The Chicago Syndicate: John DiFronzo
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Showing posts with label John DiFronzo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John DiFronzo. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Century of Chicago Mob Bosses

A thumbnail history of Chicago's mob leaders. Dates are approximate.

"Big Jim" Colosimo (1910 to 1920). Chicago's vice lord runs brothels and nightspots, shot dead in 1920 at his popular restaurant. Death cleared way for Capone

Johnny Torrio (1920 to 1925). Reserved boss, eschews violence, retires in 1925 after a fouled-up hit leaves him barely alive.

Al Capone (1925 to 1932). Made Chicago mob famous. Perhaps the most successful mob boss ever, the subject of countless books and movies, done in by the IRS for tax evasion.

Frank Nitti (1932 to 1943). With help from Jake Guzik, rebuilds the Outfit after Capone's departure. Commits suicide after he's indicted in 1943.

Paul "the Waiter" Ricca (1943 to 1950). Has a son who's a drug addict and decrees no Outfit member can have anything to do with narcotics trafficking.

Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo (1950 to 1957). Considered the most capable Outfit leader ever. Never spends significant time in jail. Always plays key role as adviser, but facing a tax case, he officially hands reins over to ...

Sam "Mooney" Giancana (1957 to 1966). Attends the infamous Apalachin, N.Y., meeting that draws national attention to organized crime, draws even more focus on the Outfit with his flamboyance, shared a girlfriend with JFK, flees country for eight years, slain in 1975 at his Oak Park home.

Sam "Teets" Battaglia (1966). Tough leader who is convicted in federal court same year, dies in prison.

John "Jackie" Cerone (1966 to 1969). Considered one of the smartest underworld figures, a strong leader, then the feds pinch him.

Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio (1969 to 1971). The mob killer is an unpopular leader, then he's convicted of bank fraud.

Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa (1971 to 1986). A Cicero mobster who ran gambling and strip clubs and grows into the job, with help from Accardo, Gus Alex and, later, Cerone. He is convicted of skimming profits from a Las Vegas casino.

Joseph Ferriola (1986 to 1989). Heads the Outfit for only a few years before succumbing to heart problems.

Sam Carlisi (1989 to 1993). Protege to Aiuppa and mentor to James "Little Jimmy" Marcello. Carlisi and his crew are decimated by federal prosecutions.

John "No Nose" DiFronzo (1997 to 2018). Called mob boss by Chicago Crime Commission, but other mob watchers disagree.

Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis (2018 to Current?) Although not official, Solly D is considered by many mafia experts to be one the highest ranking mobster on the streets in Chicago although he has long denied these claims. It is said that his 2nd in command could be convicted mob enforcer, Albert "Albie the Falcon" Vena. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Who is the Boss of the Chicago Outfit in 2018?

Now that John "No Nose" DiFronzo is no longer running the Chicago Outfit, who will fill the void left by his death is an open question.

As the ABC7 I-Team first reported, DiFronzo died from complications of Alzheimer's. He was 89.

"This is obviously an organization that promotes from within" said Chicago mob expert John Binder. "They don't take ads in the Wall Street Journal announcing a job search."

Although illicit businesses such as the Outfit don't have open meetings or put out annual reports, there are internal rules and succession plans in place to deal with the death of the boss-whether it occurs naturally or at the end of a gun barrel as was the case with Sam "Momo" Giancana in 1975.

DiFronzo's declining health the past few years may have allowed the mob to restructure its upper crust in anticipation of his death. The top two spots in the Outfit are now thought to be occupied by one infamous gangland name and one less recognized.

Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis is the best known, un-incarcerated Chicago mob figure today-and considered "consigliere" to the Outfit.

DeLaurentis, 79, was released from federal prison in 2006 after serving a long sentence for racketeering, extortion and tax fraud. The north suburban resident is notorious for using the phrase "trunk music." That is the gurgling sound made by a decomposing corpse in a car trunk.

These days ex-con DeLaurentis claims he has gone clean--literally.

"I'm in the carpet cleaning business," DeLaurentis told the I-Team. He laughed off those who said he was the boss or involved in mob rackets at all and said the FBI should know that because the bureau monitors his activities.

DeLaurentis has long been a mob-denier. "The Outfit is like a group that comes in here to paint the walls" he told investigative reporter Chuck Goudie during a 1993 interview. "It's the painting outfit."

During that television interview conducted at the federal lock-up in Chicago, DeLaurentis said he was "a bricklayer by trade" and a part-time gambler. "We gamble" he said "but as far as Mafia, I don't know what that is."

GOUDIE: "So you contend that if there is a Chicago Outfit it's an outfit of gamblers?"
DELAURENTIS: "Yea. Right. An outfit of guys who gamble. If they were any other kind of businessmen they'd be in the chamber of commerce."

The new head of the FBI in Chicago disagrees with statement's that there is no mob-or that it is washed up.

"Are they out there leaving people dead in the streets?" asks FBI special agent in charge Jeffrey Sallet. "No. But just because people aren't killing somebody doesn't mean that they don't represent a threat" Sallet said. "Mob guys or Outfit guys-whatever you want to call them-are resilient. Where there is an opportunity to make money, they will engage. The reason they don't kill people the same way they did 25 years ago is because it's bad for business."

The second in command of the Chicago Outfit, according to some mobwatchers, is convicted enforcer Albert "Albie the Falcon" Vena, 69. The squat Vena did beat a murder charge in 1992 after the killing of a syndicate-connected drug dealer. He is thought to oversee day-to-day operations of the Outfit.

Vena is a protégé of notorious West Side mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, who is imprisoned for life following conviction in the 2007 Family Secrets mob murder case.

Regardless of what some see as an evolving line-up atop the Chicago mob, defense attorney Joe Lopez, who has represented numerous top hoodlums, says the Outfit is a thing of the past.

"I don't think anybody is ruling the roost. I think the roost was closed" Lopez told the I-Team.

He disputes that DeLaurentis has succeeded John DiFronzo. "He's old too" said Lopez, who proudly carries his own nickname "The Shark." Lopez said that Chicago mob leaders "became obsolete" and were put out of business by the "digital revolution has changed the entire world." Other mob experts differ.

"The outfit is a criminal enterprise, it's still functioning" said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit" book. Binder maintains that the mob has a working relationship with Chicago street gangs. He says the Outfit is "involved in the wholesaling and to some extent importation" of cocaine and heroin that gangs sell on city streets. "Just because it's not the Outfit guys standing on the West Side or South Side selling it doesn't mean they aren't actively involved in making a lot of money off of narcotics themselves."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie, Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

John DiFronzo, Leader of The Chicago Outfit, is Dead

The leader of the Outfit for more than a decade, notorious for his nickname and his cagey demeanor, died on Sunday-the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

John "No Nose" DiFronzo was 89 years old. He had Alzheimer's disease, according to noted Chicago attorney Joe "the Shark" Lopez who counts mob leaders as clients. "I knew that he was extremely ill and I thought that the ending was going to come and it finally did" Lopez told the I-Team during an interview on Tuesday.

DiFronzo was awarded the mob moniker "No Nose" early in his career when part of his schnoz was sliced off as he jumped through the plate glass window of a Michigan Ave. clothing store window to escape after a burglary. That incident in 1949 happened in the middle of a gun battle with police and left DiFronzo with a mangled snout.

Eventually plastic surgery restored the mobster's nose, but the nickname stuck. Sometimes he was also called "Johnny Bananas" by associates.

"John DiFronzo was at the top during a much different era than other times in history" said Chicago mob expert John Binder. "I mean they were still killing quite a few guys pre-years during the 1960's. Starting in the 1990's that really slows down and by the late 1990's there's very few certifiable or agreed-on outfit hits" said Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit."

DiFronzo had been a longtime resident of River Grove. He would meet weekly with Outfit underlings at a local restaurant near the apartment he shared with his wife.

The I-Team put his regular midday meetings under surveillance in 2009 and conducted a rare interview with the mob boss as he was leaving one of the luncheons. "Lunch with No Nose" as it was coined, was a rare glimpse into Outfit operations and perhaps the last time DiFronzo was seen on television.

The crime syndicate boss, who began as an enforcer, did serve prison sentences for burglary in 1950 and in 1993 for racketeering-and was a suspect in about three dozen Outfit crimes and some murder cases. But he was convicted only a few times and managed to escape the legal fate of many of his mob colleagues.

As the upper echelon of the Chicago Outfit went to prison for life in the 2007 Operation: Family Secrets case, DiFronzo was always thought to have been atop the list of those who would fall in the second round of federal indictments.

"I think about (mob hitman) Nick Calabrese saying that DiFronzo was there when they killed the Spilotro brothers" recalled Lopez. Anthony "Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael Spilotro were murdered by Outfit hitmen according to federal investigators and buried in an Indiana cornfield. The 1986 double murder was the subject of a Hollywood movie and has never been officially solved.

