John "Kickin Ass" Kass on Hired Truck and Mob.

Please read about more mystery deaths. Lots more soon. Read below.

]]>5 mobsters down, but more work ahead
John Kass
September 11, 2007
Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo wasn’t pleased with Monday’s verdict in the Family Secrets Outfit conspiracy trial in federal court.

He was found guilty, along with the other street bosses and soldiers. Well after the verdict, as court was ending, Lombardo jabbed his cane into the courtroom floor, making angry, frustrated gestures at his veteran criminal defense lawyer Rick Halprin.

Why he was angry with Halprin was anyone’s guess, but I’ll speculate that Lombardo expected some kind of a miracle. But this was federal court, not Cook County Circuit Court, and so there were no friendly ward organizations to sprinkle magic fairy dust over some local judge.

Now, about those 18 killings …
It wasn’t Halprin who put Lombardo’s fingerprint on the title application for a car used in the 1974 murder of federal witness Danny Seifert. It was Lombardo who pressed his finger there. Now he’s paying for it: The 78-year-old Outfit boss won’t be free until the demons come for him at the end of his days.

While Lombardo was animated, Jimmy Marcello, 65, kept his face as smooth as egg whites on a plate, cheeks pale against his black polo shirt and gray sports jacket, in that west suburban let’s-go-to-Rosebud look. He gave his lawyer Marc Martin a kiss on the cheek.

Anthony “Twan” (Passafiume) Doyle — the 62-year-old Chicago cop and Chinatown crew bone crusher and debt collector who found himself on federal tape talking about cattle prods for Outfit informants — closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair.

He might have been wondering why he didn’t plead guilty and take 5 years, rather than face up to 20 on the racketeering charge. Or he might have merely closed his eyes to avoid the jury that stood, individually, bravely affirming their convictions of Doyle and the others.

We couldn’t see Frank Calabrese Sr., 70, too well. His lawyer Joe Lopez had him hunker down behind file folders. So I couldn’t see if he looked like a benign cheese salesman from Wisconsin, the way I’d seen him at the beginning of all of this, or the kind of man who’d put his heel against your neck as he pulled the rope.

But there was one more. Paul “The Indian” Schiro, 69, a jewelry thief who previously was convicted in an unrelated case and worked in the gang led by former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt.

Schiro stood behind the visibly upset Lombardo, but Schiro, ever the servant, kept still. He hasn’t made a face throughout this long trial and kept his flat again on Monday. Lombardo waved his arms, a spindly primate, and Schiro just stood there, like a butler, the loyal domestic ready to clean up again after his boss if something got spilled.

They’re all guilty now, with more arguments set for Tuesday about which of the men should be held responsible for 18 previously unsolved murders in this case.

And I wonder — and I’m sure the Outfit is wondering — where the feds go from here? Do they keep pushing on the old murders? Or do they begin to finally focus on the connection between local politics and the Outfit?

I don’t know. But I do know there are other unsolved slayings of recent vintage.

Though 18 are on their way to being resolved, here are a few unsolved deaths.

One of these isn’t even called a murder. It’s called an accident. A Chinatown accident in Will County.

Nick LoCoco, 64, an Outfit bookie and retired City Hall hack — also indicted in the City Hall Hired Truck scandal — died in November 2004.

LoCoco died of a crushed skull while taking a horseback ride during football season. How odd. I’m not a gambler, but I’ve never heard of a bookie deciding to take a horsey-back ride on a Sunday afternoon between NFL games. But LoCoco apparently did, and he died for it.

If you believe that bookies take horseback rides during NFL games, you might be what Twan Doyle calls a “chumbolone,” Chinatown slang for someone lacking the necessary wits.

But you’re reading this, so you’re no chumbolone.

Another strange case was last year’s disappearance of mobster Anthony Zizzo, 71, involved in Family Secrets, who left his Jeep at a Melrose Park restaurant and has never been found.

The 2001 killing of Anthony “The Hatch” Chiaramonti at a Brown’s Chicken and Pasta place in Lyons remains unsolved, as is the December 1999 slaying of Bridgeport neighborhood burglar and hitman Ronnie Jarrett.

