The Chicago Syndicate: James Formato
Showing posts with label James Formato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Formato. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

James Formato Sentenced to 4 Years Prison for Role in Mob Ring

A former crooked Berwyn cop was sentenced Tuesday to nearly four years in prison.

James Formato admitted he couriered mob cash and provided inside law enforcement information to members of the Chicago Outfit while he was still a patrolman for the Berwyn Police Department.

After his arrest, Formato cooperated with the FBI and agreed to secretly record conversations with mobsters and Outlaw biker Mark Polchan. He testified at the trial, providing information that helped convict Polchan, mob boss Michael "the Large Guy" Sarno and three other associates who were involved in bombing a rival video poker business, committing home invasions and jewelry heists netting nearly $2 million.

During his sentencing hearing, Formato told U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, "I need to apologize to the people I took an oath to protect. I made a very bad decision." He went on to say he owes the biggest apology to his teenage son, "I let him down as a father."

Formato's attorney Terry Campbell said Formato became involved with the crime ring after his marriage fell apart and he began abusing alcohol.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tinos Diamantatos acknowledged how helpful Formato's cooperation was to the government's case but said because of the severity of the crimes he committed, "Mr. Formato will deserve each and every day he spends in prison."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dino Vitalo Pleads Guilty in Mob Racketeering Case

A longtime Cicero Police officer was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for his role in a mob racketeering crew.

In this Intelligence Report: Two sharply different portraits of former officer Dino Vitalo were presented in court.

This is the epitome of good cop, bad cop, all within one cop. Forty-two-year-old Dino Vitalo was variously described Tuesday at his federal sentencing hearing as either the world's greatest policeman or the world's worst.

Vitalo was sentenced to two years in prison. He had pleaded guilty to providing police information to top members of the Chicago Outfit, most notably Mike "The Large Guy" Sarno. It was Sarno who led a mob racketeering crew and was convicted of blowing up a Berwyn video gaming company that was in competition with organized crime.

In court Tuesday afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said that Vitalo's moonlighting with the mob -- and leaking sensitive information -- had a negative impact on the government's ability to investigate organized crime. In 18 years with Cicero Police, Bhachu said, Vitalo had "a pattern of not following the rules, "does not care about the rules," and "followed the rules he wanted to follow."

The Town of Cicero has long been dogged by organized crime connections, going back to Prohibition, when Al Capone established his gangland headquarters there. But, in court Tuesday, Dino Vitalo's lawyer suggested it was unfair to paint him "with a broad brush of a corrupt officer." Attorney Todd Pugh said he hoped that "a man's life isn't judged by his mistakes."

Pugh offered several letters applauding Vitalo, including one written by Cicero Police Commander Raul Perez, who praised Vitalo's years of dedication and service.

The prosecutor responded to those letters of support for ex-Cicero Patrolman Vitalo and said that "you have to have a screw loose in your head to think he is a top shelf officer."

Raul Perez himself is no stranger to discipline. He was suspended for misconduct while working as state police bodyguard to Governor Rod Blagojevich.

In handing down Tuesday's sentence, Judge Ronald Guzman observed that Vitalo was "very much at home with these people," members of the outfit, and that he was in cahoots with other cops.

One of the other outfit-connected cops, James Formato from Berwyn, was to be sentenced Tuesday but it was put off until late November.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Ex-Berwyn Patrolman James Formato Testifies about His Role in a Mob-connected Burglary Ring

A one-time crooked cop swore to tell the truth in federal court Thursday. Ex-Berwyn Patrolman James Formato testified about his role in a mob-connected burglary ring.

The golden rule of the Chicago Outfit is that you do unto others before the police can undo you, and having the police in your back pocket had been the most efficient way mob bosses have accomplished that for almost a century.

Formato was paid to serve and protect the 54,000 residents of west suburban Berwyn. Unknown to them, Formato was also being paid to protect a multi-million dollar Outfit burglary crew.

Even while in uniform, Formato couriered mob cash. He has told federal authorities that he faked police reports and provided inside law enforcement information to west suburban rackets boss Michael "the Large Guy" Sarno, who is currently on trial in federal court with four accused associates.

Formato, no longer a Berwyn policeman, has pleaded guilty in the case and could face almost four years in prison as part of his deal with prosecutors.

During Thursday's testimony, ex-officer Formato provided a play-by-play of his moonlighting for the mob, a crew that is accused of bombing of a rival video poker business, committing home invasions and jewelry heists netting nearly $2 million.

In 2007, after Formato began cooperating with the FBI, he secretly recorded conversations with members of the gang, including Outlaw biker Mark Polchan, who is on trial.

