The Chicago Syndicate: Robert Cooley
Showing posts with label Robert Cooley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Cooley. Show all posts

Friday, June 26, 2015

Reinhard in 1969: Rockford Mobsters 'Retired or Inactive'

Federal judge and former Winnebago County State’s Attorney Philip G. Reinhard said in an April 4, 1969, interview with the Rockford Morning Star that he believed Mob figures in Rockford were "retired or inactive." Reinhard added he had "seen no evidence or indication" of Mafia-related activity in the Rockford area at that time.

Reinhard’s comments are in contrast with articles published in the past 15 months by The Rock River Times that detailed past Mob-related activity dating back to at least the 1970s.

Reinhard was Winnebago County assistant state’s attorney from 1964 to 1967, and Winnebago County state’s attorney from 1968 to 1976. He was nominated as federal judge for the Western Division of the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. Reinhard has been on the federal bench since Feb. 10, 1992.

During the 1969 interview, Reinhard reacted to a question about the extent of Mafia activity in Rockford by saying: "There is a local structure, but if it has any ties with the national syndicate, they are very loose. There are individuals who, perhaps, made their money in syndicate-connected activities years ago and are now 'retired' or inactive. In the short time that I have been state's attorney, I have seen no evidence or indication that there is organized, syndicate activity here."

Reinhard did not respond for comment for this article, but did acknowledge during a February 2005 interview that he never knowingly prosecuted any Mob members during his tenure as state’s attorney.

MOB ATTORNEY TURNED INFORMANT

Reinhard's 1969 perception of Mafia activity contrasts with comments by former Chicago Mafia attorney turned federal informant Robert Cooley. He said in a Nov. 24, 2004, article in The Rock River Times that the Chicago Mafia, which is known as "The Outfit," had considerable interest in Rockford during the 1970s and 1980s.

Specifically, Cooley said: "[Chicago Mob captain and member of the Elmwood Park/North side crew] Marco [D'Amico], at the time when we were in power, Marco had a major crew working up there in the Rockford area. They had some illegal gambling interests up there."

According to the Chicago Crime Commission’s 1997 publication The New Faces of Organized Crime, D'Amico and eight others were indicted in 1994 "for running an illegal sports bookmaking operation, using extortion to collect gambling debts, and juice loans and conspiring to commit racketeering."

Cooley described in his 2004 book, When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down, how he assisted federal agents set up the illegal gambling sting that snagged D'Amico in November 1989 in Lake Geneva, Wis., which resulted in the 1994 indictment.

Cooley turned from Mob attorney to federal informant in 1986 after the death of his father. During the next 11 years, Cooley's efforts to expose public corruption resulted in bringing more than 30 lawyers, politicians, and Mobsters to justice by secretly taping dozens of Mob meetings.

INDICTMENTS

Whether the recent naming of 10 Rockford-area men in an illegal gambling ring was connected to D'Amico’s former crew is not known.

However, according to a separate, but likely related, indictment last April in Chicago, alleged Mob hit man from Rockford, Frank G. Saladino, was a member of the South side/Chinatown crew at the time he committed crimes for the Chicago Mob sometime between the 1960s and 2005.

Cooley explained during an interview last April that Saladino may have been a member of both the North and South side crews at differing times during that period. Saladino was named a co-conspirator in the Feb. 1 federal indictment, which alleged the sports betting operation accepted "bets and wagers on the outcome of sports events, including football and basketball games" from the early 1980s until about May 2002.

A former bookie familiar with the illegal sports gambling ring in the Rockford area alleged in 2004 one of the key organizers was a prominent business leader. That leader was not among the individuals indicted.

Saladino was found dead April 25, 2005 — the same day he was indicted on federal charges of murder and undisclosed criminal activities on behalf of the Chicago Mafia. The Kane County coroner ruled Saladino's death was due to natural causes in May 2005.

Specifically, the FBI-led probe named "Operation Family Secrets," alleged the Chicago Mob was involved in 18 murders and racketeering conspiracy extending from the mid-1960s to 2005. The alleged racketeering involved sports betting, video gambling, loan sharking and collecting "street tax" from participants in illegal activities.

According to the 2005 indictment, Saladino was a "member of the South Side/26th Street crew." Saladino's last known Rockford address in 2004 was 1303 Montague Rd.

PROBES AND LAWSUITS

But illegal gambling charges and probes extend further back than the February 2006 indictment. In December 1968, a federal grand jury in Freeport called at least
eight people for questioning in connection with illegal gambling and other Mob-related activity in Rockford and northern Illinois. Reinhard became Winnebago County state's attorney in November 1968.

Among those subpoenaed before the Freeport grand jury were: Rockford Mob boss Joseph Zammuto; Adviser Joseph Zito; Underboss Charles Vince; Zammuto’s successor, Frank J. Buscemi; Philip Priola and Mob Soldier Joseph J. Maggio (see Mob Murder Suggests Link to International Drug Ring).

Priola is former AFL-CIO union official and one of the original members of a group that wanted to bring a casino boat to Rockford in the early 1990s. He was also one of the owners of U Grill It Inc., which did business in Machesney Park Mall several years ago as Texas Grill Steakhouse and Lounge.

Priola and others in his family were charged by federal officials on July 29, 2003, for allegedly conspiring to "defraud" the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department.

In response to an Oct. 6, 2003 article in the Rockford Register Star, which detailed the case, Priola sued the Rockford Register Star in 2004 alleging the article concerning U Grill It was libelous.

The case is still in the discovery phase, and was scheduled for a March 22 status hearing with 17th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Janet Holmgren. The Register Star is seeking tax returns and other documents related to the litigation, which also involved Priola’s son-in-law, Todd Gage.

When interviewed by The Rock River Times in 2004 about the lawsuit, Priola said he moved from Rockford to Las Vegas. He and other members of his family eventually pled guilty to the charges before a scheduled trial.

The indictment alleged that from at least 1992 to 1998, Priola and others "intentionally conspired" to under-report "gross receipts and net profits of
LT's Bar." It also alleged a cash-skimming operation took place for the benefit of the named family members.

Included in the alleged skimming operation were proceeds from "cigarette vending machines and coin-operated amusement machines."

Buscemi, a Chicago native, was owner of Stateline Vending Co., Inc., and Rondinella Foods Co., before his death in Rockford Dec. 7, 1987. Winnebago County court documents from 1988 indicate Saladino worked for Rondinella in the 1980s when Buscemi owned the business. The vending machine company was dissolved in 1988.

According to Buscemi's FBI file, the Rockford Mob was alleged to control the
vending machine business in Rockford during the 1980s, and used "extortionate business practices."