Jarrett, the friend of Outfit turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, was gunned down outside his home. Witnesses said they saw two African-American men running, which is about as believable as Nick LoCoco on a horse with a game on TV.

In 1999, Chicago water taxi service owner Donald Schemel, 48, received two bullets behind his ear at 1900 S. Lumber St., after his business was being harassed by City Hall inspectors.

And Michael Cutler, 19, was killed in 1998 in an apparent robbery on the West Side. Cutler was a witness in the savage beating of Lenard Clark, a young black teenager who was assaulted by the son of Frank “Toots” Caruso. Frank Jr. was convicted of the sensational crime. And Cutler got one in the chest.

What does this tell us?

That the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office still have much work to do.

6 Replies to “John "Kickin Ass" Kass on Hired Truck and Mob.”

  1. And Michael Cutler, 19, was killed in 1998 in an apparent robbery on the West Side. Cutler was a witness in the savage beating of Lenard Clark, a young black teenager who was assaulted by the son of Frank “Toots” Caruso. Frank Jr. was convicted of the sensational crime. And Cutler got one in the chest.

    What about the Phillipino kid who got beat up by Patrick Daley–witnesses may not have been killed–but someone was paid off and it was forgot about.
    The kid was in a coma.
    Who baseball batted him in the head?
    Was it Patrick Daley?
    Patrick Daley has a violent history but I guess it is OK if you are a Daley just not a Caruso.

  2. Liberal media protect Daley

    The Family Secrets mob trial has given us information as to how intricately these dispicable killers and thugs are connected to Chicago politicians, and there was no shortage of linkage to my 11th Ward.

    I have accused most media of being liberal. Here is more evidence. Why is there almost a 100 percent blackout in the paper and on TV regarding the powerful Democratic Party and its historical ties to organized crime?

    Hint: A liberal mayor has been somehow at the helm of city hall for 18 years. His political career goes back even further. His late father’s career goes still farther.

    The Chicagoland media does a woefully pathetic job in probing one Richard M. Daley. It’s inexplicable and unforgiving.

    Carl Segvich


  3. Without feds, we’d never hear the ‘lies’
    John Kass
    Federal prosecutor Mitchell Mars was telling the jury about a litany of 18 Outfit murders — solved by federal investigators, not locals — and he put several corpses at the feet of convicted mobster Frank Calabrese Sr.

    “He has left a trail of bodies, literally …” Mars said Tuesday, as Calabrese began shouting, interrupting him.

    “THEM ARE LIES!!” Calabrese shrieked, startling the jury.

    It was the real Frank coming out after weeks of suppression in federal court, with that tight little smile of his.

    It was Chinatown Frank, the scary Frank with the famous thumbs, and federal marshals inched closer lest Frank pop for good.

    Mars didn’t flinch, and he continued speaking.

    ” … during his career with the Outfit.”

    Then the jury retired to deliberate on the second phase of the landmark Family Secrets trial — deciding which Outfit figures committed previously unsolved murders — and my guess is that the jury is ready to be done with this.

    What must bother Calabrese, and his co-defendants Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo, Paul “The Indian” Schiro, and James “Little Shamrock” Marcello, is what Mars told that jury.

    “This is not a case of guilt by association. It is guilt by participation in a criminal organization that protected itself and its members by homicide,” Mars said.

    “They lived to kill. They lived to have money, and they lived to kill.”

    The “Them are lies” shriek was the dramatic highlight of the day, but here’s one thing that isn’t a lie:

    Since the Chicago Outfit began controlling select politicians at City Hall, and select businesses and select cops and county judges, there have been hundreds of Outfit hits.

    And local law enforcement hasn’t solved one for more than 40 years. They’ve only solved a scant few Outfit killings since Paul “The Waiter” Ricca let Al Capone pretend to be boss of Chicago.

    I might be wrong. There might be one, or two, solved in the last four decades by local law enforcement, perhaps the real police in blue uniforms, the men and women who don’t get promoted because they don’t know the secret political passwords.

