Iasparro about Mob file purging: ‘I was part of it’

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-113519242218948.jpg’, ”, ‘Dominic Iasparro’);

Destruction of Mafia files was done without the knowledge of former Rockford Police Chief William Fitzpatrick

Sometime during the mid-1980s, Rockford Police Department officials destroyed or incorporated documents into other police files that concerned alleged Rockford Mafia members. And the Mob file purging was done without the knowledge of then-Rockford Police Chief William Fitzpatrick.

The actions call into question whether such files could have been legally saved for research or historic purposes, who gave the order to purge the files, and for what reason.

Without the chief’s knowledge

On March 4, 1984, the Rockford Register Star published a detailed history of the Mob in Rockford. Sometime in 1985 or 1986, Dominic Iasparro said during an Aug. 8, 2005, interview, that he and other unidentified Rockford Police officials destroyed or transferred documents to other files that concerned alleged Mob members.

Iasparro, who was named interim police chief in October of this year, was a detective in 1985 and head of the Metro Narcotics Unit. He could not recall who or how many other police officials were involved in the file purging.

Iasparro characterized the destruction of the files as part of a national effort to purge police reports and files that were “not related to specific people and specific crimes.”

Asked who destroyed the files, Iasparro initially responded that it was a “group of people.” When asked specifically who was part of the “group,” he said: “I was part of it,” but couldn’t recollect who else was involved.

Iasparro added: “It wasn’t my decision [to destroy the files].”

Exactly who made the decision isn’t clear.

Former Rockford Police Chief William Fitzpatrick said during an Aug. 8 interview, he had no knowledge such files were destroyed. Fitzpatrick was police chief from October 1985 to July 1997.

When asked whether he knew the Mob intelligence files were purged, Fitzpatrick replied: “I certainly don’t know anything about it.”

Fitzpatrick is currently police chief in Glenview, Ill.

Del Peterson, former Rockford Police chief from October 1965 to September 1985, said during a Sept. 8 interview, police officers under his command compiled the Mob files, and the files were under his “direct supervision” until he retired on Sept. 30, 1985.

Peterson said: “I can assure you they weren’t destroyed when I was chief.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files on alleged Rockford Mobsters indicate the FBI relied heavily on the Rockford Police for information. Those FBI files on deceased Rockford Mob members are still available through the Freedom of Information Act, but similar information is not available through the Rockford Police Department.

‘Nothing sinister’

A Chicago Tribune article from February 16, 1985, supports Iasparro’s assertion that “there was nothing sinister, illegal or unethical about what was done,” and that the file purging was part of a national effort.

According to the 1985 Chicago Tribune article, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago reversed a lower court’s ruling that required “street files” be part of the “legal system’s official record keeping process.”

Attorneys Jeffrey Haas and G. Flint Taylor filed a class-action lawsuit in 1982 that alleged the existence of Chicago Police Department “street files” prevented defendants from obtaining a fair trial.

The article reads: “The appeals court ruling, however, left the door open for about 300 people who were convicted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before street files were officially banned, to sue for damages if they can prove that such files kept them from getting a fair trial.”

A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said that under a federal court order, they purged their Mob intelligence files sometime during the 1980s.

Capt. Michael Young, public information official for the Milwaukee Police Department, said their department also purged such files “about 20 or so years ago.”

However, what isn’t clear was whether Rockford’s Mob intelligence files could have or should have been saved under state law, which was in effect in 1985 and 1986. Also not clear by time of publication was whether Rockford was under a similar federal court order to destroy the files.

Valuable records?

According to the state Local Records Act, a commission “shall determine what public records have no administrative, legal, research or historical value and should be destroyed or otherwise disposed of and shall authorize destruction or other disposal thereof. No public record shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by any Local Records Commission on its own inititative, not contrary to law.”

The commission that determined what to save was composed of a mayor, county auditor and state’s attorney, who were appointed by the governor, state archivist and state historian.

The names of the individuals who composed the Local Records Commission in 1985 and 1986 were also not known by time of publication.

Scott Sievers, attorney for the Illinois Press Assocation, said if there was a federal order to destroy the files, it would have taken precedence over any decision to save the files at the local or state levels.

Iasparro concluded that the decision to destroy the files “was the right decision at the time.” However, in retrospect, perhaps the files should have been saved for historic or research purposes.

The revelation that the files were destroyed was brought forth last April after The Rock River Times requested copies of files for five alleged Rockford Mob members from the Rockford Police Department. Specifically requested were files concerning Salvatore “Sam” Galluzzo and four other alleged Rockford Mob members.

As a result of the purging, none of the files requested under the Freedom of Information Act was obtained by The Rock River Times from the Rockford Police Department.

A copy of Galluzzo’s file was also requested from the Rockford Register Star. However, management at the daily newspaper did not reply to the request.

From the Dec. 21-27, 2005, issue

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