IPSN, June 4, 1997|
John DI Maggio: Cicero's New Top Cop
Return to the Top of This Page
Ciceros Mafia Princess Betty Maltese needs a public image boost fast, and she has her sights on a new candidate for Top Cop, veteran and decorated retired Chicago Sergeant. The question Di Maggio faces is why? With so many problems facing Maltese and Cicero, could he survive if Betty is ousted in an FBI corruption?
In the summer of 1968, Chicago was under siege.
Images of Chicago police officers beating civilian protestors outside of the Conrad Hilton Hotel during the Democratic Convention revived that machine-gun toting image of Al Capone and dirty politics and caught the attention of the world.
The Late Mayor Richard J. Daley and his police brass couldnt run from the negative publicity because it was on the TV screens in front of millions of American families for during and after the convention, for week straight.
And when they finally decided on a person to respond to the intense negative media coverage, they named a veteran Chicago Police Sergeant, John Di Maggio, as their unofficial spokesman. Di Maggio was seen on TV every night in network explaining Daleys side of a bad story.
It is the story, in fact, of how every bad story works.
Ciceros mobbed-up and subpoena-plagued Town President Betty Maltese is taking a leaf from Daleys 1968 Convention Book, and is planning to name the same John Di Maggio as her new police superintendent.
A new spokesman for a town plagued by increasing crime, she hopes to help off-set this negative publicity and troubles of her own doing involving an FBI probe into allegations of her wrongdoing.
Long retired from the Chicago Police Department where he served 33 years, Di Maggio and his wife, Rosemary, live in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, and a hangout for many retired Chicago police officers, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Why bring Di Maggio to Cicero?
The same reason why Daley used him to represent Chicago during the 1968 Convention. He has a good reputation and Betty Maltese badly needs it to help counter her own negative reputation.
Cynics will rightfully point out that Cicero is a mob controlled Town and that Betty Maltese is simply their political front.
And when one Cicero mob boss goes down for the count, there is always another underboss waiting to take his or her place. Cicero has been in the palm of the mobs hand since Al Capone first saw it as a way to hide his business interests from Chicago based G-Men.
In 1993, when Betty Maltese was elected, there was a brief period of hope when many believed things might change. That proved wrong last year when details of the FBI probe of the Maltese organization surfaced for the firsttime.
Although sources insist Betty also considered former Chicago Deputy Police Supt. William Hanhardt, other reliable sources insist Hanhardt was never considered, and never gave the option much thought.
She also approached former Chicago Top Cop Fred Rice, who is still in the running, sources said.
But by all accounts, Di Maggio will.
To give Di Maggio the benefit of the doubt, you could conclude, maybe naively, that he simply wants the challenge, this late in his retirement. Di Maggio is described as the kind of Chicago cop who wont shy from a challenge. And Cicero could be described as any cops ultimate challenge.
Di Maggio could bring credibility to the Town of Cicero, which desperately needs that and more. He was a founder of the Italian American Police Association, and is held in high esteem by many police colleagues. He received the Award of Valor from the Chicago Police Department and has an assortment of prestigious citations.
While at the Chicago Police Department, many, including Di Maggio, believed his career should have moved him to higher Police Department rank.
But why would any good cop take a job working for Ciceros Mafia Princess, whose recent financial investments and dealings with members of the organized crime family of the late Joseph Ferriola remain the focus of an intense FBI investigation that most observers believe will result in her indictment?
Its a question we put to many people.
If they were ever to appoint a person of an impeccable background, John Di Maggio would be the guy, said Ralph DeBartolo, President of the Italian American Police Association.
Hes a very tough cop. Hes a good cop.
Daniel Green, former president and founder of the Confederation of Police from 1966 through 1970, is a close associate and Vegas neighbor.
The only reason John Di Maggio would take the position in Cicero is because he is so proud of his heritage as an Italian American and he wants constantly to improve the image of Italian Americans. He would see taking on Cicero as a personal challenge to himself to right the wrongs against Italian Americans, Green says generously.
Green noted that Di Maggio ran in 1995 for Clark County sheriff, which includes Henderson and Las Vegas. Green served as Di Maggios campaign manager.
