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Showing posts with label Sam Carlisi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sam Carlisi. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Century of Chicago Mob Bosses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 23, 2015

Did Reputed Mob Associate Sammy Galioto Hide $3 Million to Avoid Paying Taxes?

How do you hide $3 million? Federal authorities say a ranking member of a Chicago mob family siphoned that much through an intricate scheme to avoid paying taxes.

Federal prosecutors are going after Salvatore "Sammy" Galioto the old fashioned way; the maneuver they used 80 years ago to take down Al Capone - tax evasion charges.

Authorities say Galioto tried to hide a $3 million consulting fee from a downtown condo deal. Galioto is part of a family that for 20 years has been into all sorts of deals - real estate, strip clubs, labor unions, health care and gambling.

"Where's the exit?" Galioto shouted to a courthouse deputy Thursday as he walked with urgency out of the Dirksen Federal Building.

The 54-year-old Kenilworth resident had just given up DNA and posted bail on these federal charges that he evaded U.S. income taxes by concealing $3 million in personal income.

Investigators say the scheme involved a Loop high-rise known as the Pittsfield Building; in 2007 Galioto received the handsome consulting for the sale of just nine floors. Instead of reporting the income, they say he filed false paperwork to cover it up and paid no taxes.

The beefy Galioto hails from a family with deep outfit connections.

He and his father - a one-time Chicago policeman - were first listed as mob associates on a Chicago crime commission list nearly 20 years ago.

Mobologists say the Galiotos were aligned with the late Tackets boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi, and that imprisoned mob boss Little Jimmy Marcello is related by marriage to the family.

Galioto and his father William were in the middle of a West Side movie studio groundbreaking in 1995 that was torpedoed once the family's history surfaced. After initially backing the deal, once the family's mob ties were made known, the administration of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley stumbled through damage control.

A few years later in Missouri, Galioto was indicted for Medicare fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

On Thursday after court, neither Galioto nor his attorney would discuss the latest criminal charges.

While it may seem unusual that Galioto was made to give up DNA in tax evasion case, federal prosecutors and Galioto's attorney say it is normal even in white collar cases.

His lawyer Cindy Giacchetti says nothing should be read into that as significant.

If convicted of all counts, Galioto faces 12 years in jail and a $1million fine.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Nick Calabrese Blasted by Attorney on Cross Examination

Friends of ours: Nick Calabrese, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Frank Calabrese Sr., Anthony Spilotro
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

An attorney for James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, today blasted a star witness' account that Marcello was made into the mob in a 1983 ceremony.

Marcello is half Irish, and according to the testimony of Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, only men who are fully Italian can be made members of the Chicago Outfit.

Marcello's attorney, Thomas Breen, asked Calabrese on the witness stand if he had met Marcello's "lovely mother Mrs. Flynn," referring to her maiden name.

"And Mrs. Flynn is as Irish as Paddy's pig, isn't she?" Breen said.

"Then Jimmy Marcello lied," Calabrese shot back, apparently a little rattled. "[Marcello's sponsor] Sam Carlisi lied, they lied to the boss."

Nicholas Calabrese gave a detailed account of how he, Marcello and Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., were made with several other men in a ceremony in a closed Chicago area restaurant in 1983.

Breen suggested through his questioning that Calabrese was lying about many details he gave to FBI agents and told jurors from the stand.

Breen asked Calabrese about the making ceremony.

"They serve food?" Breen asked.

"No," Calabrese said.

"No corn beef for Mr. Marcello?" Breen jabbed.

Calabrese has admitted to taking part in at least 14 murders for the mob. As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, he is avoiding the death penalty and hoping to get something less than life in prison. He's testifying against his brother Frank Calabrese Sr., Marcello and three other men on trial.

Earlier in the trial, Breen scored a point when he was able to get Nicholas Calabrese to say he did not recognize the photo of one of the men that he took part in killing, Nicholas D'Andrea, in Chicago Heights in 1981.

Calabrese said he had only seen the man briefly. The mob was interested in grilling D'Andrea about the attempted murder of a south suburban mob boss but beat D'Andrea so badly that he died before questioning.

The attorney for Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., revealed during his questioning earlier in the day that a family member of one of Nicholas Calabrese's murder victims secretly recorded Nicholas Calabrese during a prison visit.

Nicholas Calabrese took part in the murders of the mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother, Michael Spilotro. Their brother, Dr. Pat Spilotro, a dentist, was a friend of Nick Calabrese and also did his dental work, Nicholas Calabrese testified. The dentist visited Nicholas Calabrese in prison once and recorded him, but Calabrese told him nothing about the murders.

In 2001, Nicholas Calabrese sent Pat Spilotro a Christmas card from prison, telling him that he had made a decision he never believed he would have made. Nicholas Calabrese was referring to cooperating with the FBI, according to court testimony.

"God willing, I'll be home next Christmas," Calabrese wrote.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chicago Mob Consigliere Revealed?

Friends of ours: Nick Calabrese, James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello, Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa, Alphonse "Al the Pizza Man" Tornabene, Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Anthony "Little" Zizzo
Friends of mine: Leo Caruso

Federal documents reveal a new name in the upper crust of the Chicago outfit, a man that some mob experts believe may have become the mob's "elder statesman."
Documents filed by federal prosecutors in the case against 14 top mob figures revealed the identity of what some mobwatchers say is the Chicago outfit's current consigliere. The man's name was blotted out -- redacted --from the government filing. But, the ABC7 I-Team reveals the name behind the black mark.

Mafia initiation ceremonies are not open to the public. The only pictures are cheesy Hollywood reenactments. So when Chicago wiseguy Nick Calabrese started deep dishing outfit details to federal authorities a few years ago, one story stood out. It is explained in a government filing known as a proffer, or play-by-play, of the case that federal prosecutors plan to put on against Chicago hoodlums charged in Operation Family Secrets. The proffer states that Nick Calabrese will testify that a number of individuals were "made" (or inducted) with him in 1983, including co-defendant James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello.

During the "making ceremony," each 'inductee' was accompanied by his crew boss or "capo," according to the government. Two men "conducted the ceremony, which included an oath of allegiance to the organization."

One of the concelebrants was the late Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa, then considered the top ranking boss of the mob. Aiuppa's partner in the blood ceremony was blacked out in publicly filed documents. But, the ABC7 I-Team has seen an un-redacted copy of the filing. We can reveal the name under the black mark: Alphonse Tornabene.

Tornabene is now 84 years old. He is known in mob circles as "Al the Pizza Man." A suburban pizza parlor is still in his family. Even though he owns a summer home in William's Bay, Wisconsin, the I-Team found Tournabene at the front door of his suburban Chicago house and asked him whether he was the grand mobster at an outfit initiation.

GOUDIE: "Know about that?"

TORNABENE: "I don't remember."

GOUDIE: "You don't remember?"

TORNABENE: "No."

GOUDIE: "You and Mr. Aiuppa?"

TORNABENE: "I don't remember."

GOUDIE: "You administered the oath of the Outfit according to the feds?"