There never was a Family Secrets II and DiFronzo managed to hold the reins of power into his 80's.

After Lunch with No Nose, the octogenarian Outfit boss told the I-Team that he was "not concerned at all" about being prosecuted. As it turned out, he was correct. He met the fate of old age and a debilitating disease on Sunday morning, passing away less violently then some of those who crossed paths with the Outfit over the years.

"I would say John DiFronzo was no Tony Accardo" said Binder, referring to Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo the long-time Chicago consiglieri who died in 1992. "Now of course they (Outfit bosses) are working during different time periods. It's one thing to be leading an organization when its growing and it's at its peak. It's another thing to be leading an organization when it is clearly declining" Binder said.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff.

Reports that John "No Nose" DiFronzo, AKA Johnny Bananas, Chicago's Top Mobster has Died

Days earlier a “message” had been sent by Chicago mobsters, federal agents believed, when a small bomb exploded outside the home of the daughter of Outfit turncoat Lenny Patrick.

John DiFronzo was just one of a group of alleged mobsters for whom the Feds wanted to send a message back, immediately.

There was no hurry in DiFronzo that day as he breezed north on Dearborn as if it was a noon-time walk, declining to answer any questions.

DiFronzo climbed the ladder of the Outfit ranks from burglar to boss. Reporters nicknamed him “No-Nose” after he was cut jumping through a window in a Michigan Avenue burglary in the 1940s. But to his fellow organized crime brothers he was known as “Bananas” due to his complexion.

In January 1992, DiFronzo was indicted in California in a scheme to run a casino at the Rincon Indian Preservation near San Diego. He and fellow Chicagoan Donald Angelini, were convicted of fraud and conspiracy, though the conviction was over turned and he was released from prison.

By day DiFronzo worked as a car salesman at an Irving Park dealership and often by 4:00 he could be seen entering an Elmwood Park restaurant for his afternoon vodka.

DiFronzo’s name surfaced in the Operation Family Secrets trial in which mob heavy weights Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, Frank Calabrese, Sr. and James Marcello were convicted of taking part in a series of mob hits, including the murders of Tony Spilotro and Michael Spilotro.

During the trial, federal prosecutors named DiFronzo as part of the crew that killed “Tony the Ant” and his brother and buried them in an Indiana farm field. When asked during the course of the trial how prosecutors could name—and not charge—DiFronzo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Mars’ only response was “good question.”

The Elmwood Park mobster had reportedly been ill for some time. Within hours of the announcement of his death at the age of 89 his Wikipedia page was updated to list his birth as December 13, 1928 and his death as May 27, 2018.

Thanks to Carol Marin and Don Moseley.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Chicago Outfit Boss Rudy Fratto Stiffs Feds

Chicago Outfit boss Rudy Fratto has stopped paying restitution from a federal court tax evasion conviction and the government is going after him for more than $130,000, the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

The last time Rudy "The Chin" Fratto made news, he'd just been sentenced to prison for rigging $2 million in forklift contracts for a pair of trade shows at McCormick Place. That followed a tax evasion conviction-and court ordered restitution of $141,000. But the I-Team has learned Mr. Fratto still owes most of that. In newly filed court records, U.S. prosecutors say Fratto stopped paying his hefty bill more than a year ago.

Because of it, they say the government is "entitled to 25% of Fratto's disposable earnings for each pay period...until the debt is paid in full." Fratto claims he should only be paying 10 percent and there will be a federal court hearing on May 24.

Mr. Fratto is currently employed at a small electrical firm in Bartlett, "running pipe and wire," according to the company owner.

Such legit work may seem out of sync for someone considered prone to violence and over the years suspected by law enforcement in numerous crimes, including murder. Fratto has managed to avoid prosecution for acts of Outfit violence.

The hoodlum's jovial and engaging demeanor in public and outside court is in sharp contrast to the cut-throat position authorities say he holds in the mob. The west suburban Darien resident is an understudy of Outfit elder John "No Nose" DiFronzo, the mob's statesman of Elmwood Park, who is said to be in failing health.

Fratto has the mob in his DNA. He is the nephew of Louis "Cock-Eyed Louie" Fratto, so-named because his eyes were out of kilter. Cock-Eyed Louie, an associate of Al Capone and the Chicago Mob's emissary in Des Moines, Iowa Mob from 1930 until 1967.

Even if Fratto ponies up and starts paying his federal bill at garnishment rate he wants per week, it will take a while to whittle down what he owes. At 10 percent from his paycheck, he wouldn't pay off the debt for 25 years, at age 98.

Mr. Fratto's attorney has not responded to messages left by the I-Team. A spokesman for the United States Attorney in Chicago declined to comment on the case.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Reputed mob debt collector Paul Carparelli's recordings read like low-grade gangster script

Paul Carparelli may have fancied himself a rising star in the Chicago Outfit, but by his own admission he made a pretty lousy firefighter.

In 2012, Carparelli, a reputed debt collector for the mob's Cicero faction, was caught on undercover federal recordings talking about his unsuccessful stint as a firefighter in sleepy west suburban Bloomingdale in the 1990s.

Among his gripes about the job: running into burning buildings for low pay, being forced to do menial tasks like washing firetrucks instead of his beloved Cadillac, and, heaven forbid, going on a late-night call to the nearby nursing home, where "them old (expletive) (expletive)ers are always croakin.'"

"It just wasn't the job for me, you know. You gotta help them (expletive) people," Carparelli told his top muscle guy, George Brown, in a profanity-laced tirade, according to a transcript in court records. "You gotta be a certain kind of person for that. George, I guess you gotta like people. My problem is I hate everybody."

Carparelli's day of reckoning comes Wednesday when he faces sentencing at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse for a series of extortion attempts involving deadbeat businessmen. Federal prosecutors are seeking about 11 years in prison.

At the center of the case are hundreds of hours of conversations between Carparelli and Brown, a 300-pound union bodyguard and mixed martial arts fighter who was secretly cooperating with the FBI. The recordings paint a colorful picture of Carparelli as a callous mid-level mob operative looking to make a name for himself after convictions had sent several Outfit bosses — including Cicero crew leader Mike "The Large Guy" Sarno — to prison.

"This position doesn't happen all the time, George," Carparelli told Brown in a recorded call from 2011. "This is like a once in a lifetime (expletive) thing, if this is what you want to do, if this is the way you want to live your life."

Carparelli's lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman for as little as probation, saying in a recent court filing that the former pizzeria owner was "nothing but a blowhard" whose constant exaggerations of his mob ties "caused the government to believe he was a connected guy."

"Mr. Carparelli is clearly a 'wanna-be' who has watched 'The Sopranos' and 'Goodfellas' too many times," attorneys Ed Wanderling and Charles Nesbit wrote. He was simply playing a "role," they argued.

If it was just a role, it was one Carparelli, now 47, played to the hilt. Carparelli was caught on surveillance arranging for the beating of suburban car dealership owner R.J. Serpico — he wanted both his legs broken — for failing to pay back a $300,000 loan from Michael "Mickey" Davis. Davis was a longtime partner of reputed mob lieutenant Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis and had Outfit connections that purportedly went all the way to acting boss John DiFronzo, according to testimony at Davis' recent trial.

"We definitely can't (expletive) around with these guys or we're gonna have a big (expletive) headache," Carparelli told Brown in one call that was played at Davis' trial.

Carparelli also played a behind-the-scenes role in a plot to confront a business owner in Appleton, Wis., about a $100,000 debt. In a backroom at a Fuddruckers restaurant, Brown and two other mob toughs threatened the owner, who had offered to hand over a special-edition Ford Mustang as partial payment.

Asked where the car could be found, the victim was "shaking and stuttering" so badly that one of the enforcers grabbed his driver's license and wrote the address down himself, prosecutors said. At a 2014 trial in Chicago, the victim had trouble reading the complaint he had filed with police, telling jurors he was still shaking when he filled it out and that his handwriting was almost illegible.

Carparelli's undercover conversations with Brown certainly seem ripped from the pages of a low-grade gangster script. In call after call, the two talked as casually as office cubicle mates about the depleted state of the mob, the difficult logistics of certain contract beatings and the pain they intended to inflict on those behind in payments.

In one phone call from February 2013, Carparelli was recorded telling Brown to go to the home of a victim to collect a $66,000 juice loan debt with a ridiculously high interest rate, according to Carparelli's plea agreement.

"(Expletive) ring the bell and crack that guy," Carparelli was quoted as telling Brown. "Don't even say nothing to him. ... Go over there, give him a (expletive) crack, and we'll get in contact with him."

