The Chicago Syndicate: Joseph Lombardo
Showing posts with label Joseph Lombardo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph Lombardo. Show all posts

Friday, January 11, 2019

THE OUTFIT'S GREATEST HITS

The Chicago Outfit's Greatest Hits from 1920 to 2001.

1920: Big Jim Colosimo is slain in his popular Wabash Avenue restaurant, making way for the rise of Al Capone. Largely credited with taking the steps to create what would become known as the "Chicago Outfit"

1924: Dion O'Banion is shot dead in his flower shop across from Holy Name Cathedral. Chief suspects are his beer war enemies, the Genna brothers. Started hijacking whiskey right before the start of prohibition kicked in.

1929: Seven members of the Bugs Moran gang are gunned down, allegedly on orders of Capone, at 2122 N. Clark in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Moran himself, lucky man, is late for the meeting at the S.M.C. Carting Co.


38 Detective Special1930: Jake Lingle, a Chicago Tribune reporter in the mob's pocket, is slain in the Illinois Central train station. He had crossed many mobsters, including Capone. Shot behind the ear with a 38 caliber detective's special on the way to the racetrack, Lingle was given a hero's funeral. It was only later that it was learned that he was really a legman for the mob.


1936: Capone gunman and bodyguard "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn is gunned down at a Milwaukee Avenue bowling alley, the day before Valentine's Day. Given the timing, the Moran gang was suspected. In addition to his skill with a machine gun, McGurn was also considered a scratch golfer who considered going pro and boxed as a welterweight where he was known as Battling Jack McGurn. He is credited with over 25 mob kills and McGurn was also suspected of being the principal gunner and planner of the St. Valentines Day Massacre.


1975: Mob boss Sam Giancana is killed, while cooking sausage, in the basement of his Oak Park home after he becomes a liability to the Outfit. "The Don" calls Giancana the Godfather of Godfathers - The Most Powerful Mafioso in America. Started as a hitman for Capone. Rose to boss of the Chicago crime family. Friend of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra & Marilyn Monroe. Rigged the Chicago vote for John F. Kennedy in 1960.


Joe Batters1978: Six burglars who struck at mob boss Anthony Accardo's (AKA Joe Batters by the FBI and THE Big Tuna by the Chicago media) house are found slain across the city.


1983: Worried he will sing to the feds, mobsters gun down crooked Chicago businessman Allen Dorfman outside the Hyatt Hotel in Lincolnwood. Dorfman had already been convicted under operation Pendorf: Pentration of Dorfman, along with Teamsters President Roy Williams and Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, when he was hit by the Outfit afraid he would look to reduce his sentence.


1983: Mob gambling lieutenant Ken Eto is shot three times in the head. Miraculously, he survives and testifies against old pals.


1986: The mob's man in Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother Michael Spilotro are beaten and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield. Glamorized in the movie Casino in which Joe Pesci played "Tony the Ant". Opened up a gift shop at the Circus-Cirus Hotel and Casino where he based his operations. The Family Secrets Trial revealed that the two were originally murdered by a crew led by James Marcello in a house in Bensonville. 


2001: Anthony "the Hatch" Chiaramonti, a vicious juice loan debt collector, is shot to death outside a restaurant in suburban Lyons by a man in a hooded sweat shirt. Chiaramonti had been caught on a tape played at the trial of Sam Carlisi, grabbing a trucking company owner, Anthony LaBarbera, by the throat, lifting him in the air and warning him not to be late in paying juice loan money. LaBarbera was wearing an FBI body recorder at the time. Interesting enough, the restaurant where he was shot was a Brown's Chicken and Pasta, where I have had lunch a handful of times.

Thanks to the Chicago SunTimes and additional various sources.

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

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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chicago Brothers Discover their Father's Friends were #Mobsters. So, They Wrote a Book #MobAdjacent

Childhood is, or should be, a time of innocence, and for a while that is the way it was for brothers Michael Jr. and Jeffrey Gentile. And then a pistol fell out of a coat.

“We were taking the coats from people who had come over to visit our parents and this gun just dropped on the floor,” says Michael. “For us it wasn’t a matter of, ‘Oh my God, look, a gun!’ but, ‘Hey, we better figure out which coat this fell from and put it back.’”

The brothers were born 14 months apart in the mid-1950s, and grew up in the western suburbs and everything was just fine for a time, or as Jeffrey puts it, “just like episodes of ‘The Wonder Years’ until they started to get interrupted by episodes of ‘The Sopranos.’ ”

As they write in their book, “Mob Adjacent: A Family Memoir”: “Once Michael and I started paying attention, the veneer that wrapped around our family fiction cracked, and there was no putting it back together. One day you’re a kid learning to read; the next you’re reading the newspaper, and there’s an article about the man who came to dinner last week. Pictures, too. Yup, that’s him. The newspaper said he’d been indicted for running a suburban gambling ring and was looking at five years in prison.”

The man who came to dinner remains nameless but the names of many of the others who pepper the book’s pages and frequented the brothers’ lives read almost like an old most-wanted list.

“Through geography and happenstance, our father grew up and knew well the post-Capone generation of Chicago criminals and crime bosses,” says Michael Jr. “They were his friends.”

The names of those people, some with well-known nicknames, pop from the pages: Manny Skar, Richard Cain, Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, Frank “Skip” Cerone and his brother James “Tar Baby” Cerone and their cousin “Jackie the Lackey” Cerone.

The brothers’ grandfather came here as a 2-year-old from Italy in 1896, settling with his parents and siblings in the then heavily Italian neighborhood around Grand Avenue and Aberdeen Street. After he helped a neighbor fight off two men who were attacking him, that man, a crime figure named Vincent Benevento, conferred on him the sort of respect and supplied the connections that can go a long way in Chicago.

He had a son named Michael (in 1929), the father of Michael Jr. and Jeffrey, and together they worked in the produce business. Then the son went to war (Korea) and afterward, with the help of some by-then nefarious childhood friends, opened a bar. He married (a woman named Mary Ann) and started a family. The Gentile brothers have a sister named Lisa.

“My dad was kind of the go-to guy for his friends,” says Jeffrey. “He was always clean as a whistle and good at what he did and so when a place was in trouble, my dad was called in.”

And so it was that in the early 1960s, he was running a place called Orlando’s Hideaway, part of a notorious strip of entertainments along Mannheim Road in the near western suburbs. Those of a certain age are likely to remember the fancy hotels, nightclubs and restaurants of that strip, and perhaps some of the illegal gambling and prostitution activities too, that comprised what was known as “Glitter Gulch,” a sort of mini Las Vegas.

It was at Orlando’s where the brothers met “a small, quiet, balding man, always perfectly tailored.” The boys were told to address him as “Mr. Sam.” He was Sam Giancana, the head of the Chicago outfit from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

Giancana, often known as “Momo,” used Orlando’s as a meeting place. The brothers were there when Frank Sinatra came to call and, they write, “We heard an unforgettable explosion as Mr. Sam raged at Sinatra” — about a Nevada casino deal that supposedly involved Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK, a Sinatra pal. “We have never seen anyone so angry before or since. Snarling, really. Spitting mad. Literally. Red face. Eyes bulging. Insane. Terrifying.”

That is but one of the lively anecdotes in “Mob Adjacent,” a book that came to life after Michael Jr., who has had a long career in the produce business, produced and hosted a 10-part series of short YouTube videos about his family.

These premiered in November 2016. “I thought that the videos were good but that they were only a half effort,” says Jeffrey. “I always wanted to write a book about our family and so Michael and I began to collaborate, to share memories and stories.”

The foundation for the book was letters and journal entries that Jeffrey had been keeping for decades. To flesh those out the brothers talked, often for more than 14 hours at a stretch, at Michael’s home here and Jeffrey’s in Pasadena, Calif.

“Mob Adjacent” is a fine and lively book, one that gives a solid and not overwhelming history of organized crime in these parts, and offers a very detailed narrative of their family and their own lives. It is frank and honest and surprisingly amusing.

“Our lives are the result of geography and happenstance,” says Jeffrey. Or, as he writes in the book, “Being mob adjacent meant we got the best seats in the house. It also meant we got to go home after the show.”

