The Chicago Syndicate

Friday, February 28, 2020

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was Born #OnThisDay in 1906

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, an American mobster with the Luciano crime family was one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his day.

He was born on February 28th, 1906 and became a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip.

On the night of June 20, 1947, Siegel was shot and killed in a Beverly Hills home. The crime remains unsolved.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Details on Ten Defendants Charged With Illegally Conducting Multi-Million Dollar Sports Gambling Business

Ten defendants have been charged in federal court with conspiring to illegally conduct a multi-million dollar sports gambling business in the Chicago area.

VINCENT DELGIUDICE, also known as “Uncle Mick,” directed an operation that accepted wagers from as many as 1,000 gamblers on the outcome of professional and amateur sporting events, according to a nine-count indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Delgiudice paid a service fee to a foreign sportsbook for use of its platform, and recruited gamblers to place wagers on a website,, according to the charges. Delgiudice sometimes communicated with representatives of the sportsbook via an anonymous, end-to-end encrypted messaging application to ensure their communications remained secret, the indictment states.

The indictment alleges that Delgiudice also recruited several individuals to work on behalf of his gambling operation. These agents enlisted new gamblers and worked with Delgiudice to collect or pay out cash depending on the outcome of wagers, the indictment states. Delgiudice paid the agents a commission based on a percentage of losses incurred by the gamblers they recruited, the charges allege.

A law enforcement search of Delgiudice’s residence in Orland Park seized more than $1.06 million in cash; silver bars and jewelry valued at $347,895; and gold coins valued at $92,623. The indictment seeks forfeiture of these items, as well as Delgiudice’s residence. It also seeks a personal money judgment against Delgiudice of $8 million.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ankur Srivastava, Terry Kinney, and Abigail Peluso.

The FBI’s Integrity in Sport and Gaming Initiative (ISG) is designed to tackle illegal sports gambling and combat threats of influence from criminal enterprises.

The indictment charges Delgiudice, 54, with one count of conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, one count of conducting an illegal gambling business, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and six counts of money laundering.

The indictment charges eight alleged agents of Delgiudice’s operation with one count of participating in the gambling conspiracy and one count of conducting an illegal gambling business: MATTHEW KNIGHT, also known as “Sweaters” and “McDougal,” 46, of Mokena; JUSTIN HINES, 40, of Algonquin; KEITH D. BENSON, 49, of Lemont; TODD BLANKEN, 43, of Cary; NICHOLAS STELLA, 42, of Chicago; MATTHEW NAMOFF, 23, of Midlothian; CASEY URLACHER, 40, of Libertyville; and VASILIOS PRASSAS, 37, of Chicago. The tenth defendant, EUGENE DELGIUDICE, also known as “Gino,” 84, of Orland Park, allegedly assisted in the collection or paying out of cash to gamblers recruited by Vincent Delgiudice. Eugene Delgiudice is charged with one count of participating in the gambling conspiracy and one count of conducting an illegal gambling business.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sonny Franzese, the Legendary Mob Boss and Pal of Frank Sinatra Dies at 103

Legendary Colombo crime family mobster John “Sonny” Franzese, who hung out with Frank Sinatra and befriended Marilyn Monroe before a bank robbery conviction eventually made him the nation’s oldest federal inmate, has died at a New York City hospital. He was 103.

“Tough loss at any age,” his son Michael Franzese said. “He was so much a part of who I am as a man, good or bad. He loved his children. No doubt about that.”

Franzese, who died Monday, had been living in New York since being released from prison. A cause of death was not announced.

The renowned tough guy did his prison time without ever turning on his mob associates following a 1967 conviction that was widely considered both inside and outside organized crime as a setup.

John "Sonny" Franzese: Profaci-Colombo Underboss.

After he was sentenced to a 50-year stretch, Franzese offered only this prescient observation: “I’ll bet I do every one.”

Franzese, widely admired and respected in the Mafia for sticking to his oath of omerta and keeping silent, was finally freed in 2017 at the age of 100. His son Michael, who initially followed his father into the mob, eventually left organized crime and became a born-again Christian and motivational speaker.

The elder Franzese was born in Sicily, moving with his family as a child to Brooklyn. Mob lore held that the precocious gangster became a made man at age 14, and was soon running a mob-controlled craps game.

Over the years, Franzese listed his legitimate work as a tailor, a baker and a salesman. But his real job was as a gangster, authorities said, and living the high life.