    And if I’m wrong, I’m sure that interim Chicago Police Supt. Dana Starks will invite me to Cafe Bionda for lunch and lecture me on my heresy, as legendary Bionda chef and Reserve nightclub fixture Joe Farina whips us up something tasty.

    But according to a Chicago Tribune investigation in 1989, no Outfit murder had been solved in Cook County in 20 years.

    That was 18 years ago.

    The report focused on the Cook County sheriff’s office, and how high-ranking sheriff’s officials “sabotaged investigations of brutal, execution-style murders and covered up evidence of possible crimes of other law enforcement officials, and judges.”

    Back then, sheriff’s officers, the Tribune said, systematically concealed evidence, blocked efforts by other law enforcement agencies to interview witnesses, and hid their own relationships with organized crime suspects in murder investigations.
    One of the murders was the 1976 slaying of Michael Curtin, a chemical company executive found facedown in the back of his tan Cadillac in Maywood, strangled, Chinatown-style, and shot twice in the head for good measure.

    Curtin’s murder was not one of the 18 homicides in the Family Secrets trial.

    A tiny black notebook was discovered in Curtin’s pocket. In that notebook, the Tribune reported, were the names of Cook County judges and lawyers, with dollar amounts written alongside.

    Lt. James Keating seized the evidence, including Curtin’s precious little black book, which vanished forever, as did the bullets that were mysteriously removed from Curtin’s cold skull.

    Keating was convicted in 1986 for taking payoffs to protect Outfit vice operations in the suburbs. And in 1989, he was convicted in federal court for racketeering and murder conspiracy.

    Since then, he’s been in prison. Some literary muse must have whispered to him in the federal pen, because he’s written a novel, “All on the Same Side,” about the friendships between politicians, local cops and the Outfit.

    One of the characters in the book is a so-called Chief William Murphy — who vaguely resembles former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt, himself in federal prison for running an Outfit jewelry heist ring with Schiro.

    Murphy’s buddy is a mob boss named Dominic, who answers to another mob boss named Johnny, who may or may not have been shot in the nose years ago in real life, ruining his looks. And Murphy promises to kill investigations.

    The book is fiction, sort of. But here are two facts:

    If it weren’t for the feds, the Chicago Outfit wouldn’t worry about murder cases.

    And Frank Calabrese wouldn’t have to scream “Them are lies” to the jury deciding the rest of his life.

  4. All dots on city map connect to clout
    John Kass
    September 16, 2007
    In 1999, Mayor Richard Daley met with close advisers at City Hall to discuss a favorite project, a plan to build dozens upon dozens of expensive single-family homes along the Chicago River in his ancestral 11th Ward, in what is now the troubled Bridgeport Village development.

    Also at the meeting were mayoral strategist Tim Degnan, considered the fifth Daley brother, and Degnan business associate and 11th Ward developer Thomas DiPiazza, according to court documents and Tribune reports.

    But before and after that meeting with the mayor, according to public records in Illinois and Florida, DiPiazza was also engaged in a series of other, separate real estate transactions with a Bridgeport fixture known as Rayjo.

    That’s what he’s called in Bridgeport, in Chinatown, on Rush Street and at the federal building, by prosecutors and the FBI. He’s well known in these circles.

    His formal name is Raymond John Tominello.

    Tominello, 67, is considered a mathematical genius. He was convicted in 1989 of running the Chicago Outfit’s illegal sports book operation under the supervision of the legendary Donald “The Wizard of Odds” Angelini and Dominic Cortina.

    In 1989, Angelini, Cortina and Tominello all pleaded guilty, a week after their indictment on federal racketeering charges. Tominello served less than a year in federal prison. Angelini and Cortina have since died. But Rayjo still thrives, at least in real estate.

    What does this tell us? That DiPiazza, who gets into meetings with the mayor about one of the most important developments in Bridgeport in years, has a mobbed-up business associate.

    Of course the mayor will say he didn’t know about it. And that may be true. He might not have ever heard the name Rayjo in his entire life, even though they’re about the same age and grew up in the same neighborhood. Can’t coincidences happen in Chicago?