And when Brown and Carparelli had a falling out — purportedly over Brown's inability to get certain beatings done on time — Carparelli patched things up by reciting a sort of mob creed.

"As long as you don't steal from me, (expletive) my wife or rat on me, you're my friend 1,000 percent," he was quoted as telling Brown in a transcript of the call. "The thing is, when we say we're gonna do something, we have to get it done 'cause we look like (expletive) idiots. And I'm not in a position to look like an idiot. Because there is a lot of (expletive) goin' on now."

Prosecutors alleged Carparelli's allegiance to the Outfit began at a young age. As a teen, he joined the 12th Street Players, a Cicero-based gang founded in the late 1960s and credited with being the first street gang in the west suburbs, where Carparelli grew up, records show.

He racked up numerous violent arrests in his teens and 20s for bar fights, street beatings and several incidents in which he allegedly pulled a gun during an altercation, according to court records. In 1995, Carparelli was arrested at a Chicago Blackhawks game after he allegedly punched a man in the face "without warning" during a conversation, records show.

After his brief employment as a firefighter, Carparelli went to work for a company owned by Bridgeport trucking boss Michael Tadin — a longtime friend of former Mayor Richard M. Daley — whose firm Marina Cartage was once the target of an Outfit-related bombing, records show.

At the same time, Carparelli was establishing himself as a cocaine dealer, a lucrative moneymaker for him for more than 20 years, according to prosecutors.

When Carparelli was arrested in July 2013 as he pulled into his driveway with his son in the car, agents found "distribution amounts of cocaine" on him, prosecutors said. The FBI also recovered two guns, $170,500 and nearly $200,000 in jewelry — including a gold bracelet with the name "Paulie" spelled in diamonds — in a safe hidden in his home's crawlspace, court records show.

While free on bond awaiting trial, Carparelli was accused of threatening the life of a witness against him outside a Chicago-area Wal-Mart, pulling up alongside an employee of the witness and saying, "Tell him he is a (expletive) rat. Tell him he knows what happens to rats," prosecutors said.

Even after Carparelli was jailed for the stunt, he continued to make threats from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal jail, prosecutors said. In intercepted emails and prison calls, Carparelli allegedly called his business partner a "fink" after he stopped returning calls and accused him of cooperating with the government, prosecutors said. He also claimed the man owed him money.

"Doesn't matter if I get six months or six years, when I'm done were gonna have a talk," Carparelli wrote in all capital letters in an email to the man. "So put your big boy pants on and get ready."

"The 1,500 means nothing," Carparelli wrote. "It's the point that matters!!!!!! ... See you when I get out!!!!!! Partner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

In their court filing asking for probation, Carparelli's attorneys said he is the sole caretaker for his son, who suffers from Tourette syndrome. They also pointed to his work as a firefighter and that his felony extortion conviction prevents him from ever holding a civil service position again.

If the issue comes up in court on Wednesday, prosecutors could play the recording in which Carparelli talks about his firefighting experience, ripping everything from the "ex-military, straight-A guys" who worked with him at the station to the long 24-hour shifts.

He also complained about frequent medical calls to a local nursing home and recalled one early-morning trip there when a resident told him she had been having chest pains since 6:30 or 7 that night.

"I looked at her, I said, 'Lady, it's 2 in the morning. You wait until 2 in the morning and call us. Why didn't you call us at 7? You woke everybody up,'" he said. "She looked at me and got hot."

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mickey Davis, Longtime Reputed Mob Associate, Convicted of Extortion

A longtime associate of reputed Outfit bosses Peter and John DiFronzo was convicted Monday of extortion for threatening a deadbeat suburban businessman and then hiring a team of goons to break the victim's legs months later when he still wouldn't pay up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

"How are your wife and kids doing? Are you still living in Park Ridge?" prosecutors said Michael "Mickey" Davis asked the victim during a January 2013 confrontation at a Melrose Park used car dealership, according to trial testimony. "Does your wife still own that salon in Schaumburg?"

After two weeks of testimony, a federal jury deliberated about nine hours before convicting Davis, 58, on two extortion-related counts. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.

As the verdict was read, Davis, dressed in a light gray suit with his hair slicked back, raised his eyebrows, turned to whisper something to one of his lawyers, sat back in his chair and shook his head.

Prosecutors sought to immediately jail Davis pending sentencing, but U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan allowed Davis to remain free for now so he can go to a doctor's appointment. Davis could be taken into custody when he is scheduled to return to court next week.

In the lobby of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, Davis' attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, vowed to appeal, telling reporters he was "disappointed that the jury could conclude from nothing but circumstantial evidence that it was proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Davis' trial featured some of the biggest names in the depleted ranks of the Chicago Outfit, including the DiFronzo brothers and Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis, all reputed leaders of the notorious Elmwood Park crew. While none of the aging bosses was charged with any wrongdoing, their names and photos were shown to jurors as evidence of Davis' purported connections to the highest levels of the mob.

The alleged victim of the extortion plot, R.J. Serpico, testified that he was well aware of Davis' friendship with the DiFronzo brothers and that he often saw Davis and Peter DiFronzo cruising past his Ideal Motors dealership in DiFronzo's black Cadillac Escalade. Serpico, who is a nephew of longtime Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico, said he also had heard that Davis was partnered with DeLaurentis, a feared capo convicted in the 1990s of racketeering conspiracy in connection with a violent gambling crew run by Ernest Rocco Infelice.

Durkin said Davis has known the DiFronzo brothers since childhood and that for years he has maintained a business relationship with them through his landfill in Plainfield, where two DiFronzo-owned construction companies have paid millions to dump asphalt and other construction debris. Davis and Peter DiFronzo were also golfing and fishing buddies, Durkin said.

"As many witnesses testified, growing up in Melrose Park, or growing up in Elmwood Park as Mickey did, you come to know those people," Durkin said Monday. "I don't think at this point Peter DiFronzo is anything but a businessman. I think it's unfortunate that he gets tarred with the same brush, but the government seems hellbent on continuing to put the Outfit out of business, and I don't begrudge them that, but I do begrudge them the means that they go about doing it."

Prosecutors allege that within months of the ominous January 2013 confrontation at Ideal Motors, Davis, infuriated that Serpico had still failed to pay back a $300,000 loan, ordered his brutal beating, enlisting the help of a well-known Italian restaurant owner in Burr Ridge to find the right guys for the job. The restaurateur went to reputed mob associate Paulie Carparelli, who in turn hired a team of bone-cracking goons to carry out the beating for $10,000, according to prosecutors.

Unbeknownst to everyone involved, however, the beefy union bodyguard tasked with coordinating the assault, George Brown, had been nabbed months earlier in an unrelated extortion plot and was secretly cooperating with the FBI. In July 2013, agents swooped in to stop the beating before it was carried out, court records show.

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mickey Davis and Peter DiFronzo, Fishing Buddies or Mob Associates?

The mob-connected plot to break the legs of a deadbeat suburban businessman started at a dingy used car dealership in Melrose Park, federal prosecutors say.

Michael "Mickey" Davis, a longtime associate of reputed Outfit bosses Peter and John DiFronzo, walked into R.J. Serpico's office, closed the door behind him and threw a piece of paper onto the desk.

On the sheet were scribbled notes from a mob bookie indicating Serpico's father owed thousands of dollars in gambling debts. Serpico, who had taken a $300,000 loan from Davis to start the fledgling Ideal Motors dealership with his father, knew instantly he was in trouble.

"This wasn't our (expletive) agreement," Davis growled, according to Serpico's recent testimony in federal court. "I want my (expletive) money."

He then pulled up a chair, leaned in close and issued what prosecutors allege was a thinly veiled threat.

"How are your wife and kids doing? Are you still living in Park Ridge?" the hefty suburban landfill owner allegedly asked Serpico. "Does your wife still own that salon in Schaumburg?"

Without another word, Davis got up and walked out.

Prosecutors allege that within months of that ominous January 2013 confrontation, Davis, infuriated that Serpico had still failed to pay back the loan, ordered his brutal beating, enlisting the help of a well-known Italian restaurant owner in Burr Ridge to find the right guys for the job. The restaurateur went to reputed mob associate Paulie Carparelli, who in turn hired a team of bone-cracking goons to carry out the beating for $10,000, according to prosecutors.

Unbeknownst to everyone involved, however, the beefy union bodyguard tasked with coordinating the assault had been nabbed months earlier in an unrelated extortion plot and was secretly cooperating with the FBI. In July 2013, agents swooped in to stop the beating before it was carried out, court records show.

For the past two weeks, Davis' trial on extortion charges at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse has featured some of the biggest names in the depleted ranks of the Chicago Outfit, including the DiFronzo brothers and Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis, all reputed leaders of the notorious Elmwood Park crew.

