The Chicago Syndicate: Nicholas Vangel
Showing posts with label Nicholas Vangel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicholas Vangel. Show all posts

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Chicago Mob Order

Last week's death of an old-line Chicago Outfit boss reveals some changes in the way the crime syndicate does business.

As Chicago organized crime figures die off or go to prison, authorities tell the I-Team they are being replaced by far less flamboyant Outfit bosses, men who conduct mob rackets quietly and collect the proceeds with skilled efficiency.

The new mob order has never been more apparent than at last Wednesday's wake for high-ranking outfit boss Alphonso Tornabene, who died on Sunday at age 86.

It looked just like any other wake for any other man who'd lived a long life. The friends and relatives of Alphonso Tornabene streamed into pay their last respects all day on the northwest side.

A few mourners apparently didn't want to be seen at the wake for a man who recently headed the Chicago Outfit, according to testimony from a top underworld informant.

Mob hitman Nick Calabrese told the FBI that Tornabene administered the sacred oath of the Outfit to new members, a position reserved for only top capos. It's a ceremony that Calabrese described just as Hollywood has depicted over the years with a blood oath and a flaming holy card.

On Wednesday night, at Chicago's Montclair Funeral Home, the ceremony was less fiery. The holy card had Tornabene's name on it.

The attendees included Tracy Klimes, who says Tornabene was a great man who once cared for her family after her own father died, and knew little of his Outfit ties. "People always judge a book by its cover and I know there's things that people say about people but he had a wonderful heart," said Klimes.

The scene on Wednesday was far different than the crowds that turned out at Montclair more than thirty years ago after flashy Outfit boss Sam Giancana was assassinated and where attendance by Giancana's underlings was considered mandatory.

In 1986, mob bosses from other cities and a Hollywood actor showed up for the wake and funeral of Anthony and Michael Spilotro who had also been murdered by their Outfit brethren. But by 1992 at the Montclair wake for godfather Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo, only a few top hoodlums dared to attend such a public event.

The Accardo funeral and Tornabene's wake on Wednesday are evidence that the new mob order calls for discretion in business and in life.

There was one notable mourner on Wednesday night: suburban nursing home owner Nicholas Vangel.

During the Family Secrets mob trial, Mr. Vangel was shown to be a confidante of one time mob boss Jimmy Marcello. Although Vangel wasn't charged, the government showed undercover video of Vangel visiting with Marcello in prison and discussing the FBI investigation.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Friday, February 06, 2009

Will Multiple Mob Murders be Solved by Operation Family Secrets - Part Two?

One of my loyal readers, Chicago mob boss James Marcello—captured on grainy federal recordings eating salty corn chips while discussing my column—will be sentenced in the "Family Secrets" case on Thursday.

Marcello, 66, may receive life in prison for his conviction of racketeering conspiracy in connection with previously unsolved Chicago Outfit murders.

The movie "Casino" incorrectly depicted Chicago mob brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield in 1986. But the trial showed that Marcello drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville home, where Michael thought he was going to become a "made member" of the Outfit. Bosses from every crew waited in the rumpus room for the brothers, who were beaten, strangled, their bodies dumped in the corn.

Dr. Pat Spilotro—dentist brother of the slain men—is scheduled to give a statement before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel. Dr. Pat has been secretly working with the FBI for years. He's expected to name other mobsters he believes should also pay for the killings.

Many of the murders involved Nick Calabrese, the hit man turned federal witness, who spilled what he knew on his family and others, giving this case the name "Family Secrets."

So, how do I know Jimmy Marcello reads this column? It came up in trial evidence and federal tape.

In late February 2003, at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., the imprisoned Marcello is sitting with a visitor, his close friend Nick "The Caterer" Vangel, a Greek businessman so nicknamed by wise guys because he once owned The Carlisle banquet hall in Lombard.

That was a day or so after my column of Feb. 21, 2003, about Nick Calabrese entering the witness protection program, prepared to testify about the Spilotro and other hits. Nick Calabrese killed dozens of men, but the prospect of his testimony terrified the Outfit and they were trying to find out more.

"I just saw this last thing in the Trib," Vangel tells Marcello on the FBI surveillance tape about the column.

Marcello responds in Outfit code, with winks and nods. He also does another strange thing: Since they're talking murder, Marcello begins chomping on a bag of tasty snack food: Fritos. That's a Super Bowl commercial if I ever saw one.

As Vangel tells Marcello of Nick Calabrese, of bosses swabbed for DNA, of the murders being investigated and speculates about the grand jury, Marcello makes furtive motions with his eyebrows and hands. But he can't stop gobbling his crunchy fried corn.

Family Secrets cleared many Outfit killings. But others remain unsolved, perhaps waiting for a "Family Secrets II."

