Illinois Police & Sheriff's News
New Mob Hierarchy
Takes Over Cicero
IPSN Newspaper, March March 26, 1997
Ernest Rocco Infelise was certain of two things when he
entered the federal penitentiary: he would get a hot meal every day; and money would
continue to flow into the hands of his Cicero cronies under the protection of the
Towns powerful Republican leaders.
When the FBI brought Infelise and 10 of his associates down, he was in charge of one of
the most ruthless of Chicagos Organized Crime Street Crews, protecting the
mobs Chicago street gambling interests and operating out of Flash Interstate
Delivery Systems (Flash Trucking) at 1505 S. Laramie Avenue.
But his real contribution to Chicagos mob family was not just his heavy-handed
oversight of gambling collections and a stable of bookies that stretched from Indiana
through Northern Illinois, but his control of the notoriously mafia-friendly suburb,
It may have belonged to Al Capone back in the late twenties, but in 1990, Cicero was owned
by Infelise and everybody knew it.
The Demise of Infelise
In the early 90s, Infelise, a protégé of the late Joseph Ferriola and the heir apparent
to succeed Joey Auippa, personally approved the appointments of candidates to elective
office in Cicero. Infelise controlled Ciceros government and its hefty $50 million
budget through a small time bookie and a member of his Street Crew, Frank
J. "Baldy" Maltese.
Ferriolas death gave Infelise more power, and absolute control of Cicero.
Auippas incarceration gave him the independence he sought. He was already head of
the enforcement division of the powerful and mob connected Teamsters Local 714.
With the backing of a now more powerful Infelise, Maltese was elected to office and
quickly became the chief confidant of Town President Henry Klosak.
Frank had been married three times, and all three of his wives names were
His third wife, Betty Loren, was a tough barroom gal who he had met at a Cicero bar. With
his help, Betty landed a job working in the Liquor Control Commission office at Town Hall,
and later, after she married Frank, was made the chief administrative aide to Klosak.
That gave Loren-Maltese power because Klosak came to work late and left before noon,
leaving his Town Hall Presidents Office under Bettys and
When Klosak died in December 1992, Betty was named his successor as Acting President. She
was elected Town President in April, 1993.
The convictions of the Infelise Street Crew in 1991 and 1992 had threatened his
organizations survival. Infelise was sentenced to a hefty 68 year prison term. The
mild-mannered and portly Baldy Maltese was fighting off an indictment on
racketeering charges and anticipated following in Infelises footsteps.
It was Maltese, some believe, who came up with the scheme to control the Towns
insurance payment system, and that redirected profits to Infelise cronies. To insure that
the plan would continue, even after Baldy Maltese was to go to jail, they
agreed to put the town in the hands of Franks new wife, Betty Loren.
The Town folklore has it that Frank married Betty to prevent her from being forced to
testify against him. Whether that was true or not, Frank also knew that Betty had enough
experience to run Klosaks administration and to protect a system that could funnel
funds into the Infelise family.
Baldy Maltese had come up with a simple plan that could allow money to be
skimmed from the Towns $50 million a year budget with little notice.
Cicero is a self-insured town. The towns 650 employees bring their medical bills to
a town bureaucrat who reviews the bills and then authorizes payments. The payments were
not made directly to the doctors or to the hospitals, however, but to an insurance
In 1992, that insurance management firm was Travelers.
Under the Maltese scheme, a new firm was created for the sole purpose of managing
Ciceros insurance program. That new firm was Specialty Risk Management, and it was
owned in a partnership headed by John LaGiglio, an Infelise associate linked to Flash
Several other Infelise associates also were a part of the Specialty Risk Management team
that would come to Town Hall and meet behind closed doors with Frank Maltese, including
Frank Taylor, and the nephew of Infelise associate Paul Spano.
LaGiglios company was hired in 1992 to work as a student with the
Towns regular insurance management firm, until they could learn the system.
In late 1993, Specialty Risk Management took over complete management of the insurance
program. Specialty Risk received an exorbitant 30 percent commission on billings it
processed, plus a $7,000 a month administration fee.
Baldy Maltese, who was the Towns Assessor, was named as the insurance
liaison who supervised the system. Knowing he would be going to jail eventually,
Baldy Maltese believed he had enough time to solidify the arrangement. He died
in October, 1993 of pancreatic cancer.
Handpicked by Infelise and her husband to run Cicero, Betty Loren-Maltese then named one
of her top Town Republican Organization precinct workers and longtime Town Hall
administrator, Bob Balsitis, to succeed Baldy Maltese and oversee the
But when Balsitis saw that the payments the Town was making to Specialty Risk were
thousands of dollars higher than the actual billings, he complained to Loren-Maltese. And
Loren-Maltese fired him.
And, she fired his successor, Eugene Berkes. Finally, she put the job of administering the
payments in the hands of an elderly lady and precinct worker who knew enough not to
question the goings on in Cicero.
From Silver Shovel to OC 1
When Balsitis was first contacted by the FBI after his firing, Cicero was a top priority
of the feds. FBI mole John Christopher had spread out money all over Chicago and even
tried to use his friendships in Cicero to make some hooks.
But what began as a spin off of Chicagos Silver Shovel probe in 1994, quickly turned
into a new and separate federal probe of corruption in Cicero, focussing in on the
In 1996, the FBI created a special Organized Crime Task Force to investigate Loren-Maltese
called Special Unit OC-1.