While none of the aging bosses has been charged with any wrongdoing, their names and photos have been shown to jurors as evidence of the 58-year-old Davis' purported connections to the highest levels of the mob.

Serpico testified he was well aware of Davis' friendship with the DiFronzo brothers and that he often saw Davis and Peter DiFronzo cruising past Ideal Motors in DiFronzo's black Cadillac Escalade. He said he also had heard Davis was partnered with DeLaurentis, a feared capo convicted in the 1990s of racketeering conspiracy in connection with a violent gambling crew run by Ernest Rocco Infelice.

Davis' attorneys, meanwhile, have denied he has anything to do with the mob. Davis has known the DiFronzos since childhood and has maintained a longtime business relationship with them through his landfill in suburban Plainfield, where two DiFronzo-owned construction companies have paid millions of dollars to dump asphalt and other construction debris, according to his lawyers.

To bolster their point that he had nothing to hide, Davis' attorneys showed the jury a photo that Davis kept in his office at the E.F. Heil landfill. The undated photo showed a tanned Davis deep-sea fishing off Costa Rica with Peter DiFronzo, the shirtless mob boss appearing to be reeling in a catch with a pole harness strapped around his waist.

Jurors deliberated about seven hours Friday without reaching a verdict. U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan told the panel to return Monday morning to resume discussions.

In his closing argument Thursday, Thomas Anthony Durkin, Davis' attorney, urged jurors not to get swept up in the dramatic talk of gangsters and to focus instead on the evidence that Durkin said failed to connect Davis to the mob or any extortion plot.

"If you want to get swayed by looking at 'murderer's row' here, Pete DiFronzo, John DiFronzo, Solly DeLaurentis, all the boys, then we are in trouble," Durkin told the jury in his closing argument as the mobsters' photos were flashed on an overhead screen.

Durkin also painted Serpico as a liar and called the government's undercover informant, George Brown, "just pathetic."

Both Carparelli and Brown have pleaded guilty to charges unrelated to Davis' case and are awaiting sentencing.

According to court records and testimony at the trial, Davis, who often golfed with Serpico's father, Joe, loaned the father-son team $300,000 in 2012 to purchase used vehicles to sell at Ideal Motors. The agreement called for the loan to be paid back within three years, plus an extra $300 per car sold tacked on as interest. According to prosecutors, Davis expected to more than double his money. But the deal quickly soured as the business floundered and Serpico's father continued to gamble with the borrowed funds, court records show. By the end of that year, Ideal Motors was in trouble, with creditors breathing down the owners' necks and cars being repossessed.

Serpico, 44, who is married with two children, testified he was terrified and sick to his stomach after Davis threatened him and his family at the meeting at Ideal Motors. He kicked his father off the lot to appease Davis, who became co-owner. Serpico also paid Davis nearly $60,000 in cash and a used Chevelle to try to buy some time, according to prosecutors.

Wracked with fear and not knowing what to do, Serpico "literally walked off the lot" that May 2013 and left control of the business to Davis, Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather McShain said in her closing argument. But with Ideal Motors a financial bust, Davis had had enough, McShain said.

"Mickey Davis made a decision to not only continue to collect but to follow up on his threat," McShain said.

Over the next several weeks, FBI agents secretly recorded a series of phone calls and meetings between Carparelli and Brown in which they discussed the logistics of the beating, including concerns over whether they had the proper clearance from the Outfit to carry out such an attack in the DiFronzos' territory.

In a recorded call on July 11, 2013, Carparelli told Brown their plan was safe because Davis had a direct line to the bosses, court records show.

"OK, listen, I met this guy (Davis) yesterday. You know who this guy is?" a transcript of the call quoted Carparelli as saying. "This is Solly D's partner. Ok? ...So, listen, we definitely can't (expletive) around with these guys or we're going to have a big (expletive) headache, a big headache."

But Carparelli also saw the job as a chance to prove themselves to the bosses, saying if the beating was successful it would "put us right on the map, believe me when I tell ya," according to the transcript.

A few days later, Carparelli told Brown his guys should approach Serpico as he left his new job as a salesman at Al Piemonte Ford, stage a fender-bender and attack him when he got out of his car.

"Say we give him a little tap, like an accident. 'Oh man, I'm sorry,'" Carparelli said on the call. "Guy gets out of his car. Boom, boom, boom. That's it."

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Joseph Caffarello Dies from Shot by Off-duty Police Officer

A clouted Rosemont man who came to local attention when he was photographed sleeping on the job as a tollway supervisor was shot and killed Wednesday in a domestic incident, officials said.

Joseph Caffarello, 31, was shot at noon on Scott Street just south of Granville Avenue, authorities said — the second homicide in less than a week in the normally quiet northwest suburb of just 4,000 residents, the Sun-Times is reporting.

An off-duty Rosemont police officer allegedly shot and killed Caffarello, so Rosemont turned the investigation over to the Illinois State Police, according to a news release from Rosemont police. The police officer, who has been on the job for four years, has been put on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

State police spokeswoman Monique Bond confirmed ISP was investigating but declined to provide details. Rosemont village spokesman Gary Mack said the shooting was a “domestic incident” that occurred in the street.

Caffarello was two years ago photographed on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times, sleeping on the job while he worked as an Illinois Tollway garage supervisor.

He'd twice previously been fired, only to win his job back, before underlings in 2013 finally secured his dismissal by photographing him asleep in his office. And he wasn't shy about bragging that he had clout that protected him, authorities said at the time. He was also accused of intimidating tollway employees and threatening to bring down the tollway's inspector general.

Caffarello “did threaten to get anyone who was opposing him, including me,” Tollway Inspector General James Wagner said in 2013. “There were reports from the employees that he referred to his clout being able to take care of him.”

Caffarello's attorney disputed the allegations, but Cafarello did have ties to people with mob or political connections, public records show.

Though Caffarello wasn't accused himself of being in the Mob, he once wrote that his uncle — the late mob street tax collector Anthony “Jeep” Daddino — had been like a father to him. Daddino has been described by the Chicago Crime Commission as an Outfit member who was friends with the first mayor of Rosemont, Donald Stephens, and was a village employee. Daddino also worked for the late, feared mob killer Frank “The German” Schweihs, court records show.

When Stephens died in 2007, Daddino was at the funeral and told the Sun-Times he “lost a very good friend.”

The following year, after Daddino died from cancer, Caffarello asked the tollway for bereavement leave — something normally reserved for the deaths of immediate relatives. “I consider my uncle immediate family due to the fact that he raised me from a baby,” Caffarello wrote in a letter to tollway officials. “I do not have a relationship with my father, and my uncle was the closes [sic] thing to a father.”

When he wasn't working at the tollway, Caffarello found work at D & P Construction, which has been tied to the family of reputed Chicago Outfit boss John DiFronzo.

Caffarello also was married to the daughter of the clerk of the village of Rosemont. In 2013, Caffarello became a father.

He said he was “screwed” by the tollway after he was fired the third time. Beyond that, he didn't want to discuss his dismissal with the Sun-Times in 2013, telling a reporter he was about to enjoy a dinner of orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe cooked by his mom, whom he described as “the best.”

Relatives could not be reached Wednesday.

Mack could not provide further details of the shooting.

Cafarello's murder is the second this year in the Northwest suburb, which until Friday had not seen a murder in more than a decade.

On Friday, a 14-year-old Des Plaines student was killed in what police said was a gang-related murder.

Mack said the cases are not related.

Thanks to Fox Chicago.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Elementary School Construction Project Subcontractor Has Reputed Chicago Syndicate Ties

A company with alleged ties to Chicago organized crime has been brought on as a subcontractor for a Park Ridge elementary school construction project.

A green dumpster belonging to D&P Construction recently appeared outside Field School, 707 Wisner St., ahead of an air conditioning, heating and ventilation project slated to occur this summer.

Scott Mackall, Director of Facility Management for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, said he was told D&P is providing only the dumpster for the project and was subcontracted by Palatine-based Bergen Construction Corporation, which is the company performing the bulk of the work. “We’re writing [Bergen] the checks,” Mackall said.

The Better Government Association reported in 2012 that the FBI believes D&P Construction is run by two brothers with Chicago mob connections: Peter DiFronzo and John “No Nose” DiFronzo. During the 2007 “Family Secrets” mob trial in Chicago, the BGA said John DiFronzo was implicated in the murders of two mob brothers, but was not charged with a crime.

According to a 2008 report by the BGA and the Chicago Sun-Times, D&P “was the focus of a Gaming Board disciplinary case that stopped Emerald Casino Inc. from building a floating gambling barge in Rosemont in 2001.” The report also stated that the Gaming Board “linked D&P to individuals who have been identified as known members of organized crime.”

D&P Construction has been used on projects for a number of Chicago Public Schools, according to a 2011 investigation by the BGA and Fox 32.