Vince, another person in addition to Priola and Buscemi who was called before the 1968 grand jury, was identified in a March 4, 1984, Rockford Register Star article as residing in an apartment at 1904 Auburn St., in Rockford. Land records for the address show the property was owned by the grandparent's of Peter and Mathew Provenzano from 1964 to 1987.

In July 1978, federal court documents show Vince, along with other members of the Rockford and Milwaukee Mafia, were alleged to have tried to extort money from a competing upstart vending machine company owner. The owner of the company the Mob members tried to shakedown was actually an undercover federal agent named Gail Cobb who was masquerading as Tony Conte.

Cobb and legendary FBI agent Donnie Brasco, whose real name was Joseph P. Pistone, worked together at the behest of the Bonanno crime family in New York to forge an alliance between the Rockford, Milwaukee and Bonanno family (see Mob Murder Suggests Link to International Drug Ring).

Actor Johnny Depp portrayed Pistone in the 1997 movie Donnie Brasco, during the time in the late 1970s when Pistone infiltrated organized crime.

As to Vince's residence and the Provenzano family's ownership of the property, Peter Provenzano was given the opportunity in October to comment about this coincidence and other questions, but declined after he was given an advance copy of topics for the interview.

Provenzano is a board commissioner at Rockford/Chicago International Airport, proponent for Rockford's return to home rule, and part owner of military contractor SupplyCore, Inc. Since its incorporation in 1987 as Pro Technical Products, Inc., the companies have been awarded more than $1 billion in U.S. Defense Department contracts—most of which has been awarded since the late 1990s.

Pro Technical Products, which was formed by Provenzano's father, changed its
name to SupplyCore in 2001, according to state records. Provenzano's brother, Mathew Provenzano, is secretary of SupplyCore and is one of the board of directors for the taxpayer-supported MetroCentre in Rockford.

Both Provenzano brothers were nominated for their positions by Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. SupplyCore heavily financed Morrissey's successful mayoral campaign last year.

About the author:
Jeff Havens is a former award-winning reporter for the weekly newspaper The Rock River Times in Rockford, Ill. Havens lived most of his life in the Rockford area, and wrote dozens of news articles about the Mob in Rockford and Chicago. Assistant Editor for The Rock River Times, Brandon Reid contributed to this article.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mark Wahlberg to Produce "When Corruption Was King"

Mark Wahlberg has signed on to produce the Chicago mob drama, When Corruption Was King, Variety reports.

Word of the project first hit last August when it showed up in a rumored list of upcoming projects. At the time it was said to be waiting on a draft by Frank Baldwin, who still appears to be attached as the writer.

Though set as a producer, Wahlberg has not yet committed to appear in the film, which adapts criminal attorney-turned author Robert Cooley's 2006 memoir, "When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down."

Wahlberg will next appear in the dramatic thriller Contraband and then in Seth MacFarlane's directorial debut, Ted. He is also still expected to reunite with director David O. Russell for the videogame adaptation Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Robert Cooley Has Advice for Rod Blagojevich

This past week, top FBI informant Robert Cooley e-mailed Newsalert in regards to an ABC TV Chicago story by Chuck Goudie. Blago was rather upset with Chuck Goudie over Cooley's allegation that Blago was a Chicago Mob bookmaker years ago. Here's what Blagojevich told Chuck Goudie:

"That Cooley is a liar," he said. "I am going to sue that (bleepin') Cooley," Blagojevich stated, his face red at this point with apparent anger. He repeated: "I'm going to sue him."


Cooley e-mailed Newsalert with a suggestion on legal counsel for Blago's lawsuit against Cooley, here's the quote:

"If Blago wants to sue me he can hire Ed Burke, or Ed Genson,or Pat Tuite, to represent him."


Alderman Burke is a powerful Chicago Alderman and tax appeals attorney. Cooley has accused Alderman Burke in a published book of trying to fix a murder trial for the Chicago Mob, but Alderman Burke didn't sue. Ed Genson and Pat Tuite are also attorneys mentioned in Cooley's book (concerning legal allegations) but they didn't sue either. Cooley also had this bit of advice for Blago:

"Rod can call Dan Stefanski as a witness."


Dan Stefanski is the former Teamster official who's been accused of ties to the Chicago Mob. The AP reported this story on March 9, 2006:

A top-ranking official in the state Department of Transportation and childhood friend of Gov. Rod Blagojevich is out of a job less than a month after he was arrested for drunken driving, officials said Thursday.

Dan Stefanski was ``informed his services were no longer needed'' in his role as a special assistant to Transportation Secretary Tim Martin last week, department spokesman Matt Vanover said.


Blago was willing to give Stefanski a $105,000 a year job.

Blagojevich Threatens to Sue Cooley Over Bookmaking Allegations

Elevator pitch is the common business term for that short presentation you would make if you had to sell a product or idea to someone in the time span of an elevator ride.

When I (Chuck Goudie) was the only reporter with Rod Blagojevich on an elevator on Tuesday, as soon as the doors closed the ex-governor began his pitch.

It was inside an elevator at the Dirksen Federal Building that Mr. Blagojevich began his pitch, as he and I rode to the 25th floor with only his lawyer and a deputy U.S. Marshal.

The ousted governor had already made his public points on the way in. But once we were behind closed elevator doors, away from the cameras, Blagojevich launched into a pitched tirade about something else: illegal gambling and allegations that he worked as a bookmaker, taking action from sports gamblers before he got into politics.

"That bookmaking story was (bleep)," said Illinois' former leader. "I did not do that. I deny it. It's a (bleepin') lie," he said in what would become an uninterrupted diatribe.

Pointing to me, he said, "This man is a (bleepin') liar. He puts lies on TV."

The target of Blagojevich's elevator pitch: an I-Team report four months ago, shortly after the governor was arrested on corruption charges.

"When I was working with government wearing wire, I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor, who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs. He was paying street tax to the mob out there," said Robert Cooley, federal informant.

Cooley made those comments on a Web based interview show. I also spoke to him at length on the phone about his allegations against Blagojevich.

The senior FBI agent who supervised Cooley's undercover work confirmed that Cooley gave officials information about Blagojevich's alleged bookmaking back in 1986. Current federal officials declined to comment. But back in the elevator on Tuesday, Blagojevich was still on a roll.

"That Cooley is a liar," he said. "I am going to sue that (bleepin') Cooley," Blagojevich stated, his face red at this point with apparent anger. He repeated: "I'm going to sue him."

When the doors opened to the 25th floor where Blagojevich was about to be arraigned in court, he adjusted his necktie, composed himself and walked off. A few minutes later pleading not guilty to corruption charges.

The only other words said during Blagojevich's elevator pitch came when I reminded him that the I-Team had offered numerous opportunities to respond to the bookmaking allegations.

