Alleged sports betting operation has alleged Mob ties

Alleged Mob hit man Frank G. ‘Gumba’ Saladino and his cousin Joseph W. Saladino named co-conspirators in federal indictment

Eight Rockford-area men were arrested Feb. 1 in connection with an alleged sports betting operation in which deceased alleged Mob hit man Frank G. “Gumba” Saladino and his cousin, Joseph W. Saladino, were named co-conspirators.

According to the federal indictment, the sports betting operation accepted “bets and wagers on the outcome of sports events, including football and basketball games.”

The indictment continued: “The operation of this illegal gambling business, among other things, used clerks to accept wagers, assigned number designations to bettors, obtained telephones in nominee names, paid commissions to agents of the gambling business, in addition to paying and collecting money from bettors. Between the early 1980s and continuing until at least sometime in approximately May 2002, this illegal gambling business generated well in excess of $500,000 in gross income.”

Members of Rockford Police Department (RPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began the joint investigation in August 2000 under the authority of the United States Attorney’s Office.

The RPD and FBI arrested the following individuals Feb. 1:

John P. “Tiger” Frisella, 57, 6321 Bridgewood Court, Rockford;

Joseph F. “Pep” Fiorenza, 60, 3611 Bently Drive, Rockford;

Nicholas T. Fiorenza (son of Joseph), 38, 8525 Elm, Machesney Park;

Rick J. Fiorenza (son of Joseph), 36, 1911 Jonathon Ave., Rockford;

Charles A. Purin, 62, 2134 Clinton St., Rockford;

Frank C. Giardono, 69, 4741 Covey Ridge Court, Loves Park;

Nick Provenzano, 45, 5358 Brompton Drive, Loves Park; and

John F. Salamone aka “John Finooch,” “Don Finooch,” and “John Franks,” 27, 4509 Dogwood Circle, Rockford.

Neither Frank G. Saladino nor Joseph W. Saladino, 60, of Rockford, were arrested because Frank is deceased and Joseph is currently in federal prison. Frank G. Saladino was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The charges against the nine indicted suspects carry possible penalties of five years in prison and $250,000 fines. The eight arrested were released Feb. 1 and are scheduled to return to court for status hearings in mid-March.

A former Rockford-area bookie familiar with the illegal sports gambling ring alleged one of the key organizers was a prominent business leader. That leader was not among the individuals indicted.

Frank G. Saladino and Joseph Saladino both have well-documented pasts.

Frank G. Saladino

Frank G. Saladino, 59, was found dead of “natural causes” in a Hampshire, Ill., Super 8 hotel room April 25—the same day he was indicted on federal charges of murder and other undisclosed “criminal” allegations. According to the Chicago Tribune, he was found with $25,000 in cash and $70,000 in checks in his room the day he died.

Frank G. Saladino, a former Rockford and Freeport resident, was alleged to have “committed murder and other criminal activities on behalf of the Chicago Outfit.” He was identified in the April 25, 2005, indictment as a “member of the South Side/26th Street crew.” His last known Rockford address in 2004 was 1303 Montague Rd., according to state records.

The FBI-led probe, named “Operation Family Secrets,” alleged the Outfit was involved in 18 murders and racketeering conspiracy extending from the mid-1960s to the present. The alleged racketeering involved sports betting, video gambling, loan sharking and collecting “street tax” from participants in illegal activities.

As The Rock River Times reported in the April 27-May 3, 2005, article “Feds indict Mob hit man from Rockford”: “According to 17th Judicial Circuit court documents, Saladino was involved in a bitter business dispute with partners that included Salvatore ‘Sam’ Galluzzo, who, along with Saladino, owned Worldwide General Contracting Inc. On March 4, 1984, the Rockford Register Star identified Galluzzo as a ‘Mob soldier.’ Galluzzo is believed to still reside in Rockford on the city’s far east side.

“In addition to Galluzzo, Saladino named 13 other defendants in his 2000 lawsuit. Among those named by Saladino in the lawsuit were Rockford attorney Frank P. Vella Jr., Galluzzo’s brother Natale Galluzzo, City of Loves Park and Village of Rockton Attorney Paul S. Nicolosi, and Salvatore Galluzzo’s son, Gerlando ‘Gino’ Galluzzo.

“Along with Nicolosi, Gerlando Galluzzo is an attorney at the law firm of Nicolosi and Associates, P.C., which was founded in 1948 by patriarch Philip A. Nicolosi. …

“Saladino’s lawsuit involved a dispute dating back to at least July 1991 that concerned construction and ‘improvement’ at the northeast corner of East State Street and Perryville Road. The business partners planned to build a mausoleum on the site, and City of Rockford officials contributed $75,000 to the effort.”

Joseph W. Saladino

Joseph W. Saladino, 60, of Rockford, is currently in federal prison in Sandstone, Minn., on weapon charges dating to a Feb. 15, 1997, traffic stop. He was stopped at 2:05 a.m., Feb. 15, 1997, by Illinois State Police for traveling 47 mph in a 35 mph zone on East State Street near Fairview Avenue. After police searched his vehicle, they found a machine gun, butcher knife, hand saw, bolt cutters and other weapons in the trunk of his car.

According to court records, after a state trooper searched the trunk of Joseph Saladino’s vehicle, police found “a loaded 0.380 caliber handgun, an unloaded 0.357 magnum handgun, an unloaded 9 mm fully automatic machine pistol with no serial number, and in excess of 400 rounds of ammunition.”

The court records also stated: “In addition, defendant [Joseph Saladino] had two books on how to make silencers, a book on machine lathes, a billy club, two ‘slim jims,’ two bolt cutters, a tree trimming saw, one butcher knife, a pipe wrench, a stocking cap, and two face masks.”

Joseph Saladino reported to prison Jan. 25, 2005. He could have received up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine on the charges. Instead, he pled guilty in federal court in 2003 to possession of the machine gun and possession of a firearm by a felon. As part of the plea agreement, Joseph Saladino will serve no more than 27 months in prison in spite of his violent past.

As TRRT reported in the May 4-10, 2005, article, “Saladino’s cousin imprisoned on weapon charges”: “The agreement was negotiated between Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Iasparro and Saladino’s attorney James W. Reilly of Arlington Heights.

“Joseph Saladino’s original attorney was Jerry A. Lund of the law firm Vella and Lund, P.C. Lund withdrew from the case in March 2003 citing a ‘potential conflict of interest.’

“Iasparro is the son of Rockford Police Deputy Chief [now Interim Police Chief and reporting officer of the Feb. 1, 2006, indictment] Dominic Iasparro, longtime head of the Metro Narcotics task force.

“The Rockford Register Star reported that in the early 1960s, Frank ‘often partnered with his cousin Joe.’ Joseph Saladino’s past includes the following:

“Rape conviction with his cousin Frank G. Saladino of a Winnebago County woman on Oct. 22, 1964.

“Pled guilty in Winnebago County to battery charges on Jan. 18, 1983, and was sentenced to one year of court supervision and a $90 fine.

“Sentenced to two years probation, 200 hours of community service and $3,500 fine for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon on April 8, 1998.”

Special correspondent Jeff Havens contributed to this article.

From the Feb. 8-14, 2006, issue

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