The former Berwyn policeman will be back on the stand Friday. The government is close to wrapping up its case.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ex-Cop, James Formato, Pleads Guilty in Mob Case

A former suburban police officer admitted that he took part in a mob-related ring of criminals responsible for robberies, burglaries and setting off a giant pipe bomb that blew apart the offices of a video gaming company.

James Formato, 43, a husky, bearded former member of the Berwyn police department, appeared before U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman and pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Formato also gave federal prosecutors a potential witness with inside knowledge of the alleged crime ring, pledging to cooperate with the government's seven-year investigation in exchange for leniency when he is sentenced.

Seven other defendants, including reputed mob boss Michael Sarno, have pleaded not guilty to charges in the indictment.

The investigation began in February 2003 after a giant pipe bomb ripped through the Berwyn offices of a video gaming company. Prosecutors say it was a message from the mob to stop horning in on its highly lucrative video gaming monopoly in the western suburbs.

Formato admitted in his signed plea agreement that as a Berwyn officer he found out that federal agents were interested in a brown van that had been seen in the vicinity of the blast. He said that through a go-between he sent the information to Mark Polchan, a Cicero jewelry store owner and member of the Outlaws motorcycle club who is among those charged. Polchan has pleaded not guilty.

Formato also admitted that in the fall of 2002 he was paid $3,000 for transporting $150,000, some of it the proceeds of a burglary, across state lines to his father in Florida.

Formato also said he served as a lookout outside a west suburban residence while two men were inside burglarizing it. He said he warned one of the burglars later that police had an artist's sketch of him. He also said he took part in at least two other home burglaries.

The maximum sentence for each of the two charges to which Formato pleaded guilty is 20 years in prison and the maximum fine is $250,000. But under his plea agreement, his cooperation with the government could earn him a sentence of 60 percent of the low end of the sentencing range under federal guidelines -- 78 to 97 months by preliminary calculations.

Thanks to CBS2Chicago

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Racketeering Indictment Nabs Reputed Mob Boss and Police Officer

A reputed mob boss, a police officer and five other men were charged Thursday in a sweeping racketeering indictment that alleges eight years of armed robberies, burglaries, jewel thefts and arson based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno, 51, of Westchester allegedly masterminded much of the group's illegal activity, including a February 2003 pipe-bomb explosion that wrecked the storefront offices of a company distributing video poker machines.

Prosecutors say the bombing was a message from organized crime to stop intruding on its $13-million-a-year video poker gambling business.

Sarno, 51, went to prison in the early 1990s as a member of an organized crime family based in the western suburbs headed by Ernest Rocco Infelice.

Federal agents searched Sarno's home last July and also raided the headquarters and various hangouts of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. An alliance has developed between the violence-prone club and the Chicago mob, prosecutors say.

Sarno's attorney, Terence P. Gillespie, did not return a message for comment. But he said in a previous interview with The Associated Press that Sarno was not a mob member and was "a legitimate businessman."

Attorneys for the other defendants were not reached immediately. Messages were left at the offices of four defense attorneys whose names were learned.

Two men arrested the day of the July 2008 searches and later indicted, Mark Polchan, 41, an acknowledged member of the Outlaws, and Samuel Volpendesto, 85, were also charged in the fresh indictment. They are accused of setting off the bomb that demolished C&S Coin Operated Amusements of Berwyn, a video poker device distributor. At the time, a video poker distributing company controlled by members and associates of the Chicago mob had a grip on the market for the devices, experts say.

Video poker devices are legal in Illinois if they are not used for gambling, but bartenders often pay winners under the table in many places and experts say the mob frequently takes a healthy cut of what the machines take in.

Gov. Pat Quinn is deciding whether to sign a bill to make video poker gambling legal to finance public works _ something good government forces deplore. They say the machines are addictive and some breadwinners have gambled away their paychecks.

Also charged in the indictment:

_James Formato, 42, a former Berwyn police officer accused of serving as a courier for stolen money, taking part in an attempted robbery and other crimes.

_Mark Hay, 52, described as taking part in the robbery of jewelry stores.

_Anthony Volpendesto, 46, son of Samuel Volpendesto, who also is alleged to have taken part in robbing jewelry stores.

_Dino Vitalo, 40, a Cicero police officer since 1991, accused of searching law enforcement data bases and using the information to tip off criminals and searching for electronic surveillance equipment around a jewelry store operated by Polchan. Cicero officials on Thursday placed Vitalo on administrative leave.

Prosecutors are asking the court to force the defendants if convicted to forfeit $1.8 million _ a possible measure of the amount taken in the robberies.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

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