials.

When the artist assigned to the Chicago 8 conspiracy trial had another assignment, the young, normally shy Austin sensed her breakout moment and announced her talent to Channel 7 reporter Hugh Hill. She was hired on the spot and learned on the job. She nearly walked away from it, though, after a string of politically charged, occasionally violent cases left her rattled. But an ABC colleague, the late Jim Gibbons, lured her back. It was during one of the biggest cases of her career, the 1980 trial of serial killer Gacy, that she began keeping her courthouse journals.

“What I heard every day was so gruesome,” says Austin, “that I started writing just to preserve my sanity and keep my head together.”

Rule 53 spotlights ten trials and several posttrial proceedings, including the Chicago 8 fiasco, two Chicago mob prosecutions, the gangland El Rukns, corrupt judge Thomas Maloney and infamous mob hit man Harry Aleman. When we spoke with her, she was neck deep, sketching the most notorious case in recent memory: the Tony Rezko trial. While Austin sees courtroom drama as “the great bazaar of American life,” the book reads most clearly as a morality play, with the court holding center stage and hosting a fascinating cast of lawyers, low-lifes and once-high-fliers.

Occasionally, Austin herself plays a role in the show. She drew the attention of several defendants, including Abbie Hoffman, who slipped her a note wondering, “What’s a good-looking girl like you doing in a corrupt society like this?” A henchman of the El Rukns once warned her while she sketched a defendant, “You draw his wife, he breaks your legs.” (She wisely refrained.)

The transcripts’ cinema-verité style makes for a gripping portrayal of courtroom drama. The El Rukns and Maloney trials are particularly vivid page-turners and incisive feats of distillation and narrative drive. Austin continually creates riveting personality portraits of defendants, judges and prosecutors. A dead-on sketch of 1970s style reads: “Those were the days of roaring bad taste…when politicians wore enormous pinky rings and cufflinks, mobsters wore black silk shirts under white ties and a well-known Irish-American defense lawyer sported a bright Kelly green suit.” Austin also has razor-sharp hearing, ever on the snoop for telltale clues, like the repartee between lawyers: “What are you here for?” and the reply, “Just shit, what else?”

True to Austin’s calling, Rule 53 provides a balanced reenactment of a tumultuous period in Chicago’s legal life that seems more faithful to the issues and players involved than the episodic take of daily journalism.

“I don’t feel much moral outrage,” says Austin, of her time spent next to criminals. “I must say that political corruption is beginning to disgust me after having covered the Ryan and now the Rezko case.”

Thanks to Tom Mullaney

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lawsuit Claims Illinois Attorney General Office Falsely Accused Ex-Parole Board Member of Trading Vote on Mob Hit Man Harry Aleman

A former Illinois parole board member has filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other state officials, alleging they falsely accused him of trading his vote to free a notorious mob hit man.

A Sangamon County judge cleared Victor Brooks last year of charges he voted to free Harry Aleman in 2002 in exchange for help landing Brooks' son a job as a singer in Las Vegas. Former Corrections Department executive Ron Matrisciano was also cleared of related charges.

Brooks contends Madigan, her assistants, state police officials or former colleagues on the Prisoner Review Board wrongly accused him or provided false information to investigators. He is seeking more than $2 million, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

A Madigan spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday. Aleman remains in prison serving 100 to 300 years for killing a Teamsters official.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chicago Democrats and the Chicago Mob

Barack Obama's key fund raiser, Tony Rezko, went on trial last week. It's important to take a broader look at America's most corrupt large city: Chicago. (We apologize from the outset,some links no longer exist or passages we quote never existed on the web.) Chicago has had a Democratic Mayor since 1931,and today in 2008,49 of 50 Chicago Aldermen are Democrats.This long post is about the Chicago Mob and the Democratic Party machine.
Former Alderman Dick Simpson, who's now a professor at University of Illinois-Chicago, has some disturbing numbers on Chicago and Illinois politicians:

Since 1973, the U.S. attorney has indicted 30 aldermen and convicted 27 (one died before trial and two stand trial this spring). The Public Corruption and Accountability Project at UIC calculates that there have been more than 1,000 local and state governmental officials convicted since the 1970s. The "corruption tax," or cost of government corruption for Cook County residents, is now more than $300 million a year, greater than the local government tax increases this year. We can't really afford more local "Hired Truck" schemes, patronage hiring, or the state pension and driver license scandals of recent years.
Sounds like becoming an elected Alderman in Chicago has an unusual felony conviction rate,which certainly says something about the people who seek elected office in Chicago and the voters who put them in office.Yes,there have been many corrupt Aldermen in Chicago. But,one man stands above all other in terms of institutionalizing corruption in Chicago: Alderman Fred Roti.

Unless we understand the prolific criminal legacy of Alderman Roti,we can't understand how today,in 2008,Alderman Roti along with his friends,relatives,and associates have turned Chicago's city government into a racketeering enterprise.We must go back in time to a Chicago Tribune article on February 14,1982 titled BEST AND BRIGHTEST NO MATCH FOR OLD GUARD AT CITY HALL to understand the power of Alderman Roti:
Roti has placed nearly as many city employees on the payroll as the city personnel department,and many of them are his own family members.This is not a new trend under [Mayor] Byrne,however.Under former Mayors Richard Daley and Michael Bilandic,members of the Roti clan have always had spectacular success gaining public employment.Last fall it was disclosed that Roti family payrollers include his daughter,Rosemary,a press aide to Mayor Byrne at $25,992 a year;and Rosemary's husband,Ronald Marasso,who had been promoted from city painter to $34,000 -a -year general manager of maintenance at O'Hare International Airport.Fourteen other Roti clan members were on various other city payrolls.Because of his ward number,Roti's name is always called first during council roll calls,and he revels in that privilege.His initial response gives other administration alderman their cue as to what Roti-and,therefore,the mayor-wants.It's often said that roll calls could stop after Roti votes-the outcome is already known.Roti,an affable fellow, controls the Chicago City Council with an iron fist.
Years later in May of 2006,The Chicago Sun-Times gave a more disturbing explanation of who Alderman Fred Roti really was:
Roti became 1st Ward alderman in 1968. He soon became one of the most powerful, well-liked and respected members of the City Council. Roti was also a "made member" of the mob, according to the FBI
Think about it,the Chicago Mob ran a "made-member" for political office to take control of a city.This is why the Chicago Mob went on to become the most powerful organized crime family in all of U.S. history.As criminal defense attorney Robert Cooley explains the history of Chicago :
The city’s grim reputation is rooted back in the Roaring Twenties when Al Capone emerged victorious from gang warfare and went on to become a household name. Oddly enough, far less is known about his successors and their grip on the city during the last half of the twentieth century. But that is when Chicago’s Mafia became the single most powerful organized crime family in American history. While Mob bosses knocked each other off on the East Coast, in Chicago they united into a monolithic force called the Outfit. They would literally control the cops, the courts and the politicians – a corrupt trifecta that Capone dreamed about, but never came close to achieving. The Outfit demanded a cut of every criminal enterprise in the region, from a lowly car theft or private poker game to a jewelry heist. To enforce this “street tax,” their Hit Men killed with impunity, knowing that crooked judges would throw out any case against them. Their bookies brazenly took bets in nightclubs, at racetracks and even in government office buildings, confident that contacts in the police department (at one point as high up as the Chief of Detectives) would warn them before the vice squad could make a raid. Mobsters ran Chicago union locals, and national organizations for the Laborers and the Teamsters. This unprecedented combination of brute force and political clout let the bosses feed at the public trough with no-show jobs for their goons and municipal contracts for themselves and their associates. Government became one of their most lucrative rackets.

In his 1969 book, Captive City, investigative journalist Ovid Demaris called the Outfit, “the most politically insulated and police-pampered ‘family’ this side of Sicily” and estimated, even then, that their take was in the billions. With such total domination of their home turf, they could wander far and wide. By the Seventies, the FBI reported that Chicago’s Mob controlled all organized criminal activity west of the Mississippi – including and especially Las Vegas. Millions were skimmed from casinos like the Tropicana and the Stardust, and bundles of cash, stuffed in green army duffel bags, found their way back to the Outfit’s bosses. Meanwhile New York’s mobsters had to content themselves with the slim pickings of Atlantic City.
Here's an amazing chart of the Roti family from May 2006 from the Chicago Sun-Times(remember this is a conservative chart,the black dots are "made-members" of the Chicago Mob).

