From the IPSN Archives, Spring 1994
The Not-so-Glamorous Career of
Chicago Hitman Gerald Scarpelli Revealed
"It Was Just Business..."
by Richard Lindberg
On a lonely stretch of highway in rural Will County a syndicate "work car"
swerved across the center line of traffic and weaved around a late model Lincoln, driving
east-bound on the Manhattan-Monee Road away from downtown Joliet. Trailing the Lincoln was
a cream- colored "pleasure" van driven by Gerald Hector Scarpelli. William
"Butchie" Petrocelli. and as our sources tell us, Jerry Scalise - three members
of the Joe Ferriola street crew headquartered in Cicero and the adjoining Western Suburbs
It was a sticky July afternoon, and marked for death was one William Dauber, a seasoned
"wise guy" who had wreaked a virtual reign of terror over South Suburban
"chop shop" operators. Billy Dauber was a close associate of the late Jimmy
"the Bomber" Catuara when the ambitious Catuara muscled in on gambling and
nightclub operations In the south end of Cook County, In between well-earned jail terms,
hot-tempered Dauber garnered a substantive piece of the chop shop and automobile salvage
operations on behalf of Chicago Heights chieftain Albert Tocco, who ruled the South
Suburban racket following Catuara's murder in 1978.
The grisly nature of the chop shop business In the late 1970s was underscored by 14
unsolved murders of individuals linked to this most lucrative enterprise. Several of these
killings were linked to Dauber who was to eventually find himself outside the mob's good
graces, and especially with "Butch" Petrocelli and Jerry Scalise, a thief with a
proclivity for jewelry. Scalise who had traveled to merry old England and snatched the
famed Marlborough Diamond several years earlier from a British arcade, reportedly wanted
to "ice" Dauber. His objective was to force the other salvage yard owners In the
South Suburbs to begin paying a street tax directly to the Outfit. Indeed, Dauber and his
attractive, but loose-lipped wife Charlotte had much to fear from their one-time
associates. Charlotte Dauber had been shooting her mouth off and was bitterly complaining
that her husband's bosses did not properly appreciate his value to the mob as a feared
For over a two-month period one James "Duke" Basile, a member of the crew
assigned to tasks that generally did not require gun play or excessive violence, staked
out the Dauber domain and attended to "preparations. " Basile, who always seemed
to shy away from the "heavy work" that is the stock and trade of the Chicago mob
muscle, reported his findings to fellow travelers Scarpelli and Petrocelli on a daily
basis at designated local restaurants. "Dukie doesn't have the balls to kill
anybody" Scarpelli once commented and thus the job was to be carried out by someone
The hit was a go but no decisive action was to be under taken until further information
was developed concerning Dauber's movements: his dally agenda and routines. When a
syndicate hit is to go down nothing should be left to chance. The boys want all bases
covered to assure an efficient murder and In the past couple of decades major foul-ups on
important hit jobs were occurring far too frequently.
Besides displeasing his Outfit acquaintances it was Billy Dauber's other great misfortune
that a secretary's carelessness left open to public view upon her desk sensitive documents
that should end up costing him his life.
Gerry Scarpelli's partner, long-time friend, and confidante Jerry Scallse, advised him
that he had spied a notation conspicuously placed on the typist's desk In the law firm
representing Dauber. The memorandum revealed that Dauber was scheduled to appear with his
attorney in the Will County Court on that July afternoon. The date and the time was duly
noted. The plan for dauber's demise was concocted.
On the day the double murder was to take place the alleged hitmen, Scarpelli, Scalise,
Petrocelli, and Calabrese parked their van near the court house. They watched and waited
and in due time, the Judicial proceedings ended and the Daubers appeared on the front
steps of the courthouse with their legal counsel. The "wise guys" all sat
together in the van and waited for the attorney to bid adieu to his doomed clients before
anything was to be done. The lawyer accompanied the Daubers to a local donut shop and was
the last one to speak to the couple before they were violently dispatched to another
After a brief period of coffee and conversation, the barrister departed as Charlotte and
Billy got In their Lincoln and drove off to their fate. When the road seemed clear Frank
Calabrese swung the "work car" directly in front of the Dauber vehicle, at which
point the van driven by Scalise pulled up along side the Lincoln. Butchie Petrocelli
pointed a .30-caliber semi- automatic carbine out the window of the van and fired a volley
directly at Dauber. Just in case Butch missed the mark, Gerry Scarpelli took aim with a 12
Dauber, who was secretly cooperating with the government since his arrest on cocaine and
gun charges the previous year, lost control of his car (and undoubtedly his blood
pressure) and crashed Into a tree off the main highway. Petrocelli immediately ordered the
van stopped In order for Scarpelli to inspect and apply the final touches of death if need
be. "Go make sure it's done - finish it!" came the brutal directive.
