The Chicago Syndicate: Tony Centracchio
Showing posts with label Tony Centracchio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tony Centracchio. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Joseph "The Shark" Lopez Responds to Media Reports on 15th Ave Adult Books in Melrose Park

Our most recent "Shark Tale" addresses the allegations brought against an adult bookstore in Melrose Park that has been accused of running a sex party room. Their attorney, Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, picks it up from here.

The press never seems to go away for some of my clients. Recently, FOX Chicago claimed to have went undercover in Robert Urbinati's wife's bookstore. Bobby was a codefendant of Tony Centracchio an alleged outfit boss who died before the feds could send him away for a few decades.

Bobby did his time like a man unlike Frank Calabrese Jr."the balless wonder" and his chicken man Uncle, Nick "The Slayer" Calabrese.

The bookstore is located in an industrial area of Melrose Park. There is a party room in the back which hosts can rent out for parties. Like any other party the guests can enjoy themselves and in this case they were swingers and freaks of all types. The Bookstore does not sell liquor, drugs or provide sex partners. These parties are be invitation only and not open the general public. The patrons pay an admission fee and receive a red band to enter. Once inside they do what people have been doing since "Adam and Eve" or "Eve and Eve" or "Adam and Adam". The party room remains under the control of the host and the owner does not provide anything other than the space to play. There is nothing illegal about this type of party.

The media hit on it because its in Melrose Park and there is an Italian name. Otherwise, its not a story if some other guy, like a Sam Tong, a Herb Gold, a Bob Perez, or a Mike Anderson, were the owners. Its news because of a few vowels. The media could not link it to "The Outfit" because there is not a link. This is America and its citizens have a constitutional right to assemble and party. They are exhibitionists who are protected by the constitution.

The feed back on the story has been positive. Its yesterday's news. The media reported a non-story because the bottom line was that nothing was illegal. I hope the free advertising helps the store in this troubled economy.

Thanks to Joseph "The Shark" Lopez

Is The Wife of a Former Police Officer with Mob Ties Running a Sex Club Out of a Bookstore?

From the outside, you'd think it was just another adult bookstore on a dead-end street. But a Melrose Park business is hiding a dirty little secret.

Our undercover camera revealed people showing up here -- for something other than books.

"It's shady,” a neighbor said. “Yeah, totally shady… Outrageous! Disgusting!”

The video, er, what we can show you of it makes it clear this place is operating more like a sex club than a book club. And charging admission.

An employee told our producer that multiple rooms are devoted to group sex acts.

Our producer said he observed one woman with a line of men in front of her.

Outraged neighbors are wondering why the place isn't shut down. "What are they thinking? It should be shut down, it's sick," one neighbor said. “I don't like the idea of having it around."

We wanted to ask Mayor Ronald Sirpico how it's able to stay open and show him our video.

We went to the village hall for our interview, and a staff member told us he wouldn't be able to make it. Instead they handed us a one-page statement.

The statement reads, in part, "Our police have followed up on numerous complaints and even used undercover tactics ... In an attempt to close the 15th Avenue bookstore. … Those efforts have proved fruitless thus far."

The mayor did tell FOX Chicago News on the phone that officers have gone in a dozen times to investigate and didn't find anything unusual.

FOX Chicago News went in one time and you can know what we found.

Attorney Joe Lopez represents Jeanette Urbinati, the owner of the bookstore.

“It is legal,” Lopez told FOX Chicago News.

Jeanette Urbinati is the wife of Robert "Bobby" Urbinati, a former Franklin Park police officer who did federal time for the operation of an illegal gambling business tied to the mob.

The feds said he was operating as the “cash man" between mob bosses Anthony Centracchio and James Marcello.

Lopez claimed the bookstore is doing nothing wrong. He also said there are signs posted all over warning customers not to have sex. "I think it's standard for you to remind people of that in adult entertainment places, " he said.

When was the last time you heard of an adult entertainment place with a shower for the customers?

Online chat rooms describe the activity from people who've been there: men looking for women or other men to go to the 15th Avenue bookstore to have sex.