One mystery is the disappearance of mob boss Anthony Zizzo in September 2006, as prosecutors prepared their case. Zizzo vanished. His car turned up in the parking lot of a Melrose Park restaurant. He had been scheduled to meet some guys on Rush Street, but never made it. Imagine that.

Another is the 2001 murder of mob boss Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, gunned down in a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Lyons, the sign out front inviting customers to eat their fill "The Chicago Way."

And the 1998 killing of Michael Cutler, who was scheduled to testify in the case against Frank Caruso Jr., the son of the current reputed Outfit street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso. Junior had been charged with the savage beating of Lenard Clark, a black teenager, in Bridgeport. Cutler saw it all. But before he could testify, Cutler was shot once in the chest in what was called a random West Side robbery.

Random? If you say so.

The unsolved 1999 murder of hit man Ronnie Jarrett, killed outside his Bridgeport home, was believed to have been ordered by mobster Frank Calabrese (brother of Nick Calabrese), who last week was sentenced to life, but was never charged with the Jarrett hit.

One incredibly puzzling death hasn't even been listed as a hit. Outfit bookie and city worker Nick "The Stick" LoCoco—tangled in the City Hall Hired Truck scandal—loved to ride horses. In November 2004, the bookie went for a canter in the woods, fell off his steed and died. On a Sunday, with NFL games under way and money on the line, a bookie goes for a horseback ride? Isn't that odd?

Marcello will have plenty of time to ponder all this and read my column while munching on his Fritos, day after day after day. Betcha Jimmy can't eat just one.

Thanks to John Kass

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Illinois Governor Blagovich Leads List of Politicians Receiving Contributions from Friend of Mob Boss

An Oak Brook businessman who has extensive financial and personal ties to the former head of the Chicago mob has given more than $200,000 in contributions to Illinois politicians through personal and corporate donations -- with Gov. Blagojevich receiving the most money, $35,000, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Among other top recipients of donations from the businessman, Nicholas Vangel, a longtime friend of mob boss James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, were former Gov. George Ryan, House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, an analysis of the political contributions shows.

Vangel has not been accused of any wrongdoing and did not return phone messages Friday. He has denied in court documents any connections to organized crime. Some politicians who received contributions from Vangel or his businesses told the Sun-Times they were either unaware of Vangel's relationship with Marcello or had no idea who he was.

"We don't know much about the person in question and are still reviewing the contributions," said Doug Scofield, a spokesman for the governor's campaign.

A spokesman for Madigan, who received more than $17,000 over 10 years, had no idea who Vangel was and noted the amount contributed was relatively small per year. Saviano, who got more than $20,000, did not return phone messages.

Vangel, 66, and his family have extensive investments in several nursing homes throughout the Chicago area, as well as other businesses, but another side of him was shown during the recent Family Secrets mob trial.

In a secret videotape made by the FBI and played to jurors, Vangel was shown chatting as he visited Marcello at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., in February 2003. As Marcello snacks on a bag of Fritos, Vangel talks with him about the secret ongoing federal investigation of unsolved mob murders, including which mob leaders have been swabbed for DNA testing. Vangel tells Marcello he will find out what he can.

The men at times speak in code, and Vangel tells Marcello he wishes an unnamed individual had gone to testify before the grand jury investigating the mob murders. "Fact is, I mean to tell ya the truth, I was almost hopin' he'd a gone to find out what they were gonna ask him," Vangel tells Marcello.

His assistance to Marcello did not end there.

Vangel at times would deliver cash to Marcello's mistress, according to the woman's testimony. The woman was also put on the payroll of one of Vangel's businesses, so she could get health insurance.

After Marcello was arrested in the Family Secrets case in 2005, Vangel offered to put up his home, which had more than $1 million in equity, for Marcello's bond.

The judge refused to release Marcello, but if he had gotten out, Marcello could have returned to the job Vangel gave him, which involved calling upon several nursing homes on behalf of Vangel's management company.

In the Family Secrets case, Marcello was convicted of racketeering and was found to have taken part in the 1986 murders of the mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother, Michael.

Marcello drove the brothers to what they believed was a mob meeting at a Bensenville area home, where they were lured into a basement and beaten to death, according to court testimony.

Vangel is an investor in another company with the wife of a Marcello associate. Vangel is listed on the corporate records of a temporary worker business called Patriot Staffing Management Inc. with Susan Zizzo, wife of missing mobster Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, records show.

Vangel's interests do not end there. He has been, for instance, an investor in the well-known Rush Street restaurant Tavern on Rush, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Vangel is the former owner of the Carlisle banquet hall in west suburban Lombard and was among nine people arrested there during a gambling raid of a Super Bowl party in 1991. Among those arrested were William Galioto, who is a former Chicago Police officer and Marcello's brother-in-law. Galioto has been identified by the Chicago Crime Commission as a mob lieutenant. Also there were two union leaders, who lost their positions after their locals were found to be mobbed up.

Charges against all the men were dropped when prosecutors missed a filing deadline, authorities said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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