In the elevator Blagojevich said he wanted to respond on camera and will and on Wednesday his public relations agent said the ex-governor will talk to the I-Team on camera about this at some point, but not today.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The FBI Confirms Rod Blagojevich Mafia Story

The FBI in Chicago was given information more than 20 years ago alleging that Rod Blagojevich had connections to an organized crime gambling ring.

That disclosure came on Thursday from a former top official of the FBI.

Outfit lawyer turned federal informant Robert Cooley told the I-Team that Rod Blagojevich booked illegal bets in the 1980's and paid protection money to the mob.

Cooley claimed he told FBI officials that Blagojevich used to be a mobbed-up bookie. On Thursday evening, the FBI agent who supervised Cooley's undercover work in the late 1980's confirms that federal officials were informed back then about Blagojevich's alleged bookmaking and mob payoffs.

In 1986, criminal defense lawyer Bob Cooley walked into the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago and offered to wear a wire in conversations with the hoodlums, corrupt city hall officials and crooked judges that he knew.

As part of Cooley's cooperation and to steer clear of criminal charges himself, he had to disclose all of the misconduct he knew about.

Some of what he reported to prosecutors and FBI involved Rod Blagojevich who was fresh from law school and working as an assistant cook county prosecutor.

"I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs. He was paying street tax to the Mob out there," said Robert Cooley, federal Informant.

On Thursday, former FBI official Jim Wagner confirms that telling the I-Team that Cooley indeed informed the bureau about Blagojevich's alleged bookmaking business. But Mr. Wagner says in the 1980's, FBI agents had never heard of Blagojevich.

Wagner was Cooley's 'handler' for the FBI at the time, supervising his undercover that resulted in two dozen successful prosecutions for public corruption.

That wasn't the end of it.

When Blagojevich ran for governor, Cooley says he returned to the FBI hoping agents would pursue the allegations of outfit bookmaking. Wagner confirms that as well but says the statute of limitations had long passed for prosecuting Blagojevich on illegal gambling charges.

However, last week when federal prosecutors announced they had filed corruption charges against the governor, Al Patton, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service, was on the podium.

As the feds examine Mr. Blagojevich's finances, one thing they will look for is unreported gambling income.

The governor's former chief of staff Chris Kelly will plead guilty next month to tax fraud for not declaring more than $1 million in winning sports wagers.

A few years ago when Robert Cooley reminded the FBI of his Blagojevich bookie information, Cooley also provided it to the ABC7 I-Team.

In attempting to verify the bookmaking allegations at the time I asked Governor Blagojevich whether he had ever been involved in taking betting action or paying a street tax to the mob. The governor denied it and said he didn't know Mr. Cooley.

This week, a spokesman for the governor declined to comment.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bob Cooley - Man vs. The Chicago Mob on The National Geographic Channel




The Chicago Mob, known as the Outfit was literally getting away with murder. Through rarely seen archival footage and interviews with former Mob associates and FBI agents, NGC takes you inside what took down the Mob. Be sure to watch the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, August 17th at 7:00PM Chicago time.

When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chicago Democrats and the Chicago Mob

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

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

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

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

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



The SPECIAL JANUARY 1999-1 GRAND JURY charges:



1. At all times material to this indictment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cammon and Remy Murder Cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burke says: I forgot to abstain.

Burke says: I forgot to abstain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your favorable consideration of this resolution will be appreciated.

Very truly yours,
(Signed) Richard M.Daley

Mayor.

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

The following is said proposed resolution:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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



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

Thanks to Steve Bartin

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Judge Throws Attorney Out of Court at Mob Trial

Robert Cooley was a crooked lawyer with mob connections. Almost 20 years ago, he turned informant and helped send judges, aldermen and mobsters to prison. He showed up Monday at Chicago's current mob trial and was asked to leave. The judge did not explain why he asked Cooley to leave the courtroom but clearly given Cooley's role in past outfit trials he might be a distraction for some witnesses as well as the five defendants.

When Cooley appeared at the federal courthouse Monday afternoon, he had a movie producer in tow. The former federal informant, disbarred attorney and author of a tell-all book about Chicago's mob said the planned film should be his long-awaited financial reward: "Now it is time to reap the harvest," Cooley said. "I worked hard to do what I did and got no credit before. Now I think I will with the movie."

During the 1970's and 80's, Cooley was a self-described mafia "mechanic" or fixer of court cases. He bribed judges, court clerks and cops to keep his outfit clients out of jail. Later, as a federal witness, his testimony anchored as many as nine trials that exposed the mob's stranglehold on Chicago's city hall and the courts.

Cooley caused a stir Monday afternoon when he entered the courtroom where five alleged outfit bosses -- men he knew from the past -- are facing decades-old charges in the "Family Secrets" trial.

"I was never close to think of those," Cooley said. "I knew who they were and they ran in the same circles as I did but they knew who I was and there are no surprises. They pretty much put the mob out of business a while back and I don't think it is running."

Even though his mob connections date back thirty years, Cooley said he was not asked to be a witness in "Family Secrets."

He said the men on trial are not -- as alleged -- the outfit's modern day bosses. That person, he says, remains in the background, but still pulling the strings in Chicago. "There's somebody right now who has been run the city for a long time and I'm not talking about Mayor Daley but hopefully his day will come," Cooley said.

Cooley said he's living in California now and was never hidden by the federal witness protection program.

No word on when the movie based on Cooley's book might be filmed or released. It still in the research stage.

Thanks to Charles Thomas

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Former Mob Lawyer to Skip Family Secrets Trial

Friends of ours: James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo
Friends of mine: Robert Cooley

Over the years, the court testimony of former Chicago mob lawyer Robert Cooley has put away mobsters, lawyers and judges. But the prized federal informant won’t be testifying at what could be the biggest mob trial in Chicago history — the Operation Family Secrets trial.

A host of informants, “stool pigeons” and ex-mobsters will be taking the stand starting in mid-May to tell jurors about the Outfit’s structure and deadly doings.

Some of Chicago’s top mobsters are standing trial, including reputed mob leader James “Little Jimmy” Marcello and Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo.

Cooley has testified in several previous mob trials, and his ability on the stand has met with praise. But this time, he won’t be part of the trial.

In an interview late last week, Cooley, who these days lives out of state under a different name, said he clashed with federal prosecutors when he was debriefed more than a year ago.

Cooley said he disagrees with the prosecution’s theory over how the Chicago mob was structured since the 1970s, and he is disappointed that another top mobster wasn’t charged in the case for two murders that Cooley said he has told the feds about.

Cooley calls Marcello — who the feds says is the top mob leader — “a flunky.”

“He was never more of a mob boss than I was,” Cooley scoffs. (MANY Chicago Syndicate readers have emailed me to say the same thing.)