Their father died in 1995. At his wake, Jimmy Cerone approached the open casket, patted the corpse’s cheek and whispered into the coffin, “You were a good boy.”

His sons do justice to their father’s life and this project has made them appreciate one another. “Writing this book gave us a greater understanding of who we are and where we came from,” says Michael.

It has also given them something of a cottage industry. At their website mobadjacent.com, you will find a way to order the self-published book, see the video segments and purchase all manner of items, from an array of T-shirts to shot glasses, pens and mugs. The brothers have written a pilot episode for a television series that they are shopping around to agents and producers.

“It is a sitcom based on our lives,” says Michael. “But it could also be a drama.”

Thanks to Rick Kogan.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Examining the Crimes of the Calabrese Family #FamilySecrets

Why are we so fascinated by the mob? Well, there's violence: garroting, shooting, stabbing; the thrill of men hunting men. Money: While most of us sweat for our daily bread, gangsters take what they want. The unknown: Gangster stories give us special knowledge of dark, hidden places in the city and in the human heart.

That last point is important, because half the fun is pulling back the veil. The author strips away the pretenses and pleasantries of daily life and reveals how the world really is. Which is to say that force reigns supreme, not intelligence or character or merit. But part of the popularity of gangster lit is the assumption that the veil is only ever half-raised. Mob stories feed our most paranoid fears by implying that so much more remains to be told. Because we really can't see the subject whole, never know the limits of the mob's influence, we can imagine it as all-powerful, with cops, politicians and businessmen bought and paid for. Authors let us in on the secrets, but the thrilling question always remains, just how big is this menace?

That is one of the reasons that Chicago Tribune reporter Jeff Coen's "Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" is so refreshing. He never reaches beyond his story, sticks close to his evidence, lets the carefully gathered wiretaps and eyewitness testimony and reporter's notes do the talking. Like Nicholas Pileggi's classic "Wiseguy," on which the film "GoodFellas" was based, Coen keeps it at street level, focusing on his distinct cast of characters, the gangsters and their victims, the federal agents, local cops and attorneys who played out the drama.

During the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Frank Calabrese Sr. operated a lucrative loan-sharking business on Chicago's South Side. He had ties to higher-ups in the "Outfit," as the Chicago mob is known, men like Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, and James "Jimmy Light" Marcello. Calabrese was not a nice man. In the late '90s, his son, Frank Jr., musing on his father's abusiveness, decided to turn state's evidence against the old man. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, young Frank's uncle Nick (Frank Sr.'s brother) also decided to cooperate with the feds.

With that the Outfit's cover unraveled, and the case finally came to trial in 2007. Coen gives us fine-grained pictures of the loan-sharking and extortion, and, above all, at least 18 killings.

Nick Calabrese, a reluctant hit man, committed multiple murders at brother Frank's behest. Nick told the feds that his sibling would willingly kill him had he failed to carry out a hit. Frank Calabrese himself specialized in garroting his victims, then cutting their throats to make sure they were dead. Coen gives us gruesome accounts of the murders and burials in corn fields and at construction sites.

"Family Secrets" isn't for everyone. It is a complex narrative of a long case that resulted in several convictions. The devil is in the details, there are a lot of them, and they thoroughly de-romanticize the mob.

This is a well-written and researched book, but its subject might disappoint some readers. Unlike the East Coast mob, Coen tells us, "Chicago had been unified for much of the century, since the days of the infamous boss Al Capone. ..." That statement is true but a bit deceptive. This late 20th Century crew seems a little pathetic. They're not exactly the gang that couldn't shoot straight, but they're certainly not Capone's Outfit either. When we pull back the veil, we get a strange blend of Don Corleone and the Three Stooges.

Thanks to Elliott Gorn, who teaches history at Brown University. He is author of "Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One," published this year by Oxford University Press.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Family Secrets Mob Book by @JeffCoen is Indispensable to Know How Chicago Truly Works

If you're interested in understanding the real Chicago—and there can be no serious understanding of this completely political city without examining the Chicago Outfit—then you'll soon have a great new book on your shelves:

"Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" (Chicago Review Press) by Chicago Tribune federal courts reporter Jeff Coen.

Yes, Coen is a colleague of mine who is well-respected in our newsroom. But the reason I recommend this book is that I've followed Coen's work chronicling this case. His careful eye and clean writing style have produced years of compelling Tribune stories and now this authoritative account of one of the most amazing Chicago Outfit cases in history.

It involves the FBI's turning of Chicago Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese into a top witness and informer. Calabrese's access and insight into unsolved murders, offered up at trial by the expert killer and brother of a Chinatown Crew boss, were more than astounding. And, in a creepy but necessary way, illuminating.

Calabrese, a deadly though perpetually terrified hit man, testified against the bosses about more than 18 gangland murders in the federal Family Secrets case. Now mob bosses including his brother Frank, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and Jimmy Marcello, and fellow hit man Paul Schiro will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Later this week an Outfit messenger boy—Anthony Doyle, a former Chicago police officer who worked in the evidence section and who visited Frank Calabrese in prison to discuss the FBI's interest in an old bloody glove—also will be sentenced.

From the witness stand, Doyle gave Chicago one of my favorite words, "chumbolone," the Chinatown Crew's slang for idiot or fool. He deserves a long sentence. Federal mob watchers consider him to be close to the Outfit's current overall reputed street boss, Frank "Toots" Caruso.

Outfit helpers like Doyle, placed in sensitive government posts, in politics, in law enforcement, in the judiciary, in city inspection and business licensing bureaucracies, have long allowed the Outfit to form the base of the iron triangle that runs things.

"Doyle was one of the most interesting aspects of the case," Coen told me this week. "Here you have a police officer as a mole telling the Outfit when evidence in a murder was being sought by the FBI. I don't think the public is aware of the effort that goes into placing people in low-key clerical positions that give them great access, people that can fly under the radar."

Doyle learned the FBI was interested in a glove worn by Nick Calabrese in the murder of John Fecarotta, who himself received an Outfit death sentence for botching the 1986 burial of brothers Tony and Michael Spilotro.

"If Nick doesn't drop that glove, the FBI doesn't have the physical evidence to tell him he'd be going away forever," Coen said. "Without the glove, they wouldn't have Nick."

Nick's testimony involved the planning and surveillance of his victims, and the final end that came to them, either by a remote-controlled car bomb on a suburban highway ramp, or shotguns from a van along a country road near Joliet, or the laying on of hands and feet and ropes in a suburban basement.

The movie "Casino" depicted Outfit brothers Tony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield. That's how many of us thought they were killed, until Family Secrets revealed that they were actually beaten and strangled in a Bensenville basement.

In the gangster movies, the hit men are usually the roughest characters. But Calabrese wasn't a movie hit man, he was a real one, so frightened that he wet himself during his first killing.

On the witness stand and in the book, he comes off like what he is, a nerd of homicide, a man plagued by a sickening fear that settled on him at the first one and became like a second skin, and he found one way to deal with that fear—meticulous planning.

"He was nothing like a movie hit man," Coen said. "During testimony, he looked like somebody you'd bump into at a store in your neighborhood. But if the bosses pointed him at somebody, they could sleep, knowing the murder would be done."

On my shelf, there are books I consider to be indispensable to truly knowing how Chicago works. There is:


And now, there is Jeff Coen's Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob.


Thanks to John Kass

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reputed Chicago Outfit Solider, Chuckie Russell, Caught on Tape Planning Robbery

A reputed Chicago Outfit soldier was arrested on gun charges this week after he was caught on undercover recordings bragging about plans to break into the home of an elderly suburban lawyer and force him to open a safe filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors say.

"Nothing gets my juices flowing like putting a gun to someone's head, taking their stuff, and making it mine," Charles "Chuckie" Russell was quoted in a court filing telling a government informant. "It will be a great Christmas, I'm telling you."

Russell, 67, was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly went to a South Loop deli to purchase eight guns from a person who turned out to be an undercover federal agent, according to a 26-page criminal complaint unsealed Thursday. He was charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ordered held until a bond hearing in early January.

