Aleman Finally Convicted
IPSN Oct. 12, 1997
His Career as an Outfit Enforcer Recalled
Harry Alemans contention that he is an ordinary family man trying to live a quiet
life of peaceful contemplation in Chicagos Western Suburbs with his wife, his
daughter, a son-in-law, and the grand kids, is as far from the vision of middle class
America as one can possibly get.
In his free and easy days, Harry Aleman roamed the streets of Chicago basking in the
certain knowledge that his reputation as the syndicates most efficient
enforcer bestowed upon him a certain celebrity status. He enjoyed the
protection of John DArco, Sr., the crooked First Ward Democratic committeeman, and
his principal administrative aide, Pat Marcy, whose influence in such matters dated back
to the heyday of the notorious West Side Bloc of syndicate-controlled politicians who rose
to power in the 1940s.
Together these men ruled the First Ward and acted on behalf of the Chicago outfit when the
outfits interests were threatened as they were in 1977 when Harry the
Hook Aleman was about to stand trial for the 1972 shotgun murder of Teamster steward
Logan, whose former wife happens to be a cousin of Harry Aleman, allegedly refused to
assist Aleman in a scheme to loot cartage trucks. Government prosecutors also believe that
Harry Alemans motive may also be tied to Logans mistreatment of his wife. The
couple were engaged in a bitter custody battle at the time of Logans death.
Billy Logan was ambushed by an assassin lying in wait in a parked car outside his home on
West Walton Street in the Austin neighborhood on September 27, 1972. Aleman was identified
as the triggerman by two eyewitnesses. The state went to trial believing they had an
ironclad case against Harry Aleman, or so they thought at the time.
The Chicago outfit had a vested interest in Harry, and they went to great lengths to
assure an acquittal. This is a very serious matter, some very important people are
concerned about this individual [Aleman]....dont say you can do it unless you can do
it...we have to know for sure, cautioned John DArco, Sr., to attorney Robert
Cooley who indicated that he could arrange the fix.
Cooley prevailed upon his good friend Judge Frank Wilson for help. Wilson had the
reputation of being a law and order jurist which made him all the more
appealing to the First Ward overseers. The attorney and the Cook County judge gambled and
drank together. Their after-hours collegiality was typical of other existing arrangements
between defense attorneys and members of the Cook County judiciary that eventually
revealed a mountain of corruption and bribery culminating in the Operation Greylord
scandal of the 1980s.
Cooley proceeded cautiously, but he was certain Wilson could be bribed - for $10,000. The
case was originally assigned to Judge James Bailey - a man beyond reproach, and then later
Judge Fred Suria. However, the Aleman matter was eventually transferred to Judge
Wilsons calendar in one of those strange twists of backroom wheeler-dealing that
could only occur in Chicago.
As the case unfolded, Wilson realized he was in a real jam. His career, his reputation,
such as it was, and possibly even his life had been placed in harms way. After he
discovered that a witness was being paid the same amount of bribe money, he demanded much
more from Cooley. I am going to lose my job on this thing and thats all
Im getting...its not fair. I deserve a lot more than this, he told the
attorney. Cooley adamantly refused. There was no more syndicate money to spread around.
Judge Wilson collected his envelope containing the original agreed upon amount and
acquitted Aleman according to the game plan. In February 1990, with the government closing
in on this corrupt judge who contaminated the Circuit Court system of Cook County, Frank
Wilson shot himself in the head in the backyard of his Arizona retirement home.
The Wilson-Cooley fix drew Harry Aleman into the national spotlight. But long before the
case unraveled, the Hook was a seasoned career criminal.
He is believed responsible for at least five mob hits (the figure could run as high as 15,
according to some accounts) including the murder of independent bookmaker Anthony J.
Reitinger on October 31, 1975. Reitinger was asked to pay his street tax to
one of Harry Alemans associates - identified in trial transcripts as
LaPietra (possibly Angelo or Jimmy LaPietra). A federal informant and former
rogue police officer named Vince Rizza supplied LaPietra with a list of
free-lancing bookies who were obligated to pay their tax or face stern reprisals. Rizza
supposedly told Aleman that Committing murder in Chicago is okay if you kill the
Anthony Reitinger brushed off the threats. He ran his North Side games and allowed the
chips to fall where they may - his big mistake.
On the night of the murder, Aleman reportedly called Rizza at his home to tell him to
watch TV. The guy had been whacked. And indeed he was dispatched to another
world outside Mama Lunas Restaurant, 4846 W. Fullerton Avenue, by two armed
assailants in the presence of several witnesses who suffered from memory lapse.
The only physical evidence linking Aleman to the crime was a latent fingerprint found on a
warranty book in the stolen getaway car when it was recovered on December 1, 1975. The
government was unable to prove conclusively that this was the same vehicle used as the
work car in the Reitinger murder. Once again, Harry Aleman, unscathed, slipped
away into the night.
In 1978, six years after the Logan murder faded into memory, Aleman was charged in a
nine-count indictment with two violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (RICO), for his involvement in three home robberies in Illinois and
Indiana. Aleman was convicted in a jury trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison after he
was shown to be the ringleader of this interstate armed robbery and home invasion gang.
Harry Aleman was released on parole in April 1989, after serving 11 years of his sentence.
He returned to his Oakbrook home and went to work for his son-in-law Ted Strong, as a
personnel supervisor at Accurate Coring Company in Rosemont, earning about $1,000 a week.
At the time of his release the U.S. Parole Commission reported that Harry was a
model prisoner and had served his time without incident.
