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redeyechicago.com

Mob charges tell a story, but more isn't told

John Kass

April 26, 2005

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How could the Chicago Outfit prosper and survive without the help of corrupt local police, politicians and judges?

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald didn't answer me Monday."All I'll say is that the indictment alleges that the Outfit, as part of its method of doing business, corrupted law enforcement," Fitzgerald said in his news conference about the FBI's Operation Family Secrets, which led to indictment of mob bosses allegedly responsible for 18 mob hits and the indictment of two cops.

"The indictment doesn't say anything beyond that, and I'm not going to comment about that," Fitzgerald said.

Afterward, I ran into a man who knows him well. "Why did you ask him that? You know he can't answer. It wasn't in the indictment.

"Do you really need an answer to that one?" he asked.

The investigation started when Outfit hit man Nick Calabrese thought he was a target for murder and began talking to the FBI about unsolved hits, taking them on tours around the city, including to a parking lot at Sox Park where enforcer "Bones" Albergo was dumped in 1970.

Fitzgerald wasn't dodging my question. He could only discuss the indictment. Surely, he knows the answer. You do too.

It is why former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (no relation) was right to bring Patrick Fitzgerald here, when the bosses of the Illinois political combine and their simpering mouthpieces called the senator crazy for insisting we needed an independent outsider as the federal hammer in Chicago.

With all the praise being larded on City Hall lately, consider this: The Hired Truck scandal at City Hall was crawling with Outfit-connected truckers from the 11th Ward. And the Duffs, some of whom boasted of their Outfit connections, drank with Mayor Richard Daley at the Como Inn. Then, for a nightcap, they got $100 million in affirmative-action contracts.

Mob politicians have been pinched. The late Ald. Fred Roti (1st) went to prison. Roti's boss, mob fixer Pat Marcy, died before trial. The mayor broke up the old 1st Ward, called it the 42nd Ward, but that didn't fool anybody. The Outfit political office simply moved West.

Other experts insist there is no Outfit in Chicago. One was the late FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. He liked to win at the track yet refused to believe in the existence of the Chicago Outfit.

Recently, other politicians insisted the Outfit is dead. One is state Sen. Jimmy DeLeo (D-Chicago), sage adviser to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. When he started in politics, DeLeo once kept tens of thousands of dollars in his freezer. He probably didn't want it to spoil.

"What does that mean, `mob associated?'" DeLeo asked rhetorically, in a 2001 Sun-Times story. "In the year 2001, is there really a mob in Chicago?"

Another political expert is state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R- Elmwood Park), who echoed DeLeo. "The Italian Mafia is gone," Saviano was quoted as saying. "I don't see it happening around here."

He probably meant on Grand Avenue in Elmwood Park. Outfit? What Outfit?

Then there are the county judges, such as the late Frank Wilson and others, who fixed Outfit murder cases. We've had more than 1,000 mob murders here since the 1920s, and few were solved. That can't happen without the judges.

Let's not forget the police brass. Former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt was sentenced a few years ago for running an Outfit sanctioned nationwide jewelry theft ring, along with his colleague, the reputed hit man Paulie "The Indian" Shiro.

On Tuesday, Shiro was also indicted as part of the FBI's Family Secrets investigation. Other crooked Outfit-connected cops in other investigations include a former lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department's organized crime division who helped another top cop, James O'Grady, become Cook County sheriff in 1986. The Outfit-buster was James Dvorak, known as "The Bohemian," who was made undersheriff and was later convicted of taking bribes from then-Outfit boss Ernest "Rocco" Infelice to protect gambling.

Lt. James Keating, of the Cook County sheriff's office, was sentenced to 40 years on federal racketeering charges. He, like Hanhardt, had been smooched by the media as a hero cop while on the force. Later, Keating was found to have killed the investigation of the 1978 murders of thieves Donald Renno and Vincent Moretti, in Cicero, according to a 1989 Tribune review of the case.

Renno and Moretti were suspected of burglarizing the home of mob boss Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo. The murders of Moretti and Renno were solved, according to Monday's indictments.

When I first wrote about Nick Calabrese in February 2003, I told you we'd wait for indictments, and they arrived Monday.

You already know the general outline. But the story isn't over. The main question hasn't been answered, specifically, with names on indictments. How can the Outfit survive without the help of crooked politicians, judges and cops?

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jskass@tribune.com