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Chicago Tribune, May 15, 1987

Copyright 1987 Chicago Tribune Company  
Chicago Tribune

May 15, 1987 Friday, SPORTS FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 684 words


BYLINE: By Ronald Koziol.

John Fecarotta, a longtime mob muscle man slain last September, was targeted for death because he botched the burials of gang leader Anthony Spilotro and his brother Michael after they were killed three months earlier, according to new information received by federal agents and police.

"The plan mapped out by crime syndicate bosses was that the bodies of the brothers were never to be found." a federal source who asked not to be identified said Thursday. "But when they were, it meant somebody had to pay for the blunder."

A week after the brothers left Michael's Oak Park home on June 14, 1986, their badly beaten bodies were discovered in a makeshift grave in an Indiana cornfield. A farmer noticed the newly turned ground and, suspecting that the remains of a deer killed out of season had been buried by poachers, called police.

Speculation at the time was that if the bodies had been buried in an adjacent wooded area just 30 feet from the cornfield, they might never have been found.

Federal sources said Fecarotta apparently supervised the Spilotro murder crew and picked the spot where they were to be buried. "Maybe somebody got lazy or they made a mistake, particularly if they buried the bodies at night," the source said.

On Sept. 14, exactly three months after the brothers' disappearance, Fecarotta, 58, a former union business agent and suspect in two previous murders, was gunned down in a doorway of a bingo hall at 6050 W. Belmont Ave., as he tried to flee from his assailant.

The shooting was witnessed by at least three persons who have been unable to make any positive identification of the killer after viewing FBI and police photos.

Police Lt. John Minogue, commander of the Grand-Central violent crimes unit, said that police also had been told by their underworld informants that Fecarotta was held responsible by syndicate leaders who had ordered the slayings of the Spilotro brothers, because their bodies were found.

"We have the same report, but we're still no closer to solving the murder than we were on the day it happened," Minogue said.

Police records show that Fecarotta, as long ago as 1965, was identified as a collector for crime syndicate loan sharks. He was also listed by federal agents as being a member of the mob's South Side "26th Street crew," which controls the rackets in the 1st Ward and nearby Chinatown.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys have described the crew, headed by imprisoned mobster Angelo LaPietra, as the Chicago crime syndicate's enforcement arm and specifically charged with handling murders within the organization.

Investigators also noted that Fecarotta's slaying was the only gangland killing in the Chicago area since the deaths of the Spilotros.

Anthony Spilotro was considered expendable by Chicago mob bosses after most of the members of his Las Vegas gang were jailed and profits from illegal rackets had dried up, according to police. There were also reports that Spilotro had hoped to seize control of the mob from its reputed new boss, Joseph Ferriola.

Federal sources had disclosed last month that the plan by Chicago mob bosses was for the Spilotros to "disappear." A "temporary" boss was to be named to handle the Las Vegas operations that Anthony Spilotro had headed since 1973, the agents were told.

"It was to be a smooth transition--like a silent takeover--with the Chicago mob continuing to take part and share in the profits of the Las Vegas rackets but without Spilotro," according to a federal source.

Probably the most bizarre part of the murder plot, the source said, was the mob's plan to feed phony information to the FBI that Spilotro and his brother were very much alive and were seen from time to time in Europe and other areas.

The elaborate ruse was to include planting the brothers' clothing or other personal items in hotel rooms to indicate they had been there but had fled hurriedly. When the brothers' bodies were found they were wearing only underwear.

The discovery of the bodies foiled the scheme and, investigators believe, cost Fecarotta his life.

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