An alleged member of the Chicago mob's Grand Avenue crew, Russell was sentenced in 1992 to 35 years in prison for an aggravated criminal sexual assault conviction. He was acquitted of attempted murder in that case, records show. He was released on parole in March 2011.

Last month, a confidential informant told agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that Russell had been bragging about being "a top ranking member of the mob," according to the complaint.

At a meeting at a coffeehouse on Taylor Street, Russell allegedly told the informant he was the head of a prolific gang of burglars called the "Bishop" boys that was responsible for hundreds of burglaries and home invasions over the past several years.

On Dec. 16, Russell met the informant along with an undercover agent at the Boundary Tavern and Grille in Wicker Park, according to the complaint. During the conversation, which was secretly recorded, Russell talked about plans for an upcoming robbery of a man in his 70s who was believed to have as much as $750,000 in cash in a safe in his home, the complaint said. Russell said he'd been casing the home for years and had an "ex-girl" who was on the inside and knew the location of the safe and other valuables.

"If he doesn't open it, we're gonna make him open it," Russell said, according to the complaint. "They always open for me, believe me. I bring my butane torch, put it on the bottom of their feet, they open it."

According to the complaint, Russell wanted help on the robbery. He told the informant and the undercover agent that his crew would be equipped with all the proper tools to avoid detection, including police scanners, masks and a change of clothes. He also said their biggest worry would be if the victim had a heart attack, because if "he (expletive) drops dead, we got a (expletive) murder," according to the complaint.

"The fun for me is the score," Russell allegedly said on the recording. "That's how I get my adrenaline. ... You know how long it takes to come to down for me? I counted money one night for so long my hands were filthy."

Later in the conversation, Russell talked about buying firearms from the undercover agent. On Monday, the three men met again at the Gale Street Inn in Jefferson Park, where Russell gave the agent a list of guns he was looking for, including an Uzi submachine gun and an AK-47, according to the complaint.

During the meeting, Russell handed the undercover agent a driver's license depicting an African-American man and then showed him a cellphone photo of a car that was riddled with bullet holes. Russell said he was showing him "some decent work" of his, and that the man was "no longer with us."

"All (expletive) blood and brain all over the (expletive) seat," Russell was quoted in the charges as saying. "Went right through his head and out that side. Take (the car) and drop it off in the black community, another black bastard gets caught with it."

Chicago police confirmed that the man depicted in the driver's license photo was killed in November, according to the complaint.

Russell's arrest marked the latest blow for the once-feared Grand Avenue crew made famous by colorful and violent leaders such as Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and currently believed to be headed by Albert "Little Guy" Vena, who is Russell's brother-in-law

In 2014, alleged crew members Robert Panozzo, Paul Koroluk, and others were arrested on sweeping racketeering charges alleging an array of crimes going back to at least 2007, from home invasions and armed robberies to burglaries, arson, insurance fraud and prostitution.

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Bringing Down the Mob: The War Against the American Mafia

Longtime business associates Allen Dorfman and Irwin Weiner frequently lunched together. On a day in January 1983, they emerged from Dorfman's Cadillac onto the icy parking lot of a suburban Chicago restaurant, ten minutes late for their one o'clock reservation. According to Weiner, they were walking between parked cars when two men ran up behind them and yelled, "This is a robbery." One of the men fired a .22 automatic at least half a dozen times. Only Dorfman was hit. He fell to the ground in a large pool of blood that quickly froze into red ice. When the paramedics arrived, he showed no signs of life.

At fifty-nine, Dorfman was a nationally known figure, and his death would be reported across the country. His murder was news, but it was not a surprise. He had been a key figure in the world of organized crime for more than thirty years. Beginning with Jimmy Hoffa, successive presidents of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) had allowed him to use his position as head of the pension fund to provide sweetheart loans to mob figures, money that bankrolled the Mafia's control of several Las Vegas casinos. The union itself, which had access to top business leaders and politicians right up to the White House, was run as a virtual subsidiary of the American Mafia. A month before his murder, Dorfman, Teamsters president Roy Williams, and a top Chicago mob figure, Joe Lombardo, had been convicted of attempting to bribe U.S. senator Howard Cannon of Nevada. After his conviction in December 1982, Dorfman was released on $5 million bail pending sentencing. He stood to receive as much as fifty-five years in prison.

In addition to the bribery case, the government was also conducting an investigation of money skimming in mob-backed Vegas casinos. Dorfman knew the secrets of both the Teamsters and Vegas. If he decided to cut a deal with prosecutors, talking in return for a more lenient sentence, many gangsters-and supposedly legitimate businessmen and officials-would end up in prison. The head of the Chicago Crime Commission told The New York Times, "There's no doubt in my mind that Mr. Dorfman was killed to keep him quiet ... if he ever coughed up to investigators ... this country would be shaking for a month." Someone with access to the crime scene apparently decided to ensure that at least some of Dorfman's secrets did not die with him. He made a photocopy of the dead man's memo book and sent it to the Chicago Crime Commission.

Though he was only an associate member, Allen Dorfman's life provided a window into the world of the American Mafia at its highest levels. Beginning in 1949, it took him just five years to rise from physical education instructor to millionaire, thanks to Hoffa's largess and the connections of his racketeer stepfather, "Red" Dorfman. At the time of his death he headed a financial empire that included insurance companies, condominium developments, resorts, and other projects, and he maintained homes in four states. He was a major contributor to various charities and was frequently honored by civic associations. Yet over his career he had been denounced by congressional committees and constantly pursued by federal law enforcement officers. He was indicted on several occasions, though he usually managed to win acquittals. In 1972 he was convicted of conspiring to facilitate a loan from the Teamsters Pension Fund in return for a kickback of $55,000, but he served only nine months in jail.

After his latest conviction, Dorfman should have been wary of his former associates. He might have known that the bosses of the Chicago mob would be worried that a man long accustomed to the affluent life might not be able to face spending the rest of his days in prison. True, Dorfman had not rolled over following any of his previous arrests. But in the Mafia world that was irrelevant. Chicago mob bosses Joey Aiuppa and Jackie Cerone, who were also caught up in the Vegas skim, had followed very different paths from Dorfman's. Their rise to the top had been slow, prefaced by years spent doing the dirty work with guns and blackjacks. Unlike Dorfman, they could not pose as businessmen and civic benefactors. Instead, they lived by a hard code that mandated that all doubts must be resolved in favor of the organization. They could not take the chance that someone who had so much potential to hurt them would stay silent. Since it was standard mob procedure to eliminate witnesses, Weiner's survival and his tale of attempted robbery caused some investigators to speculate that he had set Dorfman up.

The fact that Dorfman was not Italian had prevented him from becoming a "made" member of the Mafia. Still, he was well aware of its rules, though perhaps he did not think they applied to a big shot like him. The same lack of understanding had undoubtedly cost his old boss Jimmy Hoffa his life eight years earlier. Then again, a lot of people on both sides of the law had always found it hard to comprehend the culture of the American Mafia.

Books about mob life often end up on the true-crime shelves of bookstores, alongside biographies of serial killers and accounts of last year's "heist of the century." In some respects it is the appropriate place for the colorful criminals of the American Mafia. Each generation has brought forth an Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Sam Giancana, or John Gotti, all of whom have fascinated the public, as have their big and small screen counterparts: Scarface, The Godfather, and The Sopranos.

Yet the American Mafia is more than just another group of criminals. Since the 1920s it has been the heart and soul of American organized crime. As such it has exercised significant influence on the political and economic life of the country. In American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power, I told the story of the organization up to the early 1950s. I described how the Mafia managed to acquire all the trappings of an independent state, flouting the authority of the United States government. It promulgated its own laws, not infrequently imposing the death penalty; it even maintained diplomatic relations with foreign countries, such as Cuba. And perhaps most critically, in both politics and business it managed to link the underworld to the upper world. That an organization that never had more than five thousand full-fledged members could exercise such immense power is one of the most phenomenal accomplishments in the history of the United States. It was not, however, a lasting achievement. The present work, an account of events from the 1950s into the twenty-first century, is the story of a declining power. Essentially it is a domestic military history, in that it describes the fifty-year war that law enforcement has waged on the American Mafia.

