Rodriguez Resignation Spurred by
Mob Linked Murders and Felon Pal
Breaking News Story, Nov. 16, 1997
Police Supt. Matt Rodriguez resigned following revelations that one of his closest friends
is a convicted felon and tax cheat. But the real pressure came from undisclosed facts
linking Rodriguez's pal, convicted felon and tax cheat Frank Milito, to Pierre Zonis, a
mob connected Chicago cop whose four year career was under the Superintendent's umbrella
The IPSN reported exclusively Oct. 20 that Zonis, a Chicago Police officer since 1994 who
was named by the Chicago Crime Commission only days before as having crime syndicate ties,
had been questioned in the investigations of the three prominent slayings having mob
At least two of the victims allegedly had dealings not only with Zonis but also ties to
Our sources allege that Milito may have used his friendship with Rodriguez to get the
Superintendent to overlook Zonis' past, and to block the recommendations of the Chicago
Police Department's elite Internal Affairs Division unit, members of which recommended
that Zonis be terminated from employment.
Rodriguez had been named Police Superintendent in 1992. Zonis had been hired in 1994.
The three murders involve: The March 1982 assassination of Richard Campbell, found shot to
death at an Amoco station in Des Plaines; the March 1986 murder of mob bookmaker Giuseppe
Cocozzo, whose body was found in his car on a street in Evanston; and the November 1987
murder of prominent Amoco Oil Executive Charles E. Merriam, who had been shot after he had
answered the door of his Prospect Heights home.
The Cocozzo, Campbell and Merriam murders all had the telltale signs of mob hits and the
street cops have been amazed that they had remained unsolved after all these years and
despite strong evidence linking them to several suspects.
Milito plead guilty in November 1986 to two felony counts of mail fraud and one count of
failing to pay income taxes. He spent nine months in jail and paid $250,000 in
restitution. He spent nine months in jail and paid $250,000 in restitution. Merriam has
assisted and testified in the case against Milito, and, according to sources, the two men
exchanged angry words during the trial and only months before Merriam was found shot to
death in the foyer of his Mt. Prospect home.
Campbell was dating a woman related to Milito, sources said, also just before his
assassination. Cocozzo was a mob bookie with ties to several known mob racketeers
operating in Chicago. Investigations found links to Zonis in all three murders and a gas
stations owned by him.
Both Rodriguez and Mayor Daley, despite their denials, were personally informed of the
details surrounding Zonis and Milito both by officials of the IAD and also by members of
the Chicago Crime Commission.
The IAD recommendation to fire Zonis was either dismissed or ignored by Rodriguez. And
some observers believe it is hard to believe that Rodriguez would not have shared these
concerns with Daley.
The fact is that Chicago Police Officers have been chafing about the dubious Zonis-
Rodriguez-Milito ties for several years. Political and Police Department clout could well
be the major reasons why the three prominent mob related murders that have been
persistently followed by the honest street cops remain unsolved for the these many years.
"The CPD has not been embroiled in this kind of disgrace in over 35 years, since the
Summerdale Scandal of 1960," said John J. Flood, publisher of the Illinois Police
& Sheriff's News.
"There is no doubt that evidence exists to give due consideration to the convening of
a Federal Grand Jury probe. The subpoena and immunity power here, using RICO statutes
might bring all this sordidness and the solving of three murders to light."
The lid blew off the kettle in October when the Chicago Crime Commission released its
report on organized crime, identifying CPD Patrol Officer Pierre Zonis as an
"associate" of organized crime figures involved in gambling and juice loan
activities. He's a player and the street people all knew It - but then again so did 11th
The Illinois Police & Sheriff's News reported on Oct. 20 that Zonis' name surfaced in
all three murder investigations. Despite knowledge by the Superintendent of his suspected
involvement, Zonis remained on the department, assigned to the Town Hall 23rd Police
District on Chicago's North Side.
Sources said that Zonis was reassigned from street duty to desk duty after information
about his possible links to the three murders was published in the Illinois Police &
Although Rodriguez has maintained a high profile friendship with Milito, it wasn't until
the Chicago Tribune, following up on the Illinois Police & Sheriff's News stories,
disclosed that the two had shared a trip to israel together, violating an obscure Police
Rule 47 which prohibits employees from fraternizing with convicted felons.
But Rodriguez can't leave office fast enough to duck the serious questions that remain.
Mysterious quirks have hampered the Merriam investigations. All of the computer telephone
records and computer floppy disks related to the Merriam murder are either conveniently
misfiled and have been lost, removed from the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department.
Milito and Merriam were familiar with each other. Merriam, a top honcho with the Amoco
Corporation was investigating alleged abuses by gasoline stations under his wing. Merriam
was in the process of converting full service gas stations into "mini-marts"
much to the anger of many gas station owners, some of whom allegedly had what is commonly
known as "connections" of the "outfit" variety.
Of Milito's many business ventures there existed several gas stations, and a car wash
located at 1106 W. Fullerton Ave., which happens to be one of 17 car washes contracted by
the Chicago Police Department to wash police patrol cars. It's a lucrative, guaranteed
business for Milito, thanks to the Superintendent or is it just another city contract?