On Craig’s List, you can find personals from people arranging to meet for all kinds of scenarios with random partners at the bookstore.

FOX Chicago News consulted with attorney Steven Greenberg.

"If Melrose Park is not taking any action, they obviously want it there," he said.

Greenberg said he was surprised when FOX revealed to him that inside the bookstore our producer was asked if he wanted to buy any alcohol.

“A business that doesn't have a liquor license shouldn't be serving liquor. That's the easiest way to shut it down,” Greenberg said. “Basically you padlock the door, pending a further hearing."

FOX Chicago News has learned the sheriff's department went inside and handed over possible violations for Melrose Park police to investigate. But the business hasn't been slapped with any violations.

FOX Chicago News called Melrose Park police but they wouldn't return our calls.

Whatever's going on inside, you can see how it looks to families from the outside, across the street from a go-kart center.

“Based on the sheriff’s investigation and your investigation, I think they need to look into it further,” Greenberg said.

He added: “It's been done in New York; they did it in Times Square. Chicago’s done it. Mayor Daley’s been known to fight these businesses. Any mayor can control it. It's like a fiefdom. Mayors are kings of their community; they can do what they want in their community."

Thanks to Anna Davlantes

Former Crooked Cop with Ties to the Mob is Accused of Running a Sex Party Room at an Adult Bookstore

A Melrose Park pornography bookstore -- run with the help of a former crooked cop with ties to the mob -- offers a party room in the back where couples and singles have multiple sex partners as part of organized, late-night sessions.

It costs $30 or more per person to get in to the party room at 15th Avenue Adult Books, run for months out of a nondescript building in an industrial area.

Guests can linger at chairs and tables or get up on a stage and partake in the activities, according to people familiar with the business.

Finger foods, such as chicken wings, are provided. They also offer drinks. And despite months of investigation by local and county officials, there's apparently nothing illegal about it.

One of the people behind the business is Robert Urbinati, a former Franklin Park police officer, who runs the business with his wife. Urbinati was sentenced in 2002 to 33 months in prison for taking $500 in bribes each month from the mob to protect a lucrative video poker gambling operation.

Urbinati, 68, also allegedly was an Outfit message man, reportedly passing communications between two high-ranking mobsters, the late Anthony Centracchio and the onetime head of the Chicago Outfit, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, now in prison after being convicted of racketeering and other crimes in the historic Family Secrets mob case.

Centracchio made the news in 2001 when it was revealed the geriatric mobster was caught on a secret FBI video recording having sex with a younger employee at the abortion clinic he ran.

As for Urbinati, "my client has done his time, and now he's moved on to the second phase of his life," said well-known criminal defense attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, who has represented many alleged mobsters.

Urbinati could not be reached for comment.

Lopez stressed that there was no prostitution at the business, and no illegal drugs, just consenting adults doing their own thing. The party room is used for other activities too, Lopez said, like bachelor parties. "No different than the Sybaris, except more people," Lopez argued, referring to the motel chain where couples go for romantic weekends.

Since last year, the Cook County sheriff's police has sent in undercover officers on several occasions and found nothing illegal happening, a spokesman said.

Melrose Park Mayor Ronald M. Serpico said he'd rather not have the business in his town but there's nothing he can do about it. His own police have investigated it and called in the Cook County sheriff for assistance. The Cook County Department of Public Health investigated and found no issues, Serpico said.

"Is it fun for us? Absolutely not," Serpico said. "Do I want to be having this conversation with you?" the mayor asked. "I'd rather be talking about the Super Bowl."

The pornography bookstore meets village zoning requirements for such businesses, which were set up after Melrose Park was sued in federal court over the issue.

Serpico argued that the vast majority of Melrose Park residents don't even know the business is there or what goes on there, given its location.

"It couldn't be further away from civilization," Serpico said. "Not one resident has called to complain."

The mayor said he did not know who was running the bookstore until recently.

When asked if he had qualms about a onetime associate of organized crime helping operate a business in his town, Serpico said no, adding, "I can't control what somebody has done in the past."

The bookstore "is what it is," Serpico said. "I can't regulate morality."

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


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