Ill. attorney general leased office space from group with a member with alleged Mob ties

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11194614792170.jpg’, ”, ‘Paul S. Nicolosi’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1119463067424.jpg’, ”, ‘Jim Ryan’);

U of I also leased office space from same business group

The Illinois attorney general’s office leased office space from a business group that in 1999 listed an alleged Mob soldier as one of its three “members.”

The business group, Buckley Partners LLC, leased the property at 7230 Argus Drive on Rockford’s east side to the state’s top law enforcement agency beginning in 1999. The business partners also leased property at 417 Ware Ave., to one of the state’s top education institutions, the University of Illinois, starting in 1998.

Both properties were owned by Buckley Partners from at least 1999 to November 2003, when they were sold to jail lawsuit attorney John F. Heckinger Jr., for a total of $4.35 million. Heckinger is the attorney behind two federal jail overcrowding lawsuits filed against Winnebago County since 1994.

According to a disclosure statement Buckley Partners filed with the state in 1999, one of the “members” of Buckley Partners is Salvatore “Sam” Galluzzo, who was identified in 1984 as a “Mob soldier” in a Rockford Register Star article. The March 4, 1984, article reads, “Salvatore Galluzzo [was] identified in police reports as a Mob soldier.”

The Rock River Times requested copies of the police reports March 21 from the Rockford Police Department. Specifically requested were the files concerning Galluzzo and four other alleged Rockford Mob members. However, the Mob intelligence files were destroyed by unknown police officials about two years after the Register Star published the article (see April 6-12, 2005, article “Police destroyed Mob files”).

Although nothing illegal has been alleged about Buckley Partners or the leases with the state, such revelations raise questions as to how closely government agencies examine the backgrounds of individuals with whom they do business.

Both the University of Illinois and the Illinois attorney general’s office said they were unaware exactly who from the state recommended awarding the contracts to Buckley Partners.

The leasing of property by a group with alleged Mob ties to two state agencies follows revelations May 18 that Frank G. “Gumba” Saladino owned a home in 1991 that was placed in a blind trust, and then sold in 1995 to the Rockford Housing Authority.

Saladino was the alleged Mob hit man who was found dead the same day he was indicted April 25 on federal racketeering and murder charges. Saladino was a business partner in the 1990s with Salvatore Galluzzo, who both owned Worldwide General Contracting Inc.

However, there are no records from the City of Rockford that show Worldwide General Contracting ever received any building permits since its establishment in 1988.

Business partners

The property near the northeast intersection of East State Street and North Perryville Road is zoned for commercial office space. City of Rockford officials contributed $75,000 in 1994 to help develop the property. In 1991, Worldwide General Contracting sought to operate a mausoleum on the site.

Salvatore Galluzzo’s brother, Natale Galluzzo, is also listed in the state disclosure statement as a member of Buckley Partners, as is Village of Rockton and City of Loves Park attorney Paul S. Nicolosi. As of 1999, eight other “individuals” had a “beneficial interest” in Buckley Partners, according to state records. All of the individuals listed in the disclosure statement were Galluzzo and Nicolosi family members.

Included in the list is attorney Gerlando “Gino” Galluzzo, who works with Nicolosi at the law firm Nicolosi and Associates, P.C. Gerlando Galluzzo is the son of Salvatore Galluzzo, who resides near Natale Galluzzo on Rockford’s far east side.

Salvatore Galluzzo entered into an agreement in 1991 to sell the Argus Drive property to Saladino. However, the agreement for deed between Salvatore Galluzzo and Saladino wasn’t filed with the county until Feb. 20, 1998.

The property was later leased in 1999 to the Illinois attorney general by Buckley Partners.

Saladino was found dead April 25 in a hotel room in rural Kane County when federal officials went to arrest him on murder and racketeering charges in connection with a decades-long organized crime syndicate. According to the Kane County coroner, Saladino’s death was due to natural causes.

Messages for comment were left June 9 and June 17 for attorneys Gerlando Galluzzo, Nicolosi and Heckinger at their law offices. None responded to the messages.

A telephone message for comment was left June 17 at what was believed to be the homes of Salvatore Galluzzo and Natale Galluzzo. Neither responded to the messages. Neither of their numbers is listed in the telephone directory.

Car crash and arson charges

According to a 1988 lawsuit filed in Winnebago County, Natale Galluzzo and Saladino once worked for Frank J. Buscemi, who owned Rondinella Foods Co., in the 1980s. Buscemi was identified in the March 4, 1984, Rockford Register Star article as being Rockford’s Mob boss. Buscemi died Dec. 7, 1987, at the age of 75.