Words like "organized crime" or "Mafia" lack precision. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who crusaded against the organization, told his subordinates, "Don't define it, do something about it." Over the years, "Mafia" has come to be used as a shorthand for the leading element of American organized crime. Like "Hollywood" as a synonym for the movie industry, or "Wall Street" for high finance, it has become so embedded in the national consciousness that it is impossible to avoid using it. Attempts by official bodies to define the Mafia often fell short, or were misleading. In 1950-51 a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Estes Kefauver of Tennessee exposed the face of organized crime in a score of American cities. In its final report the committee declared that a Mafia, descended from the Sicilian original, controlled the most lucrative rackets in many major cities and tied together criminal groups throughout the country. A 1967 presidential commission described organized crime as "underworld groups that are sufficiently sophisticated that they regularly employ techniques of violence and corruption to achieve their other criminal ends." They explained that the core group of organized crime in the United States consist[s] of 24 groups operating as criminal cartels in large cities across the nation. Their membership is exclusively Italian, they are in frequent communication with each other, and their smooth functioning is insured by a national body of overseers.

In fact the Mafia in the United States was not an offshoot of the Sicilian version. While only men of Italian lineage could be "made" full-fledged members, the organization was not entirely Italian. Nor was the national "commission," as its body of top overseers was called, ever as clearly defined or powerful as it was sometimes portrayed.

In the nineteenth century, some people blamed the newly immigrated Italians for the prevalence of vice and crime in urban areas. But organized crime was well established in the New World long before Italian Americans arrived. Gamblers, saloon keepers, brothel madams, and other criminals paid off the police, who in turn funneled a large share of the take to their political masters. A few immigrants who came to the United States had been members of Old World criminal bands, such as the Neapolitan Camorra and Sicilian Mafia. It is clear, though, that the Italians who would turn to crime in this country (a tiny fraction of the whole) simply took advantage of what they found when they arrived. Even after Mussolini's crackdown on the Mafia in the 1920s propelled some genuine Sicilian mafiosi to the United States, the forms of organized crime they adopted were essentially American.

The Mafia in America produced bosses like Calabrians Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia, as well as Neapolitans Al Capone and Vito Genovese. For practical purposes it also included Jews such as Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel of New York, Abner "Longy" Zwillman of Newark, and Morris "Moe" Dalitz of Cleveland, and these men often exercised power equivalent to that of the Italian bosses. Lansky (nÈ Maier Suchowljansky) was generally ranked among the top three or four mobsters in the country. His success was the result of his financial skills and his ability to forge alliances with key leaders such as Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello. For similar reasons, Moe Dalitz would become a major figure in Ohio, Kentucky, and Nevada. Irish Owney Madden, though confined to the resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, after his exile from New York City, managed to reinvent himself as an elder statesman of the American Mafia. Welshman Murray "the Camel" Humphreys (nÈ Humpreys) was always near the top of the Chicago mob hierarchy, as were Jake Guzik and Gus Alex, who were Jewish and Greek, respectively. To emphasize the organization's American origins and its frequently multiethnic makeup, I refer to it as "the American Mafia," though to avoid constant repetition of the term, I will usually refer to it simply as "the Mafia," sometimes only "the mob(s)," or in individual cities by its local equivalent, such as "the Chicago Outfit" or the name of a particular New York family.

One clear indicator that the American Mafia was homegrown was its organizational structure. The American gangs replicated the political machines in the areas where they operated. Chicago, for example, was dominated by the Democratic county organization, though certain ward bosses were given considerable latitude. The Chicago mob controlled the metropolitan area but allowed some of its leading figures to operate with a high degree of autonomy. New York was too large to be ruled by one political organization. Tammany controlled Manhattan, but Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens had their own machines. The New York Mafia's five-family structure dispersed mob power similarly across the five boroughs. In Tammany days, a "commission" made up of a powerful politician from Manhattan, another from Brooklyn, a boss gambler, and a representative of the NYPD regulated organized crime. After 1931, a local Mafia commission composed of the heads of the five families performed the same function. At the same time, a national "syndicate" also developed, directed by a commission that included the New York families and representatives from other cities. The national commission reflected prevailing political practices as well. The Republican and Democratic national committees were dominated by big states, such as New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. In the national syndicate, the New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Detroit mobs called the shots (sometimes literally).

The internal arrangements of the families (borgattas or simply gangs) also resembled that of the political machines. The Tammany and Cook County party chairmen and the Mafia family heads were all called "boss." Both Tammany and the Chicago organization often had number two men; in the Mafia they were called underbosses. Tammany had leaders over every assembly district, while Chicago had a party committeeman in charge of each ward, and the Mafia had its middle managers too. In the post-Apalachin period, law enforcement began referring to mob sub-bosses by terms such as "capo" (head). While neat on paper, it did not always conform to local practice. In Chicago, instead of being called capos, sub-leaders were usually referred to by the territory they controlled: boss of the Loop, the Near North Side, the Far South Side, etc. In other places they might be known as captains or crew chiefs. The Tammany wise men were called sachems; the Mafia families' equivalent was consigliere, or counselor, though the job began as a sort of ombudsman to whom aggrieved gang members could appeal. Since "Tammany" was an Indian name, its rank and file were accordingly known as braves. On law enforcement charts, the lowest ranked members of the Mafia were called soldiers, a term that might also encompass crew members who were not "made." While it is sometimes claimed that any Italian made man outranked any non-Italian, this was not the case. A mob soldier, even a crew chief, had to be very respectful around "Bugsy" Siegel or "Shotgun" Alex, men whose nicknames alone indicated their temperament and propensities.

Even the boss title could sometimes be misleading. Some who bore it were no more than titular leaders. Gaetano Gagliano was formally boss of what became the Lucchese family from 1931 until his death in 1951, when he was succeeded by his underboss, Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese. Yet during the period when Gagliano was supposedly in charge, there was virtually no mention of him, while Lucchese was well known, just as European kings and presidents have often been overshadowed by their prime ministers. Sometimes it was unclear who was actually running a particular Mafia gang. In the 1980s the federal government prosecuted "Fat Tony" Salerno as head of New York's Genovese family even though he was actually the number two man.

The key to the American Mafia's success was its ability to buy or neutralize public officials. Until the 1920s, organizations such as Tammany Hall or Chicago's First Ward had the final say over organized crime. Then Prohibition- rich gangsters turned the tables and began to act as the partners or, in some instances, controllers of the politicians. As one criminal justice official told historian Arthur Sloane, "The mobsters have always been wedded to the political system. That's how they survive. Without that wedding they would be terrorists and we'd get rid of them." The decline of the Mafia began after the 1950s, when the mobs could not muster the political influence to protect themselves from the law enforcement assault led by the federal government.

In the present work I have adopted a broad approach, as opposed to a more narrow focus on a particular mob family or individual leader. Sometimes police or journalists have labeled gangs such as New York's Gambinos or the Chicago Outfit the premier mob families in America. Such assessments are like rankings of college football teams. The view of one expert is not always shared by another or borne out on the playing field. A similar practice is to designate an individual gangster such as Vito Genovese or Carlo Gambino "Boss of Bosses." For a long time, law enforcement followed the same narrow approach in its war on the Mafia: Go after an individual Mr. Big. The turning point in the war came in the 1980s, when the federal government broadened its targets and took down most of the leadership of all five New York families in one fell swoop.

Thanks to Thomas Reppetto

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reputed Chicago Mob Outfit Crew Charged with Posing as Police to Rob Drug Houses

Members of a street crew with ties to Chicago’s Outfit that operated a sophisticated drug ring that posed as police officers to rob cartel stash houses of large amounts of drugs were arrested this week, prosecutors said Saturday.

Four men who were part of the Panozzo-Koroluk Street Crew were arrested Thursday after investigators set up a sting operation in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood, prosecutors said in Cook County Bond Court Saturday. The men tried to steal 44 kilograms of “a substance containing cocaine,” from what they thought was a drug dealer’s stash house in the 13000 block of South Brandon Avenue, prosecutors said.