In his years as an informant, Cooley was never known to be reluctant to tell federal agents and prosecutors where he believed they were falling short or screwing up.

While Cooley says he won’t be helping the feds this time around, he won’t be helping the defense team, either. “I would not do anything to hurt the case,” Cooley said. “I would never do anything to help the bad guys.”

Cooley is best known for his seminal work in taking apart the Outfit’s political power structure in the 1st Ward, which he saw as marking the true end of the Chicago mob. “They’re just cleaning up our scraps,” Cooley said of the current case.

Federal prosecutors had no comment on Cooley’s statements.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Alledged Mob Social Club: We Do a Lot of Good Things

Friends of ours: Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, Bruno Caruso, Fred Roti, Frank "Toots" Caruso, Michael Talarico
Friends of mine: Robert Cooley

Leaders of the Chicago mob's 26th Street Crew established the Old Neighborhood Italian-American Club in 1981.

Members said it was just a private social club. But the FBI tapped the club's phones in the 1980s, suspecting it was a nerve center for gambling and "juice loans" -- illegal, high-interest loans enforced with the threat of violence. The wiretaps became part of a case against 10 men accused of running an illegal gambling operation in Chinatown.

Some reputed mob figures still hang out at the club. But one of them says reputed mob members no longer run the place as they once did. He put it this way: "We're not influenced by us any more."

The club -- which includes members of the powerful Roti family -- has broadened its membership since it was founded in 1981 by the late Angelo "The Hook'' LaPietra, who ran the 26th Street Crew. The members include doctors and lawyers, and people from different ethnic backgrounds.

The club has sponsored youth baseball teams, hosted anti-drug seminars for kids and held civic events featuring, among others, former Los Angeles Dodgers baseball manager Tommy Lasorda. It's opened its doors to church functions and school graduations. It's hosted "breakfast with Santa" and huge July 4th parties. "We do a lot of good things," one longtime member says. And when the White Sox are playing, its big-screen TV is blaring. Sox Park is just a few blocks south of the club, a red-brick building at 30th and Shields -- a big improvement over its former home in a Chinatown storefront. "It started out as a storefront, they'd play cards, sit around," said one veteran mob investigator. "Now, it's a Taj Mahal, with dues, workout rooms."

One past member is Robert Cooley, a former Chicago cop who became a mob lawyer, then government informant. "Everybody that I knew from the Chinatown area belonged, all of the bookmakers that I represented, that I knew," Cooley said in a July 1997 deposition to union investigators examining alleged mob ties of labor leader Bruno F. Caruso.

Caruso, a nephew of the late Ald. Fred B. Roti, was identified in a 1999 FBI report as a "made" member of the mob. He is also a member of the Old Neighborhood Italian-American Club. The group's "purpose . . . was to keep the neighborhood very active with children," Caruso said in a deposition six years ago.

Other current or recent members include two other men the FBI identified as "made" mob members: Caruso's brother Frank "Toots'' Caruso and Michael Talarico, a restaurant owner who married into the extended Roti family.

The club president is Dominic "CaptainD" DiFazio, a longtime friend of "Toots" Caruso. In a recent interview, DiFazio allowed that he was involved in illegal gambling but said that was years ago.

"Twenty five years ago, I was arrested for taking bets on horses -- 25 years ago," DiFazio said. "You learn your lesson quick in life, and that's it. Everyone's made a mistake in their life.

"Whatever I do now I do now, my heart's in this organization . . . It was always for the community, never anything sinister, believe me."

Thanks to Robert C. Herguth, Tim Novak and Steve Warmbir

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

One Family's Rise, A Century of Power

When Bruno Roti Sr. died in 1957, 3,000 people lined the streets to pay their respects. Fourteen cars overflowed with flowers.

The wail of a 12-piece marching band filled the streets of the neighborhood that Roti Sr. had called home for nearly five decades, since leaving his small village of Simbario in southern Italy in 1909. Nearly 100 men wearing black sashes across their chests escorted the hearse through the neighborhood today known as Chinatown. They were members of an organization Roti founded -- the Society of St. Rocco di Simbario.

It was a funeral fit for a cardinal. Or a mayor. According to his death certificate, Bruno Roti Sr., dead at 76, was a beer distributor.

To people in his tightly knit Italian neighborhood, Roti Sr. was their leader. Years after Roti's death, his godson, in a recorded interview he gave in 1980 for the "Italians in Chicago" project run by the history department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recalled him as a man who showed immigrants a "clean, decent, respectable way of life.''

To Chicago Police, though, Roti Sr. was "The Bomber," "The Mustache," "a big man in the Chicago crime setup." In the early part of the century, he was part of the Black Hand, police said -- the name given to loose-knit gangs of extortionists who preyed on fellow Italian immigrants for money. The Black Hand gangs would be taken over in the 1920s by Al Capone's gang.

"Roti was close to Al Capone and was visited by Capone on many occasions,'' according to an FBI report prepared nine years after his death.

The FBI identified Roti Sr. as the leader of what would become the Chicago Outfit's 26th Street/Chinatown crew, a key cog in organized crime here. His descendants would build upon his legacy, extending the family's influence over public office and organized labor.

A neighborhood grocer

Bruno Roti Sr. visited Chicago in 1901, then returned eight years later for good, according to the passenger manifest of the ship -- named La Bretagne -- that brought him to America when he was 28.

Roti passed through Ellis Island in the spring of 1909 on his way to Chicago to join his two brothers and his pregnant wife's siblings. Wife Marianna Bertucci Roti and the couple's two sons stayed behind in Simbario, joining Roti in Chicago seven months later, according to his petitions for citizenship.

Roti Sr. became a grocer, operating a store in the 2100 block of South Wentworth, according to a Chicago city directory from 1917.

Chicago -- booming with hundreds of thousands of immigrants -- was a brutal place, with gangland killings, immigrants preying upon each other, rampant vice. Roti Sr. himself was arrested twice in murder investigations.

The first time, in 1920, he was picked up with four others in the slaying of labor leader Maurice "Moss'' Enright, according to newspaper accounts. Enright was trying to take over the city's street sweeper union. Police suspected Roti had disposed of the sawed-off shotgun that was used to kill Enright. But he was never charged.

As Prohibition-era violence raged, Roti Sr. was charged in a killing in 1931, according to newspaper accounts. At the time, he was 51 and the father of 10 children. One of his sons, then 10 years old, was Fred Bruno Roti, who would grow up to be a powerful Chicago alderman -- and, according to the FBI, a "made" member of the mob.

The victim was Johnny Genero, a gangster who was driving to his mother's house with another man when his car was trapped by another car at 29th and Normal. Genero was shot in the head. He died instantly. His companion wasn't harmed.