Gerry Scarpelli, whose rap sheet Included 18 arrests since he was picked up for the first
time in 1960, covered his face with a ski mask and walked slowly toward the bullet-pierced
wreck. The Daubers were lying motionless in the car - their bodies riddled with gunshot.
Scarpelli pumped two shots Into Billy Dauber's head, but did not bother with Charlotte -
mob etiquette being what It Is. Besides, Bllly's talkative wife was already dead anyway.
The van was taken to a remote spot further down the road and driven into a clump of
bushes. Petrocelli doused the vehicle with lighter fluid and set It on fire In order to
destroy the physical evidence and any traces of fingerprints. The murder weapons were
completely dismantled, chopped Into small pieces and disposed of in the Cal Sag Canal from
the Route 83 bridge. Nothing more was said of the grisly crime that had just been
committed except for the usual massive media coverage - and neither Scarpelli nor his
associates received any monies from the Outfit for their work. No payment. No big money
coming their way for the hit. Thank yous are not the custom of mob bosses.
"It was just business," Scarpelli later explained.
The F.B.I. and local mob watchers had their theories about who killed the Daubers and why,
but the Dauber hit remained officially unsolved until which time law enforcement agents
pieced together a case against Gerry Scarpelli and finally convinced him that It would be
in his "best interests" if he cooperated with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The "Little Guy," as Scarpelli was known to his associates, readily agreed that
much of the day to day life of the organized crime business Is a Hollywood myth. He
decided to relieve his mind of criminal activities and unloaded the nefarious ways of his
chosen lifelong criminal career. His was an interesting story.
Mob work Is perceived to be an upbeat, glamorous dream factory. This farcical image was
conjured up by Imaginative fiction writers, crime buffs, news media story tellers, and
movie producers eager to cash in on the "Godfather" mystique, connoting
time-honored ancient Sicilian customs, of a close knit, highly stratified,
well-disciplined organization based on oaths of blood loyalty is usually portrayed as an
extravagant, fast-moving lifestyle. But such a life had evaded the likes of one Gerald
Hector Scarpelli and his life-long wise-guys pals. Gerry was a 51-year-old lifelong
"wannabe" who was perceived differently by those who knew him as opposed to the
law enforcement "Mafia" watchers in the media and the rest of the court room
buffs. Being a "wise guy" is dreary work of a time consuming nature coupled with
a lot of role playing; hanging out and talking tough mostly.
For years Gerry Scarpelli a product of Chicago's ethnic Italian-American Taylor Street
neighborhood on the Near West Side where his dad ran a bakery at Kedzie and Flournoy
Avenues, existed on the periphery of things - a known game player with more than a few
inside connections. These connections along with his other endeavors failed to provide him
with a standard of living one might normally expect from a proficient and seasoned
syndicate street man, assassin and armed robber who was particularly adept at knocking
over Brink's armored trucks. This is the lurid perception of the highly-paid gang
assassins. Such was not the case for Gerry.
The fact is that Scarpelli had a tough time paying his monthly bills and just making
life's day to day ends meet. He desperately wanted to open an automobile salvage yard but
his plan was doomed to failure because of his criminal past. He knew he would never be
able to obtain the proper license from the Secretary of State's office.. An ex-con with a
checkered past often finds the door of opportunity slammed shut on his ambitions. Even if
he had achieved this dream he would have probably moved quickly into a chop shop operation
- his moral fiber being what It was.
Instead of fulfilling his dream, Gerry Scarpelli Invested $13,000 of his ill-gotten life
savings and opened a Woodridge boutique known as "Bangles & Beads." For this
endeavor, Scarpelli optimistically entered-into a partnership with, of all people, a
Berwyn Police officer he knew, and his ex-wife s sister.
But-the monthly revenues "the nut," failed to equal the normal rental payments
assessed this entrepreneurial trio. The business failed after only a short period of time.
He lived in his girlfriend's place because he didn't own a home. He was forced to rely on
his brother Daniel, owner of the Bulk Commodity Transport Company. to provide him with
some legitimate employment to try to make ends meet.
"It's not much of a job," Scarpelli commented to law enforcement officers. You
see, Gerry had now done the unthinkable for wise guys and agreed to become a government
informant. He had displeased his boss, Rocco Infelice, by disobeying an order not to
participate in any more of his unauthorized and possibly troublesome bread and butter
Gerry Scarpelli had scaled the heights (however modestly) during the brief but violent
reign of the late monlckered "Nagall" -Joe Ferriola that Is - head juice
collector and gambling boss of the suburban crescent region. The "crew" he
belonged to included such seasoned mob members as Rocco Infelice, Don Angelini, Dominick
Cortina. Salvatore Cautedella, Louis Pannos, Jimmy Inendino, Lou Marino, Bobby Salerno,
Mike Sarno, Butchie Petrocelli (until he was tortured and murdered), Duke Basile, and
Solly DeLaurentls, among others. All these gentlemen were the primary focus in recent
prominent federal trials.