With all of Alderman Roti's power it's instructive to look at two of his major accomplishments in strengthening the power grip of the Chicago Mob over Chicago.The Chicago Mob couldn't operate without a corrupt police force.When Mayor Byrne had honest Superintendent Joe DiLeonardi run things for a while Alderman Roti put his foot down.As Robert Cooley explains:
According to Roti,he issued an ultimatum to Her Honor:either she got rid of DiLeonardi,or the municipal unions would shut down the city during the upcoming contract negotiations.Just as the Mob thought she would,Jane Byrne buckled.
With DiLeonardi gone,Roti demanded that William Hanhardt be appointed Chief of Detectives.Hanhardt was the Chicago Mob's long term plant on the police force.The position of Chief of Detectives is the fifth highest ranking position in the Chicago Police Department.Here's a quote from a federal indictment on Hanhardt and his achievements as a Chicago Police Officer and running the most successful jewelry theft ring in United States history :


1. At all times material to this indictment:

(a) From July 13, 1953, until his retirement on pension as a captain on March 26, 1986, defendant WILLIAM A. HANHARDT was employed by the Chicago police Department (CPD"), and held several supervisory positions, including Chief of Detectives, Chief of Traffic, Commander of the Burglary Section, Deputy Superintendent for the Bureau of Inspectional Services, and District Commander. For a portion of the period of the indictment until the date of the indictment, defendant HANHARDT resided at 835 Heather Road, Deerfield, Illinois.
Defendant WILLIAM A. HANFLARDT (hereafter "HANHARDT^), was the leader of the enterprise. In that capacity he supervised codefendant JOSEPH N. HASINSKI and together they directed the activities of others employed by and associated with the enterprise- HANHARDT directed the other defendants and others in their gathering of information on potential jewelry theft victims and the surveillance of several such individuals. He utilized certain CPD[Chicago Police Department] officers to do database searches of CPD and other law enforcement computers to obtain information concerning jewelry salespersons. Similarly, he caused a private investigator to conduct credit bureau database searches and other database searches to gather information concerning individuals who were traveling jewelry salespersons. At times, HANHARDT used the telephone at his residence at 835 Heather Road, Deerfield, Illinois, to direct certain defendants and others to further the interests of the enterprise. HANHARDT personally participated in the theft of jewelry.
So,Hanhardt loaded up the Chicago Police Department with individuals who'd help him commit criminal acts long after leaving the police force.To understand the magnitude of Hanhardt's danger to Chicago citizens we'll quote U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 2001:
"It's remarkable that a person who was chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department admits to being part of a racketeering conspiracy," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said afterward.
"There's no controversy over whether Mr. Hanhardt is guilty -- he stood up in court and said that today," Fitzgerald said.
Here's what U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar said about Hanhardt's operation:
"Hanhardt's organization surpasses, in duration and sophistication, just about any other jewelry theft ring we've seen,"
With the appointment of Hanhardt to Chief of Detectives, what else could Alderman Roti and the Chicago Mob do to become a more effective criminal organization?? Disarm the citizens of Chicago so they'd be no match for the Chicago Mob and corrupt Chicago police officers.Guess who lead the fight for gun control in Chicago and voted on Chicago's strict gun control ordinance leaving innocent Chicago citizens defenseless against corrupt police officers like Hanhardt and his cronies? None other than Alderman Roti.As the Chicago Tribune reported on March 20,1982 in an article titled MAYOR'S FORCES WIN HANDGUN CURB:
As Friday's council session began,[Mayor]Byrne feared the vote was too close to call.There was extensive backroom debate to determine if the matter should be brought up.But,Byrne allies,primarily Alderman Fred Roti(1st),Edward Burke(14th)and Wilson Frost(34th),moved through the council chambers,persuading wavering aldermen to back the mayor's proposals.Still,Some of Byrne's staunchest allies,including Alderman Robert Shaw(9th) and Richard Mell(33rd),deserted ranks and voted against the ordinance.Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Donovan made a last-minute deal with at least three aldermen who threatened to walk out of the meeting to avoid voting for the proposal.Donovan promised to improve city services in their wards.
Today,in 2008,Chicago has a major police corruption problem because of the handgun ban.Here's a recent look at Chicago's elite police officers officers:
A major police corruption probe is under way in Chicago.

Its target: an elite police tactical unit. Its alleged ringleader: a highly decorated police officer who, with other cops, allegedly committed home invasions and robberies.
In 1999,the Justice Department announced to America what many had long suspected:Alderman Roti was a "high ranking made member" of the Chicago Mob(look at pages 27 and 47 of this civil racketeering indictment).Here's the description of Alderman Roti:
FRED B. ROTI, a politically powerful former Chicago First Ward alderman, is the uncle of former CLDC president/ business manager Bruno Caruso and former CLDC official and Pension Fund Director Frank "Toots" Caruso. In 1992, in the case of United States v. Pat Marcy, et al. 90 CR 1045 (N.D. Illinois), Fred Roti was convicted of RICO conspiracy, bribery and extortion regarding the fixing of criminal cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County, including murder cases involving organized crime members or associates and was sentenced to 48 months' imprisonment. Roti was released from prison in 1997. As First Ward alderman, Roti was a key political patronage boss and, along with his co‑defendant Pat Marcy, a fixer for the Chicago Outfit. Roti has directly participated in interfering with the rights of the members of LIUNA in the selection of their officers and officials in that he has improperly influenced the selection of officers of the CLDC and has been responsible for the pervasive hiring of LaPietra crew members and associates at the Chicago streets and sanitation department. Roti is a made member of the Chicago Outfit.

Two points of note here on the above quote.LaPietra is the infamous Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra ,Chicago Mob Capo who earned his nickname by torturing people by putting them on meat hooks.Pat Marcy,at the time of his indictment,in the early 1990's was one of the people Roti reported to in the Chicago Mob.Marcy was the number 3 man in the Chicago Mob.Here's the New York Times on the Roti and Marcy operation:
This is at least the third major Federal inquiry into official corruption in the Chicago courts and political system within recent years. Operation Graylord, a sweeping investigation into corruption in the Cook County courts, has resulted in the convictions of more than 70 people, including 15 judges, since the mid-1980's. Operation Incubator has obtained about a dozen convictions or guilty pleas, including those from five members of the City Council and a former aide to the late Mayor Harold Washington. 'Fixed' Murder Trials

Among the accusations are that two of the men were involved in efforts to fix two separate murder trials. In both instances, the murder defendants were acquitted by judges, who heard the cases without juries.

In the first murder case, prosecutors say Pasquale Marcy, a 77-year-old official in the First Ward Democratic organization, fixed the 1977 murder trial of Harry Aleman, who was accused of killing a teamsters' union steward, by paying $10,000 to the judge assigned to hear the case. In the second, Mr. Marcy and Fred Roti, the First Ward's Alderman since 1969, are accused of having accepted $75,000 in exchange for fixing the trial of three men accused of a 1981 murder in the city's Chinatown neighborhood.

The indictment does not name the judges who presided over the murder cases. Prosecutors refused to answer further questions at the news conference about the murder cases beyond the few details laid out in the indictments.

The allegations involving the murder cases are in the first of the three indictments. That indictment charges Mr. Marcy and Mr. Roti with multiple counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and extortion in various attempts to fix a wide range of matters, including the results of civil bench trials, other criminal cases, zoning chanaes and judicial appointments. Indictment of Judge

In the second indictment, Federal prosecutors named David J. Shields, 58, formerly the presiding judge of the Chancery Division of the Cook County Circuit Court; and Pasquale F. De Leo, 45, a lawyer, on charges of extortion, false statements and other criminal acts in connection with attempts to fix a civil case -- filed by undercover Federal agents posing as litigants -- before Judge Shields in 1988.

In the third indictment, prosecutors charged John A. D'Arco Jr., 46, an Illinois State Senator for 13 years, with extortion and tax fraud. The indictment says Mr. D'Arco, whose district includes parts of Mr. Roti's ward, extorted $7,500 in exchange for promising to introduce into the Legislature a bill to allow a travel insurance business to sell insurance without the required state license.
With Alderman Roti and Pat Marcy indicted the Chicago Mob was never the same.The frequent Mob killings stopped because the Mob couldn't be guaranteed any longer of going up in front of judges on their pad.So who took control of Chicago's political system? One of Alderman Roti's colleagues,a close friend,Alderman Ed Burke.

Most of America thinks Mayor Daley runs Chicago.Those on the inside know that's not the case.The man who runs Chicago from behind the scenes,since the early 1990's, is Alderman Ed Burke,Chairman of Chicago's Finance Committee.Burke went from being an errand boy for Alderman Roti to the most powerful elected figure in the state of Illinois.In a corrupt state like Illinois,the guy with the most money in his campaign fund is the man at the top.In Illinois,it's not Chicago's Mayor Daley or Governor Blagojevich but Alderman Burke.The Chicago Tribune explains:
But the state’s richest political family was Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. Together, their political committees held $8.3 million in cash. The Tribune reported Monday that Anne Burke’s campaign was returning a large portion of her cash to donors because she is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, who traditionally ceases fundraising after elections, raised just $43,000 in the last six months, but had $3.1 million in cash on hand.
The guy with the most money obviously had the track record to get things done.Alderman Burke has never had a serious opponent run against him but sure has amassed a massive campaign fund.Not only is Burke the boss of Chicago's City Council, he's the person that slates all the judges in Cook County.With all judges in Cook County members of the Democratic Party, that makes Ed Burke the boss of the judicial branch.No man in America has more unchecked power than Alderman Burke with his control of the tax code in Chicago and the judicial branch of government.Alderman Burke also runs a law firm in the property tax appeals business:
The primary focus of the firm involves contesting real estate tax assessments in the office of the respective county assessors, before boards of review and, when appropriate, in the trial and appellate courts.
Recently, a founder of Illinois Family Court Accountability Advocates (IFCAA) has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to investigate Alderman Burke and his wife justice Ann Burke.One of the allegations concerned fixing a murder trial for Alderman Roti :
I am co-founder of the non-profit organization known as Illinois Family Court Accountability Advocates (IFCAA) which was created to stop the public corruption in the family courts in Illinois that is hurting the children of Illinois families.