Police arrested Roti Sr., described in newspaper reports as a saloonkeeper, and four others, including James Belcastro. Belcastro, nicknamed "King of the Bombers,'' had been arrested more than 150 times. Among his alleged crimes: the 1928 murder of a political candidate and the operation of a bomb factory. He wasn't convicted in either case.

Belcastro was often referred in newspaper stories as Chicago's "Public Enemy No. 4,'' and as a "pineapple thrower'' -- a flip reference to persistent allegations he threw bombs at homes or businesses. The Chicago Daily News decreed he was "head of the bomb making division of Capone Inc.''

A few weeks after Genero's murder, prosecutors dropped all charges against Roti, Belcastro and the others. No one was ever convicted of Genero's murder.

When Belcastro would be arrested, Roti Sr.'s wife sometimes put up her family's home to bail Belcastro out of jail. Or her brother Bruno Bertucci would. In fact, the Rotis and Bertuccis often put up their homes to bail people out of jail, among them Bruno Roti Sr. himself, according to Cook County property deeds.

Rejected, twice, for citizenship

Roti applied twice during Prohibition to become an American citizen. The first time, he was rejected for "ignorance,'' the second for not having "five years good character.''

Finally, 36 years after he moved to America, Roti was granted citizenship in 1945, a few months after World War II ended. One of his character witnesses was John Budinger, the alderman of the 1st Ward, the hand-picked successor of Michael "Hinky Dink'' Kenna, the infamously corrupt alderman who'd served during Prohibition.

Chicago's 1st Ward -- which included the Loop and Near South Side -- had long been ruled by the mob, which had a hand in everything from gambling to politics to development. Eleven years after Bruno Roti Sr.'s death, his son Fred became the 1st Ward alderman, a job he eventually gave up when he got caught taking bribes.

Son-in-law takes over

When Bruno Roti Sr. died, his criminal empire went to Frank "Skid'' Caruso, who had married Roti's daughter Catherine in 1934, according to FBI reports.

According to an FBI report dated Feb. 25, 1966, "His 'clout' comes from the fact he is the son-in-law of BRUNO ROTI referred to as 'MUSTACHE.'

"It has previously been reported that CARUSO is the leader of rackets and organized crime in that area and gets a piece of all action taking place there," the report said, referring to Chinatown.

Another FBI report, from Oct. 20, 1969, said: "CARUSO characterized as formerly a 'baggage thief' and was nothing until he married into the Bruno Roti family."

Caruso was a onetime patronage worker for the city street department. He served in the Army during World War II, was wounded in France and received a Purple Heart -- a fact his son Bruno proudly noted during a deposition six years ago.

Taking over from his father-in-law, Caruso concentrated on illegal gambling, including "juice loans" -- illegal, high-interest loans often made to gamblers. A craps game Caruso ran in Chinatown in 1962 was "one of the biggest and best in the entire Chicago area,'' an informant told the FBI.

"Bruno Roti had considerable wealth and property and cash in that area and this wealth is still somewhat controlled by [Caruso] in view of his leadership capacity concerning gambling and criminal matters," according to the 1969 FBI report.

On the city payroll

Over the years, many of "Skid" Caruso's relatives held city patronage jobs, usually in the Streets and Sanitation Department. Two of his three sons, two of his brothers, his sister's husband and five of his wife's brothers all had city jobs at some point. Today, he has grandchildren, nieces and nephews -- more than 30 relatives in all, including Carusos, Rotis and other family members -- on the city payroll.

Caruso's older brother, Joe "Shoes" Caruso, made headlines in 1959, when a reporter found him working at a liquor distributorship when he was supposed to be at his city job -- using a hand broom to sweep two city blocks in Chinatown. "Shoes" Caruso didn't bat an eye at getting caught.

"I've been through all this before,'' he told the Chicago Tribune in 1959. "It's always the same -- a lot of wind, and nothing ever happens. Wait and see. There still will be payrollers after all of us are dead and gone.''

Thirty-two years later, "Skid'' Caruso's oldest son, Peter, and other relatives got caught up in a similar scandal involving city workers assigned to sweep streets with brooms. Once again, city officials found they weren't working eight hours a day.

"Skid" Caruso's gambling associates also landed city jobs, thanks to Caruso's brother-in-law, Frank Roti, according to an FBI report filed shortly after Roti's funeral in 1966. "Frank Roti held a city job most of his life and was responsible for hiring many individuals who assisted Caruso in racket operations," the FBI said.

Why 'Skid?'

The FBI had two versions of how "Skid" Caruso got his nickname, according to its files. One said it was due to his "association with the Skid Row element." The other said it was a shortened version of "Machine Gun Skid," which he was called in his younger days, when he "committed numerous acts of terrorism,'' according to an Oct. 20, 1966, FBI report.

Caruso was arrested at least 10 times, mostly on gambling charges, but never convicted, according to his FBI file. In 1965, Chicago Police arrested him on gambling charges, but the case was dropped after prosecutors discovered that evidence had been "lost or misplaced," according to the FBI.

"I know the system must be working if my father never did a day in jail ... for organized crime," his son Bruno Caruso said in a 2000 deposition.

"Skid'' Caruso's gambling crew included his brother, Morris "Mutt'' Caruso, and their sister's husband, Dominick Scalfaro, who were arrested in separate gambling cases in the 1960s. "Mutt'' Caruso's case was dismissed. Scalfaro was convicted, but the case was dismissed on appeal.

Caruso died in 1983 at 71. Fourteen years later, his grandson and namesake, Frank Caruso, was charged with beating Lenard Clark, a black teenager who had come into the Carusos' neighborhood. Frank Caruso was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to eight years in prison.

His trial brought the close-knit family even closer together, as relatives defended the young man, arguing that reporters unfairly portrayed him as a racist.

Caruso's father, Frank "Toots" Caruso, wrote to the judge, asking for leniency. He described Sunday gatherings at the home of his mother, Catherine Roti Caruso, Bruno Roti Sr.'s daughter and matriarch of the family. The elder Caruso wrote that his son "speaks to his Nana with reverence. I have let him know that she is 87-years-old and any day could be her last. We all eat at Nana's house every Sunday. She cooks for 21 people, but her granddaughters serve and clean up afterward. Frank's job is to set the table the third Sunday of every month."

The grandmother is now 94 years old. She still lives in the Chinatown home where she raised her family, right next door to the home of her late younger brother, Fred Roti, who, as alderman, would take the family farther in politics than any other family member.

A power at City Hall

Roti became 1st Ward alderman in 1968. He soon became one of the most powerful, well-liked and respected members of the City Council. Roti was also a "made member" of the mob, according to the FBI -- a fact not made public until after his death in 1999.

Roti's political career abruptly ended in 1991, when he was charged with taking bribes to fix zoning and court cases. Two years later, he was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison.