But in the middle of the campaign, without telling anyone, he just dropped out, Green recalled. Had he stayed in, he would have won.
CCPA President John J. Flood said that time will tell if Di Maggio can overcome the mobbed up burdens that come with the Maltese administration.
The Outfit doesnt hire anyone to clean up the Outfit, Flood observed. Ill take a wait and see on John Di Maggio. I dont know him personally to make a value judgement. Ive heard nothing but high regards as to his police career.
Has Di Maggio decided on the Cicero Top Cop job?
He hasnt agreed to take the spot yet. It would be an asset to the Town of Cicero if Di Maggio accepted the appointment, but it would be an incredible challenge. If anyone could turn that town around, it would be John Di Maggio, if given the chance, Green added.
And that is the key. Will a mobbed-up politician like Betty Maltese give a cop like Di Maggio the chance to undue the damage caused by her and her friends?
Will Di Maggio be given the chance?
History says no.
Troubles Facing Cicero:
The Di Maggio appointment would certainly do much to help Betty Maltese.
Does Di Maggio know that Maltese has targeted some 35 career Cicero Police Officers for dismissal, accusing them of supporting her political opponents?
Many of these officers are being dismissed because they maintain dual residences in and out of Town, a policy that Maltese allowed until it became convenient to do otherwise.
In contrast, sources said, Maltese has told Di Maggio he can keep his official residence in Henderson. Hell be exempt from her residency crackdown!
That wont set a proper standard.
The salary reportedly will be around $100,000 with benefits. And when it comes to Cicero benefits paid for by the taxpayers, Maltese doesnt mind giving away the store.
Just ask the insurers who paid out big bucks for the policies given to people like her father, Roy Loren, a part time Cicero worker. His wife received the full life insurance benefit of $50,000 when he died several years back, a benefit given only to fulltime Cicero employees.
(We asked former Cicero Town Attorney Dennis Both to provide us with the paperwork on the Roy Loren payout, but Both, now a full-time employee of Ed The Godfather Vrdolyak, rejected several Freedom of Information requests on the subject alleging that the paperwork was no longer available. Pretty careless management of a Town that spends some $55 million a year in taxpayer money, not to have basic information like that in their files!)
While Cicero has had a long reputation for corruption, the towns Police Department was brought under control by its predecessor, Emil J. Schullo, who was pushed out of Cicero in August 1996 when he and other Town Officials confronted Betty Maltese on allegations that she was involved in criminal corruption and wrongdoing.
Schullo, as controversial as any of his predecessors, is the only Cicero cop ever honored by both the Northeastern Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Group and also the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. He, too, is a target of a Maltese political vendetta.
Now on the outside, Schullo made a choice last year: either stand by Betty Maltese during her fight against the FBI, or work with the challengers to bring Malteses actions to justice. He chose the latter.
Di Maggio might want to know that Maltese invested $300,000 in Specialty Risk Management, the company she and her late husband, mob racketeer Frank Baldy Maltese, brought in to handle insurance for the Towns 650 employees in a no-bid contract.
Investing in a company that does business with the town you control? Thats more than unethical. But to later learn that this sweetheart deal recipient overbilled the town as much as $9 million during the 3 years that it controlled the program is even more shocking.
Or, how about the fact that the company was managed by an individual who is a close associate of jailed Ferriola underboss Ernest Rocco Infelise?
Is that the kind of atmosphere Di Maggio wants to step into?
Hit with more than a dozen FBI subpoenas probing her strong-arm collections of ticket sales to her annual golf outings and the accounting of where all that cash landed, Maltese badly needs to distract the public.
Di Maggio may surprise Maltese, and he could turn out to be the sword that probes her reputed mafia friendships. He has that potential.
But that would mean firing her top police brass, like rumor-plagued police heavy Clarence Gross, and scandal-plagued cop Dan Wolff.
As this newspaper goes to press, Di Maggio is Bettys man. And, when you read this, the appointment may have already been announced.
But, who knows what might happen in the days and weeks that follow?
Maybe, Di Maggio might wise up and remain at a distance from mob dominated Cicero until Bettys fate is better determined by the brave men and women of the FBI.
Or maybe he wants to be there when Betty Maltese is escorted out of Town Hall.
Return to the Cicero Web Page