Multiple IFCAA co-members, including myself, have had or are having our cases heard in the domestic relations court of the Circuit Court of Cook County in which it is apparent that rampant, unchecked, improper, and illegal activities have taken and are taking place.

It is clear that the corruption does not just involve a few judges and attorneys on the trial level. The material evidence in court records reveals that the corruption is systemic up through the reviewing courts. Further research has revealed that a critical intervention point is with the individual primarily responsible for which attorneys end up on the Chicago bench, specifically, Alderman Edward Burke.

One could argue with confidence that there is no way Chicago’s court system can or will be cleaned up until there is an investigation of Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, the newest appointee of the Illinois Supreme Court, Justice Anne Burke.

I have read the book, When Corruption Was King, by Robert Cooley, and have been in contact with him. Mr. Cooley is the former criminal attorney who was responsible for the FBI investigation, Operation Gambat, which resulted in the successful prosecution and conviction of three judges, one alderman, several attorneys, and multiple other Circuit Court of Cook County and City of Chicago officials. After reading Mr. Cooley’s book, I researched other sources regarding the professional and personal backgrounds of Justice Anne Burke and her husband, Edward, the longtime alderman from the 14th Ward, and the powerful and influential chairman of Chicago’s City Council's finance committee and chairman of the Democratic Party’s judicial slate-making subcommittee, the alleged “gatekeeper” of who becomes a judge in Chicago’s courts.

As a resident of the State of Illinois, I am writing to you and all your colleagues on the Illinois Supreme Court to formally request an investigation of Justice Anne Burke and her husband as well as others who were specifically named by Mr. Cooley in his book, When Corruption Was King. I am formally requesting that you, as a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, cause an investigation to be initiated by the appropriate authorities.

I respectfully call your attention to the information and allegations presented herein as well as to your Oath of Office, and to the absolute duty to report misconduct of judges and attorneys under Illinois Supreme Court Rules, which rules mandate an investigation of the allegations herein. [Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 63 (B)(3)(a) and/or Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 8.3(a)&(b); See Endnotes.] Further, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District opinion entered on November 1, 2005 in Case No. 05 C 0283, Golden and Golden v. Nadler, Pritikin & Mirabelli, LLC, et al, stated in pertinent part, “The court notes that Illinois attorneys have an absolute duty to report misconduct of other attorneys. See Skolnick v. Altheimer & Gray, 191 Ill.2d 214, 226, 730 N.E.2d 4, 246 Ill. Dec. 324 (2000)”

In Mr. Cooley’s book, he specifically stated that Alderman Ed Burke contacted Judge Cieslak, recently deceased, regarding at least two murder cases and tried to influence his decision on those cases. In his book, that was printed and distributed nationally, Mr. Cooley stated that Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, were involved in a molestation case that he, himself, was asked to fix. After these allegations were published, when Alderman Ed Burke and his wife, Justice Anne Burke, were asked to comment on the allegations, they stated, “No comment.”

These and other very serious allegations that were made sometime ago about these individuals have gone unopposed and uninvestigated After these allegations were made public, Justice Anne Burke was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court and her attorney husband, Alderman Ed Burke, has been allowed to remain as Chairman of the Democratic Committee that slates judges.

After I read the book, I was able to make contact with Robert Cooley and he told me that he was informed years ago that Ed Burke was to be indicted for a number of illegal activities he was involved in, including the fixing of murder cases. He also told me that there were a number of cases he was involved in fixing and a number of other illegal activities and yet no one from any state investigative agencies ever contacted him or the late Judge Cieslak nor anyone else who witnessed illegal acts involving the Burkes. [He indicated that the Burkes are still involved in alleged illicit activities including recently attempting to get the Emerald City Casino license returned to a number of close friends.] He told me that within the past year, Judge Cieslak gave an interview to two members of the media in which Judge Cieslak verified that all the allegations made in Cooley’s book were true. After the judge gave the interview, the two separate reporters specifically told Mr. Cooley that they were “not allowed to do the story because it involves Ed Burke.”

Mr. Cooley told me that he has talked to a number of people and has provided information about Ed and Anne Burke similar to that which resulted in indictments and convictions in Operation Gambit. He told me that major newspaper and television entities flat out told him that they could not do a substantive story on Ed Burke or Anne Burke.

Cammon and Remy Murder Cases

In his book, Mr. Cooley stated Ed Burke and Anne Burke along with Attorney Pat Tuite fixed a murder case before Judge Maloney. Herbert Cammon’s case was a murder case in which it was alleged that Herbert Cammon, a gay black man, murdered his wife with the help of his gay lover by stabbing her over 40 times and leaving the knife sticking out of her mouth. It was alleged that he murdered his wife to obtain the proceeds of a $250,000 life insurance policy. The case was originally assigned to Judge Arthur Ceilsik. After a mistrial because of a hung jury, Ed Burke approached Judge Cieslik and told him to withdraw from the case. When the judge refused to withdraw from the case, he told the judge, “What’s the big deal. It’s only a fucking nigger.”[1] Ed Burke’s wife, Anne, had filed an appearance in the case as co-counsel with Pat Tuite. Anne Burke also requested that the judge withdraw from the case saying, “My husband was the one who put you on the bench.” [Judge Cieslek lived in the 14th ward.] When the judge finally withdrew from the case due to media pressure initiated by the attorneys, the case was assigned to Judge Tom Maloney. Judge Maloney dismissed the case in a bench trial. Cooley revealed that he was wearing a wire when the aforementioned events took place such that the FBI was fully informed. Cooley revealed that he was in communication with Judge Cieslik and he tried to encourage the judge to not let the case go. He also reported to the feds that the case would be assigned to Judge Maloney who would fix the case.

Mr. Cooley revealed that this was the second murder case that Ed Burke tried to fix before Judge Ceislak. Prior to the Cammon case, Cooley wrote about a murder case that Ed Burke tried to fix before Judge Cieslik as a favor to one of the mob bosses, Angelo “The Hook” LaPeitra. This was the Remy murder case in which some Chicago Police officers beat a black man to death for smoking on an “L” train. Cooley stated in the book that one of the police officers was a relative of LaPeitra. He also reported that when Ed Burke was talking to Attorney Sam Banks, Ed Burke made similar racist statements as in the Cammon murder case, specifically, “It’s only a fucking nigger. I can’t see why the judge is making such a big deal about it.”

He also reported that when Ed Burke was in Counselors Row he made a similar racist statement as in the Cammon case. When he specifically said to the group at the First Ward table “I can’t see why the judge is making such a big deal about it. It’s only a fucking nigger.”

At the time the book came out, Anne Burke was a sitting judge on the appellate bench and she never sued the author or publisher when they made these statements. The accusations appear to be true.

A report by Abdon M. Pallasch from Chicago Lawyer dated January 1998 stated that WBBM-TV reported “U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated rumors in 1988 that [Ed] Burke bribed judges to fix two murder cases.”

Why weren’t Anne Burke and/or Ed Burke questioned about their involvement in the Cammon or Remy murder cases? If there was an investigation, why weren’t Judge Arthur Cieslik or Attorney Robert Cooley interviewed?

Politicians are called many things but fixing a murder trial is well... very serious business.Just why didn't Alderman Burke sue Robert Cooley for claiming Alderman Burke fixed a murder trial for the Chicago Mob?

With Tony Rezko's trial,who do you think Rezko went to for some legal work? None other than Alderman Ed Burke.The Chicago Sun Times reports:
Why did Ald. Edward M. Burke vote to approve Tony Rezko’s plans to develop the South Loop’s biggest piece of vacant land even as he was working for Rezko on that same deal?

Burke says: I forgot to abstain.

Burke says: I forgot to abstain.

The much-conflicted alderman says he meant to sit out the vote. He’d even sent a letter to the Chicago Board of Ethics in August 2003 saying he would abstain from any Council votes on Rezko’s plan to put as many as 5,000 homes and stores on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River at Roosevelt Road.

The much-conflicted alderman says he meant to sit out the vote. He’d even sent a letter to the Chicago Board of Ethics in August 2003 saying he would abstain from any Council votes on Rezko’s plan to put as many as 5,000 homes and stores on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River at Roosevelt Road.

But then Rezko’s project came before the City Council on March 31, 2004, and Burke cast his vote — in favor.

“An error occurred,” the alderman said in a written response to questions, “and Rule 14 was not invoked.”

That would be the Council rule under which aldermen are supposed to abstain from a vote when they have a conflict of interest.

Of course, it’s up to the alderman who has a conflict to invoke the rule.

Burke’s legal work for Rezko’s Rezmar Corp. is referenced in records on the 62-acre site Rezko wanted to develop with $140 million in city subsidies. The project fizzled, and Rezmar sold the land.