Loren-Maltese was notorious for hosting lucrative fundraisers.
Ciceros annual Golf Outing generated more than $400,000 in donations each year.
Loren-Maltese began a drive to consolidate political power, pushing aside political
rivals. She forced an ally, Cook County Commissioner Allan C. Carr, to abruptly step down
as Cicero Township Republican Committeeman in 1994, giving herself absolute control over
the 200-member Town of Cicero Republican Organization that included many of the Infelise
Street Crew and their families and even a distant relative of the late Anthony Big
Tuna Accardo who controlled the Towns Building Department. She appointed
herself to take Carrs place.
In 1996, she renamed the golf-outing in her own honor, and published a 500 page Campaign
Ad book that added $200,000 to her growing Committeemans fund.
It was Bettys ouster of Carr that opened the door to a new avenue of funds for her.
As a Republican Committeeman, Betty was permitted by law to raise money without having to
disclose it publicly, as other elective officials are required to do twice each year.
In less than a year, her secret Committeeman Fund had risen from nothing to more than $1
million in receipts with $987,000 in the bank.
LaGiglio had escorted the widowed Loren-Maltese at the 1994 Golf Outing. It was at that
time that LaGiglio, who was a well known friend of her late husband, detailed an
investment his company had in a Northern Wisconsin property long known as a favorite
summer hangout for the Capone gang back in the Twenties.
At that time, her campaign fund dealings were secret and she was not required to detail
her funds activity. Loren-Maltese wrote three checks totaling $300,000 to a
Specialty Risk Management sister firm, Plaza Partners. Both were officed in the same
building in Schaumburg.
Loren-Maltese claimed she did not know that LaGiglios firm was associated with Plaza
Partners, even though the deal she signed was with LaGiglios wife, Bonnie.
The details and legality of the investment are now the subject of an intense FBI probe of
her administration. An original copy of the loan agreement never surfaced, but a draft
copy listed the loan at $500,000.
Infelise Must Hate Politicians
Things might have continued to remain a secret had it not been for political developments
beyond their control that Loren-Maltese continued to aggravate with headline grabbing
In 1995, suburban and downstate Republican leaders targeting Cook Countys Democratic
party bosses passed a law in the Illinois General Assembly that required all committeemen
in Cook County to fully disclose their funds. And in November 1995, Loren-Maltese quietly
filed her paperwork disclosing the sweltering war chest in the offices of the Cook County
By 1996, it had become the largest campaign war chest in Cook County, and had already
drawn the attention of the Justice Department which was trying to trace funds that had
been donated but that had allegedly not been disclosed.
Loren-Maltese, by now, was a political loose cannon.
She had named the Towns Public Safety Building after her husband, drawing intense
media criticism for naming a police building after a convicted felon.
News of her secret war chest had reached her eight elected colleagues on the Town Board in
the summer of 1996.
Betrayed, several of the boards members confronted her and asked her for an
Loren-Maltese reacted by firing her chief adviser, Public Safety Director Emil Schullo, a
controversial but popular figure who was close friends with Baldy Maltese.
With Schullo out of the way, Loren-Maltese began a purge of the Cicero Police Department,
demoting and punishing those officers who were not loyal to her administration.
She then moved to dump three of her critics from the Town Republican Organization slate.
The insurgents mounted a challenge to her re-election in the February 25 Republican
Primary and lost.
After his incarceration, the Infelise Cicero Street Crew was brought under the control of
Mike Spano whose brother Paul was among those sentenced with Infelise. Spano, also a
cousin of Maltese, reports directly to two well known organization figures, Johnny
Apes Monteleone and James Marcello.
Neither of them could control Loren-Maltese who privately boasted about her friendships
with the known crime family leaders, and also of her independence and power.
During the heated battle against her former colleagues, Loren-Maltese reportedly met
several times with Spano to work out a compromise by leaning on her challengers.
At the same time, her relationship with LaGiglio, which at one time was described as
friendly, had soured quickly. No doubt her ties to Spano soured too, although
he continued to work at Johnny Apes direction to calm things down
in the Western suburb.
Loren-Malteses best defense was to blame the overpayments on LaGiglio, a Spano
underling which she quickly did, and demanded that the money be repaid to the Town.
LaGiglio halted all processing of claims by the Town and told investigators that Cicero
had a $4.5 million credit, which they would never recover.
But while Loren-Maltese had turned away from Spano, she had turned to a connected
political powerhouse, Ed Vrdolyak for guidance out of her federal troubles.
Vrdolyak, who has fought hard over the years to distance himself from public associations
with mob figures, was forced to surface during Loren-Malteses re-election campaign
as her chief political adviser and strategist.
Vrdolyak had a major interest in Cicero, drawing legal consulting fees in excess of $1.19
million. It was a Vrdolyak pal responsible for the multi-million development along Cicero
He personally directed the Loren-Maltese re-election campaign, selecting her political
consultants, Dave Donahue and Lee Harris, and organized her street operation.
And, Vrdolyak assisted in directing the meetings of her massive precinct captains
Whether Vrdolyak or Spano wields more influence over Loren-Maltese is yet to be
determined. The FBI probe into her actions could lead to her certain indictment.
It could end mob control over Cicero, but more than likely, it will just open another
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