TORNABENE: "I don't remember."

"Well, it shows significance, one that they took him under their trust to make such a significant ceremony, in making some mob guys," said Robert Fuesel, former federal agent.

Former IRS criminal investigator Bob Fuesel says Tornabene grew up as an outfit bookie but was apparently being groomed for higher office. With the three elder statesman of the outfit all dead, Joey Aiuppa, Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo and Sam "Wings" Carlisi, some federal lawmen believe that the role of consiglieri has fallen on Carlisi's cousin, Al Tornabene, who may have a hard time getting around these days, but is still meeting with known outfit associates.

GOUDIE: "The Crime Commission is saying that you run the mob?"

TORNABENE: (laughs) "I can't even move..."

On several days I-Team surveillance spotted Leo Caruso at Tornabene's home. Seven years ago Caruso was permanently barred from the Laborers' International Union after a federal investigation linked him to the mob's 26th Street crew. A Justice Department report stated that Caruso was "deeply involved with organized crime figures in a substantial manner."

TORNABENE: "He's just a friend..."

GOUDIE: "Mr. Caruso is a friend?"

TORNABENE: "Yes."

The FBI is currently investigating the disappearance of Tornabene's top lieutenant, Anthony "Little" Zizzo. The two men met frequently until last August, when Zizzo mysteriously vanished after leaving his west suburban condo for a meeting on Rush Street.

"Well, these indictments through the US attorney's office, just put everything in disarray, and so do they know what happened to Zizzo. I'm sure somebody does. It's hard for me to believe based upon his reputation that he has not been uncovered and/or is probably deceased," said Fuesel.

"Pizza Al" has no criminal record but comes from a mob family. His late brother Frank was convicted of vote fraud and prostitution and authorities say was active in outfit vice rackets.

The Tournabenes are also related by marriage to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Frank Tournabene was a great uncle to Blagojevich's wife Patty. A spokeswoman for the governor's wife says that while she is aware of her late uncle Frank Tornaebene, she doesn't recall a relative named Al and has no memory of ever meeting such a person.

The I-Team attempted to reach former union boss Leo Caruso about his relationship with pizza l Tornabene. A woman who answered the phone at Caruso's Bridgeport home said he wasn't interested in talking.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chicago Mobster Pleads Guilty

Friends of ours: Michael Marcello, James Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Nick Calabrese

Mobster Michael Marcello, half-brother of James Marcello, the man prosecutors say is the head of the Chicago Outfit, pleaded guilty today to racketeering and gambling charges on the eve of his trial.

Marcello, 56, admitted he was associated with the "Melrose Park Crew" of the Mob, reporting at various times to Sam Carlisi and James Marcello.

Further, he admitted he ran M&M Amusement, a Cicero vending company that altered amusement video poker games to make them into gambling machines, which they then distributed to bars and restaurants, giving those owners a cut and then collecting the rest of the proceeds.

More importantly, Marcello admitted that he tried to hush up mob turncoat Nick Calabrese, the man primarily responsible for supplying agents with the evidence for the upcoming trial that begins Tuesday with jury selection. Calabrese turned on his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr. of Oak Brook and other mobsters, telling the government of various murders he said he was aware of, including murders he said he committed personally.

Michael Marcello said he relayed $4,000 a month from James Marcello to the family of Nick Calabrese when Nick Calabrese was in prison in an effort to placate Nick Calabrese and keep him from going to the feds.

After prosecutor Mitch Mars described the above acts, U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel asked Marcello, "Is what he said true?"

"Yes, your honor," replied Michael Marcello.

Catherine O'Daniel, who, along with attorney Arthur N. Nasser, represented Michael Marcello said he "is a good man and has accepted responsibility for the conduct in the indictment."

She also denied published reports that Marcello has been having problems while inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center. "He is just eager to put this behind him," said O'Daniel.

Michael Marcello faces 70 to 108 months in prison. Zagel will rule within a week whether he will sentence him soon, as Nasser requested, or wait until the trial is over, as prosecutors have requested.

Thanks to Rob Olmstead

Monday, May 21, 2007

Will Mob Family Secrets be Revealed?

Friends of ours: Tony Spilotro, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Nick Calabrese, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Louie "The Mooch" Eboli, James LaPietra, John Fecarotta
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael were heading to a meeting with top mobsters, and they were worried.

Tony Spilotro, already a made member of the mob and the Outfit's man in Las Vegas, was told he was going to be promoted. Michael was to become a "made" member. But they weren't acting like men in line for promotions, recently released court records show.

Michael gave his daughter his rings, a phone book and a cross to give to his wife. Tony gave the girl a briefcase containing money, rings and a phone book to pass on to his family in case he didn't return. The men never came back from the June 1986 meeting. It was a setup for them to be killed.

Fresh details about the murders could come to light this week when a federal judge will hold a hearing on evidence from the Spilotro murders that could become part of the Family Secrets trial.

It's one of 18 murders charged in the case, which involves some of the top mobsters in the Chicago area.

Top mob boss James "Little Jimmy" Marcello doesn't want jurors to hear from a member of the Spilotro family, who would testify he called Michael Spilotro at home regarding the meeting where the brothers were killed. The family member has not been named in court records but apparently can recognize Marcello's voice.

Marcello also didn't want jurors to hear from one of the Spilotro brothers' widows, who can testify about statements the men made before they left for the meeting.

The brothers' brutal murders are easily the best known among the murders charged in the case. In the mob movie "Casino," the Spilotro brothers -- with Joe Pesci playing the character based on Tony Spilotro -- were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield.

In real life, they were slain in a basement in a Bensenville-area home and later buried in a cornfield.

Several top mobsters were waiting in the basement and attacked the Spilotro brothers as they entered. Among the attackers waiting downstairs were several mobsters, now dead, including top mob boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Louie "The Mooch" Eboli, James LaPietra and John Fecarotta.

The FBI learned the details of the murder from one of the men who was there, reputed mob hitman Nick Calabrese, who now is cooperating with the feds and is expected to testify at trial.

Marcello is charged in the murders and allegedly drove the Spilotro brothers to the Bensenville-area home and their deaths.

Tony Spilotro asked his killers if he could say a novena before he died. His request was denied, and the killers strangled the brothers.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chicago Outfit's #2 Man is Missing

Friends of ours: Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi

Anthony Zizzo is currently the major domo of the Chicago mob, considered by law enforcement to be the outfit's No. 2 man or "underboss." Officially, Zizzo is considered a missing person. But in the mob, "missing" is historically defined as "deceased but not located." And in Zizzo's case, the clues left behind certainly point that direction.

Anthony Zizzo drove away from his condominium in the west suburbs three weeks ago, August 31. He said goodbye to his wife Susan and left to conduct some business, possibly a meeting in the Rush Street area on Chicago's near North Side.

When the bespectacled Zizzo didn't return home, his wife came to the Westmont Police Station to fill out a missing persons report. The report, obtained by the I-Team, states that the 71-year-old Zizzo is very ill with kidney failure but left home without his daily medication. He was wearing a grey shirt with black pants black shoes and a black jacket.