Rezko has since been indicted on federal corruption charges that accuse him of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state contracts under Gov. Blagojevich.

When Burke voted for Rezko’s project, the alderman’s law firm was trying to get a 77 percent cut in the site’s real estate taxes, arguing that Cook County Assessor James Houlihan was wrong to have used the sale price to determine the property’s value.

If it had succeeded, the appeal would have saved Rezmar more than $390,000 in real estate taxes. And Burke would have gotten 20 percent of that savings, according to Daniel Mahru, Rezko’s former partner.

But Burke lost and got nothing. Because he didn’t get paid, he never had to publicly disclose his legal work for Rezmar.

“The ordinance did not require me to disclose that my law firm represented this company,” Burke said in his statement to the Sun-Times. “The rule is very simple: You must receive ‘compensation in excess of $5,000,’ as outlined in the city’s own disclosure form. In fact, my law firm received no compensation at all.”

Burke spent at least six months trying to win the tax cut for Rezko:

• On Nov. 24, 2003, Burke asked Houlihan to lower the assessed value. He didn’t get what he wanted.

• On Dec. 16, 2003, Rezmar hired Burke to appeal to the Cook County Board of Review.

• On March 31, 2004, Burke joined fellow aldermen to approve Rezko’s development plans for the 62-acre site.

• On May 25, 2004, Burke appealed to the Board of Review, which refused to give Rezmar a tax break.

Burke has a history of voting on legislation involving his legal clients. Ten years ago, the Sun-Times found Burke voted to approve city leases for two airlines represented by his law firm. Burke then used a rare parliamentary move to change four “yes” votes to abstentions. Burke blamed those “yes” votes on the late Ald. Thomas Cullerton, claiming he told Cullerton that he planned to abstain from voting on the airline leases.
In conclusion,Alderman Roti is gone but his legacy lives on.On August 11,1999 the Justice Department named Alderman Roti as a high ranking "made member" of the Chicago Mob.Did Roti deny it? No.He died just weeks later on September 20,1999.When the Chicago City Council came back to meet on September 29,1999 one of the first orders of business was to honor the life of Alderman Roti.No we aren't joking.Being convicted for felonies on the job as Alderman Roti was, is to be honored by Chicago Democrats.We'll quote to you the full resolution entered on pages 11238,11239,and 11240 of the Journal-City Council-Chicago on September 29,1999 :
The Honorable Richard M.Daley,Mayor,presented the following communication:
September 29,1999.
To the Honorable,The City Council of the City of Chicago:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN--I transmit herewith a resolution honoring the life and memory of Alderman Fred B. Roti.

Your favorable consideration of this resolution will be appreciated.

Very truly yours,
(Signed) Richard M.Daley


Alderman Burke moved to Suspend the Rules Temporarily to permit immediate consideration of and action upon the said proposed resolution.The motion Prevailed.

The following is said proposed resolution:

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti passed away on Monday,September 20,1999,at the age of seventy-eight;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti,one of eleven children,the son of southern Italian immigrants,was born in an apartment over a store in Chinatown,the near south die neighborhood where he spent his whole life;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti spent more than fifty years in government service,the jobs ranging form state senator to city drain inspector to a post at the city morgue;and

WHEREAS,In 1968 Fred B. Roti was elected alderman of Chicago's great 1st Ward;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti loved his work as alderman,and he counseled mayors,encouraged downtown development,helped shape the Chicago skyline and served the citizens of the 1st Ward ably and with vigor until 1991;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti's talents,hard work and friendly,humorous manner earned him the respect and affection of former colleagues,constitutients,citizens and the press;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti is remembered as a kind,considerate person,who had great love for his family and community;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti is survived by his loving son,Bruno;his loving daughters,Rose Mary Marasso and Mary Ann Walz;and his two sisters;and

WHEREAS,Fred B. Roti was much loved by his six grandchildren;and

WHEREAS,Fred B.Roti, a committed public servant, a cherished friend of many and good neighbor to all,will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by his many family members,friends and associates;now therefore,

Be it Resolved,That we ,the Mayor and members of the City Council of the City of Chicago,assembled this twenty-ninth day of September,1999,do hereby extend to the family of the late Fred B. Roti our deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies upon their loss;and

Be it Further Resolved,That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to the family of the late Fred B. Roti as a sign of our sympathy and good wishes.

On motion of Alderman Burke,seconded by Aldermen Granato,Tillman,Beavers,Balcer,Rugai,Solis,Suarez,Mell,Allen,O'Connor,Natarus,Hansen and Schulter,the foregoing proposed resolution was Adopted by a rising vote.

At this point in the proceedings,The Honorable Richard M. Daley,Mayor,rose and on behalf of his own family and the people of Chicago extended condolences to the family of former Alderman Fred Roti.Mayor Daley remembered the Alderman as a true Chicagoan who served his constituents without regard to wealth or status,as a public official who refused to permit the intensity of the political debate to impinge upon the civility of personal relationships.Fred Roti loved politics and loved government because he loved people,Mayor Daley declared,and he leaves his family a legacy of public service.

There you have it: Mayor Daley,Alderman Burke, and the rest of the Chicago City Council believes a "high ranking made member" of the Chicago Mob was a "committed public servant" and "leaves his family a legacy of public service".These are the values of the Chicago Democratic Machine.

Thanks to Steve Bartin

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gangster Graveyard

Friends of ours: Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto, Joseph Ferriola, Gerald Scarpelli, James Peter Basile, Harry Aleman

After learning his mobster brothers planned to kill him, the stocky bank robber figured his only way out alive was to turn FBI informant.

So, for 16 months, the self-professed soldier secretly recorded 186 conversations with his Chicago Outfit associates. He also detailed about 40 unsolved mob murders.

It was during one of those chats that FBI agent Jack O'Rourke said his informant nonchalantly mentioned a mob graveyard in southeast DuPage County near the former home of syndicate enforcer Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, imprisoned at the time for a London jewelry heist. "What are you talking about?" O'Rourke, now a private consultant, recalls asking. "He said it was common knowledge."

For five months, an elite FBI-led task force excavated many acres near Route 83 and Bluff Road, near Darien. They found bodies of two low-level wise guys before calling it quits in October 1988.

Nearly 20 years later, the group's early intelligence work remains significant. It laid part of the foundation for the Family Secrets trial under way in Chicago in which five defendants are accused of racketeering conspiracy in an indictment that outlines 18 murders, gambling and extortion.

A construction crew also resurrected the field's ominous past in March 2007 after unearthing a third body just north of the site.

It's unknown if more vanquished mobsters remain there undiscovered. A fabled 45-carat gem known as the Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole also was never found. Some theorize he hid it on his property. And, finally, just who is the turncoat who led FBI agents long ago to the burial site?

For decades, Chicago gambling kingpin Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto was a loyal soldier. That changed in February 1983 when he survived three gunshots in a botched hit. Eto played possum, and later turned informant. His would-be killers were later found dead in a trunk in Naperville - the price for not getting the job done right.

Eto proved to be a valued government witness before his Jan. 23, 2004 death, but he was not the one who led authorities to the graveyard. His attempted assassination, though, in part sparked the formation of the organized crime task force of FBI, Chicago, state and local officials in the mid-1980s to curb such mob violence.

An early goal was to bring down the crime family or "crew" of mob boss Joseph Ferriola of Oak Brook, who operated lucrative gambling rackets from Cicero to Lake County until his 1989 death.

Members of the task force said they focused on Gerald Scarpelli, who along with Scalise, known as Whiterhand because he was born minus four fingers, were Ferriola's busiest hitmen.

About this time, another mob guy started getting cold feet. O'Rourke identified him as James Peter Basile, a convicted Chicago bank robber best known as "Duke." Basile already had the FBI zeroing in on him for a 1983 race track robbery in Crete. So, after he also learned Scarpelli, his longtime associate, was planning to kill him, Basile realized he had no other choice but to break the mob's code of silence.

For 16 months, he helped the FBI listen in on his chats with Scarpelli and other associates before serving a few years in prison for the race track robbery and slipping into a witness protection program in the early 1990s.

Basile re-emerged briefly in June 1996 at a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing. "I finally decided to do something because it seemed there was no way out," he testified. "I began informing on the mob."

It was during one of his recordings of Scarpelli that the FBI first learned of the DuPage County graveyard. Basile later took them to the site, near Scalise's former home. The FBI heard there could be as many as seven bodies buried in the field.

It was painstaking work. For five months, task force members traded in suits, badges and guns for jeans, chain saws and shovels. They dug up acres of soil, trees and drained a pond. Members hand sifted truckloads of dirt through mesh screens for trace evidence. "We were meticulous," said Jerry Buten, a retired 30-year FBI supervisor. "This was way before CSI, but we knew the way you solve most major crimes was through physical evidence."

Authorities speculated the field held victims of the infamous chop shop wars of the 1970s, when the mob seized control of the stolen auto-parts trade and wiped out uncooperative dealers.