Franzese, dark-haired and handsome, would claim dalliances with Monroe and actress Jayne Mansfield. He hung out with Sinatra and fellow Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. at the legendary Copacabana nightclub in New York.

Once asked if he knew Sinatra, the gangster was quick to turn around the question: “You asked the question the wrong way. You should have asked, ‘Did Frank Sinatra know Sonny Franzese?’” But the business side of Franzese was darker: He once acknowledged killing 10 men during a 2006 chat with a mob informant, with other estimates of his mob murders running as high as 60. Yet he was tried for murder only once, and was acquitted.

Most importantly in his mob career, Franzese was an earner, making money for the family in a variety of ways. He worked in the record business, and put up some of the cash behind the mob’s alleged investment in the classic porn flick “Deep Throat” — reportedly securing a piece of its supposed $600-million gross.

Franzese returned to his family in Brooklyn after his release in 2017 from the Federal Medical Center in Danvers, Mass., leading a quiet life far from the spotlight of his youth.

Thanks to Larry McShane.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

11 Members of the Bloods 5-9 Brims Street Gang Arrested, Including a Former Bodyguard of @IamCardiB

Eleven members of the violent 5-9 Brims, a part of the Bloods street gang in Brooklyn, were arrested and charged in a major racketeering case that involved drug dealing, murder, assaults and financial frauds.

The indictment revealed that the people arrested, all of whom are Brooklyn residents, were involved in a violent criminal enterprise that made money though selling drugs, financial scamming, and maintained their power though acts of violence and murder.

The violence included attacks on various people from opposing gangs and bartenders at a Queens bar that they believed showed disrespect.

One of the indicted suspects — Jeffrey Bush, 35 — is facing assault charges in Queens while serving as the “muscle” for actress/rapper Cardi B at a Queens nightclub back in 2018.

“The 5-9 Brims is a violent criminal organization that has terrorized residents of Brooklyn and Queens by committing brutal acts of violence in public places, trafficking narcotics on the streets and defrauding victims through financial schemes,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue for the Eastern District.

Among those involved in the investigations included Homeland Security Investigations, New York, the New York City Department of Investigation, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosive and the NYPD.

“These violent street gangs simply want to make money with as little effort as possible, which is why they’re venturing into unique criminal territory for gangs such as credit card fraud while maintaining their tried and true drug trafficking and murder activity,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

Officials say the gang was responsible for many crimes in Brownsville, Bedford Stuyvesant and East New York, among other parts of the borough and in the city.

 “Today’s take-down highlights our relentless work in stopping the violence carried out by large, established gangs and their ruthless offshoots,” stated NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

According to the indictment and other court filings, the 5-9 Brims is a set of the much larger Bloods street gang that operates in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and elsewhere. Gang members have committed acts of violence, including murder, robbery and assault, and engaged in drug-trafficking and fraud.

Between January 2012 and December 2019, the gang members committed crimes to further the interests of the gang, including earning money for the gang’s members, and enhancing the gang’s position with respect to rival criminal organizations.

During the charged period, the 5-9 Brims were feuding with a rival faction of the 5-9 Brims, known as the “Real Ryte,” whose members also operated in Brooklyn. The feud led to a series of violent confrontations and, as alleged in the indictment, during this period several members of the 5-9 Brims conspired to murder members of Real Ryte.

The indictment indicates that Marvin Pippins, 29, a purported 5-9 Brims member, allegedly shot and killed Sean Peart, a Real Ryte member, on Dec. 19, 2015 in broad daylight while the victim was sitting in his car in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

On Aug. 15, 2018, members of the 5-9 Brims carried out a violent assault against a bartender at Angels night club in Flushing, Queens, who had not shown proper respect for another member of the gang Yonette Respass,  who was serving a sentence in a federal prison at the time. Respass requested her younger female members, referred to as “drops,” to “pop that bottle” on the bartenders, stating “I want hands put on them. I don’t even want no talking.”

That night, Jeffrey Bush, 35, Louis Love, 29, Rodolfo Zambrano and three “drops” met at Angels where they lured one of their bartender targets across the bar. As members of the gang held her by the hair others beat her head and threw a bottle at her. Bush recorded the assault on his cell phone, and the video was sent to the gang member.

Throughout the period charged in the superseding indictment, members of the gang supplemented their illegal drug business by committing numerous financial frauds, including possession and use of stolen identities, fraudulent checks and access devices such as credit cards and bank account information.