Mackall said he was unaware of the allegations of mob ties and D&P Construction. “I’ve never heard that at all,” he said.

A representative from Bergen Construction could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Field School construction project, slated to be complete by Aug. 8, will install air conditioning in the school, in addition to heating and ventilation upgrades and asbestos abatement. Field is the last of the District 64 schools to receive air conditioning.

The project, said Mackall, came in under budget at $4.5 million. The contract awarded in February identified the total cost at $5.33 million.

“The bids came in very competitive. They were quite a bit lower than we anticipated,” Mackall said.

Other building projects slated to occur around the district this summer include security upgrades at each school building costing a total of $337,425. The upgrades consist of security cameras on school property, changes in door access and a system that will run the driver’s licenses or state IDs of building visitors through a registered sex offender database.

Thanks to Jennifer Johnson.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stolen Sewer Covers Allegedly Purchased by Junk Yard Tied to Reputed Mob Boss

This story is courtesy of the Better Government Association:

Thieves descend on suburbs to steal municipal sewer covers. How did they end up at a mob-linked scrap yard?

For weeks, thieves have been making off with sewer covers from a slew of western suburbs – a likely by-product of a limp economy and relatively high resale prices for metal.

Last week, police revealed where at least some of those heavy grates ended up: in a Melrose Park scrap yard that’s been linked to reputed mob figures.

The yard on Lake Street is home to two sister companies: D&P Construction and JKS Ventures. Both are, on paper, run by Josephine DiFronzo, wife of Peter DiFronzo, who the FBI has identified as a “made” member of the Chicago mob. But the FBI has long contended that Peter DiFronzo and his brother John “No Nose” DiFronzo, a reputed mob leader, are really in charge of the operation.

The complex pays money for scrap metal, and apparently had been buying the stolen municipal items from thieves – by one account for $6 each, by another for 10 cents a pound, authorities said.

Forest Park police said that over the weekend they arrested a man who was spotted stealing sewer caps and grates, which can weigh upwards of 50 or 60 pounds. Officers found a number of them in the back of his SUV, and he told police he was headed to the scrap yard to cash in, authorities said. The village ultimately recovered other stolen pieces from the scrap yard.

A few days ago, acting on a “tip,” police from Westchester recovered more than 30 of their sewer caps and grates at JKS Ventures, each valued between $150 and $200 new.

Westchester Police Chief April Padalik said there was a large pile of stolen metal – perhaps 100 or more sewer caps and the like.

Other nearby towns that have suffered thefts include: Bellwood, Berkeley, Elmhurst, Hillside, Itasca, La Grange Park, Northlake, Western Springs and Wood Dale. At least some of those communities, alerted to the find, have since visited the Melrose Park scrap yard looking for – and finding – their missing items.

A police investigation is ongoing, with more arrests possible, authorities said.

Whether the DiFronzo operation could face trouble for buying stolen gear – unwittingly or otherwise – is unclear.

Josephine DiFronzo was reached on the phone Thursday night, but after a reporter identified himself the phone went dead. She did not respond to subsequent inquiries.

Another woman in the D&P/JKS office told a FOX 32 reporter the company helped police by alerting authorities to a suspicious sales attempt. However, Padalik said that “help” came after police had found stolen items at the scrap yard.

Despite its reputed (and well-publicized) mob connections, D&P has secured an alarming amount of government-related business in recent years through its waste-hauling operation, as detailed in previous BGA and FOX 32 reports. D&P was one of the sponsors of a village festival in Melrose Park just this past summer.

In 2007 testimony at the “Family Secrets” mob trial, John DiFronzo was implicated in the murders of mobster-brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro, but he never was charged with their deaths.

In a rare interview several years ago, after cameras found John DiFronzo frequenting D&P/JKS offices in Melrose Park, he was asked about his role there. “Nothing,” he said.

This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Katie Drews, Patrick Rehkamp and Robert Herguth, and FOX 32’s Dane Placko. To reach them, email or call (312) 821-9027.

Help the BGA shine a light on government and hold public officials accountable by becoming a member, contributor or tipster. Details at

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Kings of Organized Crime Said to Support Al-Qaeda

Although they are organized, the new mob in town doesn't look like the old one.

The new faces of organized crime in Chicago, according to law enforcement officials, are not necessarily from the traditional Italian mob. "Organized crime is not limited to one sort of ethnic group, it's an equal opportunity corrupter," said Jack Blakey, CCSA chief of special prosecutions.

Chicago's new kings of crime are more likely to hail from Eastern Europe, South America, Mexico or the Middle East- unlike their predecessors in the traditional Italian mob.

Their end game is the same: profits. They are making box loads of money- including cash seized in a recent Cook County raid.

Authorities say there are two primary schemes. The first is retail theft, but not large expensive items. The new mobs steal necessities such as bottled water- enough to fill a warehouse that was recently busted.

"Baby formula is always a hot product, razors, anything that everybody needs that is expensive...we have cases where they are bringing in tons and tons, literally tons of property and then shipping it in containers," said David Williams, Cook County Organized Crime Task Force.

Some stolen goods are sold in the US, and some are sent overseas- all undercutting legitimate Chicago merchants and driving up prices. The Assistant Cook County States Attorney, who leads a regional organized crime task force, says the loss of state sales tax hurts everyone. "In Illinois last year, approximately $77 million could have gone to firemen, policemen, hospitals, teacher," said David Williams, Cook County Organized Crime Task Force.

The second racket according to investigators is food stamp fraud. It involves loose networks of convenience stores that allow recipients of Illinois link cards to use them for cash. "It's not hard to cash in a link card, it's not hard... That's been going on forever but that's common in every neighborhood," said Eric Burns, Englewood resident.

In November, three suburban men were arrested and their South Side stores were shut down for allegedly taking kickbacks from cashing out link cards. "The store owner will swipe the card for a hundred dollars, as a ruse that they're purchasing groceries. They'll give the individual recipient $50 back and then keep $50 for their own profit& The government is the one that is funding the program, so these are our tax dollars that are flowing out of these stores for this fraud," said Williams.

In Al Capone's day, the flow was illegal liquor. From Tony Accardo and Sam Giancana through Joey the Clown Lombardo and current boss John DiFronzo, the traditional mob's rackets were labor union corruption, gambling and other lucrative public vices.

As a rule, victims were only those involved with the mob. This is not the case for the new kings of crime. "The ability of these groups to target some of our most vulnerable communities is something that we can't let stand," said Jack Blakey, CCSA chief of special prosecutions.

Fourty-six million Americans are on food stamps. For these new organized crime groups, that provides an almost endless cash stream.

Other rackets operated by the new kings of crime are vexing authorities: from pilfering ATMs to forgery and ID theft. With federal law enforcement focused on terrorism, Cook County prosecutors have taken the lead with their task force that now includes the Midwest.

There is a connection between terrorism and the new kings of crime. Authorities say some of their profits support Al-Qaeda.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rudy "The Chin" Fratto's Dining Reviews

Reputed Chicago Outfit lieutenant Rudy Fratto sat in a federal courtroom, with reporters filling the jury box a few feet away.

His usual lawyer, the always snazzy Art Nasser, was unavailable. So Rudy had another attorney: Donald Angelini Jr., son of the late Outfit king of bookies, Donald "The Wizard of Odds" Angelini.

Though Angelini was pleasant and professionally buttoned down on Friday, Fratto, 66, seemed a bit lonely at the defense table, waiting for his criminal hearing to begin.

That scraggly beard hid his chin, and he was comfortably dressed in the Rudy look: black shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, just like a Hopalong Cassadicci.

I didn't want him to feel lonely, so I said hello and asked about a line in the federal charges, in which he was described as Rudy "The Chin" Fratto.

Hey, Rud? What's with "The Chin"?

"I don't know," Rudy said. "I don't know where they got that,"

Did the FBI get you early?

"Not too early," Rudy smirked.

Like 6 a.m.?

"No, they came later, for coffee," Rudy said.

He'll need his sense of humor. I've heard that last week's new charges are just the beginning of a larger tsunami coming for the Chicago Outfit and its political messenger boys.

In January, Fratto was sentenced in a federal tax-evasion case. That was his first conviction ever.

On Friday, he pleaded not guilty to the new charge, which involves alleged bid-rigging in contracts at McCormick Place and leverage by the Cleveland mob.

McCormick Place has long been the Outfit's playground. In 1974, the Tribune reported the payroll read like a "who's who of the Chicago crime syndicate."

The 1974 payroll list included mobsters such as the late Rocco Infelice (natural causes), the late Ronnie Jarrett (unnatural bullet holes) and the 11th Ward's favorite Outfit bookie, Ray John Tominello (still alive, investing in Florida real estate).