Susan Zizzo told police he possibly diverted to their vacation home in Lake Geneva but his I-Pass had not been used. That's because her husband apparently only made it as far as Melrose Park. His Jeep was found in a restaurant parking lot on Division Street. The restaurant owner tells the I-Team that Zizzo was a regular customer but that he doesn't recall seeing him there the day he vanished. According to an alert sent to Chicago area law enforcement, the car was undisturbed and Zizzo's cellular telephone equipped with a GPS tracking device was still in the car.

Zizzo was a key operative of the late Chicago rackets boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi. Zizzo specialized in loan sharking and extortion, is considered a trusted outfit enforcer and claimed to be a legitimate trucking business owner. He goes by a list of mob aliases including: Little Tony, LT, Tony Z and Tony the Hat. He is "Little Tony" in height, just a bit over 5 feet tall, but hardly small in girth -- his 200 pound frame prompting the official police report to describe his build as "pot belly."

Law enforcement sources say the FBI crime scene technicians processed Zizzo's car looking for clues as to who might have hustled him off. The FBI role strongly suggests that Zizzo was not suddenly put into federal witness protection.

Mobwatchers and outfit lawyers say they cannot explain why there might have been a contract on Zizzo's life. He did prison time in a mob racketeering case in the 90s but was not charged in the current operation family secrets.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Missing Mobster?

Friends of ours: Anthony Zizzo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Anthony Chiaramonti, Anthony Spilotro, James Marcello
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro, Phillip Goodman

Westmont police Wednesday asked the public for information about the whereabouts of Anthony Zizzo, an elderly organized crime figure who was last seen Aug. 31 driving away from his home in the suburb.

While the Police Department is taking the lead in the investigation, which was launched after Zizzo's wife filed a missing person report, federal authorities are now also participating in the investigation, law enforcement sources said.

Westmont officials confirmed Wednesday that Zizzo's vehicle was recovered Saturday in the parking lot of a restaurant in Melrose Park. Police said he suffers from kidney failure and did not take medication with him when he left home.

Zizzo's wife reported him missing Friday morning. She had last seen him the day before as he drove away from their home in the 5700 block of South Cass Avenue, police said. When last seen, Zizzo, who is 5-foot-3 and 200 pounds, was wearing a gray shirt, black pants, a black windbreaker and black athletic shoes. He has thinning gray hair, blue eyes and wears metal-rimmed glasses.

It is unclear what his plans were when he left home, but some sources familiar with the case said he may have been headed for a meeting in the Rush Street area of Chicago.

Zizzo, 71, was a major figure in the organization of mob kingpin Sam Carlisi and went to prison with his boss and several others in 1993. He was released in 2001.

Zizzo, who lived in Melrose Park before his conviction, was described as the No. 3 person in command of the late Carlisi's crew. He supervised loan sharking and gambling operations, prosecutors said.

According to court records, Zizzo was the former boss of a Carlisi crew enforcer and debt collector, Anthony Chiaramonti, who was gunned down outside a Brown's Chicken and Pasta restaurant in Lyons in November 2001. That killing was the last-known hit in the Chicago mob world.

At the time of Zizzo's conviction, federal authorities said he and some co-defendants were believed to have information about several unsolved mob murders. Each was named in connection with events that preceded the murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro and bookmaker Phillip Goodman, according to a prosecution filing in the Carlisi case. It did not link anyone to the actual crimes, however.

Last year, federal prosecutors charged several reputed Chicago mob leaders in connection with a number of unsolved murders. Zizzo was not named, but one of his 1993 co-defendants, James Marcello, was charged in the massive federal conspiracy case.

Thanks to David Heinzmann and Jeff Coen

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chicago Mob Time Line: January 1, 1985

Friends of ours: Sal DeLaurentis, Chuckie English, Sam Giancana, Joe Ferriola, Fifi Buccieri, Turk Torello, Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo, Fat Tony Salerno, Genovese Crime Family, Dominic Palermo, Tony Spilotro, Rocco Infelise, John "No Nose" DiFronzo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Michael Carracci, Jackie Cerone
Friends of mine: Hal Smith, Dom Angelini, Chris Petti


IN THE YEAR 1985: Sal DeLaurentis was strongly suspected of playing a role in the torture murder of a bookmaker named Hal Smith. A few months before federal investigators caught Solly D on tape telling Smith that he would be "trunk music" unless he made a $6,000 a month street tax payment to him.

- Chuckie English, Sam Giancana's top aide, died with vast interests in the Phoenix area, real estate and construction.

- Joe Ferriola, AKA Joe Negall, was now the boss over the Chicago mob. He had been with Fifi Buccieri's crew until Buccieri died, and Turk Torello took over. When he died, Ferriola took over and eventually assumed control of all the gambling in Chicago.

It was widely assumed that Tony Accardo was still in charge of the organization, just as Paul Ricca had been in charge when Accardo and Giancana were running things.

- Tony Accardo sold his condo on Harlem avenue and moved into affluent Barrington Hills, to live on the estate with his daughter Marie, Mrs. Ernie Kumerow. Mr. Kumerow is a union official.

- Fortune magazine declares that Tony Accardo is the second ranked boss in the country behind Fat Tony Salerno in New York of the Genovese family.

- According to Dominic Palermo's wife, who was an FBI informant, her husband Dominic got the order to kill the Spilotro brothers at a meeting he attended at the Czech Restaurant in Chicago. Palermo said that Joe Ferriola ordered the hit and Rocco Infelise gave it his okay.

Palermo, who worked for the very mobbed up Chicago Laborers local 5, was left behind in the cornfield by the other killers after they took the Spilotro's out. Palermo walked five miles to a phone both and called his wife, told her what happened and had her pick him up.

From that information, the FBI was able to locate the Spilotro bodies. The corpses were not, as the story so often goes, discovered when a farmer plowed them up. Rather, the Chicago office of the FBI probably spread that story to cover its informants.

- The Chicago mob's new boss, John "No Nose" DiFronzo decided to try and skim money out of legalized gambling at the Rincon Indian resort, on a federal reservation in San Diego County, California. It was a last ditch attempt to keep their grip on the Nevada gambling scene but the entire scam was a disaster.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The first time the reservation scam was discussed was in July of 1985, between DiFronzo, Dom Angelini, who, at the time was Chicago's man in Vegas, and underboss, Sam "Wings" Carlisi at a meeting held at Rocky's Restaurant in suburban Melrose Park, Illinois.

The plan was to finance the tribe's venture into gambling, take over the operations, skim money from the casinos as well as use it to launder money from narcotics sales. Dom Angelini placed Chris Petti, the outfit's man in San Diego, in charge of the takeover. Petti was ordered to deal directly with Angelini's brother-in-law, Michael Caracci, a soldier in the DiFronzo crew.

To work the scam, Caracci called Petti at the same San Diego pay phone they had been using for years, which, unknown to them the FBI had tapped years before. They decided that although the Rincon deal looked good, Chicago didn't want to sink any money into it.