Milito also operates a Fullerton Avenue travel agency, through which he reportedly won
tickets to Israel in 1993, and he decide to travel and invited his friend Superintendent
Rodriguez. Milito also owned several franchised Amoco gas stations on Chicago's North
But, Frank J. Milito is best known to the glitteratti as the gregarious operator of Orso's
restaurant on North Wells Street, where top cops like Rodriguez and other deputies and
assistants go to wine, dine and plot careers.
The Illinois Police & Sheriff's News called Zonis, Milito and Rodriguez seeking their
comments, but the calls were unreturned.
The Pierre Zonis Story
Sources alleged that Rodriguez knew about the fact that investigators in the Merriam,
Cocozzo and Campbell murders had run across Zonis' name on numerous instances. Supt.
Rodriguez had the authority to bring Zonis law enforcement career to an abrupt halt and he
could have certainly prevented Zonis from graduating from the Chicago Police Academy in
because of the information that he had received from the FBI and also from his own
Internal Affairs Division - but then if you bring the guy on the job your not going to
knock him off..so to speak.
Zonis had been arrested for several gambling gambits. Later, he had the arrest records
legally and wisely expunged.
Reportedly, the FBI had approached Rodriguez to discuss Milito and Zonis as a part of an
investigation our sources said included the three murders.
Sources further allege that Rodriguez personally intervened, possibly disrupting the
investigation of Zonis by the Chicago Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs Unit.
Officers at the 23rd District Station say Zonis was reassigned from street duty to a desk
The Chicago Crime Commission's report, entitled "The New Faces of Organized Crime
" 1997," lists Pierre Zonis under the category of "Additional Members and
Associates" of Chicago's burgeoning Organized Crime family, headed by Joey Lombardo
and John "No Nose" DiFronzo. Zonis is listed under the category of
"gambling," which includes Donald Angelini and Dominic Barrbaro, both on parole
and members of the same North Side Crew as Zonis, operating under the direction of North
Side Organized Crime Area Boss Joe Andriacchi.
Beneath the surface swirls even more evidence of organized crime.
Cocozzo, for example, was allegedly paying money to notorious Chicago juice loan mobster
Mario Rainone, Lenny Patrick's guy, who sources said took the money at a regular pickup
stop for him - Pierre Zonis' gas station. Rainone was convicted with major mob probe that
brought down several of the "wiseguys" on a variety of charges including
extortion, arson and other violent acts to numerous to mention.
Merriam's attracted particular attention because he was the nephew of a prominent former
Chicago alderman, mayoral candidate, Robert E. Merriam who had also served on the staff of
President Dwight d. Eisenhower.
Minutes prior to the Merriam murder, investigators linked a telephone call made to his
home to a pay telephone located at a gas station that Zonis had owned at Albion and
In the Cocozzo killing, repair work had been done on Cocozzo's car at Zonis' gas station
in the weeks prior to the murder. Cocozzo, like Zonis, is linked to organized crime
Campbell, hours before his murder, had been traced to Zonis' gas station. Zonis reportedly
was the last person to see Campbell alive.
And, like Zonis, Milito's name has also surfaced in the investigation of Merriam's death.
In fact, our sources said police investigators are still probing the Merriam murder case
and see Milito and Zonis on a high priority list of suspects.
Reportedly, Merriam, then a ranking Amoco Company executive, played a part in the overall
matters relating to Milito.
In a 15-count indictment against Milito, prosecutors alleged that Milito failed to report
the sale of 6 million gallons of gasoline, failing to pay nearly $300,000 in taxes.
Milito was allegedly involved in recruiting Judge David J. Shields to pass on a bribe to
another judge in the Chancery Division who was hearing a case of interest to Milito.
Shields was convicted in September 1991 on federal bribery charges.
Is it surprising that a guy like Milito also turned up as holding a Cook County Sheriff's
Police badge and gun? As a part of his guilty plea, Milito had to turn in his Cook County
Sheriff's Deputy Badge, and he also resigned his other public employee job as an inspector
with the City Council's Committee on Traffic and Public Safety.
Investigators in the Merriam case have not ruled out the belief that the killers may have
worn a police uniform when they knocked on his door, screamed obscenities and then open
Milito had prominently displays the photographs of many of these important friends,
including several of Police Supt. Matt Rodriguez, and one that is there for all to see,
signed "Frank " you have bridged that gap between friend and brother.
Matt." They were being taken down shortly after the Superintendent announced his
Imagine, being able to be in a position to influence not just any police officer, but
Chicago's "top cop" " the Superintendent of Police who has a direct line to
City Hall's 5th Floor, the Mayor's Office.
Why didn't Mayor Daley take immediate action when the Chicago Crime Commission brought
this issue to him when they first released their 1997 Organized Crime Report and this
newspaper aired the ties of Zonis to three murders? His position on this one will be
Concluded Flood, "Thereis no doubt in my mind that Mayor Richard M. Daley was aware
of these facts and chose not to act until his hand was forced. Rich Daley knew!"
Read the related story on Pierre Zonis from
Oct. 20, 1997
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