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Chicago SUN-TIMES

Stephens: Probe proves no mob ties

September 10, 2004

BY ROBERT HERGUTH, CHRIS FUSCO, ART GOLAB AND STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporters

Hoping to bolster his suburb's casino quest, Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens on Thursday released findings of an "independent" investigation that concluded he's never been "connected to or associated with" the mob.

The Rosemont-bankrolled probe by former FBI agent Peter J. Wacks and former U.S. attorneys Peter F. Vaira and Dan K. Webb determined Stephens has cooperated with the FBI since the 1950s to rid his O'Hare-area community of mob-tied gambling and prostitution rings. At times, the report portrays Stephens as an informant -- which runs contrary to the mob-tainted picture Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan painted earlier this year. Madigan has opposed a casino coming to Rosemont.

The village is turning over a 55-page affidavit from Wacks so it can be used in an Illinois Gaming Board licensing probe into Isle of Capri Casinos' plan for a gaming complex along I-294 in the suburb.

Stephens in intensive-care unit

Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens was under observation in the intensive-care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Thursday night with chest pains.

It was unclear exactly when Stephens, Rosemont's mayor since 1956, would be released, said Robert Stephenson, a lawyer representing the northwest suburb. He is expected to undergo tests today.

Stephens, 77, suffered two heart attacks in 1980, Stephenson said, and has since been on a steady regimen of diet and exercise. He went to the hospital after a Thursday morning news conference.

Chris Fusco

 

 

"We got to the point where it was so frustrating to keep reading and hearing about what bad people we are," Stephens said at a Loop press conference. "So we hired people who are well-known in the law-enforcement community."

Despite the affidavit's breadth, the Chicago Sun-Times over several months has obtained documents and conducted interviews that raise questions on some of its findings.

For example, Wacks slams Madigan for claiming various members of the Daddano family, which until 2002 owned a trade-show business with Stephens, are organized-crime figures. The FBI only considers the late William "Potatoes" Daddano Sr. a mobster, Wacks wrote, adding the attorney general "erroneously brands" various relatives "based solely upon family lineage."

What the affidavit does not mention is the Chicago Crime Commission's 1997 mob organizational chart includes the son of William Daddano Sr., William Daddano Jr. What's more, William Daddano III was arrested in Roselle in 2002 with a man identified by federal authorities as a "made" member of the mob, Michael Magnifichi, according to law enforcement records.

Magnifichi -- described in a 1999 FBI document as "obviously a rising 'star'" within the Chicago mob -- and Daddano III were charged with beating a man outside a restaurant, the documents show. The case ultimately was dismissed.

Rosemont attorney Robert Stephenson defended the affidavit's take on the Daddanos.

"Just because you know somebody doesn't make you associated with organized crime," he said.

Wacks' affidavit also downplays alleged mob ties of Nick Boscarino, whose friendship with the mayor publicly ended when Boscarino was first accused of bilking the suburb in an insurance scam. An FBI report cited by Wacks relays "Boscarino appears to be, at the very least, a close friend of a number of Chicago LCN members and associates." But Wacks emphasizes that information is shaky and, even if true, doesn't mean Stephens knew about it.

However, Boscarino had a business relationship with at least one reputed mobster, Nick Calabrese, sources said. Calabrese, who now is cooperating with the feds in a mob probe, had been on the payroll at Bomark, a cleaning company once owned by Boscarino and a son of Stephens, a well-placed source said.

The affidavit acknowledges Stephens met quite a few hoods, including the late Jackie Cerone. But most of Stephens' contacts, Wacks said, were through casual conversations in public places and did not qualify as mob associations.

Wacks also wrote that Stephens and a partner bought a motel owned by Outfit boss Sam Giancana with the goal of ridding the town of organized crime and prostitution.

"The FBI was fully aware that the mayor and Pat Greco bought Giancana's motel and approved of the transaction," he stated.

Wacks said that when he joined the FBI's organized crime squad in 1971, older agents filled him in on Rosemont and told him that if any issues arose there, "I needed only to contact the mayor, who they assured me would be fully cooperative." Wacks also said that Stephens personally knew many FBI agents.

Robert Cooley, a former mob lawyer turned federal informant, said in an interview that he recalled mob-tied politicians saying they met with Stephens on a number of occasions regarding an unspecified problem in Rosemont. Cooley said one conversation involved the political boss of the 1st Ward, Pat Marcy.

Marcy mentioned at a dinner with other mobsters that he and another 1st Ward figure, John D'Arco Sr. had met with Stephens.

"We think Cooley's lying," Stephenson said, adding Stephens denies meeting Marcy or D'Arco.

Union, business leaders team up to push for a downtown casino

BY MARK J. KONKOL Staff Reporter

 

Union bosses and business leaders -- often at odds over contracts and work rules -- have formed an unlikely coalition to lobby lawmakers for the one thing they both want: a downtown Chicago casino.

They'll head to Springfield for the fall veto session armed with a slick marketing pitch, selling the idea that a publicly owned, land-based casino would be an economic boon to Chicago's entertainment district, attract more conventions and tourists and boost revenues along State Street.

Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper will make for a mighty one-two lobbying punch, with the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau adding even more influence. Greg Goldner, who ran Mayor Daley's last re-election campaign, has been retained to coordinate the effort.

"This is not just something that calls for a land-based casino. This is a long-term economic strategy to bring good-paying jobs and businesses to Chicago," Gannon said. "It's to make us competitive with world class cities because, right now, we're not."

They point to Montreal, Monte Carlo and Vienna as examples of cities that compliment their overall appeal as tourism and entertainment meccas with a place to play blackjack.

"We want to promote [downtown] as a huge entertainment district we have in place already, looking at [a casino] as one component of that," Roper said

Downtown entertainment part of deal

The plan calls for Chicago to collect two-thirds of the gambling profits, with the balance going to the State of Illinois. A casino management company would run day-to-day operations. And part of any deal would require the casino operator to agree to book major entertainment acts at downtown venues, Roper said.

"One should not poo-poo this because if you compare to what there is in Canadian and European cities, they successfully integrate [gambling]. Why can't we? We believe we can," he said.

The heart of the proposal is strikingly similar to Daley's latest pitch for a city-owned casino, which was killed by Gov. Blagojevich a day after the mayor made it public. Blagojevich recently softened his objection to bringing gambling to Chicago, suggesting a Southeast Side site might be a fair compromise.

But Daley has told associates privately that's not an option. If Chicago gets a casino, it must be downtown near hotels and restaurants, City Hall sources said.

State Senate President Emil Jones has said he would push for Chicago casino legislation as part of a gaming expansion package when lawmakers return to Springfield in November.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

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