But that they would, however, get involved if an outside source wanted to put up the financing to take over the Indian gambling resort. Petti made contact with Peter Carmassi, whom he had been told was a money launderer for a Columbian drug cartel.

Carmassi, who was actually an undercover FBI agent, showed interest in the Rincon casino deal. In several tape recorded and filmed meetings with undercover agent Carmassi, Petti laid out the entire scam to take over the Rincon reservation gambling concession.

On January 9, 1992, the government indicted Petti, DiFronzo, Carlisi and the reservation's lawyer, on 15 counts of criminal conspiracy. DiFronzo and Angelini were convicted and got a 37-month sentence, with fines approaching one million dollars.

- Corbitt joined the Cook County Sheriff's Department, and was assigned to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. However, he was indicted and convicted for racketeering and obstructing justice in 1988.

- Jackie Cerone got nailed on federal charges for skimming $2,000,000 from the Stardust Casino in Vegas and was sent to prison in Texas.

Thanks to Mob Magazine

Monday, November 28, 2005

Firm with reputed mob ties flourishes

Friends of ours: Peter DiFronzo, John DiFronzo, James Marcello, Sam Carlisi

Near the front of this fall's Columbus Day Parade rolled a shiny, massive truck from D&P Construction -- one of many signs the local waste-hauling business is prospering.

D&P dumpsters, often emblazoned with painted American flags, have sprouted up all over the Chicago region: at an Old Town-area church being rehabbed; outside a Loop bridgehouse renovated by the Friends of the Chicago River; at a new strip mall in Niles, and along a canal in Evanston. But the company also continues to surface in other places: the files of the FBI and Illinois Gaming Board. Officials from those agencies have, in recent years, repeatedly described D&P as a mob-linked company.

On paper, D&P is run by Josephine DiFronzo. But authorities contend D&P really is "controlled" by her husband Peter and his brother John, and a Chicago Sun-Times examination indicates that Peter DiFronzo is deeply involved with the company.

The DiFronzo brothers are identified in law enforcement documents as "made" members of the Chicago mob, with John "No Nose" DiFronzo, 76, allegedly one of the three top organized crime figures in the city. Peter DiFronzo, 72, allegedly is his chief lieutenant and, at least for a time, was a leader of the mob's Elmwood Park Street Crew.

A recently released report from an Illinois Gaming Board hearing officer offers disturbing new allegations about D&P's operations -- and its success. The report, penned by retired judge and congressman Abner Mikva, cited an internal FBI memo from 2003 that not only alleged that D&P is "controlled by Peter and John DiFronzo," but it also said that the business "obtained contracts through illegal payoffs or intimidation."

Reached on the phone at her Barrington-area home this week, Josephine DiFronzo declined to comment. "I have a wake to go to. I'm just running out the door," she said before hanging up. Neither she nor her husband responded to subsequent phone calls to D&P. John DiFronzo's lawyer had no comment.

Despite the DiFronzos being shy with the press, D&P's profile only has increased in recent years. The company and a sister recycling and materials firm, JKS Ventures, now have sophisticated Web sites that, among other things, boast about them being family-owned for more than 30 years. "Whether it is providing waste removal options, delivering material or tearing down your old facility . . . D&P is 'At Your DISPOSAL!' " the D&P site reads.

D&P and JKS contribute generously to certain politicians, including state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and Republican Cook County commissioner and Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri. D&P, with addresses in Chicago and Melrose Park, co-sponsored a charity golf event earlier this year.

D&P used to operate quietly as a subcontractor for the once-mighty Palumbo Construction, which specialized in road building and public works projects but ultimately ran afoul of the law. Peter and John DiFronzo, one law enforcement source said, had a firm foundation from which to build D&P. "[Peter] knows trucking. He knows road building. He knows construction. He's got experience in those areas," the source said. "And his brother John knows cars. He's been a car dealer his whole life . . . he went to the auctions and would buy cars. He knew a good car from a bad car."

D&P now does a good deal of work leasing dumpsters for home renovations and larger developments. A D&P dumpster even was spotted around the corner from mob turncoat Nick Calabrese's old Norridge home, where a neighbor's building a new house. The number of union employees working for the DiFronzos has doubled in the past few years, said a person familiar with Peter DiFronzo and D&P. "While others are struggling . . . he is getting bigger every day," said the person. "He's definitely moving through the ranks, big and getting bigger."

The person believes D&P is offering competitive prices to beef up its customer list and sell, perhaps to a larger rival. Industry officials contacted in recent days said they aren't aware of that strategy and didn't want to speculate.

A D&P customer willing to talk is well-known developer Sam Zitella, who has used D&P dumpsters "for many years." Zitella lives near Peter and Josephine DiFronzo, and he considers Peter DiFronzo a good friend. "He's been providing my dumpsters for many years, he's a good guy," Zitella said. "He's a hard worker" who helps run a "great operation."

"He's a good person, good family, very family-oriented," Zitella added. "He gets a lot of business because the service is there, decent price."

While some customers are aware of the DiFronzo brothers' reputations, others are not. Like the Archdiocese of Chicago. This week, a D&P dumpster was on site at St. Joseph's Catholic Church near Orleans and Division in the Old Town area. Neither the contractor overseeing a project to convert an old rectory into a parish center nor the archdiocese's construction office apparently was aware of D&P's history.

After a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry to the archdiocese, the contractor agreed to hire a different firm, said Jim Dwyer, an archdiocese spokesman. "We don't micromanage our projects to the extent we would know who's doing the waste hauling," Dwyer said. "The contractor we had wasn't aware of anything like this, and they have volunteered to hire somebody else." Still, "we're not making any judgments about this company," Dwyer said, adding he was not aware of D&P being involved in any other current archdiocese construction work. A D&P dumpster, however, was at an archdiocesan facility on the Northwest Side in recent years.

D&P was widely publicized as a mob-linked firm in March 2001, when the Gaming Board took issue with D&P hauling trash from the Rosemont site where Emerald Casino Inc. tried to build a gambling barge. Emerald's use of D&P, the board stated, was one of many reasons Emerald discredited the integrity of state casino operations and deserved to have its gaming license revoked. Mikva's ruling last week supports the board's original finding. Emerald is expected to appeal the case.

Former federal prosecutor Gregory Jones was the Gaming Board chairman in 2001. Reached Wednesday, he said he wasn't surprised by D&P's growth. "It's a little hard to say what the public reacts to. . . . It could be there are so many allegations surfacing around today that they don't pay too much attention to it until there's some sort of action from a legal standpoint," Jones said. "Our views back from the Gaming Board were that you don't have to be convicted for something to be hurting your reputation or hurting the integrity of gaming. That's a much broader standard."

The DiFronzo brothers have had their share of legal trouble. John DiFronzo, whose family has residences in River Grove, McHenry County and southern Wisconsin, has more than two dozen arrests, and he was convicted in 1993 in a scheme to infiltrate an Indian casino. Peter DiFronzo did time in Leavenworth in the 1960s for a warehouse heist. Their younger brother Joseph, meanwhile, is imprisoned in Springfield, Mo., on federal drug offenses.