State police stood guard 24 hours a day. Large canopies were erected to block circling media helicopters. But they weren't the only pests. "I gave an order that anyone who came in was given a pair of work gloves because I got tired of all the suits showing up just to look at us," former DuPage Coroner Richard Ballinger said. "We'd spend 12 hours out there, come back to the office to do more work and sleep, then go back out the next morning."

On May 16, 1988, members unearthed the first skeletal remains. On June 9, a second shallow grave was found. Both men were shot to death.

Authorities brought in experts from across the country, from archaeologists to soil scientists, including top forensic anthropologist Dr. Clyde Snow of Oklahoma. Snow had identified the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele in Brazil and some victims of John Wayne Gacy and the 1979 American Airlines crash near O'Hare.

Using dental records and facial reconstruction, Snow relied mostly on computerized skull-face superimposition to identify the corpses. The second body, buried in a ski mask and with a cache of pornographic materials, was that of Michael S. Oliver, 29, a Chicago machinist who vanished November 1979.

In the FBI recordings, Scarpelli is heard saying that Oliver was a minor hoodlum shot during a syndicate raid on an independent porn shop near Elk Grove Village.

Not sure how to dump the body, in a scene similar to that in Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas," his underworld pals talked over a bite to eat as the corpse sat in the trunk.

It took more than one year to identify remains in the first grave as Robert "Bobbie" Hatridge, a 56-year-old Cincinnati man with a distinctive Dick Tracy square jaw, flat feet and a flair for fashion. The FBI said his girlfriend later told agents that Hatridge came to Chicago in April 1979 to meet with Scalise and Scarpelli about a big robbery. He never made it home.

Basile's graveyard tip was considered one of the task force's first big scoops. Nearly 20 years later, its intelligence work reverberates still.

The secret tapes Basile made led to Scarpelli's arrest in July 1988. He killed himself a year later, but not before making a 500-page confession that exposed many mob secrets. He also admitted to 10 murders, including some in the Family Secrets trial.

The task force also made history with another big bust. It brought down Ferriola's nephew, Harry Aleman, for killing a union steward in 1977. He was acquitted, then retried and convicted. Aleman, 68, and still in prison, is the only person tried twice for the same crime. Double jeopardy was discarded after it was learned his first judge took a bribe. "The entire (Ferriola) crew was prosecuted as a result of the task force," Buten said. "It marked the beginning of the Chicago Outfit's end."

The mob graveyard made news again in March when crews building townhouses unearthed a third body several blocks north of the field near 91st Street.

The remains were identified as Robert Charles Cruz of Kildeer, who vanished Dec. 4, 1997. Cruz, who was Aleman's cousin, had been on Arizona's death row just two years earlier until his conviction for a 1980 double murder was overturned.

The discovery of his body begs the question - Could more graves be found there?

Members searched far and wide, with one exception. At the time, a large drug rehab facility was being built there. Many wonder if beneath its foundation lie the bodies of more hoodlums. It's possible, task force members say, but unlikely. The bodies were unearthed in shallow graves less than 5 feet deep. They argue crews dug deeper when laying the foundation and probably would have found more graves if they existed.

Also still missing is the fabled $960,000 Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole during a 1980 London jewelry store heist. It was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill's cousin, the duchess of Marlborough.

Years ago, O'Rourke visited Scalise in his cell on England's Isle of Wight - the British version of Alcatraz - where he was imprisoned for the jewelry heist. "Scalise would do a lot of talking but never say anything," O'Rourke said. "Informants told us he shipped it to Chicago, where it was broken up and sold."

Scalise, 69, has kept a low profile since returning to the Chicago area after finishing an Arizona prison stint on drug charges. But, long ago, he was rumored to be working on his memoirs.

So far, though, he has upheld the mob's code of silence.

Thanks to Christy Gutowski

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Tale of Two Mobsters

Two men with connections to Chicago organized crime, both of them believed to be outfit enforcers, one is dead the other is in court. In this Intelligence Report: the tale of two mobsters.

There are really only two ways out of the mob life and one is more permanent than the other. You are either murdered...or put in prison. This is...a tale of two mobsters-enforcers-with deep connections to the Chicago outfit. One was found buried in a suburban construction site. The other was found in court...extending his long criminal record.

We begin with Robert Charles " Bobby" Cruz...who spent 14 years on death row for a contract hit on an Arizona businessman and his mother-in-law, a conviction eventually thrown out. Cruz came to Chicago for the 1997 trial of his hitman-cousin, Harry Aleman. A few days after Aleman was convicted, Cruz vanished. Last week--ten years later -- Cruz' corpse was found by a sewer crew in DuPage County...minus his trigger finger and a few other digits...a subtle message that the assassin would never work again.

As authorities were identifying the remains of one mob enforcer...the i-team found another one walking to court.

This is long-time Chicago outfit enforcer Victor "Popeye" Arrigo, arriving with his daughter for a hearing in Maywood. Arrigo's rap sheet reaches back to 1956 and reads like a crime encyclopedia, but at age 70 he admits to be going soft.

On this day, he stood before criminal court judge William Wise on theft charges--but not the big jewel capers or cartage heists he and the outfit are known for. "They accuse me of taking salami, cheese...stuff like that," said Victor "Popeye" Arrigo.

One of the mob's toughest enforcers, Arrigo was hauled away by west suburban Berkeley police on charges that he stole $40-dollars worth of Italian and Hungarian salami from a grocery store.

Arrigo chalks-up the larceny up to old age. "When you hit 69, 70, you do goofy things...just to see if you can get away with it...i got caught. That's about it," Arrigo said.

Arrigo contends the grocery store plunder was not an outfit job--and authorities believe him.

Like many of the old time wise guys he grew up with, Arrigo's public demeanor could win him citizen of the year. "Nice talkin' to you. Anything else you want to say? Say hello to Chuck for me."

I met the mobster more than ten years ago--during his last run in with the law on gun charges...and at that time, learned the heritage of his mob nickname: "Popeye". It's for the detachable glass eyeball he wears as the result of barroom shootout.

When Arrigo is bellying up to the bar he says he enjoys popping out his eyeball and placing it on top of his beer money...then telling the bartender he is merely keeping an eye on his cash.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mob Bones Belong to Cousin of Hit Man Harry Aleman

Friends of ours: Harry Aleman
Friends of mine: Robert Charles Cruz

Just days after his cousin, reputed mob hit man Harry Aleman, was sentenced for a murder, Robert Charles Cruz disappeared from his Kildeer home.

For nearly 10 years, authorities suspected Cruz had purposely vanished, but his credit cards and bank accounts never were touched. Last week, construction crews digging new sewers for a townhouse development in unincorporated DuPage County came across the body of a man wrapped in tarpaulin and carpet, buried 8 1/2 feet down. On Wednesday, the DuPage County coroner's office publicly identified that the man as Robert Charles Cruz, 50. He had been reported missing on Dec. 4, 1997.

Cruz's body was found just 50 yards from where two other organized crime-connected bodies were found in 1988. An informant had told the FBI there was a mob burial ground in DuPage County near the home of former mob syndicate member Joseph Jerome Scalise.

At the time, an FBI task force descended on the area near Bluff Road and Illinois Highway 83 for five months and found the remains of Robert Anthony Hatridge, a minor associate of Gerald Scarpelli, a crime syndicate killer-turned-informant; and Mark Oliver, another minor organized crime figure.

Now, the FBI and DuPage County authorities are investigating Cruz's murder. Law enforcement sources said it appeared Cruz had been shot.

Cruz's body was identified through fingerprints and through tattoos on his arm, said Tom Simon, special agent and spokesman for the FBI. Family members have been notified, he said.

In addition to his familial relationship to Aleman, who remains in prison, Cruz had his own brushes with trouble. He spent 14 years on Death Row in Arizona before his conviction for hiring three men to kill a Phoenix businessman and his mother-in-law on New Year's Eve in 1980 was overturned and a new trial ordered. .

Prosecutors at the time said Cruz hired the men, including two from Chicago, to murder Patrick Redmond because the man refused to sell an interest in his Phoenix printing shop to Cruz, who wanted to use it to launder money from Las Vegas connections. Redmond's 70-year-old mother-in-law was visiting and died after her throat was cut.

Cruz was tried four more times. He was acquitted in 1995 after the jury decided the state's primary witness, a participant in the killings, was unreliable.

Cruz later moved to Kildeer and was a fixture at Harry Aleman's 1997 trial for the murder of a Teamsters' union official. Cruz sat every day in the courtroom where the attorney in his Arizona appeal, Kevin McNally, defended Aleman.

Cruz had been instrumental in Aleman's decision to change attorneys and hire McNally just before the trial. Days after Aleman was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison, Cruz disappeared. He had last been seen hanging Christmas lights from the gutters of his home.

Thanks to Angela Rozas and Maurice Possley

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mob Hit Man Harry Aleman's Cousin Found in Mafia Graveyard

Construction workers laying sewer pipe found the skeletal remains of a former death row inmate with mob ties at a suburban Chicago site about 50 yards from where the bodies of two other men connected to organized crime were found in 1988.

