The United States versus
Frank Baldy Maltese
June 18, 1993
When United States District Court Judge Ann Claire Williams sentenced Frank J. Baldy Maltese on charges of mob racketeering,
she opened another door into the world of Mob and Hoodlum control of the Town of Cicero.
Maltese was not only the Town Assessor for Cicero (a position he secured with help from
Illinois Secretary of State George Ryan) but he was also a foot soldier in the crime
organization of the late Joe Joe Nagall Ferriola and his underboss, Ernest Rocco Infelise.
The Maltese case is especially significant in exposing corruption in Cicero because it
detailed the extent that Maltese and Infelise were able to use the towns resources
to affect their criminal enterprise.
This is the First in a Special Series looking back at the five major convictions that
exposed corruption in the Town of Cicero and opened the door to the impending downfall of
Ciceros Mafia Princess and Town President, Betty Maltese.
Frank Maltese pleaded guilty to Count 2 of an indictment charging him with illegal
gambling conspiracy, one part of a far-reaching indictment.
Before Maltese could begin his 18 month sentence, however, he died a painful death,
succumbing to pancreatic cancer in October, 1993, but only after he had made sure that the
Infelise Crime Familys financial interests could continue unhampered by the Town of
Immediately upon his indictment, in 1991, Maltese moved to direct the Town of Cicero to
appoint his wife, Betty Maltese, to take his place as Town Assessor. The purpose,
observers believe, was to allow Betty Maltese to protect the financial interests and the
remaining operation of the Infelise Crime Organization while Infelise, Maltese and others
served their time in jail.
But, before the appointment could be made, a greater opportunity offered itself when then
Town President Henry Klosak died. Immediately, his wife was named Town President. This
gave Maltese greater powers to control continued investigations into the Infelise
operation and to allow special financial provisions set up by Frank Maltese and Infelise
to continue unhampered.
Betty Maltese always asserted that Frank had pleaded guilty to Count 2 of his indictment
because he didnt have the money needed to fight the government.
But, as it turned out, Malteses holdings were extensive, and on a salary of only
$68,000, Maltese had managed to amass hundreds of thousands of dollars in holdings in
properties and investments, most of which went to Betty Loren, his third wife, after his
death. (All three of his wives were named Betty.)
Maltese, a small man who worked as a painter, and shared beers with friends at
neighborhood pubs, was a nobody until one day he was asked to work for the powerful mob
boss, Joe Ferriola.
Baldy or Bones as he was often called by his crime family friends,
joined the Ferriola mob in the summer of 1986, working with Infelise as a bagman
collecting money from an illegal gambling operation. Bones was also the code
name for Malteses gambling operation.
Baldy worked with William B.J. Jahoda,
who later turned out to be a FBI informant and witness who had recorded thousands of hours
of tapes that were used to incriminate Maltese and the Infelise street crew.
Maltese immediately enlisted the help of his son, a well liked and popular kid who worked
in the Cicero Fire Department. Although the son was never charged, the Maltese indictment
said that his father forced him to help collect gambling debts and pay off the very few
winning bets that were allowed.
With Infelises and Ferriolas permission, bettors began placing bets with
Maltese and his son. (In fact, when Maltese was finally brought to court, he tried to
claim at one time that he never received any profits from the gambling, but instead gave
all the profits to his son.)
Maltese earned 25 percent of his clients loses, and paid his winners from the pool
of collected bets. Among those tabbed were not only notorious degenerate gamblers, but
friends and employees he cultivated at Town Hall. Maltese paid the remaining balance to
Infelise and sometimes to Flash Interstate Trucking owner Paul Spano on a weekly basis.
Sometimes it was as much as $10,000 a week.
Maltese was able to join the Ferriola-Infelise operation because he had something to
As Town Assessor, Maltese was close to the powers that controlled the Cicero Police
(And Maltese was only able to become Town Assessor because Secretary of State George Ryan used his influence to allow Maltese to cut corners to
meet the rigid and time consuming criteria required of anyone who wishes to hold the
office of Township Assessor.)
And, he was able to take certain powers and place them in the hands of Infelise.
For example, Maltese was charged with tipping off Infelise whenever the Cicero Police
Department was planning to launch raids on betting operations.
County Sheriffs Police, unknowing of Malteses criminal ties, would tip off the
Cicero Police, who in turn (usually unknowingly themselves) would tip off Cicero
politicians about upcoming raids.
But, Maltese was also able to use his political strength to place control of the
Towns Liquor Control Commission in Infelises hands.
The assistant Deputy Liquor Control Commissioner was his longtime girlfriend and later his
wife, Betty Loren. And, the Deputy Liquor Control Commissioner was Steve Bajovich, who was
later convicted of taking kickbacks himself. (Klosak was the Liquor Control Commissioner.)
Today, Betty Maltese is not only the Town President, she is also the Town Liquor Control
Commissioner, controlling the issuance of liquor licenses, and deciding which taverns are
shut down for not contributing to her campaign fund, and which could remain open without
facing citations for violating the Towns various laws.
Prior to 1986, when Bajovich was placed under Infelises direct control, he had an
agreement with Bucky Ortenzi, a close associate of convicted outfit boss
Joseph Doves Auippa. Ortenzi paid Bajovich a monthly bribe in return for
Ortenzi having the right to veto the issuance of a liquor license.
Its hard to believe that Betty Loren (Franks common-law bride) did not know of
For years, while Bajovich held the title of Deputy Liquor Control Commissioner, it was
Betty Loren who controlled the office with the help of her closest friend, Joe Severino.
(The title of Liquor Control Commissioner was always held by the Cicero Town President,
but it was the deputy who did all the dirty street work.)
Like Betty Maltese, Severino is under investigation by the FBI.