Peter DiFronzo's other trouble has stemmed from the Teamsters. In 1998, a government-union agency known as the Independent Review Board tried to kick him out of the group "for being a member of the Chicago La Cosa Nostra . . . and knowingly associating with other organized crime members," according to union documents.

Those reputed mob figures included John DiFronzo and Joseph Andriacchi, described as a childhood friend of Peter DiFronzo. "According to the FBI, [Peter] DiFronzo has a close relationship with his [older] brother," the union documents stated.

Peter DiFronzo was believed to be a liaison between his older brother and other reputed hoodlums, including James Marcello and the late Sam Carlisi, according to records and the law enforcement source. A confidential informant told the FBI in 2001 that John DiFronzo "visits Peter DiFronzo every morning at . . . JKS Ventures, and gives Peter DiFronzo instructions and orders for the day with regards to Chicago Organized Crime," according to testimony at the Gaming Board's Emerald Casino disciplinary hearing.

Peter DiFronzo resigned from the Teamsters in 1998, but did not admit to any of the charges.

Since then, it's clear that he's been part of D&P's operations.

Peter DiFronzo is listed as the D&P contact for the June charity golf event; he's the point person for the sale of an old JKS grinder, according to a U.S. Manufacturing Inc. Web site, and he regularly directs D&P workers, said the source familiar with the company. "He has daily contact with the drivers, or their supervisors," the source said.

Meanwhile, two workers from D&P ran unsuccessfully in the most recent Teamsters Local 731 election, raising concerns among some about whether Peter DiFronzo was trying to exert influence at his former union. "There seems to be a general attitude that there's no need to be concerned about the Outfit" any more, the law enforcement source said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Thanks to Robert Herguth and Chris Fusco

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stool Pigeon?

Friends of ours: Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Joseph Ferriola, Joey Aiuppa, Nick Calabrese, John Fecarotta, Tony Spilotro, Michael Spilotro, Billy Dauber, Ronald Jarrett

Reputed mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. was taking a walk with his son in the prison yard at the federal detention center in Milan, Mich., uttering words that should never have left his lips. During that walk and others, Calabrese Sr. spoke of mob slayings -- ones the FBI says he was involved in, according to sources familiar with the matter. He discussed who was a made members of the Outfit and who wasn't. And he described his own initiation rites into the Chicago mob, where he was a reputed "made" man.

Under Outfit rules, talking about any one of those topics would be enough to get a mobster killed. But what was worse for Calabrese Sr. was that his statements were being secretly tape-recorded, by own his son, Frank Jr., who was in prison with him at the time, several years ago.

During those strolls around the prison yard, Calabrese Sr. spilled decades of mob secrets, details he should have never told anyone, even his own flesh and blood. Now those indiscretions are coming back to haunt him. Calabrese Sr.'s secretly recorded statements helped federal prosecutors build their case against him and other alleged mobsters, including the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, James Marcello. "Wings" Jim Marcello started in the Chicago Syndicate as the driver of "Black Sam" Carlisi who was the powerful underboss under Joe Ferriola. Carlisi himself started as the driver for Joey Aiuppa when Aiuppa was boss.

The tape recordings are vital to the case and expected to be played at the trial next year of Calabrese Sr., Marcello and others, and should be a highlight. The trial will mark the culmination of the most significant prosecution federal authorities have brought against the Chicago Outfit, charging top leaders with 18 murders. Frank Calabrese Sr. alone has been accused of taking part in 13 of the slayings.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, Joseph Lopez, downplayed the importance of the tape-recorded conversations on Friday and questioned how the feds could properly interpret them. "My client doesn't know anything about any murders," Lopez said. The feds "gave the son the script, and he followed it. It's all very good theater."

Lopez contended that no fresh details about the slayings pop up on the tapes, and some conversations show "a father puffing up his chest for his son." "They are talking about facts that people 'in the know' would know," Lopez said. "When you hear the tapes in court, everyone will be able to draw different conclusions as to what was said."

Frank Calabrese's son, Frank Jr., put his life on the line every time he secretly tape-recorded his father, who was always cagey, always suspicious. The men were in prison together on a loan-sharking case the feds had brought against Calabrese Sr. and his crew. Calabrese Sr., who ran the crew, got nearly 10 years in prison. His son, Frank Jr., who had much less involvement in the matter, got more than 4 years.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was known for his brutality and ruthlessness, both on the streets and at home, ruling his family with fierce intimidation. To this day, Calabrese Sr. still tries to reach out and rattle family members, whether by getting messages passed out to relatives from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he is being held, or having rats put on the porch of another family member, sources said.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was extremely leery of even his closest associates, much less family, making it that much more of a challenge for the younger Calabrese to get him talking. Frank Calabrese Jr. not only had to get his father chatting about matters that his father would be extremely reluctant to talk about. The son also had to get his father to discuss those matters clearly, with enough detail, to be useful to federal prosecutors.

If Calabrese Sr. or any other prisoner found out the younger Calabrese was wearing a listening device in the prison yard, his life would have been in peril. But somehow, Frank Calabrese Jr. exceeded all expectations.

Despite all the danger to Calabrese Jr., he received no major benefits from the FBI. His main motivation was trying to ensure his father would stay behind bars for the rest of his life, law enforcement sources said. Calabrese Jr. was released from prison in 2000.

One recording Calabrese Jr. made even helped persuade his uncle Nick to cooperate with the feds. Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother Nick Calabrese had a long history together and were tight. They would often do mob killings together, authorities said. But what was once a close partnership is now a blood feud, with Nick Calabrese confessing to 15 mob hits and helping the FBI. Frank Calabrese Sr.'s own words helped turn his brother Nick into one of the FBI's most valuable informants.

The key conversation came one day when Frank Calabrese Sr. and Frank Jr. were in prison and discussing Nick Calabrese and whether he was cooperating with the feds. Nick Calabrese was not cooperating at the time, but relations were tense between the two brothers. Frank Calabrese Sr. was refusing to have his underlings send money to help support his brother's family, according to court testimony. And Nick Calabrese was still sore over how Frank Calabrese Sr. had treated his own sons, Frank Jr. and Kurt, in the loan-sharking case, effectively hanging them out to dry.

Frank Calabrese Sr. assured his son on the recording that he had gotten word out of the prison that if Nick Calabrese was helping investigators, then he would have no objection to his brother being killed. Frank Calabrese Sr. said that this was the life he and his brother had chosen. When the feds played that tape for Nick Calabrese, he began cooperating. But that wasn't the only factor contributing to Nick Calabrese's change of heart.

On another recording with his son, Frank Calabrese Sr. scoffed about a mob hit that his brother Nick nearly botched and talked about it in detail. Calabrese Sr. told his son how Nick Calabrese had been assigned to kill fellow mob hit man John Fecarotta in 1986.

Fecarotta had messed up an attempt to kill Tony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, and mob bosses decided that Fecarotta had to go.