The DuPage County coroner's office identified the latest bodyEverybody Pays, found wrapped in a blue tarp, as Robert Charles Cruz. FBI spokesman Tom Simon said the body was identified through fingerprints and tattoos.

Cruz was 50 when he disappeared from his Kildeer home on Dec. 4, 1997. His cousin, reputed mob hit man Harry Aleman, had just been sentence to 100 to 300 years in prison for the 1972 murder of a Teamsters official. Cruz had been in the courtroom each day of Aleman's 1997 trial.

Cruz had also spent 14 years on death row in Arizona for allegedly hiring three men to kill a Phoenix businessman and his mother-in-law. That conviction was overturned in 1980 and a new trial was ordered. Cruz was tried four more times and acquitted in 1995.

The construction workers found Cruz's remains more than eight feet underground while laying sewer pipes for a new townhouse development.

Federal and county authorities are investigating Cruz's death as a homicide.

The other two bodies found in the area were located after an informant told the FBI there was a mob burial ground in DuPage County near the home of a former mob syndicate member. FBI agents found the remains of Robert Anthony Hatridge and Mark Oliver, both described as associates of organized crime figures.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Aleman Parole Vote Case Ends in Acquittal for Officials

Friends of ours: Harry Aleman, Joseph Ferriola

A former state parole board member was cleared Monday of charges that he voted to free mob hit man Harry Aleman in exchange for help in getting his son a gig as an entertainer in Las Vegas.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge Patrick Kelley found both Victor Brooks and former ranking prison official Ron Matrisciano not guilty of charges that included official misconduct and wire fraud in the case brought by the office of Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan.

Kelley delivered a directed verdict for Brooks and Matrisciano, meaning the defendants did not even have to present their side before the judge ruled the attorney general's office had not proven its case, defense attorneys said. "We believe this case should never have been indicted in the first place, and this view has been borne out by the outcome today," said L. Lee Smith, a former federal prosecutor who represented Brooks.

Brooks, 56, formerly of Batavia but now living in Florissant, Mo., was the only member of the Prisoner Review Board who voted in 2002 in favor of parole for Aleman, who remains in prison serving 100 to 300 years for killing a Teamsters official. Matrisciano, 52, formerly a high-ranking prison official, testified on behalf of Aleman and eventually lost his job with the Illinois Department of Corrections as the case unfolded.

The indictment alleged Brooks agreed to vote for Aleman's release in exchange for Matrisciano's help in landing Brooks' son, a singer, a job in Las Vegas. Prison officials have said Matrisciano told them he is a family friend of Aleman's. But the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence of an alleged quid pro quo, Smith said.

"We presented all of the evidence to the court," said Robyn Ziegler, Madigan's spokeswoman. "The court considered that evidence and reached its decision, and we respect that decision."

Matrisciano and Brooks had been friends for more than 20 years.

Matrisciano, a frequent visitor to Las Vegas, merely had suggested a couple of people to call during a lunch in Nevada with Brooks' son, Smith said. "Ron said, `When I'm out there (in Las Vegas), maybe I can get him a couple of leads,'" said Terry Ekl, who represented Matrisciano.

The indictment also alleged Matrisciano knew he should have been speaking as a private citizen to the Prisoner Review Board and falsely portrayed his statement as a recommendation from the Illinois Department of Corrections, but the allegation was also tossed aside, Ekl said.

Evidence showed Matrisciano, who is seeking his job back, had brought the matter up beforehand to superiors and received approval and that he had not identified himself as representing the department, Ekl said.

The indictments were the latest twist in the long saga of Aleman, the nephew of reputed former rackets boss Joseph Ferriola.

His conviction in 1997 made American legal history as the first time a criminal defendant had been retried after an acquittal. A mob lawyer later admitted that he bribed the judge in the first trial, and Aleman was subsequently convicted of the 1972 murder.

The Tribune first reported that Matrisciano, while serving in his role as an assistant deputy director of the Illinois Department of Corrections in December 2002, testified before the Prisoner Review Board in favor of paroling Aleman.

After a parole hearing at Dixon Correctional Center, the parole board officer overseeing the matter recommended Aleman's bid for parole be denied. Such recommendations are usually upheld unanimously by the full board. But when the full board considered the matter, Brooks made the unusual request for a roll call vote and cast the only vote for Aleman's parole.

Correction Officials Found Not Guilty

Friends of ours: Harry Aleman

A Sangamon County judge Monday issued a directed verdict of not guilty in favor of a former state Department of Corrections official and a former state Prisoner Review Board member who had been accused of abusing their positions.

Both Ronald Matrisciano of Lockport, a former assistant deputy director of Corrections, and Victor E. Brooks of Batavia, a former prison warden and member of the Prisoner Review Board, were indicted by a Lee County grand jury in 2005 on charges of wire fraud and official misconduct in connection with a 2002 parole hearing for Harry Aleman.

Aleman is serving a 100- to 300-year sentence for the September 1972 shooting death of a union steward at a Chicago trucking company.

According to the indictment, Brooks agreed to vote in favor of paroling Aleman in exchange for help getting Brooks' son a job as an entertainer in Las Vegas. That help allegedly was going to come from Matrisciano, who testified during a parole hearing at Dixon Correctional Center in December 2002 that Aleman was "a model prisoner."

Matrisciano also was indicted on a charge of perjury in Sangamon County for allegedly lying during a February 2005 deposition. In that deposition, Matrisciano said he did not appear at the parole hearing in his official capacity as an assistant deputy director at Corrections. The attorney general's office alleged that he had represented his position as that of the department, and that Brooks and Matrisciano schemed to try and get Aleman paroled.

All the charges were consolidated in Sangamon County about six months ago, and Matrisciano and Brooks went on trial without a jury before Circuit Judge Patrick Kelley on Monday.

After hearing the attorney general's office's seven witnesses, Kelley allowed motions by attorneys for the defendants for directed verdicts of not guilty on all counts.

Matrisciano's attorney, Terry Ekl of Clarendon Hills, said that Kelley looked at the transcripts of Matrisciano's testimony before the Prisoner Review Board and found the evidence "fell far short of what the prosecution alleged."

Kelley also found the prosecution produced no proof of Matrisciano and Brooks conspiring to have Aleman paroled or that they used any electronic device to further any kind of scheme.

"There was no proof of any scheme, and the evidence fell short of establishing any illegal activity," Ekl said. "It wasn't even a close call."

Brooks was represented by Peoria attorney Lee Smith.

Ekl said his client, Matrisciano, "has gone through a living hell since this began."

"He's lost his job, and he lost his marriage as a direct result of losing his job," Ekl said. "He broke down in tears when the judge announced his ruling, and he is absolutely elated at the outcome," Ekl said. "He hopes to get his job back."

The Prisoner Review Board denied parole for Aleman, a reputed Chicago mob hit man, despite Matrisciano's testimony.

Aleman was charged in 1972 with murdering a Teamsters official. He was acquitted in 1977, but it later was determined that the judge in the case had been bribed. He was tried again, convicted in 1997 and is serving 100 to 300 years in prison.

A federal lawsuit filed by Matrisciano in 2003 claiming that Illinois corrections officials retaliated against him for testifying at Aleman's parole hearing was dismissed in U.S. District Court in Springfield last year.

U.S. Judge Richard Mills granted summary judgment to Corrections Director Roger Walker Jr. and former acting director Donald Snyder in the case.

Matrisciano had said in his lawsuit that he told Snyder and an associate director he was considering giving a statement to the Prisoner Review Board and that no objections were raised.

About a week after the hearing, Matrisciano was reassigned to a northern Illinois reception facility, which he claimed was a demotion in retaliation for his testimony.

When Gov. Rod Blagojevich took office in 2003, Matrisciano was laid off in a department reorganization unrelated to the controversy over his testimony. Under terms of the layoff, he became eligible to return to work in March 2004 but immediately was put on paid administrative leave while aspects of his testimony were investigated.

Springfield attorney Howard Feldman, who represents Matrisciano in the civil suit, said the dismissal has been appealed to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thanks to Chris Dettro

Former Prison Officials Aquitted of Criminal Support for Mob Hit Man

Friends of mine: Harry Aleman

A former state prison official and a former Illinois Prisoner Review Board member didn't commit any crimes when they supported a reputed mob hit man's bid to be paroled in 2002, a judge ruled Monday in Springfield.

Sangamon County Judge Patrick W. Kelley found both Ronald Matrisciano, 52, and Victor Brooks, 56, not guilty of several official misconduct and wire fraud charges. The ruling prompted tears from Matrisciano, a former assistant deputy director for the Illinois Department of Corrections.

"He's absolutely elated," said Terry Ekl, Matrisciano's attorney. "His life's been turned inside out. Now he can go forward."

The case stemmed from Matrisciano testifying on behalf of Harry Aleman during a Dec. 17, 2002, parole hearing, and Brooks being the lone Prisoner Review Board member to vote to parole Aleman.

Though law enforcement officials long have identified Aleman as a hit man, he's only been convicted of one murder, the 1972 slaying of Teamsters union steward William Logan. Aleman was acquitted in 1977, but authorities later learned the judge hearing his case was bribed. Aleman was found guilty during a second trial in 1997, and remains in prison.