Ortenzi had told Bajovich that if something happened to him, someone else from the
Infelise organization would serve as liaison. Ortenzi died in late 1986.
Frank Maltese set up the meeting with Infelise and Bajovich after Ortenzis death to
continue paying the bribes. Infelise gave Bajovich permission to solicit bribes from new
liquor license applicants.
Those who did not pay the bribes did not receive their licenses. The license were vetoed
by Ortenzi and later Infelise.
When Bajovich was convicted of income tax and other violations, he was sentenced to 10
years in jail. Franks wife Betty was named to take his place.
Maltese was also instrumental in efforts to bribe two Cook County Circuit Court Judges
assigned to a criminal case against Jahoda.
In February 1988, Jahoda was arrested for operating a blackjack game.
The first judge assigned to the case was Christy Berkos, a former Cicero Town Attorney and
later Cicero Town President.
Infelise told Jahoda, on tape, that he would take care of it.
Maltese met with Berkos and offered him a bribe to fix the Jahoda case.
Infelise met with Jahoda and Maltese in the summer of 1988 at the Mothers Day
Restaurant in Berwyn. Maltese said he had met Berkos at his spacious Cicero home at 38th
Street and 61st Ct., where he offered a bribe to insure a not-guilty verdict.
According to Maltese, Berkos insisted that he be given two pre-paid round trip tickets for
himself and his wife to spend two weeks in Hawaii.
Said Infelise, If he takes care of us, well send him there first class.
Berkos claimed he never discussed any bribes with Maltese, but later recused himself from
the case in early 1989. He said that he knew William Jahodas brother, Danny Jahoda.
Why it took Berkos six months to remember that he knew Jahodas brother is a question
that has never been answered.
This angered Infelise, who complained to Jahoda that Berkos law firm used to
have all of the insurance for the Town of Cicero. Infelise also called Berkos a
liar, claiming he knew Jahodas relatives when the case was first assigned to him and
he never spoke out at the time. (Berkos law firm handled the insurance claims filed
against the Town by injured Cicero fire and police officers.)
Infelise vowed that he would mount a campaign against the retention of Berkos at the next
election, implying he would use his control of the Cicero Organization and the Towns
politicians to get even.
Said Infelise, Hes going to get retention, alright.
The case was re-assigned to Judge Thomas Hett, who also recused himself because he, too,
said he knew members of the Jahoda family. Hett had political interests in neighboring
Berwyn with the Democrats there, and served as the former Mayor.
Maltese was a very close friend of Frank Belmonte, the Cicero Democratic Township
Committeeman. Belmontes organization was in fact controlled by Maltese and the
Cicero Republican Organization. He was also an administrative employee of the Circuit
Court of Cook County.
In April, 1989, Maltese approached Belmonte and asked him to look into the case and Judge
Hett. Could he be bribed?
Hett was approached by Belmonte the next day at Novis beef restaurant (owned by
Hetts wife) and asked about the Jahoda case. Hett recused himself immediately after
that discussion took place.
Hett later told investigators he had been approached but he did not know at the time that
the case had been re-assigned to him. He said he was aware of the Jahoda case, which was
considered a hot case at 26th and Californias Criminal Courts building.
Jahoda told Infelise that Hett was to be paid $7,500 for taking care of the case. In fact,
Maltese reported to Infelise that Hett had told Belmonte he wanted the payment.
Belmonte whined to the FBI that he had been badgered by Maltese to look into the case and
talk with Judge Hett, but that he had never offered a bribe. Belmonte retired as
Democratic Committeeman after Maltese died. He was replaced by Richard Caravetta, who was
handpicked by Betty Maltese to head the Cicero Democratic Organization. Caravetta has
continued to receive a salary from the Town of Cicero, although he has a full-time job
with the Circuit Court of Cook County, too, and the Republican Organization secretly
channeled funds to Caravetta.
When Jahodas case was assigned to a third judge, Infelise told Jahoda at the
Andreas Restaurant that the judge would be taken care of by Pat Marcy, the secretary
to the notorious Mob Dominated First Ward Organization of Chicago and Democratic
Committeeman John DArco Sr.
The whole encounter with Judge Berkos, who is now retired but still a Cicero resident,
explains Betty Malteses intense hatred of Berkos.
Maltese was nabbed because many of his conversations were on FBI telephone wire taps, and
on tapes collected by Jahoda.
Although he portrayed himself as an innocent person, he in fact was willing to capitalize
on the bad luck of others.
When another bookie turned up murdered by the Infelise crew, Maltese asked if he could
takeover his gambling turf.
Frank Maltese was a short, portly fellow with a pleasant personality.
He was not a tough like some of the other members of the Ferriola-Infelise
In fact, he was a push over, often publicly belittled by his wife, who is a viciously
Maltese used his influence to convince the remaining politicians in Cicero in Jan. 1993,
that his wife would not be associated with his old mob friends.
Betty Maltese played the innocent, grieving wife, crying in public and begging friends to
support her efforts to reform Cicero.
Between 1993 and 1996, several members of the Town Government had unveiled a number of
community programs including the Youth Commission and the Adopt-A-Block program, and Betty
immediately put her name to the programs.
Few people knew the extent of Bettys involvement with members and associates of the
Infelise Street Crew or Ed The Godfather Vrdolyak,
[See Vrdolyak's role in Silver Shovel] both of whom are now under
intense FBI investigation.
Frank Maltese was a well liked man. His funeral procession to Hillside cemetary consisted
of over 350 cars.
A testimonial to him given at his property at Lake of the Four Seasons in Indiana, now
owned by his wife Betty, drew 300 people, and a stand-up comedy routine performed by
Chicago comic Pat Capucci.
It also drew a gaggle of FBI agents who photographed the event using zoom lensed cameras
from across the small lake.
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