According to court records and law enforcement sources, Fecarotta was set up on the ruse that he and other mobsters were going to drop off a bomb. Fecarotta apparently never figured out that the device they were carrying was fake, made up of flares taped together to look like dynamite. Nick Calabrese and Fecarotta were heading to the job site in a stolen Buick. As they pulled up near a bingo hall on West Belmont, Calabrese pulled his gun to kill Fecarotta. But Fecarotta fought him off, struggling with Calabrese until the gun went off, wounding Calabrese in the forearm.

Fecarotta ran for his life, and Nick Calabrese bolted after him, knowing if Fecarotta escaped, it would mean Nick Calabrese's own death sentence from the mob.

Nick Calabrese shot and killed Fecarotta, but Calabrese made a critical error. He left behind a bloody glove, which investigators recovered and kept. Years later, DNA tests tied Nick Calabrese to the glove and the murder.

On the secret tape recordings, Frank Calabrese Sr. spoke of other murders involving him and his brother. In one instance, Frank Calabrese Sr. bragged how he had orchestrated a shotgun slaying in Cicero of two men, Richard Ortiz and Arthur Morawski. They were sitting in a car outside Ortiz's bar on Cermak when eight shots were pumped into the 1983 Mercury, killing both men. Ortiz was killed over drugs, law enforcement sources say. Ortiz's family has denied Ortiz had anything to do with drug dealing. Morawski was killed by accident.

Calabrese Sr. also discussed his role in the 1980 slayings of mob hit man William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte, in Will County. Calabrese Sr. implicated his righthand man, the late Ronald Jarrett, as being involved, too. Jarrett was slain in a mob hit in 1999. I was living near Jarrett at this time. Calabrese Sr. even talked about mob hits he had no involvement in -- the murders, for instance, of Tony and Michael Spilotro.

Martin Scorsese's celebrated Las Vegas gangster movie, "Casino," had the men being beaten to death with baseball bats in an Indiana cornfield. But the movie got it wrong. Tony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, had been lured back to the Chicago area. Spilotro, a made man, was told he was going to be promoted and that his brother was going to be made into the Outfit.

James Marcello, now the reputed head of the Chicago mob, allegedly drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville-area home and their deaths, according to court testimony. Although, it was not like this in the movie, several sources within the FBI have already suggest this from their CI's.
On tape, in the prison-yard conversations with his son, Frank Calabrese Sr. names the mobsters who were there to kill the Spilotro brothers, including his brother, Nick. As the men surrounded Tony Spilotro, he begged for time to say a prayer, a novena, sources said. His killers declined and proceeded with their work. I find it dubious that Tony "the "Ant" would have begged anybody for anything, especially to say a novena.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir Staff Reporter Sun-Times

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Crackdown just latest hit on mob

Friends of ours: Anthony Chiaramonti, Al Capone, James Marcello, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nick Calabrese, Michael Spano Sr., Gus Alex, Lenny Patrick, Sam Carlisi, Rocco Infelice, Marco D'Amico, John DiFronzo
Friends of mine: William Hanhardt

Among the 14 alleged mob bosses and associates indicted last week by a federal grand jury were three "made" members who enjoy lofty status in the organized crime underworld.

Prosecutors said the indictments were historic for Chicago because never before had so many high-ranking bosses of La Cosa Nostra been taken down in a single criminal case. The mob, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said, had taken a hit. But the truth is the Outfit has been wounded for some time.

A series of successful federal prosecutions over the years have put many bosses behind bars and have forced mobsters and their associates into much lower profiles. "Over the last 20 years, it's been one blow after another," said Lee Flosi, a former FBI agent who supervised the organized crime task force in the early 1990s.

The mob has downsized from six street crews to four. The number of organized crime associates--individuals the crews need for muscle, loan sharking, debt collecting and sports betting--also has dwindled.

"Made" members, who are typically of Italian descent and have committed one murder on behalf of the mob, have become an endangered species.

The last known induction into the mob took place in 1984 at the Como Inn, an Italian restaurant in Chicago, although there may have been other induction ceremonies since, according to former organized crime investigators.

The FBI estimates that Chicago now only has 25 "made" members and another 75 organized crime associates. Federal authorities said that 15 years ago the mob had 50 "made" members and as many as 400 associates.

Mob violence has dropped off, as well.

The last known successful mob hit occurred in Nov. 20, 2001. That's when Anthony "Tony the Hatch" Chiaramonti, a top figure in the Outfit's South Side rackets, was gunned down in the vestibule of a west suburban chicken restaurant. The 67-year-old Chiaramonti's murder remains unsolved.

The hit, or rub-out, was used to command loyalty, to take out rivals or to silence witnesses. According to the Chicago Crime Commission, 1,111 gangland slayings have been committed since 1919.

The latest arrests of alleged mobsters generated widespread media interest and calls from overseas talk show hosts who recall the St. Valentine's Day massacre of 1929, which led to the end of Prohibition, made Al Capone a household name and solidified Chicago as the gangster capital of the world. But the Chicago Police Department's definition of organized crime has shifted during recent decades from the Outfit to street gangs like the Latin Kings and the Black Gangster Disciples that control drug sales in the city.

"When you look at who's a bigger threat to the public, it's clear," said Cmdr. Steve Caluris, who runs the Deployment Operations Center, which coordinates all of the department's intelligence gathering. "These aren't just punks hanging out on street corners. It's organized crime." Chicago police statistics show that 1,276 murders were tied to street gangs from 2000 through 2004.

The 41-page racketeering indictment provided fresh insights into the mob's enterprise of illegal gambling, loan sharking and murder. Prosecutors charged that La Cosa Nostra bosses and "made" members were responsible for 18 gangland slayings from 1970 through 1986.

While the Outfit is still active in embezzling from union pension and benefit funds, illegal sports bookmaking, video poker machines and occasional violence, its heyday of influence passed long before Monday's indictments of James Marcello, the reputed boss of the mob; fugitive Joseph "the Clown" Lombardo; and 12 others.

Marcello, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Nicholas Calabrese were the three "made" mob members indicted, according to court records.

"Once `made,' the individual was accorded greater status and respect in the enterprise," the indictment said. "An individual who was `made' or who committed a murder on behalf of the Outfit was obligated to the enterprise for life to perform criminal acts on behalf of the enterprise when called upon."

Prosecutors had begun weakening the Chicago Outfit with a series of successes, though few of the convictions have involved mob murders.

Among the more recent major cases have been that of William Hanhardt, a former Chicago police deputy superintendent, for running a mob-connected jewelry theft ring and reputed Cicero mob boss Michael Spano Sr. for looting $12 million from town coffers.

In the 1990s, convictions included mob leaders Gus Alex, chief political fixer for decades; Lenny Patrick, a gangster for 50 years who became the highest-ranking mobster to turn government informant; Sam Carlisi, former head of the mob's day-to-day operations; Ernest "Rocco" Infelice, convicted of murdering a bookmaker who refused demands to pay "street tax"; and Marco D'Amico, a top gambling boss.