On March 6, 1986, at 2:13 p.m., Saladino and Natale Galluzzo were traveling in a 1981 Lincoln Continental on I-90 when the vehicle crashed in rural Boone County. The accident threw Saladino through the windshield, which Saladino alleged resulted in severe and permanent injuries.

At the time of the accident, court records suggest they were both working for Buscemi. However, in a petition to intervene, Salvatore Galluzzo claimed at the time of the accident Saladino was an employee of Loves Park Foods Inc., for which Salvatore Galluzzo was the president and agent.

Saladino filed the lawsuit after Buscemi’s death and prevailed in the case against Natale Galluzzo, Buscemi, Rondinella and Gerry’s Pizza in November 1989, after the disputing parties reached a settlement.

In a 1982 criminal case, Natale Galluzzo allegedly set fire to a home at 1028 Ferguson St., on Rockford’s west side. Prosecutors charged Natale Galluzzo with arson “with the intent to defraud an insurer.”

However, on the recommendation of Winnebago County State’s Attorney Dan Doyle’s office, the charges were dismissed on June 24, 1983.

The City of Rockford bought the Ferguson Street property from Natale Galluzzo and his wife almost one year after the incident on Aug. 10, 1983. The city paid the Galluzzos $2,437.30 for demolition of the building on the property.

Illinois attorney general

While destruction of Mob files by Rockford Police casts doubt on the wisdom of such a decision, similar questions may be asked about the Illinois attorney general’s policy for leasing office space.

Under former Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan’s administration and former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, Buckley Partners leased office space at 7230 Argus Drive to the attorney general beginning in 1999. The lease concerning that property is being disputed in the Illinois Secretary of State’s Court of Claims.

The attorney general moved out of the office in late 2003 or early 2004 due to alleged “building code violations,” according to Melissa Merz, spokesman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

However, Bonnie Henry, Building Department director for the City of Rockford, said June 14 no building code violations existed at the time the city cleared the office for occupancy in 2000.

Rockford Fire Dept. Division Chief of Fire Prevention Frank Schmitt said one exit existed in the building, which met local codes by being 97.5 feet from the farthest point of access. Local codes require a second exit if access is more than 100 feet away from an exit. Schmitt said Homeland Security specifications or state requirements unknown to him may have prompted the dispute and the attorney general’s move to a River District location. He noted that Gino Galuzzo was listed as a contact on one of his forms for the Argus Drive inspections.

Merz said she wasn’t sure if there were any records indicating who from the state compiled the list of possible sites for location of the attorney general’s office. Merz added she wasn’t sure who recommended the Argus Drive site for the office.

Secretary of State docume

nts indicate the purpose of the court is to address “formal monetary claims made against the state.” Court records could not be obtained by time of publication to determine whether Buckley Partners or Heckinger filed a claim against the state.

Merz added there is no known written policy that stipulates how their office is to conduct background checks for landlords with which the state has contracts. However, Merz said if the attorney general leases property, background checks concerning landlords are completed.

Dan Curry, former spokesman for former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, said he wasn’t sure if there was a written policy that delineated how background checks for landlords were to be conducted. However, Curry added that Ryan would have delegated the responsibility of recommending a site and landlord for a regional office to the regional director. Curry added the regional director during that time was Allen Fore. Fore could not be contacted by time of publication.

Ryan is currently an attorney in private practice at the law firm Ryan and Kavvadias in Naperville.

University of Illinois

Beginning in 1998 under the business name Nic-Gal Partnership, the University of Illinois leased office space at 417 Ware Ave. for their Cooperative Extension service from the partnership. The newest contract concerning that property reads the University is leasing from “J.F. Heckinger, formerly Buckley Partners, LLC.”

The lease with Heckinger expires June 30 and is expected to be renewed.

In sections of the leases since 1998, University of Illinois officials redacted nine areas that would have identified names associated with Nic-Gal Partners, Nicolosi and Associates, Buckley Partners and landlord of the Ware Avenue property.

Kim Lazenby, administrative aide for the University of Illinois, said the reason the names were blocked out was to protect individuals not directly employed by the university.

However, the attorney general’s office did not redact any names on information they provided to The Rock River Times, which is similar to what the University of Illinois submitted in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Although many documents concerning the Argus property were released, Terry Mutchler, public access counselor for the attorney general, explained 38 documents could not be provided due to the pending litigation in the Court of Claims.

As to the University’s selection of the Ware Avenue property, Lazenby added that about five sites were considered for locating the Cooperative Extension service. However, Lazenby wasn’t sure who chose the location or why the location was chosen, other than requirements for square footage per staff member, total square feet and other “parameters” dictated to the selection staff.

A “bank building, old car dealer and several other buildings” were considered, Lazenby said.

Editor and Publisher Frank Schier contributed to this article.

From the June 22-28, 2005, issue

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