Matrisciano identified himself as a corrections official and a friend of Aleman's family during the 2002 parole hearing, in which he called Aleman "a model inmate." Prosecutors alleged Matrisciano was leading people to believe he was speaking on behalf of the state's prison system, not as an individual citizen.

Authorities also accused Matrisciano of offering to help Brooks' son land a singing gig in Las Vegas in exchange for Brooks' vote to parole Aleman.

L. Lee Smith, Brooks' attorney, acknowledged that Matrisciano had had lunch with Brooks' son in Las Vegas and recommended names of a couple of people he could talk to in the city. But Matrisciano simply was trying to help the son of a longtime friend -- Brooks and Matrisciano have known each other for years and worked together for the state prison system -- and was not doing anything wrong, Smith said.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office prosecuted the case, did not indicate if an appeal was planned. "We presented all of the evidence to the court, the court considered that evidence and reached its decision," Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said. "We respect the court's decision."

Matrisciano was fired in January 2006 after his indictment. Now that he has been acquitted, he plans to try to get his job back, plus back pay, Ekl said.

Thanks to Chris Fusco

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Everybody Pays

Friends of ours: Harry Aleman

Bob Lowe's father told him not to get involved. Just keep his mouth shut and forget everything he saw. But to the 25-year-old blue collar mechanic, husband, and father, that was entirely out of the question. How could he? While walking his dog he saw his acquaintance, Billy Logan, murdered on the street right in front of him. And more importantly, he held the triggerman's gaze for four frightening seconds, enough to easily identify him in a mug shot book, lineup, or court chambers. In Lowe's mind, it was his simple duty as a citizen to I.D. the guy and put a killer behind bars.

But Bob Lowe's seemingly straightforward decision to do that duty in 1972 provided the catalyst for a 25-year hellish personal odyssey, all while being constantly on the move and looking over his shoulder for the bullet with his name on it. That's because the face that Lowe saw didn't belong to any garden variety street thug, but that of Harry Aleman, the feared, proficient and very busy hit man for the Chicago mob. And Harry had a lot of powerful friends.

EVERYBODY PAYS is not the story of Logan or even Aleman, but of how Lowe's life began to spiral out of control after his agreeing to testify. Little did he know that larger forces were literally conspiring against him. Although he positively identified Aleman immediately following the shooting, the corrupt investigating cops buried the information for four years. At the eventual trial, the presiding judge had been bribed, deeming Lowe "a liar" in open court. Left dangling when Aleman was acquitted --- and in real fear for their lives --- the Lowes entered the Witness Protection Program, beginning a harrowing litany of changes in their residence, job, lifestyles, and even identities.

The constant pressure drove Lowe to extended flirtations with booze, cocaine, petty crime, and estrangement from his family. After years of bitter thoughts and second-guessing of his actions, Lowe eventually does crawl back. The book closes with Aleman's 1997 retrial --- a historic overturning of the Constitutional "double jeopardy" clause --- and ultimate vindication for Lowe, who as an older, grayer man found himself giving the same testimony that he had 20 years earlier.

Possley and Kogan --- both experienced journalists for the Chicago Tribune --- keep the narrative fast-paced, to the point and interesting. They also know their turf well, particularly in their discussion of the hierarchy of the Chicago Mafia and how it differs from its flashier, more storied New York counterpart. Drawing on historical material as well as fresh interviews from most of the participants (save the incarcerated Aleman, who refused to talk with them), the pair paint a sympathetic but even-keeled portrait of Lowe, who was not entirely blameless for his subsequent misfortunes.

Ultimately, the large and looming question that hangs throughout the book is this: Was it all worth it? Was it worth it for Lowe to go through his own seven circles of hell for doing what he initially felt would be a simple and just action, or should he have heeded his father's advice to go deaf, dumb, and blind? The reader is left to ponder that for themselves --- as well as think about what they'd do in a similar situation. In either case, the book's title stands as both a warning and a thesis: in crime, everyone does pay --- and not just the guilty.

Thanks to Bob Ruggiero

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tapes Seal Fate of Genovese Associate

Friends of ours: Joseph "Little Joe" Scarbrough, Genovese Crime Family, Harry Aleman, Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico
Friends of mine: Peter "Petey" Caporino

Joseph Scarbrough came to his sentencing on federal racketeering charges yesterday with his wife, his daughter and a stack of letters from his friends and West Orange neighbors who insisted the genteel girls softball coach couldn't be the mobster the government said he was.

Prosecutors brought their own stack of papers -- transcripts of Scarbrough regaling an FBI informant with his war stories from decades inside the Genovese crime family. On the tapes, Scarbrough boasts of reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in burglaries and cargo thefts, of his ties to corrupt cops and of running with violent mob crews.

"Harry (Aleman) was one of the most cold, calculating, (expletive) smartest killers that (expletive) hit Chicago, he really was ..." Scarbrough said, recalling a mob enforcer during a conversation three years ago. "Good man. Good (expletive) man. I loved the guy and vice versa."

The tapes won.

Turning aside arguments that the mob allegations were exaggerated, U.S. District Judge William Martini sentenced Scarbrough to five years in prison. After presiding over all the prosecutions in the long-running FBI investigation, the judge said he believed evidence that Scarbrough was an influential Genovese associate who supervised millions of dollars in gambling and loan-sharking from a Hoboken social club. "Somehow it was clear to everybody that Joe Scarbrough was the guy running the niche operation here in New Jersey," the judge said.

Scarbrough, 67, was the last of 15 reputed mobsters or associates to be sentenced in Newark after pleading guilty to charges ranging from racketeering to illegal gambling. Most received prison terms of less than three years.

One, Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico, 82, a reputed ranking captain, was ordered yesterday to serve 51 months in prison. But Scarbrough, known as "Big Joe," was the government's key target. His last arrest was in 1977, a stretch of freedom that Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Faye Schwartz called lucky, given his history of crime. "We believe now is the day of reckoning, your honor," she said.

In a final exclamation point, the prosecutors again used Scarbrough's longtime friend and associate, Peter "Petey" Caporino, to seal his fate. Schwartz and Assistant U.S Attorney Jill Andersen gave the judge transcripts from three conversations that Caporino, a Genovese associate from Hasbrouck Heights, secretly recorded during more than a decade of work as an FBI informant.

In them, Scarbrough reveled in some of his crimes, like the time he said he made $170,000 hijacking a tractor-trailer full of hair dye in Jamesburg or the time he and a partner stole duffel bags filled with records from a company that made and sold safes. "We had (expletive) safes all over the United States ... where they were delivered, combinations, in banks," he said. "It supported us and kept us going for years."

He talked about a special safecracking tool he used -- "a thermo burning bar," he called it -- that he said he found 25 years after a cellmate first told him about a unusual heated drill Navy divers used to carve into sunken German battleships. But he was just as animated about the ones that got away. More than once on the tapes, Scarbrough blamed "bad breaks" or not enough time for ruining what might have been million-dollar heists.

"You never know, ya know? Even with scores," he told Caporino. "You never know when one is going to come along with a good one ... big payment. The biggest thing is you have to be here when it happens."

Scarbrough said he used to rely on a Hoboken police officer -- now dead -- to tip off the mobsters when officers were on the way. He also bragged about beating a woman in a traffic dispute and said he helped steal an unsuspecting man's car for a hitman to use as a getaway car.

Scarbrough said he staked out city parking lots to find a car that stayed untouched night after night. Using a Hoboken police officer's name, he said he called the state motor vehicles office, gave the license plate number and asked for details on the registered owner. Then, posing as the owner, Scarbrough said, he called a car dealer, said he was out of the area, had lost his key and needed the code for a locksmith to make a new one.

With a new key in hand, the hitman used the car to stake out and kill his target, Scarbrough said. "When I see these cases on (expletive) court and I know what we were capable of doing, I'm really skeptical," Scarbrough told Caporino.

Rarely did the conversations include names or dates. At the hearing, defense attorney Michael Koribanics asked the judge to disregard the tapes, arguing that the government never proved any of the crimes Scarbrough appears to take credit for. He noted the current case included no evidence of violence -- only some perceived threats -- and suggested the government exaggerated its mob claims. "Perhaps he's a blowhard, (but) this is not blowhard material, Mr. Koribanics," Martini responded, noting the detail on the tapes. "You can't make this stuff up."

Scarbrough also agreed to forfeit $256,000 in illegal proceeds. The judge ordered him to report to prison by Oct. 10.

Outside the courtroom, Scarbrough cordially shook the hands of the FBI case agent and prosecutors. He declined to discuss the case in detail, but was resigned by the outcome. "No use crying over spilled milk, ya know?" he said.

Thanks to John P. Martin

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mob Related Indictment

Friends of ours: Harry Aleman

A member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted to parole reputed mob hit man Harry Aleman because Aleman's friends were going to help get the board member's son a job in the music industry in Las Vegas, according to an indictment handed down by a Lee County grand jury Friday. Victor Brooks cast the lone vote to parole Aleman three years ago when the board decided 10-1 to keep Aleman in prison for the murder of Teamster official Willie Logan.