With each aging mobster who dies or goes to prison, the Outfit has not been fully successful in recruiting leadership. Still, law enforcement officials and mob watchers caution that Monday's arrests do not mean the Chicago La Cosa Nostra is near death. La Cosa Nostra--"this thing of ours" or "our thing"--is used to refer to the American mafia.

The mob controls most of the illegal sports betting in the Chicago area, remains stubbornly entrenched in the Teamsters Union and remains disturbingly effective at collecting "street taxes" as a cost to operate businesses such as strip clubs.

While federal authorities, took down alleged members and associates from the Grand Avenue, the 26th Street and Melrose Park crews, the Elmwood Park street crew was untouched. That crew, perhaps the most powerful of the four mob crews in the Chicago area, reputedly is led by John "No Nose" DiFronzo. And even though they are imprisoned, mob bosses have remained adept at running their enterprise from their cells. "They still continue illegal activities through conversations with relatives and associates. It's not going to put them out of business," said James Wagner, a 30-year FBI veteran who retired in 2000.

Court records show that Frank Calabrese Sr., a leader with the mob's 26th Street crew, did just that. Two retired Chicago police officers allegedly delivered messages between Calabrese and mobsters on the outside, including messages to determine whether Calabrese's younger brother, Nicholas, had become an mob turncoat and was cooperating with government. Frank Calabrese Sr. was right to worry; his brother had become an informant, federal authorities said.

The indictment provided sketchy data about a sports bookmaking operation that allegedly was run between 1992 and 2001 by Frank Calabrese Sr. and Nicholas Ferriola. The indictments stated that it operated in northern Illinois and involved five or more people.

Thomas Kirkpatrick, president of the Chicago Crime Commission, said illegal gambling is the mother's milk of the mob.

Kirkpatrick said he had seen one estimate from several years ago that about $100 million was bet with the Chicago mob on the NFL's Super Bowl. "That's where the money is for the mob," Kirkpatrick said. "No one else has the ability to move the money, to cover the bets, to keep the records and to collect debts. That takes an organization."

And, the chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board last week raised concerns that the current board's low staffing of investigators could let organized crime sneak into the state's nine operating riverboat casinos. Gaming officials fear that mob figures would work the casinos in search of desperate gamblers and offer them "juice loans," lending money at rates that can reach 520 percent a year.

The Chicago mob allegedly has its tentacles deep into at least six Teamsters Union locals, according to a report prepared last year by the union's anti-corruption investigators. They turned up allegations of mob influence, kickback schemes and the secret shifting of union jobs to low-wage, non-union companies.

A copy of the report had been provided to the Justice Department after the investigators alleged that union leaders acting at the direction of the Chicago mob had blocked their probe into alleged wrongdoing. "The Chicago area, more than anywhere else where Teamster entities are concentrated, continues to furnish the conditions that historically have made the union vulnerable to organized crime infiltration and systemic corruption: an organized crime family that still has considerable strength, a corrupt business and political environment and resistance to anti-racketeering reform efforts by key Teamster leaders," the report said.

In fact, the FBI's organized crime unit already is investigating some of the allegations in the report.

Agents are looking into whether hundreds of thousands of dollars were siphoned from a Teamsters benefit plan that provides dental care to Chicago-area undertakers and valets, according to sources. "The mob is the same as it always has been," said FBI spokesman Ross Rice, "just on a smaller scale."

Thanks to Todd Lighty and Matt O'Connor

Sunday, August 25, 2002

How Mobsters Live the High Life without Getting Caught

On The Sopranos, TV mobster Tony Soprano runs the Bada Bing strip club and a garbage hauling firm.

Real-life mobster Tony Centracchio, who died last year while facing charges he oversaw a video gambling empire, was slightly more diversified. Over the years, Centracchio, who lived in Oak Brook, owned a jewelry shop, a carpet store and an abortion clinic, sources say.

Why the different businesses? To hide the ill-gotten cash.

Successful mobsters such as Centracchio need legitimate ways to explain the good life they're living. The kind of life that includes nice houses, fancy cars, big vacations, private schools for the kids. Centracchio oversaw an illegal video gambling operation that pulled in more than $22 million over two decades, the feds say, and he could hardly just throw all that money into a savings account. The Internal Revenue Service, if not the folks next door, might ask questions.

Legitimate businesses provide a quiet way for mobsters to hide money, make more money (a good restaurant will turn a profit for a devil as readily as for an angel) and, when opportunity calls, blend the legit with the illegit. Centracchio's jewelry store sold legally purchased jewelry as well as the stolen stuff, authorities said.

In all, the Chicago Outfit rakes in an estimated $100 million in pure profit each year, law enforcement sources say, and while that's nowhere near what Al Capone took in--more than $1 billion a year in today's dollars--it's a hefty amount that has to be put somewhere.

John "No Nose" DiFronzo, for instance, put some of his money into a car dealership, authorities said.

As for Capone, he spread his wealth around. The bill for his suites at the Metropole Hotel in the 1920s ran him $1,500 a day, according to one biography. He burnished his public image by feeding thousands of people through soup kitchens. When it came to spending his loot, he was flashy. Which may have been his downfall. When Capone was finally sent to prison, it was not for bootlegging, but income tax evasion.

Chicago's street gangs, as described last April in the first installment of the Chicago Sun-Times Crime Inc. series, follow in Capone's spirit. Flooded with cash from illegal drug sales, street gang leaders have invested in ostentatious suburban homes, private jets and vanity motion pictures about their lives. But the Chicago mob, often called the Outfit, will have little of that. It prefers a lower profile, the better to stay out of jail.

Chicago mobsters buy car dealerships and limousine companies. They start up construction companies, private investigation firms and car washes. They buy strip clubs, dirty bookstores and restaurants. They start trucking companies--a natural for them, given their long ties to the Teamsters union. And, in one of the mob's more extravagant moments, it even bought a golf course in Wisconsin, with dreams of opening a casino. That particular mob dream was behind an insurance scam that on Friday brought down Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese and six others. A jury brought in a verdict of guilty against the seven.

While the mob simply buys its way into many businesses, it strong-arms its way into others. About 10 years ago, for example, the owner of a west suburban pest control company racked up a $6,000 gambling debt. The businessman, hooked on video poker, couldn't pay it back, so he took out a juice loan from a man who worked for Centracchio, former Stone Park chief of detectives Thomas Tucker, court documents show. Tucker, ironically, also was responsible for overseeing the very video poker machines the man blew his money on.

For the juice loan, the businessman had to pay $300 in interest. Not per year or per month. Per week. At one point, the business owner told Tucker he couldn't pay back the money, so Tucker gave him a five-month reprieve--with a price. Tucker and two other men demanded to buy into the man's business for a low price, then eventually bought him out altogether for a pittance. The onetime business owner wound up working for them.

Once a wise mobster owns a business, however, he tries to pretend he doesn't own it, usually by putting it in the name of someone he trusts. That way, if the feds haul him in and convict him of a crime, the business is safe from being seized by the government, or at least safer than if it were in his name.