The charges resulted from a federal probe that loosened the mob's political grip over the 1st Ward, including the area controlled by the 26th Street Crew long run by Roti's brother-in-law, "Skid'' Caruso.

"The 26th Street/Chinatown Crew historically was supposedly aligned with the 1st Ward, which was operated and controlled under organized crime auspices . . . and historically has had influence within the city of Chicago government for contracts, jobs with Streets and Sanitation, city contracts for hauling, trucking companies and so on," former FBI Agent John O'Rourke, an expert on the Chicago Outfit, said in a July 1997 deposition in a labor case.

Federal authorities attacked the mob's hold on Chicago politics with the help of Robert Cooley, a Chicago cop-turned-mob-lawyer who secretly recorded conversations with politicians and judges. Federal agents also hid a listening device in a booth at the old Counsellor's Row, a restaurant and 1st Ward mob hangout that was across from City Hall.

When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down by Robert Cooley.

The investigation found that the powerhouse in Chicago's mob politics was Pat Marcy, who held the unassuming title of secretary of the 1st Ward Democratic Organization but whose power was vast. Marcy took bribes and doled out city contracts and jobs, fixed criminal and civil cases, and bribed politicians and judges, according to testimony at Roti's trial. Roti was alderman, but he answered to Marcy.

'Nobody gets hurt'

Roti reveled in his reputation as the mob's voice on the City Council. During Roti's re-election campaigns, the joke around City Hall was "Vote for Roti, and Nobody Gets Hurt.'' And Roti shared in the laugh.

He was elected alderman in 1968 and held the job until he resigned in 1991, when he was indicted. He'd been a state senator from 1950 to 1956. When he left the Senate, he was a patronage worker in the city's Sewer Department.

Over the years, Roti often was asked about his many relatives working for the city. "So I have some relatives on the payroll," Roti said in 1981. "They're doing an excellent job."

That comment came a year after his son -- city employee Bruno F. Roti -- was indicted in a police motor-pool scandal, charged with billing the city for work done on Bruno Roti's own car. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to a work-release program for six months and fined $5,000.

Ald. Roti also faced criticism that he helped steer the city's trucking business to his nephews -- including Fred Bruno Barbara, who would make a fortune off city business.

When Roti died, his family and friends jammed the streets of Chinatown for a funeral procession similar to his father's 42 years earlier. His longtime friend, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), made sure everyone knew the role Roti played in Chicago history.

"Our skyline should say 'Roti' on it,'' Stone said at the funeral. "If not for Fred Roti, half the buildings in the Loop would never have been built."

Roti, his father Bruno Roti Sr. and brother-in-law Frank "Skid" Caruso are buried together at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside. Roti Sr. is interred in a stone mausoleum -- one of the most ornate, intricately carved edifices in the cemetery. It towers over the graves of his relatives. To the right is the grave of Ald. Fred Roti; to the left, "Skid'' Caruso. Other relatives are buried nearby.

At Christmas, fresh wreaths decorated each grave. A large one with a red bow was hanging on Roti Sr.'s mausoleum.

Nearly 50 years after his death, Bruno Roti Sr. hasn't been forgotten.

Thanks to Tim Novak, Robert C. Herguth, and Steve Warmbir

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harry Aleman pleads for parole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 03, 2005

Profile: Harry Aleman

He's known as the ultimate iceman -- a cool, calculating mob killer whose brains and brutality are matched only by his stubborn refusal to rat out others. But to hear it from reputed hit man Harry Aleman -- whose dark, penetrating eyes once struck terror into hearts -- he's really an old softy, just trying to get by while serving a 100- to 300-year prison sentence.

He breaks into a smile at the thought of his first great-grandchild paying a recent visit ("It was something to see"), shakes his head at the hurricane devastation in New Orleans ("A f------ shame"), contemplates Jesus' suffering in the movie "The Passion of the Christ" ("This guy had balls this big") and longs for freedom and living out his final years with his family ("They sustain me").

During an exclusive interview with the Chicago Sun-Times at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, about 250 miles from Chicago, the convicted killer spoke about his personal and professional lives and admitted being affiliated with the Chicago mob -- when it existed. "It's over," he insists. "It's done."

He also says he has never killed anyone and is doing time for someone else's crime.

In fact, Aleman hints that new evidence pointing to his innocence will emerge in an upcoming court filing. One of his lawyers later explained that Aleman will be seeking a new trial based on "newly discovered evidence" that he won't yet discuss.

Authorities regard Aleman's claims of innocence and a frameup as ridiculous. "I think he's convinced himself he's a victim, which people often do when they've been locked up for as many years as Harry has," said Cook County prosecutor Scott Cassidy. "There was evidence that he was a hit man for the mob, and I think he relished that role."

In a landmark case handled by Cassidy, Aleman was convicted in 1997 of shotgunning to death a Teamsters union steward who once was married to Aleman's cousin. It remains Aleman's sole murder conviction, although he once was indicted in another case and is suspected in 15 to 20 or more slayings. "Never, never," he said, when asked if he has ever killed anyone. "And they know who killed them -- but he's dead. They don't get raises or elevated blaming a dead person."

Aleman said he was framed because he would never flip on fellow hoodlums as local and federal officials pressed him to do. He said he maintained that obstinate attitude during more-recent prison visits by investigators.

It's not totally clear why Aleman -- a thin but taut man of 66 with graying, combed-back hair and well-groomed nails -- agreed to speak. A reporter wrote him many months ago, and Aleman recently agreed to talk. He said he has never granted an interview before. But the three-hour sit-down came as Aleman lays the groundwork to get a new trial, he faces a December parole hearing, and a massive federal investigation bears down on some of his old mob associates for crimes stretching back decades.

"I could be a target; I don't know what's in the FBI's mind," said Aleman, who's prone to gesturing and raising his voice when trying to make a point.

"For all I know, they're going to keep indicting me for murders" until he flips.

Thawing out

Harry Aleman wants hot chocolate.

Technically it's still summer, but the frigid rain pelting Aleman's medium-security prison, population 1,900, indicates otherwise. Aleman suggests that the reporter who came to visit him go to the vending area and get a hot chocolate -- and a coffee for "yourself." Then he remembers: You need a special vending card, so that's not an option.

He's hungry, apparently having missed lunch for this meeting. But he's still polite and friendly. "What can I do for you?" he asks after small talk about a long-ago hunting and fishing excursion out West.

Aleman is reminded it was he who wrote the reporter earlier in the month saying he had something "exceptionally newsworthy" to discuss.

"Where's the letter?" he asks.

In the car.

"Did the FBI send you?"

No.