Police had installed surveillance equipment in the house, however, and the crew was arrested as they brought the cocaine outside.

Robert Panozzo, 54, Paul Koroluk, 55, and Maher Abuhabsah, 33, and Panozzo’s 22-year-old son, Robert Panozzo, Jr., were held without bail in Cook County bond court Saturday.

Panozzo and Koroluk are part of a Grand Avenue Outfit crew run by Albert “Little Guy” Vena, according to sources and court testimony in the federal murder plot trial of Steve Mandell, a former Chicago police officer, earlier this year. The crew came to investigators’ attention in October 2013, when law enforcement found evidence that Panozzo Sr. tried to have a witness in a home invasion and kidnapping case murdered to prevent the witness from testifying at trial, prosecutors said.

Koroluk’s wife, Maria Koroluk, 53, was arrested Friday at the home she shared with her husband in West Town, where police found 200 grams of cocaine on her clothes and shoes, Morley said. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver and held on $100,000 bail.

The men’s crimes included home invasions, armed robberies, burglaries, insurance fraud and prostitution, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a news conference after the crew’s bond hearings.

The crew conducted five  to six major drug-house “rips” per year, during which they posed as police officers to rob stash houses, Alvarez said. The crew used sophisticated methods, including attaching GPS trackers to dealers’ cars to find where they stashed their drugs.

 “I think this is a very organized crew and a dangerous crew,” Alvarez said. “They have a  history of burglarizing and being in and out of jail. Clearly it didn’t help. We are hoping under these charges they will be held accountable.”

This is the second case charged under the State of Illinois’ Rico law that allows prosecutors to target the structure of a criminal organization itself so that a judge can see a complete picture of a gang’s criminal activity, Alvarez said. “This is the perfect example of the type of cases we were looking to be able to handle under this new law,” Alvarez said.

During numerous search warrants into the mens’ homes executed as late as last night, Alvarez said, officers found police scanners, police vests, and real police badges that had been stolen from police officers’ homes. “They have a long history, a history of burglaries and home invasions,” Alvarez said. “We are happy that this operation turned out the way it (did).”

During a home invasion in 2013, Panozzo Sr. sliced off the ear of a victim after he heard the man speaking English after he had claimed that he only spoke Spanish. “Needless to say their methods involved extreme violence,” Alvarez said.

Panozzo and Koroluk have several burglary convictions and operated one of the most sophisticated burglary rings police have ever seen. Panozzo and Koroluk operated in the area of Grand and Western, Alvarez said. They are from the old Italian neighborhood known as the Patch on the near West side, where Joey the Clown Lombardo and many other mobsters are from.

The two are also part of the same crew as Louis Capuzi and Frank Obrochta, who are in jail facing burglary charges in both DuPage and Cook Counties.

The male defendants face 15 to 60 years in prison for racketeering as well as 15 to 60 years for drug conspiracy charges. Maria Koroluk faces up to 40 years in prison, Alvarez said.

Thanks to Meredith Rodriguez.

Friday, June 06, 2014

With Attorney Dead, Mob Boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo Claims Bad Lawyering in Appeal

Chicago mob boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo is in federal prison because people died. Now he is blaming his conviction on his trial lawyer, who is also dead.

Attorney Rick Halprin died by suicide a year ago, long after losing the Lombardo case which was part of Chicago's infamous "Family Secrets" murder trial. Lombardo now has a new attorney, who has filed a new motion to get the 85-year-old out of prison.

While a gag order seemed fitting in a case where the defendant was known as "The Clown," Lombardo was no easy client for his longtime attorney Rick Halprin.

During his notorious career as a top Chicago hoodlum, Lombardo was known to sport a newspaper mask at the courthouse, and in his heyday he liked to lead news hounds on hide and seek missions, once through a construction site. But in the "Family Secrets" murder case the stakes couldn't have been higher for Lombardo and other mob bosses. Joey "The Clown" was sentenced to life in prison, and has been in solitary confinement at the federal penitentiary in Butner, N.C.

Now Halprin is being vilified in a Lombardo appeal memo newly obtained by the I-Team. Lombardo says he wants and deserves freedom because Halprin was ineffective, incompetent, deficient and unprofessional.

His new attorney from Florida is claiming Halprin did little or no work investigating the evidence and witness claims used against Lombardo, and that Halprin "ensured his conviction" by calling Lombardo a liar in closing arguments.

Lombardo's current attorney didn't respond to I-Team questions. In legal papers he claims that Halprin received extra money from the court to investigate decades-old evidence, but didn't do so.

In the motion, Halprin's work is described as so inept that Lombardo's conviction should be thrown out or he should be let out on bond.

Bad lawyering claims are not unusual, but with Halprin dead they will go unchallenged. Prosecutors, however, intend to respond in court.

Thanks to I-Team.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Despite Accusations of #ElderAbuse, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo to Remain in "The Hole"

Imprisoned Chicago hit man and 84-year-old mob boss Joey Lombardo will remain in solitary confinement.

In Wednesday's ruling, US District Judge James Zagel denied Lombardo's request to get out of what is commonly known as "the hole" saying "this court has no jurisdiction" to make that decision. In Judge Zagel's order, he suggests Lombardo file a lawsuit in North Carolina where he is currently locked up.

His attorneys accuse the government of "elder abuse."

For decades, Joey Lombardo has been known in mob circles as "the clown." But on Monday, his courthouse hijinks and comedic banter with the media have given way to a tear-jerking motion for mercy. Or at least that is what Mr. Lombardo might like you to believe. Attorneys for the aged Chicago outfit boss say he is just a sick old man in a wheelchair and should be removed from solitary confinement, where he has been locked up 24 hours a day as a violent menace.

Long gone are the days when Joey the Clown wore a newspaper mask to court, or led news crews on a sprint through downtown. Since Lombardo was sentenced to life in prison during the landmark Family Secrets mob murders case, he has been locked up at the Butner North Carolina penitentiary under what are known as "special administrative measures" -- shorthand for solitary confinement.

Lombardo's lawyers say the lockdown was meant to keep international terrorists from plotting attacks.

In their motion to release Lombardo from solitary, they say "the imposition of these draconian conditions against an 84-year-old, chronically ill, wheelchair-user can only be an attempt to appear 'tough on crime' by engaging in 'elder abuse' against a man who once had a reputation (deserved or not) as a major player in the Chicago 'Mob.'"

Lombardo was convicted of personally murdering those who crossed the outfit even while overseeing the Chicago mob. He is a career hoodlum having risen through the ranks from syndicate soldier. But at 84, his lawyers say keeping his on lockdown is "unduly restrictive on Petitioner's physical well-being and his mental health, especially given his advanced age." And they contend "punitive confinement for more than 30 days constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

In the government's response on file Monday, they pay homage to Lombardo's moniker "the clown" then ridicule his effort to escape lockdown, stating: "defendant does not even properly allege that this matter is ripe for federal court review in any forum, let alone this one. In addition to the obvious jurisdictional problem noted above, the defendant does not contend that he has exhausted his administrative remedies."

Prosecutors say Lombardo has already been denied a similar request once before. These special administrative measures are generally imposed by the Bureau of Prisons and have been used on terror suspects, but other Chicago mob bosses have been put in solitary as well.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should Joey #TheClown Lombardo be Released from Solitary Confinement?

Imprisoned Chicago hit man and 84-year-old mob boss Joey Lombardo says he wants out of solitary confinement. His attorneys are accusing of the government of "elder abuse."

For decades, Joey Lombardo has been known in mob circles as "the clown." But on Monday, his courthouse hijinks and comedic banter with the media have given way to a tear-jerking motion for mercy. Or at least that is what Mr. Lombardo might like you to believe. Attorneys for the aged Chicago outfit boss say he is just a sick old man in a wheelchair and should be removed from solitary confinement, where he has been locked up 24 hours a day as a violent menace.

Long gone are the days when Joey the Clown wore a newspaper mask to court, or led news crews on a sprint through downtown.

Since Lombardo was sentenced to life in prison during the landmark Family Secrets mob murders case, he has been locked up at the Butner North Carolina penitentiary under what are known as "special administrative measures" -- shorthand for solitary confinement.