The late mob boss Sam Carlisi and top mobster James Marcello, who is now in prison, bought real estate through a former Chicago cop, William Galioto, who is Marcello's brother-in-law, to hide their ownership, the feds believe.

Galioto's name came to light most prominently in 1995 when Mayor Daley scotched a low-interest city loan to him and his partners to build a West Side movie studio. Galioto has denied any wrongdoing. But for a really vivid picture of how the mob launders money, one needs to look no further than Loren-Maltese, alleged Cicero mob chief Michael Spano Sr. and a handful of their pals, who were found guilty Friday of running an insurance scam that siphoned more than $12 million out of the town.

Two of the key players were Spano and his business partner, John LaGiglio. They ran a trucking firm and knew zip about insurance. But that didn't stop them from starting up Specialty Risk Consultants, an insurance company that had one big customer, the Town of Cicero.

LaGiglio had dreams of going after the insurance business of other trucking firms, strip clubs and bars owned by his buddies, but the Town of Cicero was the only client necessary, authorities said. The town kept paying and paying, no questions asked.

LaGiglio didn't actually own Specialty Risk Consultants, not officially. The IRS was on his tail for back taxes, and if it became known that he owned a profitable insurance business--bam, here comes the IRS with its hand out. So LaGiglio's parents owned the business, at least on paper, the feds say.

To run the business, LaGiglio hired a guy named Frank Taylor, who knew insurance and, more importantly, was a crook himself. Over the years, Taylor has had a hand in everything from pornography to financial fraud. But Taylor had his own tax problems, making it difficult for him or LaGiglio to be seen getting salaries.

So they played the name game again, the feds say, this time setting up a company called Plaza Partners. The "partners" in Plaza Partners were the wives of LaGiglio and Taylor.

Every week, giving some reason, Specialty Risk Consultants would shift cash to Plaza Partners, prosecutors say. Then the wives would collect their weekly paychecks from Plaza Partners and hand the money right back to their husbands, the feds say.

Plaza Partners wasn't the only shell company set up to hide the money being stolen from Cicero. There was also Specialty Leasing Inc. It was a car leasing company.

Customers--some of the defendants and their families and friends--set their own payments, with Cadillacs being the favorite vehicle. And there was Specialty Financing, a loan company.

Here's how it worked, according to the feds:

No collateral?

No problem!

You don't want to pay all the loan back? No problem!

Spano's son-in-law got a $40,000 loan.

Didn't pay all of it back.

The brother of top mobster Marcello, Michael, got a $16,000 loan for a boat.

Didn't pay all of it back.

In all, nearly $2 million of Cicero's money went to Specialty Finance, IRS investigators estimate. And millions of dollars more were funneled through various other shell companies, making it possible for Spano to buy a Wisconsin vacation home, for the LaGiglios to buy an Indiana horse farm, and for that purchase of the Wisconsin golf course, the feds allege.

Attorneys for the alleged key players have disputed the prosecutors' version.

Loren-Maltese didn't know about any theft from the town, her attorney says. And where was the bribe to her to allow such thievery?

Other defense lawyers have emphasized that key government witnesses have cut deals for reduced sentences or lied under oath before.

One of the oddest cases of mob money laundering involved a friend of Spano's, loan shark James Inendino. Inendino goes by the nickname "Jimmy I," which stands for his last name, and for ice pick, which he reportedly once used on a man's eye.

In the early 1990s, according to court documents, Inendino helped launder millions of dollars in cash belonging to the late Outfit boss Anthony Accardo.

Why so much cash? Accardo, who was once Al Capone's bodyguard, had stashed it in his River Forest house, apparently for decades. Some of the money was so old--dating back to the Capone era--that the mobsters apparently feared it might no longer be accepted as legal currency.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Monday, November 06, 1989

Mobster's Cooperation Revealed

The Chicago crime syndicate suffered a potentially devastating blow Thursday with the disclosure that jailed mob rackets figure Gerald Scarpelli apparently has defected and become a government informant. The information, in a nine-page government report filed in U.S. District Court by prosecutors, said that Scarpelli has admitted having a role in mob killings and knowledge of at least one other murder. Some mob observers speculated Thursday that if Scarpelli is admitting his involvement in crimes, he probably is implicating others as well to improve his chances of making a deal with authorities. Prosecutors and Scarpelli`s defense lawyers have declined to discuss the contents of the document with the news media. In the past, however, defense lawyers have scoffed at suggestions Scarpelli had turned informant to help himself.

Scarpelli, 51, is believed to be one of the mob`s top killers. He was a close associate of several top mob figures, including Joseph Ferriola, until recently the Chicago syndicate`s operating chief. A burglar by trade, Scarpelli was not only a top hit man during Ferriola`s 1985-88 reign as boss, but became Ferriola`s chief gambling and juice loan collector on the Southwest Side and in the southwest suburbs, according to sources familiar with the Scarpelli case. Thus, they said, Scarpelli was familiar with the inner workings of the mob`s day-to-day activities under Ferriola and Ferriola`s chief henchman, Ernest Rocco Infelice.

Ironically, if Scarpelli turned informant, he did so after being arrested last summer on evidence provided by another gangland informant. Federal authorities haven`t named that informant, but he is believed to be Scarpelli`s longtime associate, James Basile, who is now in federal protective custody. In secretly taped conversations between Scarpelli and the informant, Scarpelli is heard talking about ``sitting down with`` bosses he identified as ``Joe, Rocky and Sam.`` The FBI said the three are Ferriola, Infelice and Sam Carlisi, who is believed to have succeeded the ailing Ferriola as the mob`s operating boss last fall.

The court document gave no hint that Scarpelli told secrets about them, limiting its revelations to the charges against Scarpelli that resulted in his arrest. In that regard, the document said Scarpelli had admitted taking part in the 1979 slaying of North Chicago nightclub operator George Christofalos, and the 1980 killing of mob assassin William Dauber, 45, and Dauber`s wife, Charlotte, 37. It said Scarpelli also provided information about the killing of mob associate Michael Oliver, whose body was found buried last spring in a field south of suburban Darien.

According to the document, all of the information allegedly given by Scarpelli was told to the FBI on July 16 and 17-the day of his arrest and the following day. The information is in a report filed by John L. Burley, a lawyer with the U.S. Justice Department`s Chicago Organized Crime Strike Force concerning a meeting with Jeffrey Steinback, one of Scarpelli`s defense lawyers, to discuss the prosecution`s evidence.

Until now Scarpelli hadn`t been linked to the death of Christofalos, operator of a far-north suburban strip joint. But he has long been suspected by authorities of taking part in the slayings of the Daubers near Crete. Sources said Dauber was informing on Scarpelli to a variety of federal and state agencies. Dauber was an underling of Albert Tocco, the fugitive south suburban rackets boss who was captured by federal agents in Europe Thursday. Oliver is believed to have been buried in the Darien field by accomplices after he was slain during a botched attempt to rob a suburban pornography shop that competed with another porn shop.

Thanks to John O'Brien and Ronald Koziol


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