The meeting is taking place in a small office with a desk, typewriter, phone and a few filing cabinets. The walls are tan cinder block. The floors are pale tile. Aleman is wearing a blue button-down prison-issued shirt tucked into darker prison-issued pants. He's carrying a coat. He and the reporter are alone, but just outside the closed door is another desk and, at times, a guard. There'll be no trouble, however. Aleman isn't regarded by corrections officials as problematic.

Aleman begins speaking about himself, claiming he was "out and out railroaded" and prosecuted for no other reason than "just to get Harry."

William Logan, the Teamsters official, was murdered in 1972, and an eyewitness, Bob Lowe, testified during a 1977 trial that Aleman was the trigger man.

Aleman was acquittedWhen Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down, and later it was determined that the judge had been bribed with the help of mob lawyer Bob Cooley, who later became an informant.

Although the law bars "double jeopardy" -- trying someone for the same crime twice -- Cook County prosecutors won a new trial as the courts determined there was no "jeopardy" the first time because the case was fixed.

Aleman still is indignant over the ruling, noting that two white men who once denied killing black youngster Emmett Till in 1955 and were acquitted in his race-inspired murder later confessed in a magazine article. But they couldn't be retried because of double jeopardy.

Aleman was tried again in 1997 -- again with Lowe's help -- and convicted. A book about Lowe and his long road to justice, Everybody Pays, came out a few years ago.

Aleman, though, questions Lowe's credibility, mentioning his personal troubles and asking a "hypothetical" question: If a killer "in the movies" made eye contact with an eyewitness to a murder, what do you think would happen to that eyewitness? "You kill him," not let him go, Aleman says.

'I didn't feel nothing'

Aleman's other allegation -- raised unsuccessfully by his defense team in the 1997 trial, at which Aleman never testified -- was that William "Butch" Petrocelli really killed Logan. Petrocelli had been secretly dating Logan's ex-wife, and he and Logan had fought, Aleman said. Petrocelli also was a reputed hit man. Aleman said they once were best friends, and he described Petrocelli as "my partner." Petrocelli disappeared in late 1980, and his mutilated body was discovered several months later.

Although Aleman was jailed at the time -- he has spent most of the last 27 years in custody for various crimes -- questions have been raised about whether he ordered the hit because his old pal was holding back money meant to take care of his family.

Aleman dismisses that theory, saying, "If he was holding back money, I wouldn't have known about it because my family was taken care of."

Theories about Petrocelli's murder also have centered on Petrocelli possibly shaking down people in a mob boss' name, without his knowledge, then keeping the cash.

Aleman, though, claims Petrocelli was killed by mobsters because it was found out he was a "rat."

How was that discovered? "People in the neighborhood" began asking questions about why Aleman got sent away on a particular beef and Petrocelli didn't, Aleman said, and "it got to the right ears."

Whose?

"Whoever," Aleman says.

Aleman believes -- it's not clear exactly why he believes this -- that Petrocelli was in trouble with the law in the late 1970s, so a relative, a policeman, persuaded him to flip. And then the government didn't want to admit Petrocelli was the Logan killer, Aleman says.

Cassidy, the Cook County prosecutor, said, "I have no information to support that allegation" of Petrocelli being an informant. The feds wouldn't comment. "The government wants everybody to be a stool pigeon ... and I'm never going to become a stool pigeon," Aleman said. "I don't want to disgrace my family."

The government doesn't "respect" that stance "because they've had so much success turning over hard-core guys," Aleman says. "The guys out there [still on the street] I have to think twice about. You're not stupid."

How did he feel when Petrocelli died? "I didn't feel nothing," Aleman says. "I wish they would have got him and made him confess, then exile him. Killing him didn't help me at all. I'm still languishing in prison."

No more mob

The feds hope to solve 18 old mob hits as part of their ongoing probe. One of those is Petrocelli's murder.

The indictment fingers notorious loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr. as a participant, saying he "and others committed the murder of William Petrocelli in Cicero."

Aleman has not been implicated in any of the 18 killings, or any of the other crimes listed in the indictment, but curiously, he is mentioned in the document as being among the "criminal associates who reported at various times to [late hoodlum] Joseph Ferriola."

The feds are basing much of the information in their racketeering case on the word of mobster-turned-witness Nick Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr.'s younger brother. Aleman says Nick Calabrese and he served time together at the federal prison in Pekin. He describes Nick Calabrese, now in protective custody, as "a regular guy," quick to add that "I didn't pal with him or anything like that. ... You never ask a guy questions." He heard about Nick Calabrese flipping "in your paper."

Aleman doesn't know if he'll be pulled into this probe in some way, and the feds won't talk. "Who knows what Calabrese could say," he says. What could he say? "It's not anything 'on me' [that Nick Calabrese has], it's what they want him to say," Aleman says, referring to the feds.

To that point, federal prosecutor Mitch Mars later said, "We never tell any of the witnesses to say [something]. It's suicidal for us. . . . Nick will say whatever he's going to say."

Aleman looks at the floor when asked about Frank Calabrese Sr. He refuses to discuss him, changing the subject to the reporter's shoes, marveling that they had cost just $17 on sale. When pressed, he says, "Go talk to him."

Likewise, Aleman would rather not talk about reputed mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo, who was not indicted in the feds' current case. "I don't know what anybody does," Aleman says.

Asked about the severity of one Calabrese brother turning on the other, Aleman says, "I don't think about them things. If he did it, he did it." But he adds that the increasing number of mob informants is one of the reasons "no new people [are] coming into the mob.

"The reporters and newspapers have to keep it alive, but there ain't nothing in Chicago, no street tax, no extortion, no nothing," Aleman says. "There might be some old guys languishing around, but it's moot.

"The younger generation doesn't want no part of the mob; it's over." Aleman adds that young men would rather go to college and not take a risk they'd end up like him.

"There's no dice games, no card games, no bookmaking, if there's any bookmaking, it's just with the Jewish people on the North Side," he says, adding that even if that's happening, there's no street tax on the money changing hands.

"There's nobody who wants to do the job; this isn't the '30s or '40s," he recalls. "Is there a mob running over, putting people in trunks? . . . No, nobody wants to be part of it because of the feds. ... And these guys don't want to go to no jail like Harry.

"Whoever they locked up recently, they locked them up for their past performance, because they haven't been doing anything for the past 10 or 15 years."

While it's true the murders in the feds' case are old, authorities accuse reputed mob chief Jimmy Marcello and his brother Michael "Mickey" Marcello, among others, of running an illegal video gambling operation in recent years.

Aleman readily admits knowing the heavy hitters in that indictment. His take on the Marcellos, after being told about the alleged video gaming racket: "Mickey's a legit guy . . . his brother wouldn't make him do anything stupid like that. He has a catering business or a vending business."

Aleman said he only knew Jimmy Marcello was in trouble by catching a glimpse of the WGN-TV news one day.