Lombardo's lawyers say the lockdown was meant to keep international terrorists from plotting attacks.

In their motion to release Lombardo from solitary, they say "the imposition of these draconian conditions against an 84-year-old, chronically ill, wheelchair-user can only be an attempt to appear 'tough on crime' by engaging in 'elder abuse' against a man who once had a reputation (deserved or not) as a major player in the Chicago 'Mob.'"

Lombardo was convicted of personally murdering those who crossed the outfit even while overseeing the Chicago mob. He is a career hoodlum having risen through the ranks from syndicate soldier. But at 84, his lawyers say keeping his on lockdown is "unduly restrictive on Petitioner's physical well-being and his mental health, especially given his advanced age." And they contend "punitive confinement for more than 30 days constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

In the government's response on file Monday, they pay homage to Lombardo's moniker "the clown" then ridicule his effort to escape lockdown, stating: "defendant does not even properly allege that this matter is ripe for federal court review in any forum, let alone this one. In addition to the obvious jurisdictional problem noted above, the defendant does not contend that he has exhausted his administrative remedies."

Prosecutors say Lombardo has already been denied a similar request once before. These special administrative measures are generally imposed by the Bureau of Prisons and have been used on terror suspects, but other Chicago mob bosses have been put in solitary as well.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mob Hit Site "Purple Hotel" to Get Extreme Makeover

There are plans for a major makeover at the site of one of the most infamous mob hits in Chicago history. Mob Hit Site 'Purple Hotel' to Get Extreme MakeoverA development company recently purchased Lincolnwood's famous "Purple Hotel", and plans to make it the anchor of a new restaurant and retail complex. The building has sat empty for five years.

"It'll be attractive, and because it has such great heritage with having this iconic structure behind it, it should do pretty well," Mayor Gerald Turry said.

Part of that heritage is rooted in Chicago Outfit history. Teamsters lawyer Allen Dorfman was gunned down by two men in the Purple Hotel's parking lot in January of 1983. The month before, Dorfman was convicted along with Chicago Outfit leader Joey "The Clown" Lombardo of trying to bribe a Nevada U.S. Senator, as part of the mob's takeover of several Las Vegas casinos.

Art Bilek of the Chicago Crime Commission was a detective who worked dozens of mob cases. He says Dorfman was assassinated because the Outfit feared he'd talk to get a lighter sentence. "Of course he was going to talk. There was no question about it, so he had to go," Bilek said.

Now, nearly 30 years later, the Purple Hotel may soon be back in business. But, it may have one more mob story to tell, first. The new owners say they've been contacted by location scouts for the FOX series "The Mob Doctor" about possibly using the hotel in an upcoming episode.

Thanks to Dane Placko.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Museums Worse than the Mob?

Frank Cullotta knows having his character assassinated isn't the worst thing that can happen to a guy with his pedigree.

In his former line of work, names could hurt you, but it's the sticks, stones and bullets that do most of the real damage. Cullotta, the former Chicago Outfit hitman-turned-government witness, just received word he's depicted in less than flattering terms down at the Tropicana's new Mob Experience. Specifically, he says, the exhibit devoted to the life and death of his childhood friend Anthony Spilotro portrayed Cullotta's defection in a negative light.

On Monday, Cullotta tried not to weep openly and only briefly contemplated seeking therapy before thinking better of it. That plot line has already been used in "The Sopranos," and he probably didn't want to scare the psychologist. But that's the way it is these days in Las Vegas, where warring traditional mob factions appear to have been replaced by sparring mob museums. In this corner, wearing the black trunks, Jay Bloom's Mob Experience at the Trop. In that corner, wearing red trunks, the Oscar Goodman-inspired downtown Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, also known as the Mob Museum.

The Mob Experience has been faster on its feet and secured the cooperation and memorabilia of members of a number of mob families along with the faces of a number of gangster-movie stars. The Mob Museum, conversely, is focusing on creating a historically accurate depiction of the battle between organized crime and law enforcement. It also is gathering big-ticket items such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre wall and Albert Anastasia's last barber chair.

Cullotta, 72, could give a graduate seminar in the Chicago Outfit and its role in Las Vegas during Spilotro's era. He also knows something about making money from mob imagery, participating in Martin Scorsese's "Casino" and co-authoring his autobiography Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness, with Dennis Griffin. (Cullotta, Griffin, Henry Hill, Andrew DiDonato and Vito Colucci will sign books at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Royal Resorts on Convention Center Drive. Bring your own bulletproof vest.)

That's the challenge for reformed wiseguys, killers and other characters who used to carry shovels and rope in the trunks of their Lincolns. How do you go reasonably straight and still earn a living?

By telling and selling your story, of course.

So that's why Cullotta is keeping his sense of humor about getting the cold shoulder from the Spilotro family exhibit. Although, he reminds me, the worst thing Tony would have received from Cullotta's testimony was a prison stretch. It was Tony's supposed friends, headed by Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, who in 1986 murdered him and brother Michael and buried their bodies in an Indiana cornfield. "I didn't give him a death sentence," Cullotta says. "If he would have went to jail, he probably still would still be alive."

In case you're wondering, Cullotta is a cooperating witness for the downtown museum. He was interviewed by museum personnel for about four hours, he says. Although Cullotta figures his books will be on display in the gift shop, "I'm doing it for free. If you think you're going to make a million dollars doing this, you're kidding yourself." But he's not joking about the irony of living long enough to see the way Las Vegas is courting the mob imagery.

"Usually it's the mob making money off legitimate people," he says. "These are legitimate people making money off the mob. They're worse than the Outfit."

A Cullotta pal took one look at the Mob Experience and suggested Frank the former hitman sue for defamation. Cullotta just laughed.

"Sue? With my character and my reputation?" the mob survivor cracks. "Are you out of your mind?"

Thanks to John L. Smith


Friday, March 18, 2011

Surviving Relatives of Mob Hits Feel Re-victimized by Mobster Books and Museums

The public's fascination with traditional organized crime didn't end with the Godfather movies, Casino, Goodfellas or the Sopranos on television.

Even after Chicago and New York crime families were decimated by federal prosecutions, there is a renewed public appetite for the mob. But some people aren't biting.

"It's something that never leaves your mind or your heart," said Bob D'Andrea whose father was killed by the mob.

"It destroys you, it destroys the inside of you, it destroys you as a person," said Joey Seifert whose father was also murdered by the mob.

Decades after their loved ones were murdered by the Chicago mob, sons and daughters and wives and parents say they continue to be victimized. Not by a pistol-whipping or the payment of protection money but by a new book by ex-Chicago Outfit thug Frank Calabrese Jr., who is beginning a promotional tour this week in the city where he turned on his own father and helped put him away for life. And they say they are revictimized by two mob museums opening soon in Las Vegas.

"What you see when you go there? You are going to see the mob guys laughing and holding their kids, like trying to humanize them. And they are not, they are monsters," said Seifert.

At age four, Seifert watched a masked mob hitman kill his father. It was Joey "The Clown" Lombardo.

Anthony Ortiz was 12 years old in 1983 when his father was killed in front of the Cicero tavern he owned, gunned down by the ruthless Outfit boss Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr.

"To me, a mobster is just a glorified gangbanger, am I wrong or am I right? They beat people up, they take their money, they threaten them," said Ortiz.

It was the Calabrese crew that committed a 1981 hit on suburban trucking company owner Michael Cagnoni by a remote-controlled bomb on the Tri-state Tollway after Cagnoni refused to be extorted by Outfit bosses.

In her first ever interview, Cagnoni's widow, Margaret, says hoodlum-turned-author Frank Calabrese Jr. should not be turning a profit off victims' grief. "Frank [Jr.] was not an innocent person...To him, to go out and make money on our loses and our sorrow and profiting from victims' families is disgraceful. We suffered enough," Cagnoni told the I-Team.

"I didn't kill anybody. OK, so if they're mad that I'm going to profit off of my story with my dad, I don't know what to do. I feel bad for them. I feel sorry for their losses. I can relate to them," said Frank Calabrese Jr.