The murder of Billy Dauber strengthened intense federal scrutiny on the operations of the
Chicago mob guys and particularly the activities of the Ferriola-lnfelice crew as it
related to the chop shop racket and gambling operations. Concerned about an impending
federal investigation into the Dauber murder and other n'er-do-well "hits"
including the murder of former
Chicago Police commander Mark Thanasouras who was on the "take" all the while he
served in the Austin Police District, Gerry Scarpelli's henchman Joseph Jerome
"Jerry" Scalise decamped for Europe in the company of Arthur "the
Genius" Rachel, a convicted robber
and suspected counterfeiter. Scalise, who is known to wear an artificial arm to disguise a
hand that is minus three fingers during "working hours," informed Scarpelli at
the time that he had "a few good scores" lined up across the pond. And he wasn't
Scalise and Rachel journeyed to merry old London, where, with skill and aplomb, they broke
into Graff's Jewelry Store in the fashionable Knightsbridge section of that historic city
armed with a revolver and a hand-grenade. Such armaments are almost unknown to the London
constabulary but it is ordinary equipment for Chicago "wise guys." By Cook
County standards however, they were underarmed. The score: the famed Marlborough Diamond.
once the property of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and valued at a cool $960,000.
While five employees and two customers were requested to spread out on the floor, the
veteran Chicago jewel thieves removed 20 precious stones from the display cases. The total
Valium of the stolen property exceeded $3.6 million. Store employees attempted to give
chase to the fleeing gunmen but they were lost in the heavy traffic.. Detectives from
Scotland Yard identified the getaway vehicle as being registered to a London car rental
agency and were able to trace Scalise's movements to Heathrow Airport where a return night
to Chicago aboard a British Airways Bight had already been booked.
F.B.I. agents were on hand to greet the pair at O'Hare Airport the next day. Scalise and
Rachel were immediately taken into custody but the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond was not
located among their possessions.
Gerry Scarpelli stated that it was his understanding that Scalise had mailed the fabled
diamond to his sister in New York before boarding his flight. It was later established
that a London cabdriver had mailed a "small package" at the behest of the two
thieves. The Chicago outfit conducted its own "internal investigation" into the
matter - Butch Petrocelli searched Scalise's residence in Hinsdale for the rock be came up
empty handed. The trail of the diamond was cold.
Art Rachel and Jerry Scalise were extradited back to London England where they were tried,
convicted, and each sentenced to 15 years in prison Both men served 10 years of their
sentence and kept their mouths shut The Marlborough Diamond, if it hasn't already been cut
up and sold, has never been recovered.
He is now out of prison, back in the old home town where he enjoys hi status. and is once
again making news in January 1994, Scalise was arrested in the 1100 block of West Taylor
Street along with Robert J. Pulli, (who was recently named in a Florida, armed robbery
indictment with 13 other suspects), and Anthony Aleman brother of the notorious Outfit
assassin Harry "the Hook" Aleman (a nephew of Joe Ferriola) who was acquitted
for the 1972 murder of Teamster union steward William P. Logan.
Attorney Robert Cooley bragged that he paid trial Judge Frank Wilson, $10,000 to acquit
Harry Aleman after the government presented what appeared to be an air-tight case. The
dishonored jurist committed suicide when the shocking disclosures came to light during the
"Operation Gambat' prosecution of 1st Ward Judicial and political figures.
And one must wonder what Scalise, Pullia, and Anthony Aleman were really up to when they
were picker up on West Taylor Street in their "working clothes" (dark pull-over
sweaters and blue jeans). Burglary tools contained in a black bag were found in the trunk
of their car which prompted the arresting officers to haul the three of them down to
Intelligence headquarters at the Maxwell Street Station for processing. Aleman was later
released. Pullia and Scalise were charged with felony possession of burglary tools.
Anonymous sources told the Illinois Police & Sheriff's News that the Chicago
Police didn't have much to work with here - the Taylor street pinch was characterized as a
nickel and dime "harassment arrest" in order to see what these guys were cooking
This renewed interest in Jerry Scalise augers well for the clever little thief, at least
from the public relations side of things. Reportedly Scalise is preparing to write his
memoirs with Los Angeles attorney Anthony Pellicano, himself a Cook County native. Scalise
and Rachel undoubtedly hope to cash in with a lucrative movie offer from a Hollywood
studio. The 1990 motion picture Good Fellas brought instant fame and recognition to
one Henry Hill, an otherwise obscure criminal associate of New York's Lucchese crime
family. Scalise and Scarpelli's Cook County escapades are very similar to those of Mr.