    DiPiazza’s attorney Mark Kralovec said last week that Tominello had worked for DiPiazza years ago, but that Tominello no longer works with DiPiazza’s business.

    Conrad Duncker, real estate attorney in Tominello’s deals with DiPiazza and DiPiazza’s partner, Richard Ferro, declined to comment.

    “I really can’t answer any questions. Have a good day sir,” said Duncker, before hanging up the phone. Tominello did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him, through his attorneys and at his homes. That’s too bad. It would have been nice to hear how he transformed his life, from Outfit bookie to Mr. Real Estate with Tommy D.

    Investing in real estate with guys who know Mayor Daley isn’t a crime, not even for a bookie. Understanding Chicago doesn’t come by reading official press releases, but by reading the tracks of exotic creatures in public records.

    “Rayjo was an integral part of the Cortina/Angelini combine,” Chicago Crime Commission President James Wagner, the former longtime FBI supervisor, told me last week. “He hasn’t been convicted of anything lately, but back then, Rayjo was considered to be one of them, not a lowly worker, but a manager, with talent and some ambition to move up. You’re talking about a lot of money.”

    Just weeks before Tominello was indicted, he, Ferro and DiPiazza were listed on a commercial loan filing statement with the Illinois secretary of state’s office for a continuation of an undetermined business loan.

    And a couple of years after Tominello’s prison stint, in 1992, records show that a trust all three were involved in sold a large tract of commercial/industrial property at 300 W. 83rd Street, to the Chicago Board of Education for nearly $900,000. A portion of that property now serves as open space across the street from Simeon Career Academy.

    In 1998 — a year before DiPiazza met with Daley about Bridgeport Village — DiPiazza’s company sold a house to Tominello at 2806 S. Shields Ave., down the street from the neighborhood social center, the Italian American Club.

    Next door to Tominello, DiPiazza deeded a lot to the family of Joseph “Shorty” LaMantia, county records show. LaMantia was assuming control of the Chicago Outfit’s Chinatown Crew that runs Bridgeport.

    And for the next five years, according to tax records, tax bills for the Tominello house on Shields were addressed to Ferro-DiPiazza, but with a catch. They were mailed to Tominello’s home. But Rayjo’s home isn’t officially the Ferro-DiPiazza offices. That office is at 3611 S. Normal Ave. Perhaps Tominello forgot to put his name on his taxes.

    A similar thing happened on a Tominello investment property on Archer Avenue purchased in 1997. On the deed, the mailing address was listed at Ferro-DiPiazza. City building inspectors in 2000 found several code violations. The violation notices were sent to Ferro-DiPiazza on Normal, not to Tominello’s home on Shields.

    In 2003, DiPiazza sold a home on Marco Island, Fla., to Tominello for $300,000, not counting sunscreen.

    Rayjo isn’t the only smart guy DiPiazza knows. DiPiazza and another friend of Degnan’s, the mayoral fashionista/waste-hauling king Fred Bruno Barbara, are also investors in the pricey real estate that houses the famous Tavern on Rush restaurant in the city’s historic Viagra Triangle at Bellevue and Rush.

    Degnan is close to both men.

    Decades ago, in a Tribune story, Degnan publicly admitted to a serious gambling problem, saying in 1969 he owed $82,000 in gambling debts. In today’s dollars, that comes to $459,000, a huge chunk for a young man back then. I haven’t heard about Degnan gambling a dime lately, unless you count his wife getting magically clouted in as an investor in that Rosemont casino deal.

    There’s nothing illegal in all this real estate investing, as far as I can tell. These are puzzle pieces, coming together, revealing a little known feature of City Hall’s infrastructure.

    I asked Jim Wagner if he was surprised that DiPiazza, with his City Hall clout, meeting with the mayor and so on, would be involved in deals with Rayjo.

    “No,” Wagner said.

    Of course not. This is Chicago.