Quiet hit man Nicholas Calabrese also was on the McCormick Place payroll. He killed dozens of men and decades later was the star government witness in the Family Secrets mob trial.

Another McCormick Place payrollee was the Outfit's Michael "Bones" Albergo. Nick Calabrese and his brother Frank got rid of "Bones." They buried his body in a pit a few hundred yards from Sox Park.

The federal Family Secrets trial put mobsters in prison for life. Other reputed bosses who were not charged, such as John "No Nose" DiFronzo and Joe "The Builder" Andriacci, have gone underground.

Sources say DiFronzo refuses to see anyone. His only sit-downs take place in his Barcalounger, when he watches TV. And Andriacci has apparently been suffering from Fedzheimers, a malady that makes politicians and wiseguys forget lots of things, like how to find Rush Street.

Fratto has a scary reputation. Yet he's always been friendly and charming to me. Then again, I've never spotted him in my rear-view mirror. That happened to Outfit enforcer Mario Rainone. Mario didn't believe in coincidence and was so shaken by the sight of Rudy Fratto in his mirror that he ran straight to the FBI.

In the courtroom, Rudy's wife, Kim, dressed in a black shawl, said hello.

"It's always nice to see you, Mr. Kass," said Kim.

The pleasure is mine, Mrs. Fratto.

After Rudy was fitted with a home monitoring device, the couple took a long lunch in the newly remodeled second-floor federal cafeteria.

When they finally came down, they didn't want to talk to reporters. Then I asked Rudy a question he couldn't refuse:

Was the food in the federal building as good as it is at Cafe Bionda?

Rudy, always the jokester, couldn't resist.

"No," he said, "but it's better than Gene & Georgetti's, though."

Rudy knows how much I like Gene's, the best steakhouse in the city. Yet for years, Rudy had made Cafe Bionda, at 19th and State Street, a personal hangout. On her Facebook page, Kim Fratto lists Cafe Bionda as one of her favorites.

With such strong recommendations, my young friend Wings and I felt we had to stop there for lunch. Cafe Bionda is a short cab ride from the federal courthouse. And a long pistol shot from McCormick Place.

We were hoping to run into head chef/owner Joe Farina to ask him about Rudy's favorite dish.

Wings ordered the Linguini con Vongole. I had the signature Nanna's Gravy. It was all delicious. Sadly, Joe wasn't in, so I left a note with our server:

Dear Joe: Sorry I missed you. Rudy recommended your place to me. The food was great. John.

The coffee was great, too. And I thought of all that coffee Rudy and his friends will be drinking, and the Rush Street guys, and the politicians, buzzing on caffeine.

They might want to stay wide awake, and keep a pot of coffee on, just in case the feds come knocking some morning.

Thanks to John Kass

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rudy Fratto Says that Not Paying Taxes for 7 Years Was Just a Mistake

Rudy Fratto, reputed top lieutenant in the Chicago Outfit, proudly told me just before his sentencing on Wednesday that he'd never before been convicted of a crime.

Given all the attention the FBI has paid to him over the years—plus the fear he inspires in wiseguys when they spot him in their rear-view mirrors and the silence at the mention of his name—that's surprising.

"Before this, no convictions. Not federal. Not state," said Fratto, 66, whose lucky streak ended when he pleaded guilty to evading federal income tax payments for seven years. "They make me out to be some bad guy. But really, John, I'm not that bad. I'm just a good guy who made a mistake."

Fratto's "mistake" was avoiding federal income taxes by funneling cash into a defunct trucking company until he got caught.

He didn't dress like some flashy HBO gangster. He wore a beige suit, dark tie, gray hair combed forward, glasses. He looked like a tired clerk.

Fratto's attorney, the esteemed criminal defense counsel Art Nasser, looked more the part. Art's big head of gleaming gray hair, the sharp blue suit, the tan, the white teeth, the sarcasm in the eyes. Nasser could wear a camel-hair coat draped over his shoulders, without putting his arms through, and get away with it.

In court, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly sat through the tears and the familial pleas for mercy. He saw the truly heartbreaking sight of Fratto's sobbing teen-age sons begging to keep their dad out of prison. The boys, one in high school, one in college, used their neckties to dry their tears.

Then Fratto's wife, Kim, dressed in black, slowly hobbled up to the bench, gripping a walker. She sobbed that if Rudy went away, she'd lose the house and they'd be destitute. "And I've got two broken feet, judge, and now I'm going blind!" cried Kim, startling everyone in the courtroom.

Then Fratto spoke to the judge, admitted his crime, asked for mercy, and said, yes, indeed, his wife was going blind. "Yes, your honor, she told the doctor that she wanted to see the ocean, and he said she probably wouldn't see the ocean, or the beach, or whatever," Fratto said.

Kennelly announced he was forced to impose a prison sentence, rather than send a bad message to faithful taxpayers. "A year and a day," Kennelly said.

"A year and a day?" asked Nasser, who tried to stop a smile, but then his lips broke free of his teeth and there it was. "A year and a day, judge, means he'll be able to get to a halfway house in a few …"

Kennelly cut him off. "I'm not interested in that," the judge said brusquely. "That's up for the Bureau of Prisons to decide."

In federal court, a sentence of one year would have been worse than a year and a day. That's because federal sentencing guidelines mandate that if a sentence is one year or less, the defendant must serve every day of the time. But anything over a year and the defendant serves about 85 percent. But not all of it in prison. Fratto will do a few months, perhaps at the Club Fed in Oxford, Wis., where corrupt politicians will know who he is.

Chances are they've even nodded at him, respectfully, from across some steakhouse floor.

After a few months, Fratto will be moved to a federal halfway house in Chicago, sleeping there at night, spending his day working or whatever. Currently, Fratto is employed as a "technical consultant for the electronic entertainment industry," Nasser said.

Don't you love it? It sounds like a great trade once legalized video poker comes to Rush Street.

Not a word was mentioned in court about Fratto's reputed ties to organized crime, or his relationship with restaurant and nightclub owners. But some close to Fratto worry about other criminal investigations.

Before entering court, Fratto confronted Joe Fosco, a blogger son of a late Teamsters union official who has filed a civil suit against Fratto alleging that he'd been threatened. In the hallway, Fosco said Fratto had taken him for a ride through Melrose Park, and pointed at a sign for D&P Construction—controlled by the brother of Outfit boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo—while implying that DiFronzo wasn't happy with Fosco.

"It's all lies!" Fratto said, rounding on Fosco. "Get out of here, liar! You pervert! I'm not going into court if he's going in."

After the sentencing, the Fratto women, their tears dried by the court's mercy, confronted Fosco in the hallway. One of the women who'd just finished pleading for compassion and forgiveness showered Fosco with earthy insults.

"This is all a (expletive) joke," Rudy Fratto said, walking away.

That may be. He insists he's just a good guy who made one mistake, even if it happened seven years in a row.

Still, there's no mistaking the notion that federal investigators aren't finished with Fratto.

Thanks to John Kass

Sunday, September 20, 2009

John DiFronzo, Reputed Chicago Mob Boss, Connected to Two Constuction Companies That Receive Substantial Government Payments

It’s called Omerta – the code of silence. It’s an old world Mob term that still applies here in modern-day Chicago. And when we started asking about two companies tied to the Mob, we saw it in action.

“Will you get the hell out of here?” one woman yelled when we asked. “Jesus Christ!”

“We just want to know who runs the business,” FOX Chicago investigator Dane Placko replied.

“None of your damned business!”

“D & P Construction” and “JKS Ventures” in Melrose Park are family-run businesses. The family is headed by John DiFronzo, the 81-year-old reputed boss of bosses of the Chicago Outfit.

Former FBI agent Jim Wagner spent his career busting the mob. Now, the head of the Chicago Crime Commission says the businesses are being run by convicted felons. When Dane Placko showed Wagner our video of the business owner, Wagner said he looked like the John DiFronzo he remembered: “He’s actually remained in very good shape for a man his age.”

Back in the day, John DiFronzo earned his nickname “No Nose” when a shard of glass clipped his nose during a gun battle with police. In the historic “Family Secrets” mob trial, a government turncoat testified that DiFronzo took part in the murders of mobsters Michael and Anthony Spilotro, who were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield. He was named in open court, but DiFronzo has never been charged with the crime.

FOX Chicago investigator Dane Placko spent several days over the summer watching John DiFronzo going in and out of D & P Construction – sometimes spending hours inside. When we finally talked to him, he appeared to be right at home.

"What do you do for D & P Construction and JKS?" Placko asked.

"Me? Nothing. Nothing," DiFronzo replied.

"Well we see you here quite often,” Placko continued.

"It's just my brother. It's my brother."

"Peter?" Placko asked.

"Yes, that's my family,” said DiFronzo.

