Constable: Impact of mob in suburbs mostly memories, but not to FBI
There's nothing like a Martin Scorsese movie to rekindle memories of when the mob was a suburban institution. The famed director's gangster epic, "The Irishman," comes to Netflix Wednesday and stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci as mobsters in an era of cutthroat cruelty and violent crimes spanning the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The suburbs had our share of strip clubs, illicit gambling and murders perpetrated by The Outfit during those decades.
Between 1960 and 1990, there were 340 Outfit-related murders in our area, says Special Agent David White, who now heads up the FBI's Organized Crime Squad in the Chicago office. In the 30 years since, there have been 11 mob murders.
Scorsese's film gives us the murder of Riverwoods insurance tycoon Allen M. Dorfman, a consultant to the Teamsters' union who was convicted of conspiring to bribe U.S. Sen. Howard W. Cannon of Nevada. A 59-year-old husband and father of four, Dorfman was going to lunch with his friend, Irwin Weiner of Niles, on Jan. 20, 1983, when they were ambushed by two men in the parking lot of the purple Lincolnwood Hyatt Hotel. "This is a robbery," a gunman yelled, before firing eight shots from a .22 automatic into Dorfman's skull and leaving an unhurt Weiner without taking anything.
"Usually, they grab somebody, take 'em somewhere, maybe torture 'em, kill 'em, wrap 'em up, and put them in a trunk and leave 'em somewhere where we find them," Chicago Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek told a reporter from UPI at the time.
That's what happened to Hal Smith, 48, a suspected sports bookie from Prospect Heights, who reportedly wouldn't pay enough to The Outfit. Salvatore DeLaurentis of Inverness, who was known as "Solly D" and ran a thriving bowling alley, liquor store and popular pizza restaurant in Island Lake, was caught on tape warning Smith that he'd end up as "trunk music."
Smith's body was found on Feb. 12, 1985, in the trunk of his gold-colored Cadillac in the parking lot of the Arlington Park Hilton. Smith had been lured to the Long Grove home of his friend, William B.J. Jahoda, who later testified that Smith was tortured, strangled and had his throat slit. Jahoda's testimony helped send reputed Lake County mob leaders DeLaurentis and Ernest Rocco Infelice to prison.
Another gambling operator who ran afoul of the mob, Robert Plummer, 51, was found dead in a car trunk in Mundelein in 1982. He was murdered in the Rouse House in Libertyville, which was the site of a 1980 crime in which 15-year-old William Rouse used a shotgun to murder his millionaire parents, Bruce and Darlene Rouse. The mob bought the house and turned it into an illicit casino. The mob also ran prostitution out of suburban strip clubs such as the Cheetah II in Wheeling Township, the Roman House in Lincolnshire, The Cheetah on Half Day Road in unincorporated Lake County, and the Gay Paree on Rand Road south of Lake Zurich, all of which are now gone.
Anthony and Michael Spilotro, brothers whose murders were depicted in Scorsese's 1995 film "Casino," were beaten to death in a Bensenville basement. Outfit bosses made homes in the suburbs. Joseph Ferriola lived in Kildeer. Joseph Amato had a home in Lake Zurich. Even Anthony "Big Tuna" Accardo spent his final years before his death in 1992 at Willowgate, a 22.7-acre Barrington Hills estate owned by his son-in-law.
The federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act put a dent in The Outfit, as did growing professionalism among suburban governments and law enforcement agencies, the FBI's White says.
"The mob had a good public relations scheme in which they advertised themselves to the public as Robin Hoods, and the reality was completely different," White says.
In "The Irishman," an FBI agent reaches out to De Niro's character to ask what happened to Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, whose body has never been found. "Everybody's dead. They're all gone," the agent says in a failed attempt to get the thug to talk.
"A number of people have died in prison or been murdered," White says of the mobsters who committed their crimes in the suburbs and Chicago.
"But they are still out there. One thing that hasn't changed is the FBI's commitment to investigating these crimes."