Aleman also knows reputed mob overlord Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, who was accused of murder in the feds' current case but is on the lam.

Aleman says he didn't know Lombardo had taken off. "Joey ran away? Good for him," he says. "I hope they don't find him because he's a real good guy. He'd help anyone. ... He was known for helping out everyone in the neighborhood.

"He's not a monster at all; he helped more people in this area; he's the softest touch around -- 'Hey Joe, can you loan me $20?' Newspapers, what they can do to you."

Regrets? He's had . . . very few

Aleman indicated that it was the black-knight image of hoodlums that led him into the mob.

Sure, his dad was a criminal, a "regular thief," he says. But it was the guys in the shiny cars and slick suits who would act as "Robin Hoods," watching over the neighborhood and paying the grocery bills when a family couldn't, that got Aleman excited. "Some guys want to be like that; some want to be a tailor" like one of Aleman's grandfathers, he says. "I wanted to take care of my family. . . . I'd do anything to support them, anything. Like many other guys did before me."

Aleman, who says he tries to "slough it off" when people call him a cold-blooded killer, was asked several times if he has any regrets about his chosen profession or anything he might have done in the past. "The only regret I have is not being with my family and not being with my grandkids," Aleman replies the first time.

Later, when asked again, he gets a serious look -- something that often entails a clenched jaw -- and says, "The only regret I've got is I broke my mother's heart, and she died prematurely. . . . All I try to do is try to stay healthy and see my family and talk to them . . . all you've got left is family."

And lastly: "The only regret I have is not being able to sit down and eat with my family on a daily basis."

Family dinner

Family is a recurring theme with Aleman. Not "family" in a mob sense, but his family at home.

Some believe he cynically fosters this image of a devoted family man to soften his reputation -- to jurors, investigators, the public. But Cassidy, the prosecutor, believes there really is a strong mutual love between Aleman and his family. "Unfortunately, he has another side to him," Cassidy added.

Whatever the case, Aleman's family has remained devoted to him, weathering a four- to five-hour drive from the Chicago area to visit him.

Aleman has no biological children. But long ago, he married a woman, Ruth, with four kids. Their biological father, also a hoodlum, had been murdered. Aleman notes: "I didn't know my wife at the time he got killed."

Ruth died in 2000. Aleman helped her raise two boys and two girls as his own, and believes their fusion as a family unit was serendipitous.

As a teenager, Aleman had a nasty accident. While washing his dad's car in a family friend's garage, Aleman stepped on one of those sewer caps, it flipped up, and he came down hard on it, right between the legs. His scrotum was torn open, and he was rushed to the hospital. Aleman was patched up and recalls being told he still could have kids some day. But much later, he found out he was unable to have children, so finding a "ready-made" family was "destiny," he says.

Aleman emphasizes the importance of having dinner every night -- when his dad wasn't in jail -- with his family growing up around Taylor Street.

When his dad was in jail, Aleman was sent to live with grandparents and an aunt, while his brothers stayed with their mom. He lived there as a youngster. He became quite close with the aunt, Gloria, often curling up with her to sleep. And so, when she ended up marrying Joseph Ferriola, the fearsome mobster, Aleman became close with him, too.

Aleman says he wasn't really involved in anything heavy, and cites Uncle Joe as evidence. "They make me part of the mob because of my uncle . . . which is not true because the last thing he wanted me to do is join," Aleman recalls. "My Aunt Gloria, she made sure he didn't make me do anything like he was doing."

Still, there's ample evidence of Aleman's ferocity. Before being sent to state prison, he did prison time for home invasions and other racketeering-related crimes.

For years, Aleman was accused of working as an illegal "juice" loan collector, pursuing deadbeats who didn't pay what they owed the mob, said Vic Switski, the former Aleman case agent on the FBI/Chicago Police organized crime task force.

Once, Aleman was accused of shoving a woman through the glass door of a lounge, then beating a Chicago Police commander's son who tried to intervene.

Because his frame was always slight -- he's 5-foot-8, 140 pounds -- Aleman said he felt he sometimes had to fight to prove himself. In high school, he and a friend brawled against others every day one semester, he said.

'You have no idea'

Aleman once sent ripples of terror throughout the underworld, and segments of legitimate society, but his own fears appear much different. They don't seem to involve the joint because he says he has no real trouble, from guards or other inmates. People treat the older guys with some deference, he says, and he and the other old-timers are known as "pops" by the younger, mostly black prison population.

One of the few times he alluded to fear came in a childhood story involving his beloved aunt, who "dressed me up and walked me to school," he says. "I was afraid to go to school."

He admits to being scared seeing his little great-granddaughter; he was worried about the long drive and his family getting into a car accident. The wife of a fellow inmate in Atlanta once was killed that way, driving to see the inmate, he says. "It's etched in me," he adds, simmering about his 2003 transfer from Dixon, which is closer to Chicago, to this current facility in the sticks, south of Macomb.

Aleman also hints at some frightening characters in his past. "You have no idea the guys in Chicago who never got their names in the newspapers and are the most f------ dangerous guys I knew," Aleman says. He declines to identify them.

Most of all, though, as the interview with the reporter nears completion, Aleman seems worried about the impact a story might have. He says he's not optimistic about getting paroled -- at more than one point, he says he's resigned to dying in prison -- but he's clearly thinking toward the possibility of freedom. "My fate was cut out . . . to raise my four kids and to be in prison for the rest of my life," he says. "I've got the love of my kids ... what else could I ask for? Of course, it would be nice to be with them."

"Don't hurt me," Aleman later implores.

IN AND OUT OF COURT

1975: Bookie Anthony Reitinger is murdered; Aleman indicted years later, but it never goes to trial

1977: Put on trial for 1972 murder of William Logan; acquitted because judge is bribed

1978: Convicted of interstate home invasions, goes to federal prison

1980: Reputed hit man and Aleman friend William "Butch" Petrocelli is murdered

1989: Aleman gets out of prison, albeit briefly

1990: Hit with new racketeering charges, sent to prison to await trial

1992 : Convicted in that case, gets 12 years

1997: Retried for Logan murder. Convicted, sentenced to 100 to 300 years

2002: Denied parole

2005: Major mob indictment comes down, Aleman not charged; awaits parole hearing


ALEMAN'S EARLY RECORD

A snapshot of Harry Aleman's early rap sheet

YEAR ARREST/CHARGE
1960 malicious mischief
1961 gambling
1962 possession of burglary tools
1962 assault, criminal damage
1965 aggravated assault
1966 grand theft auto
1966 armed robbery
1968 criminal damage to property
1969 aggravated kidnapping
1971 violating Federal Reserve Act
1975 keeper of gambling place

Thanks to Robert C. Herguth - Chicago Sun Times

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