"Who owns D & P?"

"His wife I think."

Josephine DiFronzo signs her name as the owner of the business. When Placko asked whether Mrs. DiFranzo was in, people at the business did not seem happy.

"Go away. Don't worry about who's here,” said one woman.

"They're not here. Go away," said a man.

Ultimately, FOX Chicago News never saw Josephine Spilotro at the company’s headquarters on the Northwest side. She stayed at their multi-million dollar home in Barrington, while her husband Peter went to work.

Peter DiFronzo also is reputedly a made member of the Chicago Outfit. And we saw Joseph DiFronzo, the youngest brother, who just got out of federal prison after he was caught running a massive indoor marijuana farm. When he arrived at D & P headquarters driving his brother’s car, we approached him to ask some questions.

That’s when a woman on the property told DiFronzo to leave the property rather than talk to us. “Go, go, go,” she yelled at him through the closed windows of DiFronzo’s Chrysler 300.

No one wants to talk about it, but the DiFronzo family clearly has a keen sense of business. Trucks hauling gravel, Dumpsters and fancy Cadillacs pass through the gates all day long. And millions of your tax dollars help keep it going.

"A basic rule of government and politics in the United States of America is you do business with reputable companies,” says Andy Shaw of Chicago’s Better Government Association. “You don't do business with gangsters, you don't do business with mobsters. You don't do business with people with a long record of felony convictions. You don't do that.”

Well, it turns out they do that in Bellwood, Stone Park, Norridge, Harwood Heights, Schiller Park and River Grove.

Suburbs and government agencies which have made payments to D&P Construction and JKSS Ventures since 2001 from the Freedom Of Information Act:

Bellwood: $1,013,295
Stone Park: $61,052
Schiller Park: $79,670
Franklin Park: $1,586,722
Elmwood Park: $787,462
Leyden Township: $59,218
River Grove: $384,416
Cook Co. Forest Preserve: $32,212
Melrose Park: $1,088,041
Stone Park: 61,021
Harwood Heights: $300
Norridge: $1,300
Oak Park: $7,497
Elmhurst: $8,640
Northlake: $75,556

Thanks to Dane Placko

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chicago Mob Boss Dies

One of Chicago's oldest, most powerful mob figures has passed away.

ABC-7's I-Team has learned that Alphonse Tornabene died on Sunday. ABC7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie was the last reporter ever to question Tornabene.

In mob ranks Tornabene was known as "Pizza Al" because of the west suburban pizzeria that he'd owned for decades. But federal authorities say Al Tornabene was also into another kind of dough as an overseer of the crime syndicate's books.

By the time he died on Sunday at age 86, Pizza Al had risen to the upper crust of the Chicago Outfit.

When the I-Team first met the outfit octogenarian in 2007, he was a relative unknown to the public and even to federal agents. Authorities had been surprised to learn of Tornabene's high-ranking position in the mob hierarchy.

Former hitman and federal informant Nick Calabrese had told U.S. investigators that Tornabene was one of two men who administered the initiation rites of Outfit.

The so-called making ceremony was just like Hollywood showed it, complete with bloodmixing and burning holy cards, according to Calabrese, with Tornabene co-officiating the proceedings with Joey "Doves" Aiuppa, the late mob boss.

Such an assignment would have made Tornabene one of the mob's top men.

His house in Summit and a summer outpost in William's Bay, Wisconsin, were both modest by top hoodlum standards.

The pizzeria that Tornabene founded is open for business on Monday but a sign announces the sad news that "due to a death in the family" they will be closed Wednesday for the funeral.

Mobwatchers say Tornabene's true legacy is in another family, one that the ailing pizzaman laughed off in his final interview.

GOUDIE: "The Crime Commission is saying that you run the mob?"
TORNABENE: (laughs) "I can't even move..."

He managed to get around for almost two more years after we met him that day.

The wake for Al Tornabene will be Wednesday and his funeral will be Thursday morning.

With Tornabene gone and wisecracking mobster Joey "the Clown" Lombardo in prison for life, that leaves the reigns of the Chicago Outfit in the hands of just one man, according to federal agents: John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Saturday, April 25, 2009

US Marshal's Office and FBI's Relationship is Icy at Mob Leak Trial

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose sat in federal court on Thursday to hear lawyers portray him two ways:

An honorable screw-up hoping to impress an Outfit-friendly father figure, or a criminal conduit to reputed Chicago mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Either way the jury decides, the relationship between the U.S. marshal's office and the FBI is at best icy these days, though they won't formally admit it. But you could see the two tribes in the gallery in U.S. District Judge John Grady's courtroom, sitting stiffly as if in church at a wedding, the in-laws glaring, already at war.

The marshals in their street clothes, shoulders hunched, not happy, sitting behind their man Ambrose. The FBI agents and prosecutors impassive, across the aisle, sitting behind their team.

The cause of the deep freeze? Ambrose himself.

Ambrose has been charged with leaking extremely sensitive information to the mob about the most important federal witness in Chicago's history -- turncoat Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese. And with lying about it to federal agents until he later confessed to the FBI about what he'd done. But according to his lawyer Frank Lipuma, all Ambrose really confessed to was screwing up, bragging to a family friend that he was protecting a major Outfit witness.

Ambrose's friend was William Guide, a former crooked cop with Outfit connections, who spent time in prison, convicted with Ambrose's father, Thomas, in the Marquette 10 police drug dealer shakedown scandal.

What Ambrose said about Calabrese ended up in recorded prison conversations beginning in January 2003 between Mickey Marcello and his Outfit boss brother Jimmy.

What also came out during the trial is that Ambrose apparently thought that by leaking a little information, he could win favor from the Outfit and use their street network as a source of information to find fugitives.

At least, that was his story as told to senior FBI agents Anita Stamat and Ted McNamara when they finally caught him in 2006.

The International Olympic Committee might not know this, so don't tell them, but Chicago has a history of law enforcement conduits to the mob. The job has been held by many -- a patrol officer in the evidence section, hit men in the Cook County Sheriff's office, even the chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department.

Since the time of Paul Ricca, the Outfit has had puppets, in politics, on the bench, in business and law enforcement. That's how it survives, while politically unsophisticated street gangs suffer legal troubles. And what was so unique about Ambrose is that he was a federal law enforcement officer guarding a federal witness.

"He screwed up ... shot his mouth off," said Lipuma, a former federal prosecutor himself, in a riveting closing argument, full of passion, trying to poke holes in the case. "John Ambrose admitted he broke policy. He broke procedure. It may have been a violation of policy. ... But he's an honest man."

Prosecutor Markus Funk was once the new guy on the federal organized crime team. But now he's the veteran, with the most significant convictions in Chicago history under his belt: Jimmy Marcello, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and others from the Family Secrets trial.

"This is straightforward theft," Funk told the jury. "The defense is throwing up these vast smoke screens to confuse you. He confessed. Not once, not twice, but three times. He shot his mouth off? There was no criminal intent? He admitted it. That's not a legal defense. That's a crime."

The defense also brought my column up again, the one of Feb. 21, 2003, that broke the story that Nick Calabrese had disappeared from prison and speculated (correctly) that he was in the witness protection program.

Lipuma said the column was the "linchpin" of the defense because after it ran, Calabrese's cooperation was common knowledge. But a month before the column was published, Jimmy and Mickey Marcello were already talking about Calabrese's federal "baby-sitter" funneling information to them.

If Ambrose were, say, a plumber, you might excuse him for screwing up and talking about a federal witness to an Outfit messenger boy.

A plumber might be excused, because a plumber wouldn't be expected to know about witness protection. But Ambrose is no plumber, is he?

He's a deputy U.S. marshal.

For now.

Thanks to John Kass

Monday, April 20, 2009

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitgerald Testifes at Trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitgerald Testifes at Trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrosetestified today that the carotid artery in Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose’s neck was pulsating with stress when he was told in 2006 that he was suspected of leaking sensitive information to the mob.

Fitzgerald and Robert Grant, director of the FBI’s Chicago office, confronted Ambrose after getting him to come to the FBI’s office on a ruse.

They told Ambrose they were trying to catch a fugitive terrorist and needed his help. But their actual plan was to let him know he was a suspected leaker, show how seriously they took the security breach in the Witness Security Program and then have Ambrose speak to FBI agents.

"I understood this was the first compromise of the witness protection program," Fitzgerald testified in Ambrose’s trial on charges of leaking information from mob informant Nicholas Calabrese’s secret files.

The files were kept in a safe location where Calabrese was being held in 2002 and 2003 to provide information about mob murders. Ambrose guarded Calabrese on those occasions.