I love my wife and kids and that is my stability and predictability, he told
Judge Williams in a prepared affidavit. There isnt enough money in the world
to make me run away from my family. Throughout my years in prison, I survived for my
family and they have stood by me never knowing when I was coming home with the 30-year
sentence I had. Concerning the community where I live, I cannot comprehend the meaning of
Danger to the Community. I have only lived in my community a short while and
they accept me as they do my family. The Aleman defense team supplied letters from
the neighbors attesting to Harrys good character.
While Aleman was in federal prison for running a home invasion ring, Joe Ferriola
reportedly ordered the 1981 murder of his long-time associate and reputed partner William
Butch Petrocelli, a notorious Chicago mob figure active from the 1950s through
the 1970s. Petrocelli had failed to turn over $100,000 to Harrys family while he was
away. It was one of the most hideous murders in the annals of Chicago mob
history. Petrocelli was found in the backseat of his car at 4307 W. 25th Place. He had
been stabbed twice in the neck and the killers set fire to his face with lighter fluid.
It is customary in organized crime circles for the families of imprisoned members to be
taken care of during the period of incarceration. When he failed to carry out
the order, Petrocelli was taken care of.
The Aleman-Petrocelli alliance came to the attention of state authorities in 1969 when the
two men were arrested by agents of the Illinois Crime Investigation Commission and the
Chicago Police Department on charges of extortion and juice loan racketeering. The
operation was headed by the late Fiore Fifi Buccieri who passed away in 1973.
Buccieris operations were taken over by James V. Turk Torello, the
powerful West Side juice loan extortionist and gambling boss.
In later testimony, Robert Cooley identified Petrocelli and Aleman as the killers of Chris
Cardi, a former Chicago Police officer and part time juice loan collector who was gunned
down in the presence of his wife and kids on July 14, 1975, near Jims Beef Stand at
1620 N. River Road in mobbed-up Melrose Park.
Cooley also linked Harry Aleman and his partner Butch Petrocelli to the
December 20, 1973 slaying of Richard Cain, former chief investigator who served under Cook
County Sheriff Richard B. Ogilvie in the 1960s. Cain, a rogue operative whose law
enforcement career was shattered by his personal involvement in cartage theft and bank
robbery, later worked for Sam Giancana as his driver and personal assistant.
Cain was gunned down inside Roses Snack Shop at 1117 W. Grand Avenue by two masked
men carrying walkie-talkies. Many knowledgeable mob watchers believe the Cain hit was
masterminded by Joey the Clown Lombardo. In February 1983, a small time hood
and protected federal witness named Alva Johnson Rodgers fingered Lombardo for the hit in
a federal courtroom.
The sensational assassination of Richard Cain, discussed in numerous books and articles
about organized crime in the Windy City, has never been solved.
After eight months on the outside, Harry Alemans parole officer
glowingly predicted that there is ample evidence to suggest that he [Aleman] is able
to maintain a lawful lifestyle if free on bond.
It is obviously not possible to discern his motivation, but I believe that his record
while on supervision indicates a reasonable probability that he could avoid criminal
activity while on bond.
Nevertheless, when Aleman went before a federal court judge on racketeering charges in
1991, the government produced a witness who testified that Aleman had received $100,000
from Joseph Ferriola prior to Ferriolas death in March 1989, and had failed to
distance himself from his former criminal associates. Joseph Ferriola, who
headed a vicious street crew engaged in loan sharking, bookmaking, bribery, and shakedowns
was Harry Alemans uncle.
During his 1991 trial before U.S. District Judge Ann C. Williams, Harry pleaded guilty to
racketeering charges but he steadfastly refused to testify against Rocco Ernest Infelise,
who had assumed command of the Ferriola street crew in 1989, and five other co-defendants.
The plea agreement between Aleman and the court called for a 12-year prison sentence which
he would serve at a federal prison in Oxford, Wisconsin. After emerging from Judge
Williams chambers, it was reported that Aleman exited smiling .
The smile quickly turned to a frown in December 1993 when States Attorney Jack
OMalley announced his intention to re-indict Aleman for the William Logan murder - a
case that strained the limits of the constitutional provision protecting a defendant from
double jeopardy after being found not guilty the first time around.
The festering potential of reinstating a criminal charge after acquittal defies
every known authority on double jeopardy, argued defense attorney Allan Ackerman at
It raises a constitutional question of the highest magnitude.
However, both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Supreme Court ruled that because Aleman
was never in any serious danger of being convicted the first time around in a sham trial
presided over by a bribed judge, there simply was no jeopardy to consider.
The second trial moved forward before Judge Michael P. Toomin at the Criminal Courts
Building and was completed in less than a week.
Based on the eye-witness testimony of Robert Lowe who was out walking his dog the night
that Aleman shot and killed William Logan, the jury had no problem returning a guilty
verdict in this second trial, despite the nervous apprehensions of one female juror who
asked to be excused because she feared reprisals.
The conviction of Harry Aleman, and his sentencing hearing on November 4, brings closure
to the victims of his assorted crimes, and to a sorry episode in Criminal Court history.
The Aleman verdict indicates that after 20 years justice has had its final rendering, and
the career of a feared hit man whose reputation inspired terror in the hearts of viniremen
summoned to jury duty to carry out their civic duty is over.
It also suggests that a battered, and corrupt criminal justice system, still reeling from
the ground tremors of Operations Greylord and Gambat, has won a temporary reprieve and has
escaped from the shadowy criminal-politico tie-up that prevented a stone-cold killer like
Harry Aleman from receiving his judicial retribution.
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