  5. John Kass September 28, 2003
    When the friends of the mayor of Chicago–friends from a family with connections to the Chicago Outfit–are about to be indicted by a federal grand jury in a $100 million affirmative-action contract fraud scheme, word gets around fast. So last week, word about the Duffs fanned out from City Hall. But there were a couple hours to kill before U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald’s Thursday news conference about the Duff financial empire. It was time for lunch; I was hungry and wanted to think this through. There was only one place to go. “You’ve just got to go to Gene’s,” said a friend and colleague. She meant my favorite steakhouse, and the Duffs’ favorite steakhouse, Gene & Georgetti’s. Gene’s is a hangout where information is traded, among politicians, insiders, reporters, wise-guys, salesmen, consultants, from the buttoned down to the gold chains crowd. And what makes it work is that they serve the best steak in the city, period. The service is impeccable without being showy and the drinks are honest. Gene’s is a part of the old Chicago, the city as it was before so much of the downtown was turned into a theme park. It’s also the place where the Duffs came up to me about a year ago, their tough, hard eyes smiling. They asked me why they don’t ever see my children playing in the front yard of my home in the suburbs. They asked it twice. But the columns didn’t stop and neither did the news stories by the investigative reporters, or Tribune editorials about the mayor’s friends. And here’s why: This is not about getting personal with the mayor or the Duffs. Though the mayor has been a frequent target in my column, what drives the criticism is the obscene amounts of taxpayer dollars that go to his pals. In deal after deal after deal, the attitude is that his guys can take what they want and the people in the neighborhoods better shut up about it, while higher taxes put more and more pressure on families to pay for the deals. It’s not personal, it’s business, and it’s your money. Daley is an able politician and has done some good things, including taking personal responsibility for trying to improve the public schools. But he must also take personal responsibility for his friends who get rich on government contracts he controls, paid for by our tax dollars. The Duff stories broke in 1999, when Tribune investigative reporters Ray Gibson, Andrew Martin and Laurie Cohen wrote about the Duffs’ City Hall deals and their connections to Daley and the Outfit. You can find the archive of the stories available on the Tribune’s Web site. Much of what was alleged in the indictments was laid out in those stories: that the Duffs, who are white, ran phony front companies that got $100 million in city contracts that should have gone to firms owned by women or minorities. Daley knew the Duffs were not minorities, even when he was a crime-fighting Cook County state’s attorney. A Duff sits across from you, gives you campaign cash, pours a drink, it’s reasonable to assume that even the mayor could tell whether the person was white or not. Think back to how the media treated the late Mayor Harold Washington, when Washington’s buddies were involved in contract scandals. Back then, even minor stories about corruption got sustained media attention, particularly from TV and radio, even if the dollar amounts were only chump change. Washington faced constant media pressure on corruption issues. TV crawled all over him for years. “If I was white, you wouldn’t be doing this to me,” Washington said once, in a private moment, as he filched a smoke from me and we stood in a parking lot after a campaign stop. We argued about it, and I told him that since we were off the record, he didn’t have to play the race card. “You don’t know anything, do you?” he said. He was right. I was a kid, then. I didn’t know. But when the Duff stories first broke, involving a white mayor and white guys getting rich, the Chicago media scrutiny wasn’t as intense. TV news didn’t hound Daley the way it hounded Washington. The mayor must appreciate the kindness. I’m sure he also appreciates the new federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. The feds have already outflanked former Gov. George Ryan’s Republicans. Ryan himself is a target. And now the feds are moving toward Daley’s Democratic City Hall. The Daley-Duff relationship is not just a Tribune story anymore. A group of citizens–sworn as federal grand jurors–looked at the evidence. They didn’t find a flaw in the system, as the city claims. They found a crime. A couple friends and I talked of this at Gene’s, about the change in things, about the importance of an independent federal prosecutor, about how the bipartisan political clique that runs this state tried to stop Fitzgerald’s appointment in hopes of installing one of their own. Just then, the cell phones began chirping and word of the Duff indictments began to spread through the bar. We had our steaks medium rare. And they were tasty. ———- Copyright (c) 2007, Chicago Tribune

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