Fitzgerald said he and Grant asked Ambrose to meet them at the FBI headquarters near Roosevelt and Damen to get him away from the federal building downtown. They knew the FBI would ask him to surrender his gun and cell phone when he entered the building. They were concerned what his reaction might be to the investigation — since his own father was convicted in federal court in the 1980s in the Marquette 10 police corruption scandal, Fitzgerald said.

Sitting in a large conference room, Fitzgerald recalled Grant telling Ambrose that his fingerprints were on a secret Calabrese witness file.

"I remember he was very stressed," Fitzgerald said. "The carotid artery on his neck was throbbing."

Initially, Ambrose told Fitzgerald and Grant that he did not know what they were talking about.

Later, he said he would never sell out his badge — and did not take any money. But he did tell them he spoke about his witness security details with a family friend, William Guide, who also went to prison in the Marquette 10 scandal with Ambrose’s late father, according to Fitzgerald.

After Calabrese had visited the Chicago area in 2002 while under witness protection, Ambrose called Guide and told him, "I was working with a witness who was in the Outfit at a very interesting time," Fitzgerald testified.

Ambrose recalled that Guide answered, "Is there anything I need to know?" Fitzgerald testified.

Fitzgerald said Ambrose thought Guide wanted to know if Calabrese was giving up any information on reputed mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Ambrose recalled telling Guide he did not know, Fitzgerald testified.

Ambrose then told Fitzgerald and Grant that he had spoken to Guide again after Calabrese’s second visit to Chicago in 2003 when he was taken around the Chicago area to point out crime scenes. Among those places was a parking lot near Sox Park where Calabrese said bodies were buried by the mob.

Ambrose allegedly admitted that he told Guide he took Calabrese to Sox Park — even though Ambrose did not handle that part of Calabrese’s security detail, Fitzgerald said.

Afterward, Ambrose said: "I broke all the rules... but I had no criminal intent," Fitzgerald said.

He also said, "I f----- up I shot my mouth off, but not like you think," Fitzgerald testified.

After the confrontation with Fitzgerald and Grant, Ambrose asked to meet with an uncle who works security for the federal courthouse downtown, as well as two top marshals officials.

He was allowed to speak to those three men. Then Fitzgerald left Ambrose at the FBI building and went back to the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago.

Fitzgerald said he sat in the spectators’ section of a courtroom where Gov. George Ryan was being sentenced in his corruption case. As he watched the sentencing, Fitzgerald took down the notes from his interview with Ambrose, he said.

Thanks to Frank Main

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Not the Hollywood Mob, It's the Chicago Outfit

In the mobster movies, a car pulls up and heavy men in hard shoes get out. And in the quiet suburban house, the wiseguy turned government witness stands foolishly in his new kitchen, oblivious in his bathrobe, scratching, boorishly guzzling milk from the carton.

The guns come up. The milk spills. The feds lose another witness.

Happily, it didn't happen in real life to Nicholas Calabrese, the Chicago Outfit hit man turned star government witness in the Family Secrets trial that sent mob bosses, soldiers, even a corrupt cop to prison. Calabrese is very much alive. Yet in federal court this week, the story of Outfit penetration of witness security is playing out in the case of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, accused of leaking sensitive information about Calabrese—including his movements—to Chicago's mob.

It's a difficult case to prove, since U.S. District Judge John Grady tossed out key evidence on Thursday. He invited an appeal by telling the jury "I made a mistake" in allowing secret prison tapes to be played linking Ambrose's late father, a Chicago cop convicted in the Marquette 10 police drug scandal, with other crooked cops connected to the Outfit.

Whether Ambrose is found guilty or not, it's obvious that imprisoned Outfit boss Jimmy Marcello and his sleepy brother Michael—who testified in a rumpled orange jumpsuit Thursday—believed they'd cracked the security around Calabrese.

The Marcellos knew of Calabrese being driven around town to murder locations where he briefed the FBI on unsolved hits that formed the basis of Family Secrets, which sent Jimmy and others to prison for life. They knew Calabrese called his wife from a phone dialed as Ambrose guarded Calabrese.

The Marcello brothers knew all about it in January 2003, weeks before I revealed in a Feb. 21, 2003, column that Calabrese was talking to the FBI about a series of unsolved homicides—including the murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro—and that his federal prison records had disappeared.

Though I'm flattered the Marcellos are loyal readers, and that Ambrose's defense would try to use my column to argue that the leak could have come from just about anywhere, Mickey Marcello testified Thursday that he knew about Calabrese because a law-enforcement source was spilling.

According to Marcello, a fat reputed Chicago mobster, Johnny "Pudgy" Matassa Jr., would tell him what the source learned. Then Marcello would drive to federal prison to tell Jimmy. Then, unbeknownst to the Marcello brothers, the FBI would tape what they said.

"John says his source was giving him a list of names," the balding Mickey testified. "... I had John. He had who he had, who I presumed was a law-enforcement officer."

Matassa and Marcello would meet, but not over checkered tablecloths, candles stuck in bottles of Chianti.

"One time it was Dunkin' Donuts, various restaurants, places like that," Marcello said.

He said Matassa told him about others Nick Calabrese was helping the FBI to investigate, including the boss, John "No Nose" DiFronzo—implicated but not charged in the sensational Spilotro murders. And about Anthony "The Trucker" Zizzo, who later disappeared from a Melrose Park restaurant lot and has never been found.

Mickey Marcello, a font of information, developed a severe case of Fedzheimers when asked about Joe "The Builder" Andriacci, and those two brothers from Bridgeport, Bruno and Frank "Toots" Caruso. Andriacci and the Carusos were not charged.

"Andriacci. 'The Builder,' " said Ambrose lawyer Frank Lipuma during cross-examination. "Is he a mob boss?"

"I don't know," Marcello deadpanned.

"Are you aware of the Carusos who run Chinatown/Bridgeport?" Lipuma asked.

"No," Marcello said. "I'm not aware of that."

"Aren't they associated with organized crime?"

"They know a lot of people," sighed Marcello. "I guess you could say that. That they know a lot of people."

So do the Marcello brothers. They knew a guy who knew a guy who knew Nick Calabrese was taking the FBI to places where murders were committed.

That's not Hollywood.

It's Chicago.

Thanks to John Kass

Mob's Secret Language Revealed

Rub your stomach? That's code for John Matassa, also known as "Pudge" for his love of the sweets.

Brush your nose? Must be talking about boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Rubbing fingers together denotes hush money paid out to a moulieri, or wife.

For the benefit of a federal jury hearing the case against accused turncoat federal agent, Michael "Mickey" Marcello on Thursday deciphered the gestures and phrases he and his brother used to discuss mafia business while behind bars.

Marcello told jurors the information he discussed with his brother, Outfit street crew leader Jimmy Marcello, in a Michigan prison came from "the baby sitter," the guy whose father died behind bars and who dialed phone numbers for a wanted hit man-turned-witness in protective custody. But Mickey Marcello, reluctantly testifying Thursday in his prison-issue orange togs and laceless shoes, said he never knew the source's real name or how he got access to the secrets.

Prosecutors fingered deputy U.S. marshal John T. Ambrose as the man who leaked word to the mafia about Nick Calabrese, the protected witness Ambrose guarded.

The FBI got smart to the leaks in 2003 when they caught the Marcellos on tape talking about Calabrese's covert cooperation with federal investigators. But the brothers talked in code and used a slew of gestures to disguise their conversations about criminal Outfit business. And they almost never named names.

One tape in particular was played twice for jurors Thursday before U.S. District Judge John Grady then decided to strike it from the record. On it, Jimmy asked where the news of Calabrese's cooperation came from.

"The guy who is giving it to you?" James asked.

"The guy who is his babysitter," Michael responded.

"Oh yeah?"

"Baby sitter guy. Same guy."

"Same guy that was at the other place with him?"

"(Nods affirmatively) Same guy that took him the first time."

Baby sitter guy, Marcello said, is a law enforcement source whose father was part of the "Marquette 10" police corruption case and since has died, which describes Ambrose's father.

Marcello, 58, pleaded guilty in 2007 to racketeering charges in the Family Secrets mafia case and is now serving his sentence. Thursday the judge had to constantly remind Marcello to sit up and speak into the microphone.

Marcello's answers came in short bursts, rarely in full sentences, as if he never got over a lifetime of communicating in code to foil eavesdropping investigators and evade wiretaps. Granted immunity by Judge Grady, Marcello didn't balk at any of the questions, but punctuated his answers with lots of "whatever you call it, I don't know."

Mickey Marcello's source was John Matassa, who Marcello said was still separated by several sources from the leaker.

"But you didn't know the information was coming from the marshal's office, right?" defense attorney Frank C. Lipuma asked.

"Right," Marcello said.

"There's no indication you know where Matassa got the information from, right?"


Thanks to Lauren Fitzpatrick


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