Bush, Tyshawn Atkins, Louis Love,  Pippins, James Sease, Montel Shuemake and Rodolfo Zambrano are charged in the superseding indictment with racketeering conspiracy for agreeing to commit crimes on behalf of the gang, including drug trafficking, identification and access device fraud, as well as multiple acts involving murder.

Pippins is also charged with murder in-aid-of racketeering in a retaliatory act of gang-related violence for killing Sean Peart; Pippins, Sease and Shuemake are charged with conspiring to murder additional members of a rival faction of the gang. Bush, Love, Zambran Lane and Respass are charged with conspiracy to commit assault in-aid-of racketeering. A number of the defendants are variously charged with narcotics and firearms-related offenses.

Pippins is not in custody at this time and is being sought by law enforcement and is considered armed and dangerous, officials say. Two additional 5-9 Brims members, Jose Battle and Brian Jackson, were arrested on a complaint charging them with financial fraud.

The arrests cap the slew of arrests in multiple boroughs. On Jan. 28, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance flanked by NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison announced the arrest of five men through “Operation Stone Cold,” which looked to stun the operation of an “iron pipeline” of firearms between New York City and Georgia, authorities announced on Tuesday. Police displayed 43 firearms confiscated through the operation — including many handguns, several revolvers and two high-powered assault weapons, one of which was equipped with a tube launcher that could potentially fire explosive rounds – many of these weapons were destined by street gangs.

On Feb. 8, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez announced that two gangs from Brooklyn who were said to be responsible for at least 13 shootings, homicides and other crimes, were charged in a 122-count indictment after cops arrested 34 members and seized 16 guns. On Feb. 13, State Attorney General Letitia James announced a gun and drug trafficking ring operating in the Bronx and Manhattan was crushed by a combined law enforcement effort that resulted in seizure of 16 firearms and 250 grams of heroin.

Nearly every person arrested in all these cases are being held without bail, officials say, because they represent “a danger to the community.”

Thanks to Todd Maisel.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation

The city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the nation at large were captivated by the arrest, trial, and general public embarrassment of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Shortly after Blagojevich's arrest in December 2008, award-winning Chicago Sun-Times federal courts reporter Natasha Korecki began writing "The Blago Blog" to capture the seemingly endless stream of surreal moments, shady political maneuvers, and salty sound bites emanating from the embattled governor, who was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, among many other acts in what prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called Blagojevich's "political corruption crime spree."

Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation, is derived from the best of Korecki's work on the Blagojevich scandal, weaving together years of reporting as well as never-before published details into one straightforward, fast-paced narrative. From the infamous audio tapes released of Blagojevich to the strange public relations campaign he and his wife, Patti, waged throughout the trial, this is one of the most bizarre true political tales ever told. In many people's minds, there was an unprecedented degree of obliviousness to the part played by the eventually impeached Illinois governor, especially given the explicit and seemingly damning audio evidence released to the public.

Korecki's reporting reveals inside information from the arrest, trial, and sentencing. Interviews with Blagojevich, his wife, and countless other sources offer lucid insight to this often baffling, frequently humorous, and occasionally tragic epic. Also embroiled in this scandal were some of the most infamous players in Chicago and Illinois's sordid political scene. But beyond the slew of backroom deal-makers who were sucked into the Blagojevich imbroglio, many Illinois Democratic leaders felt the scandal's toxic fallout seep dangerously near. President Barack Obama himself, while never accused of any wrongdoing, was interviewed by federal prosecutors, and union leader Tom Balanoff claimed Obama called him the day before he was to be elected president, giving him the green light to talk to Blagojevich about Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett's potential appointment to his Senate seat. Only in Chicago includes details about now-mayor Rahm Emanuel's discussions with Blagojevich as well. But the other powerful political figure who became most entangled with the scandal was since-resigned Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who is accused of offering Blagojevich $6 million for the Senate seat through an intermediary. The investigation was colored by the revelation that Jackson's mysterious months-long medical leave was due to his reported in-patient treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder.

Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation, is filled with incredible details from inside and outside the courtroom. Korecki is the authoritative voice on all things Blagojevich, having followed and reported on the story from its very beginning. Her story is focused and engrossing, and this book will prove to be one of the most important—and entertaining—accounts of this indelible scandal ever written.

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