"If he is really sorry from what he did and wants to do good and show that he is making amends for his past. Why don't you show that you're sorry by donating, if you are going to write a book donate the profits to a worthy charity," said Cagnoni.

The I-Team asked Calabrese Jr. if he thought about donating his profits to a victims' fund. "I haven't. That's definitely a possibility. I talked to some of the victims' kids, and I'm trying to form a relationship with them because I want to hear their stories too," he responded.

"It would be nice if he did something nice like donate a part of the proceeds to the families, it's not like he wasn't in the business," said D'Andrea.

"His dad and his uncle are the ones who killed my dad. Why should anyone benefit from that?" said Ortiz.

"We all went through something similar, in different ways...Unfortunately all the mob that put us together," said Seifert.

And now, mob victim and mobster have something else in common; Joey Seifert has written his own book and screenplay. "It's more of a survivors' book, a family survival of this is what happened, how it shredded our family and how it brought us back together," said Seifert.

Relatives of several Chicago mobsters are paid consultants to the mob experience opening this month in Lase Vegas including such names as Spilotro, Giancana and Aiuppa.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reviewing the History Behind Famous Mob Nicknames

A colorful nickname comes with the job when you are a reputed Chicago crime boss, often whether you like it or not.

The trial of Michael "Big Mike" Sarno is getting underway in federal court in Chicago, with prosecutors arguing that the 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound Sarno wasn't just imposing because of his size, but because he was the big man behind a violent mob jewelry theft and illegal gambling ring.

Imposing aliases have captivated the public and aggravated mobsters since the days of Al "Scarface" Capone, a fact that apparently was too much for one prospective juror. The juror, a suburban businessman, told U.S. Judge Ronald Guzman he would be biased by the repeated use of nicknames during the trial. So Guzman sent him home.

Defense attorney Michael Gillespie said he's not worried about his large client's nickname, which is pretty mild for an alleged mobster. "There's nothing nefarious about that nickname," Gillespie said. "But I do think (federal prosecutors) put the nickname in there for a reason. They could've just charged him as 'Michael Sarno.'"

A big appetite is a more benign way to get a pet name than, say, Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo, the former reputed mob kingpin who earned his sobriquet for beating people with baseball bats. The story goes that after hearing of one such beating, Capone himself said, "That guy, (Accardo), he's a real Joe Batters." Throughout his life, everyone called Accardo "Joe," said Gus Russo, author of "The Outfit."

"They started to call (Accardo) 'Big Tuna' in the press, but no one ever called him that," said Russo. Mobsters' nicknames often were generated by the press or FBI agents eager to antagonize their targets, a favorite tactic of longtime Chicago FBI chief William Roemer. "(Roemer) was the one that referred to (Outfit Vegas boss) Anthony Spilotro as 'The Ant,'" Russo said. "That was (Roemer's) way of infuriating these guys."

Attorney Joseph Lopez said the press hung the nickname "The Breeze" on his loan-sharking client Frank Calabrese Sr. "That's a media nickname. No one ever called him that. He was 'Cheech,'" said Lopez. "Cheech is 'Frank' in Italian. It's a neighborhood thing. These guys get their nicknames like anyone else, as young kids in the neighborhood."

Of course, former Lopez client Anthony "The Hatchet" Chiaramonti was known for attacking juice-loan delinquents with a hatchet, the attorney acknowledged. "Hatchet earned that nickname," said Lopez, noting that jurors heard Chiaramonti strangle an informant — who was wearing a wire at the time — during a trial in the 1990s. "I called him Tony."

When reputed mobsters deny, or take offense to, their nicknames, it may be because they haven't heard them until someone plays them tapes of a wiretap. Wiretaps in Sarno's case will show that some of his lieutenants often called their boss "Fat Ass" behind his back. Not a good career move in most jobs, and a potentially deadly one in The Outfit.

"These are not guys you might want to call by a nickname to their face," said Markus Funk, one of the lead prosecutors in the Family Secrets trial that featured defendants Frank "the German" Schweihs; Paul "the Indian" Schiro; and Joseph Lombardo, who was listed with three nicknames: "the Clown," "Lumbo" and "Lumpy."

U.S. attorney's office policy is to include nicknames in an indictment only when the monikers are used in wiretaps or correspondence, said former prosecutor Chris Gair. However, modern mobsters are so paranoid about wiretaps and FBI surveillance that they seldom even risk using a nickname, Gair said. Their coded euphemisms get so vague, often it's clear the mobsters can barely carry on a conversation.

"Instead of a name or a nickname, they'll say something like 'You know that guy down by Grand and Ogden (avenues)?' 'You mean the guy who stands outside the grocery?' And the circumlocutions are so obscure, it's obvious they don't know who the other guy's talking about," Gair said. "But they're so paranoid, they still won't use a name."

Gair, for the record, said he seldom used nicknames in cases he handled.

"I would almost never put (nicknames) in an indictment. FBI agents and IRS guys have a nickname for everybody," he said. "For most guys, they use nicknames the way you or I do among friends."

Thanks to Andy Grimm

More Mob Nicknames

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Peeking Inside Chicago's Modern Day Mob

The trial of a reputed mob boss known for his wide girth and alleged penchant for violence will offer a peek into the inner workings of Chicago-area organized crime, laid low by prosecutions that sent older mobsters to prison for life.

Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno, whose racketeering trial starts Wednesday in Chicago, is considered — at the relatively young age of 52 — a different breed of mobster, someone whose talents as an enforcer normally would not have translated into a top mob job.

“I would say he is the perfect example of the new face of the mob,” said Art Bilek, a one-time mob investigator at the Cook County State’s attorney’s office. “He has street smarts — he’s not a dope. What he simply doesn’t have is the intelligence some of the earlier guys had.”

That goes to show how far the mob has fallen, he and other law enforcement experts said.

The 2007 Family Secrets trial, the biggest such trial in Chicago in decades, was a body blow to the Chicago-area mob, also known as the Chicago Outfit. It ended in life sentences for reputed bosses James Marcello, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo.

With aging kingpins behind bars and others dying, a weakened Outfit has scaled back a network that in its heyday, around 1970, encompassed operations ranging from prostitution and drugs to multimillion-dollar scams involving corrupt unions or Las Vegas casinos. But racketeering laws designed to target organized crime, aggressive federal prosecutors and competition from big-city street gangs or biker syndicates have severely cut into mob-associated operations. Not surprisingly, mobster numbers are down.

There are now fewer than 100 people formally initiated into the Chicago-area mob compared with more than 200 ‘made men’ around 1970, estimated Scott Burnstein, co-author of a book on the Family Secrets trial.

In Chicago, the mob now focuses more heavily on running illegal video gaming, with approximately 25,000 machines in bars and restaurants, generating millions of dollars in revenue, according to some estimates.

It’s leaders allegedly include Sarno, who weighed as much as 300 pounds and was known for using his bulk to collect mob gambling debts as an enforcer. Bilek says he suspects Sarno may have taken over operations in the city’s western suburbs from one of the imprisoned bosses.

Sarno’s defense attorney, Michael Gillespie, said allegations his client is linked to the mob are “fanciful.”

“The associations he has are with his family — his mom and dad,” Gillespie said Tuesday.

Whatever the case, it is impossible to know just where Sarno would fit in. That’s partly because the mob’s old pyramid structure is coming undone and true leaders are eager to maintain a low profile, even endeavoring to keep violence at a minimum, Bilek said.

Burnstein said there are reasons to question what would be the extent of Sarno’s power. For one, mob bosses want to see crime organizations they built up over decades continue after their deaths, so it’s likely more savvy mobsters also are being promoted. “I don’t think it’s quite fair to say Sarno’s the new face of the mob, therefore the mob is dead because he’s an idiot,” Burnstein said. “If he is the new power, I agree it wouldn’t bode well. But I’m sure there are other competent mobsters who aren’t just thugs.”

Sarno is accused of ordering co-defendants Mark Polchan and Sam Volpendesto to set off a bomb that wrecked the offices of a gaming company in Berwyn, C&S Coin Amusements. The aim, say prosecutors, was to send a message: Stop horning in on a profitable mob business.