Though prosecutors say Aleman was a mob hit man, the only murder he has ever been charged with is Logan's. He was acquitted the first time after bribing a judge. But he was convicted after being retried for the crime.

Former Illinois Department of Corrections official Ronald Matrisciano was also indicted Friday. He spoke up on Aleman's behalf at the hearing at the Dixon Correctional Center in Downstate Lee County three years ago, calling Aleman a "model prisoner."

Matrisciano was a family friend of Aleman's. Brooks said at the parole hearing that he was impressed that a prison official of Matrisciano's stature would speak on Aleman's behalf. He said at the time that's why he voted for Aleman's parole.

What was unsaid at the time, according to Friday's indictment, is that Matrisciano and Brooks had "an agreement ... under which ... in return for Ronald Matrisciano's assistance in obtaining employment in Las Vegas for Victor Brooks' son, Nicolas Brooks, Victor Brooks would vote to parole Harry Aleman."

Nicolas Brooks reportedly had some success in the music industry, singing the national anthem at Cubs and Bears games. He was living in Las Vegas and the agreement was to help get him a music gig, according to sources familiar with the allegations.

Victor Brooks was a former warden at the state juvenile corrections facility in St. Charles and was highly regarded on the prisoner review board, said chairman Jorge Montes. "Brooks during his tenure on the board was basically a model member," Montes said. "It comes as a shock to the parole board that these allegations would be raised against someone who everybody held in high esteem."

Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office brought the charges before the grand jury. "How Harry Aleman had access to a high-ranking IDOC official and why a member of the PRB would vote for his release are serious questions that have been raised," Lisa Madigan said in a release. "We allege that public corruption is part of the answer."

Brooks was appointed to the prisoner review board by Gov. Jim Edgar and was reappointed by Gov. George Ryan. But Gov. Blagojevich, after Brooks' vote to parole Aleman, chose not to reappoint him when his term was up for renewal.

When Aleman came up for parole again Wednesday, Aleman said he was "mad, very mad" that his friend Matrisciano was fired, ordered re-hired, demoted, then suspended with pay after testifying on Aleman's behalf. "You're saying anybody who speaks on my behalf gets into trouble? ...No one can talk for me or they get into trouble right away?"

Matrisciano faces five counts of official misconduct and two counts of wire fraud. Brooks faces one count of official misconduct and one of wire fraud

Thanks to Abdon Pallasch

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harry Aleman pleads for parole

Reputed mob hit man Harry Aleman pleaded for mercy from state parole board members Wednesday by insisting he was set up by government "stool pigeons" for a 1972 murder he didn't commit. Dressed in blue prison-issued garb and his hands curiously manicured for a prison janitor, Aleman told members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board that he is undeserving of the 100- to 300-year prison term he received for the shotgun murder of a union official once married to his cousin.

"Serial killers get that," Aleman said in disgust, seemingly oblivious to the notion that some officials pin 20 mob killings on him, though he has been convicted of murder only once. "I caused no problems for anybody, and I'm no threat to anybody. And 27 years is a long period," Aleman said. He has spent most of the last 27 years in state or federal custody for various crimes. "That's double for what they give in this state for murder."

Aleman, 66, is locked up for the murder of William Logan, a Teamsters Union steward, on Chicago's West Side. In a 1977 trial, Aleman was acquitted of that crime, but it was later determined that the judge in the case had been bribed with the help of mob lawyer Bob Cooley, who later became a government informant. With Cooley's help, Aleman was retried in 1997 and convicted.

Aleman said his former "partner," William "Butch" Petrocelli, now dead, killed Logan in a dispute over the affections of Logan's ex-wife and allegations that Logan "used to knock Phyllis around and give her black eyes all the time."

During Wednesday's hearing at Western Illinois Correctional Center, Aleman also denied ever being affiliated with the mob, complained about having art supplies withheld from him and feigned ignorance when asked by one Prisoner Review Board member whether he had ever read Cooley's tell-all book on the mob, When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down. Pausing for a moment, Aleman asked, "Bob Cooley, the stool pigeon guy?"

"He's the lawyer who allegedly carried the $10,000 to Frank Wilson, the judge," replied board member David Frier. "Oh, now I know who you mean, yeah. No, I never read his book," Aleman said. "He's a rat. He's going to say anything they want him to say, sir. C'mon. A rat, that's what they do. Give him a script, and he reads it."

Contacted by the Sun-Times afterward, Cooley called Aleman's foggy memory about him "comical," particularly given the role he played in helping bring Aleman down. "Maybe Harry is trying to get out on a medical. He must have Alzheimer's," Cooley cracked.

The board is expected to make its determination on Aleman's parole request at its next meeting on Dec. 15.

Scott Cassidy, the Cook County prosecutor who helped put Aleman behind bars, urged the board not to show any leniency toward him because he evaded prosecution for the crime for so long, prompting Aleman to interrupt. "Look at me and say that. I got 27 years in prison, almost half of my life," Aleman snapped. Staring back into Aleman's penetrating dark eyes, the veteran prosecutor continued to say his piece.

"Harry should be denied parole because the fact he escaped justice for so many years, and he lived the best part of his life while Billy Logan was dead," Cassidy said.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Victim's sister wants mob hit man to rot in prison

Friends of ours: Harry Aleman, William "Butch" Petrocelli

Betty Romo won't be able to attend today's parole hearing for Harry Aleman, the mob hit man convicted of killing her brother. But if anybody at the Illinois Prisoner Review Board is curious about her opinion, this pretty well sums it up: "We just hope he stays where he's at and rots there." I have every confidence the Prisoner Review Board will come to the same determination, but you can never take these things for granted.

Three years ago, when Aleman first came up for parole, a state prison official was somehow persuaded to testify on Aleman's behalf, calling him a model prisoner who would pose no danger if released. One board member even voted in favor of parole. A grand jury has been poking into the matter, but no charges have been filed.

Aleman was, after all, originally acquitted of this crime, the 1972 murder of Teamsters official William Logan, only to be retried and convicted in a second trial in 1997 on the strength of testimony that Cook County Judge Frank Wilson had been bribed to fix the original case.

Romo, now 70 and living in the western suburbs, testified at both trials and attended every hearing. She said her late brother was never afraid of Aleman, despite his fearsome reputation, and she's obviously cut from the same cloth. "Listen, if he could get money to somebody, they would," she said, meaning he'd bribe his way out if he could.

Romo is not really concerned that will happen, although she was more than a little suspicious that Aleman was angling to rehabilitate his public image with an eye toward parole when he granted an exclusive interview in September to the Sun-Times' Robert Herguth. Herguth turned the interview into a two-part series, "Through the Eyes of a Hit Man," which I found to be great reading. It's not every day you get a sit-down with the guy believed to be one of the Chicago mob's most prolific hit men of the past half-century, even if he wasn't exactly spilling any family secrets.

For Romo, though, reading Aleman's continued denials along with his thoughts on everything from prison life to Jesus Christ -- only days before the anniversary of her brother's murder -- was another painful cut. "Look at what he's done to our family, all these years of stress," she said. "I'm the only one left. He tormented my family for 33 years. This has been torture. He's still doing it. How? Because he's alive, and his mouth keeps going."

"My dad died of a broken heart 14 years later," Romo said, also blaming the crime for health problems that claimed the lives of a sister and another brother.

"These have been bad, bad years for us," said Romo, who heard the gunshots the night of the murder from the second-floor apartment she shared with her brother. She raced to the street where he lay dying.

"He was still alive. He mumbled something. His keys fell. I held his head. I said, 'I'm not getting up. I don't want his head on the ground.' It was like in the movies."

In his interview with Herguth, Aleman attributed the murder to a man he referred to as his "partner," William "Butch" Petrocelli, also a mob hit man who was killed in 1980. Romo isn't buying it. "When you come from the old neighborhood, people tell you things," she said, referring to the old Italian neighborhood on the West Side, where she and her brother were raised.

Their father, also a Teamsters official, was Irish, their mother Italian. A cousin married one of the Giancanas, Romo observed pointedly. People tell you things. "[Aleman] didn't get an OK to kill my brother," she said. "We found out."

'At the second trial, Romo suggested a bitter custody dispute between Logan and his ex-wife was a possible motive in the killing. Aleman is a cousin of the ex-wife. But another witness had testified the motive was a dispute involving the Cicero trucking company where Logan worked. "This killing was personal, not business," Romo insisted, saying her brother was not involved in anything criminal.

A young mechanic, Bob Lowe, witnessed the murder and identified Aleman as the killer. Tribune reporters Maurice Possley and Rick Kogan wrote a book about Logan's murder titled, Everybody Pays, with Lowe as a central character. Romo always thought there should be a book with her brother as the central character. She has picked out a title, Tonight Brings No Tomorrow.

Aleman is serving a 100- to 300-year sentence at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mount Sterling, which given his eligibility for parole, was obviously a sentence devised before truth-in-sentencing laws. Aleman, 66, deserves to spend the rest of his tomorrows just like he'll spend tonight.

Thanks to Mark Brown


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