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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Village of Stone Park Place Convicted Mob Felon on Pension Board, Trustees Hide and Sneak Out Back Door, When Asked About It

Gritty Stone Park doesn't seem like the kind of place where you would find magic, but amazingly the entire Village Board vanished when FOX 32 News started asking questions about its pension fund.

Federal court documents revealed that in the 1980s and 90s, the late Chicago mob boss Anthony Centracchio handed out thousands of dollars in bribes to Stone Park officials.

"It had gone on for a long time," said Former Federal Prosecutor Scott Levine. Levine worked on the organized crime unit that nailed then-Stone Park Mayor Robert Natale, and Former Stone Park and Northlake Police Chief Seymour Sapoznik. Both men pled guilty to taking monthly payoffs to protect the mob's illegal multi-million dollar video poker business.

Levine said Sapoznik took it a step further. "He was tasked with warning his organized crime compatriots about government investigations when he learned of them in his role as police chief," added Levine.

At Sapoznik's sentencing, another former Stone Park police chief, Harry Testa, who was doing prison time for dealing coke, testified he, too, took money from the mob. So, imagine our surprise when FOX 32 discovered the three ex-cons are still drawing pensions from Stone Park, totaling more than $43,000 a year.

"It is fairly unusual," Louis Kosiba said. Kosiba runs the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which provides pensions to virtually all village governments in Illinois. Because of its tiny size, Stone Park is not required to join IMRF and instead runs its own pension fund. Kosiba said nearly all Illinois public pensions include an important rule designed to discourage corruption. "Any felony conviction related to or arising out of your employment will terminate your pension," added Kosiba.

However, not only is Former Chief Sapoznik still receiving a pension, amazingly Stone Park Mayor Ben Mazzula and village trustees appointed Sapoznik to sit on Stone Park's pension board.

"You literally have a person who's being entrusted with the financial future of the participants of that pension plan. He or she needs to be as clean as Caesar's wife, so to speak," said Kosiba.

Mayor Mazulla wouldn't talk on camera, so FOX 32 went to a recent village board meeting to ask why they would appoint a mob-connected felon to the pension board.

"Chief please have everybody clear the room so we can have--yeah."

Trustees went into executive session to discuss personnel issues, so FOX 32's Dane Placko patiently waited outside. However, when it seemed to be going a little long, Dane asked a village official to take a peek. The trustees had disappeared. The parking lot was empty too, except for a car driven by Trustee Loretta Teets.

"Hi trustee. Why'd you guys sneak out the back door?" asked FOX 32's Dane Placko.

Teets pulled away and left without responding.

"If I was a taxpayer in Stone Park, and knew my tax dollars were going to support pensions for felons, not to mention one of these felons sits on the pension board, I'd be irate," said Patrick Rehkamp of the Better Government Association.

Only one of the ex-cons, Harry Testa, returned our calls. He declined to comment.

There's no law against putting a felon on a pension board, but experts said it's extremely unusual.

Thanks to Dane Placko.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Franklin Park Police Officer Robert Urbinati Linked to Chicago Mob

A former Franklin Park police officer acted as an important communications link between a high-ranking mob boss in prison and his minions on the outside, a federal prosecutor disclosed in court Tuesday.

The fresh details about former officer Robert Urbinati, 60, came at a court hearing in which he was sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in a suburban, mob-run video poker empire.

Urbinati admitted in February to taking $500 a month as a Franklin Park officer to protect the video poker machines in local bars. But he also would reach out in the early 1990s to Michael Marcello, the brother of convicted mobster James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, who was in prison. Urbinati would relay Outfit problems to Michael Marcello, who would visit his brother James in prison and get answers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Levine said. Urbinati is related to the Marcellos, but the family relationship wasn't specified in court.

When James Marcello gets out of prison next year, he is expected to lead the Chicago Outfit, law enforcement sources have said.

Urbinati's attorney, Joseph Lopez, disputed the government's contention that Urbinati was an important link in the mob's communication network, calling the accusation "highly speculative" and without a basis in solid evidence.

Prosecutors, though, have pointed to a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation in which Urbinati and another player in the conspiracy, Thomas Tucker, talk about problems they are having with Robert Natale, then the mayor of Stone Park, who wanted a larger bribe payment for his services to the mob. Both Tucker and Natale were convicted as part of the investigation.

In the recorded transcript, Urbinati tells Tucker that he "was with Mickey [Marcello] last night. I explained everything to him, he's going to talk to Jimmy, but he said, even he said . . . you know that guy [Natale], he was supposed to get something."

Michael Marcello was not charged in the case. And Lopez called James Marcello "a model prisoner."

The sentencing of Urbinati wraps up the current case. The investigation, though, into illegal video gambling in the suburbs continues.

The machines are a cash cow for the Outfit. One machine alone can rake in $100,000 in profits a year, with the mob splitting the take 50-50 with the bar owner. And there are hundreds of such machines in the Chicago area.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said the crimes Urbinati committed were "very disturbing," especially since his sentencing came when Americans were commemorating the dedication and sacrifice of so many of its men and women in uniform in relation to Sept. 11.

"He was a crooked cop," the judge said of Urbinati, who wore a badge in Franklin Park from 1968 to 1995.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir


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