The indictment alleges the enterprise Sarno was a part of also was responsible for burglaries and jewel thefts. The armed robbery of the Marry Me Jewelry Store in LaGrange Park netted nearly $650,000-worth of jewelry and other valuables, according to the indictment.

Sarno, Volpendesto and Polchan all have pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other related charges.

Polchan’s attorney, Damon Cheronis, would only say Tuesday that trial observers will see “a different picture painted than the one painted by the government.” Volpendesto’s lawyer, Michael Mann, declined to comment.

Thanks to LCN

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rudy Fratto Indicted on McCormick Place Bid-Rigging Scheme

Reputed mob lieutenant Rudy Fratto was arrested this morning after being charged with using inside information to rig a bid and win a forklift contract at McCormick Place.

Fratto, 66, was charged along with William Anthony Degironemo, 66, of Inverness, who runs MidStates Equipment Rentals and Sale.

Rudy Fratto Indicted on McCormick Place Bid-Rigging SchemeFratto was taken into custody at about 7:45 a.m. He joked with the Chicago Tribune's John Kass that it was "not too early" and that he was able to have his coffee.

Wearing jeans and a black jacket, he entered a plea of not guilty.

Prosecutors say Fratto and Degironemo were able to squeeze information from a worker at Greyhound Exposition Services (GES) of Las Vegas to win a forklift contract in 2006. The contract covered two shows at McCormick Place.

The worker owed a debt to members of the Cleveland organized crime family and a Chicago lawyer, and Fratto promised to use his "standing and association with the Chicago Outfit" to help him, prosecutors allege. Fratto told the worker he would help with the worker's "debt to Cleveland," authorities said. Fratto, Degironemo and the witness were to split the profits equally, they said.

Using the information, Fratto and Degionemo submitted the lowest bid and landed the contract, according to an indictment handed down Thursday.

Degironemo also had the Chicago lawyer arrange for four people to write reference letters on behalf of MidStates, according to the charges. And Deironemo provided GES with materials claiming his company was a leader in the forklift industry when the company wasn't actively involved in such work, authorities said.

The new charges against Fratto -- a reputed lieutenant in the Elmwood Park street crew of the Chicago Outfit -- comes more than a month after he was sentenced for tax evasion.

Fratto had admitted he failed to report nearly $200,000 in income in 2005. Federal authorities had said Fratto brought in income for several years by directing payments to him to come through a defunct company he ran.

In 2005, an FBI agent said Fratto was one of five high-ranking organized crime figures who met with Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens to discuss what control the mob would have over contracts at a casino Stephens wanted to build in the town.

Sitting with Stephens at Armand's restaurant in Elmwood Park were Fratto, reputed mob leader Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, John "No Nose" DiFronzo, his brother Peter, and Joe "The Builder" Andriacchi, according to John Mallul, head of the FBI's organized crime unit in Chicago.

Mallul said agents learned of the May 29, 1999, meeting just days after it occurred from a longtime FBI informant who also was there. Stephens denied he had met with the men.

In January, Fratto was asked by a Tribune reporter about his alleged status in the Outfit. He said he was a "reputed good guy" and said he had no prior criminal history.

After the new charges were announced in court today, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez ordered Fratto released on $200,000 bond and on home confinement. He is to report to custody April 27 to begin serving time in the tax case.

A lawyer for Fratto, Donald Angelini, asked Valdez to allow Fratto to attend his son's high school hockey games, and the judge agreed.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Jimmy DeLeo Era Begins

An important Illinois political story took place on Wednesday.

It didn't happen in Springfield or at Chicago's City Hall.

It took place on a quiet street in Oak Park. There were no TV cameras, no press aides. It was a somber ritual marking the transfer of power.

Sam Banks, the longtime political boss of the 36th Ward on the Northwest Side of Chicago, was laid to rest. He passed away after a long bout with cancer. The funeral was held at St. Giles Roman Catholic Church.

One of Sam's pallbearers was his former political apprentice, State Sen. James DeLeo, D-How You Doin'?

Sam was the guy for years. But there's a new guy now, reaching beyond the ward, from Rush Street to Rosemont and beyond:

Jimmy.

The night before, at Salerno's Galewood Chapels on North Harlem Avenue, thousands of clout-heavy people attended the wake in rooms crammed with flower arrangements.

Attendees included trucking barons, asphalt kings, Republican and Democratic officials from across the state, right down to Christy Spina, the former driver for imprisoned Outfit boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo. And there were plenty of judges, who along with the lawyers, helped form Sam Banks' network.

Criminal defense lawyer Tom Breen delivered the eulogy in church.

"If I were writing a newspaper column about Sam Banks," said Breen, "my newspaper column would be about a man who worked hard all his life, who loved his family, his career. That's the Sam Banks I would write about.

"He was a good person, he was a generous person. And I think we will miss him terribly."

Banks did love his family, and Breen is a fine lawyer. But he's no newspaper columnist. You can't write a column about the 36th Ward without asking some FBI types about the Chicago Outfit.

Almost two decades ago now, the old mobbed-up 1st Ward was scattered to the winds by federal prosecutions. The late Ald. Fred Roti, 1st, was sent to prison. With City Hall's official position that there is no Outfit, the old 1st Ward boundaries were erased on the city political maps.

"Once Roti was out of business, they did have other people to assume the same power and control in the 36th Ward," said Jim Wagner, the former head of the Chicago Crime Commission and longtime chief of the FBI's organized-crime section.

"If you're in organized crime, you're not going to give up the position of influence and authority," Wagner said. "You're going to turn to a replacement. That's what they are thought to have done."

Banks was low-key. He wasn't a showoff, no spaccone, like some. Again, remember, despite federal theories, there have been no Outfit-related charges. Sam was never charged. It's not illegal to know guys who know guys.

"What does that mean, ‘mob-associated?'" said DeLeo years ago, when the Sun-Times asked about political contributions he received from businesses connected to reputed Outfit boss John DiFronzo.

"In the year 2001, is there really a mob in Chicago?" DeLeo asked then, perhaps rhetorically.

Jimmy can be amusing. He's a funny guy.

Shortly after that witty comment, Chicago was treated to the most significant Outfit investigation in history. The "Family Secrets" case led to what amounts to life prison terms for top mob bosses and hit men.

In the "Family Secrets" trial, DeLeo and Sam's son, zoning lawyer and banker James Banks, were named in testimony by Ann Spilotro, widow of slain gangster Michael Spilotro, as the buyers of a business she owned. In other testimony, Sam Banks was named by a convicted burglar as an alleged conduit for protection money to corrupt cops.

Then in 2008, pressure on the 36th Ward organization increased. The Chicago Tribune investigative series "Neighborhoods for Sale" documented how clout influenced the politics of zoning in Chicago. While Sam Banks was strong, the Banks family was the first family of zoning in the city.

His brother William Banks was the alderman. For decades, Billy was chairman of the powerful City Council Committee on Zoning. Back when I covered City Hall, every time James Banks appeared before Uncle Billy's committee with a zoning matter, Uncle Billy would stand up and loudly excuse himself, saying he wanted no conflict of interest.

Then Billy would walk into the back room, perhaps have a sandwich, and wait while the other aldermen approved his nephew's zoning request. They probably didn't want a conflict of interest with Sam.

Recently, things have changed. With the feds interested in the 36th Ward, Billy has retired from the City Council. Jimmy might let him keep the Democratic committeeman's job and play with the precinct captains and pretend he's got power, but that's about it.

In his eulogy Wednesday, Breen said that moments after the family asked him to speak in church, his phone rang. It was the guy. It was Jimmy.

"He (DeLeo) said, ‘Tom, you know there is a time limit and you know that it's in a church, right?'" Breen recalled, getting some laughs. "So the golf jokes were out the window. The dinner jokes were out the window."

Jimmy is now retiring from the state Senate. He'll become a lobbyist. He still has his title insurance company business partner, Senate President John Cullerton, D-DeLeo, running things in Springfield.

Like Sam before him, it's time for Jimmy to go low-key. After all, he's the guy.

Thanks to John Kass

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


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