Informant reacts to Mob indictments

Robert Cooley urges feds to pursue Mafia bosses John DiFronzo and Marco D’Amico

Former Chicago Mob attorney turned federal informant Robert Cooley spoke with The Rock River Times last week to offer his opinion about the April 25 indictments of 14 organized crime members and associates in Chicago. While he is satisfied the feds “arrested some hit guys” from the South Side crew, Cooley hopes the feds continue to pursue alleged North Side crew bosses John “No Nose” DiFronzo and Marco D’Amico, who allegedly control the Rockford area.

Cooley also cautioned that although the arrests were “fine, …[T]his certainly doesn’t help clear up things now or do something for the city now. Those indicted “were go-fors. They were what they call the ‘soldiers,’” not the bosses.

D’Amico and DiFronzo were not among those indicted in “Operation Family Secret.” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called the indictments “unprecedented” in scale and scope in prosecuting 18 Mob-related killings, one attempted murder and numerous racketeering charges.

However, the 41-page indictment did not give details about who did what to whom and when.

Fitzgerald said the 18 killings and one attempted murder happened between 1970 and 1986. The alleged racketeering conspiracy stretched from the mid-1960s to the present, and involved sports betting, video gambling, loan sharking and collecting “street tax.” Critics complained the indictment was short on details.

Cooley also shed light on former Rockford resident and reputed Mob hit man Frank G. “Gumba” Saladino’s alleged participation in murder and other criminal activities on behalf of the Outfit’s South Side crew. Cooley said that although Saladino allegedly committed murder for the South Side crew, Saladino may have also been a member of both the North Side and South Side crews at different times.

Cooley alleged that the South Side crew would have been under control of Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra. In Cooley’s 2004 book: When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit D0own, he wrote that LaPietra earned his nickname “because he used to hang his enemies from meat hooks when he tortured them to death.”

Saladino was found dead when authorities went to arrest him during the early morning hours of April 25, at the Super 8 hotel in Hampshire, Ill., located in rural Kane County. A spokesman for the Kane County Coroner said May 2 that results from Saladino’s autopsy won’t be available for about another three weeks.

Initial reports indicated Saladino died from natural causes. Saladino complained in court documents filed in Winnebago County in 2000 that he suffered from chronic health problems in connection with a 1986 car crash.

Cooley also said: “In 1993, the FBI had a report where they were naming a number of people from organized crime that were working in the Rockford area. They were working in the Rockford area just as I told you, under the Elmwood Park [/North Side] crew.”

When asked about the existence of the document, Michael Zemites, field supervisor for the FBI’s Rockford office, said: “I am not familiar with the [organizational] chart you’re looking for.” He added that if such a document exists, it may be in an archive file.

Another source alleged Saladino was involved in operating at least one exotic-dancing business in Rockford.

Concerning such businesses, Cooley added: “Any strip joints you had out there were paying street tax to be allowed to operate. …As I say, the Mob openly operated out there in Rockford because they had control over the authorities, who basically left them alone.”

Cooley also urged authorities to keep applying pressure to keep down the Outfit. He warned, “You just can’t ignore these guys, ‘cause they will start coming back.”

From the May 4-10, 2005 issue

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