Hill and the New York crew he was aligned with. It will be Interesting to see how the
writers of the Scalise saga will interpret the other notable Incidences from the lengthy
Scarpelli Dossier - shakedowns, intimidation - contract murder.
Before his self-imposed death, Gerry Scarpelli told much about the inner workings of the
Outfit. It is now known that the supposedly "all-powerful" Chicago mob must rely
on the abilities of its thieving associates like Scalise and Scarpelli in order to procure
something as simple as an automatic weapon -which the average 16-year-old West Side
gangbanger seems to be able to locate with ease. Butch Petrocelli and Ernie
"Butch" Severino (South Side cocaine dealer, Butch Petrocelli's driver, and a
lieutenant in the Ferriola crew presently "on the lam"), obtained weapons for
the crew from various sources. Bell's Gun Shop in West Suburban Franklin Park was
burglarized on at least one occasion and the guns were secreted in two North Side
Gerald Scarpelli's "equipment bag" contained the essential tools of his trade
- a radio scanner, walkie-talkie, handcuffs, Halloween face masks, automatic pistols,
revolvers, and a MAC 10 submachine gun provided by Butchie Petrocelli following his
"after hours" visits to local gun emporiums. The duffel bag containing many of
these items were eventually recovered by law enforcement officers from a stolen Chevy
warehoused inside Champion Liquidators on West LeMoyne Avenue.
Clandestine F.B.I. photographs and videotapes were taken of Scarpelli and Dukie Basile
in Michigan City as they carried out a residential burglary. The Michigan City heist led
to Scarpelli's arrest and eventual promise to cooperate with the Department of Justice.
During the course of this particular burglary, Scarpelli was observed carrying the MAC-10
with him. The weapon was later tossed into the water at 33rd and California Avenue.
In recent years the various street crews have gotten away from the traditional money
making venues. Scarpelli revealed that loan sharking activities are way down from what
they used to be. There are few active Juice' accounts left, and no further "loans'
can be given out without the express permission of the bosses. The activities of the
Ferriola-lnfelice crew primarily involved the collection of delinquent "street
taxes" from independent bookmakers, and murder to insure that tariffs were paid. Very
often the identity of an intended "hit" victim was not known to Scarpelli - but
that did not trouble his conscience in the least because "it was just
Eight murders are attributed to Gerry Scarpelli since his first "hit" he
admitted complicity to shortly before he died. This involved George Christofalos
a.k.a"George Lardas," owner of the L & L Nightclub, an after-hours road
house located on Route 41 in North Chicago. Christofalos had Incurred the enmity of one
John Anthony "Tony Bors" Borselllno. a ranking member of the Chicago organized
crime family who had been "working on something in Lake County and had "to move
this guy out of the way," according to Scarpelli's recollections.
Tony Borsellino had done all of his own "leg work. a He knew that Christofalos would
likely be leaving his strip club at 4: 00 a.m. Scarpelli tells the story that he and
Scalise, the two trusted associates, drove the "work car" a two-door Mercury
coupe picked up in Chicago earlier that afternoon to North Chicago where they waited in
the parking lot for 40 minutes.
They watched and waited for Christofalos to emerge from the club. Oblivious to the present
dangers of the moment the Greek nightclub owner walked slowly toward his Cadillac and to
his destiny as a mangled, and bloody hulk in the parking lot. Jerry Scalise Inched the
syndicate work car backwards in the parking lot toward the Caddy. Gerry Scarpelli cradled
his shotgun in anticipation.
Scarpelli relates that he and Borsellino got out of their car and approached the victim.
Their faces were shielded by ski masks. At that moment two nightclub patrons exited the
front door. Scarpelli whirled around and pointed the 12 gauge shotgun directly in their
direction and advised them not to move. Borsellino, now able to complete the job without
pedestrian Interference, then fired two shotgun blasts through the driver' s side window.
The Christofalos murder was an "Outfit hit." meaning that the bosses (Joe
Ferriola and James "Turk" Torello, now deceased) had sanctioned and authorized
the "work" to be performed that night. Scarpelli stated that this was the first
syndicate murder he was directly involved in, but neither he, nor Borsellino, nor Scalise
received any money for the job, commenting that "it was lust business..."
The boys in the crew engaged in a lot of "business" during their salad days. The
Michael Oliver hit was another Outfit masterpiece that stymied investigators until
Scarpelli filled in the blanks. Oliver, a long-time friend and associate of Bobby Salerno,
operated a pornographic book store in Elk Grove Village that was in direct competition
with another such establishment owned by one Vito Caliendo who enjoyed close ties to Butch
Petrocelli. According to Scarpelli he accompanied Salerno, Salvatore Cautedella, Scalise,
and Mike Sarno when they entered the store one night with the intention of "wrecking
the joint" and thereby imposing an economic hardship that would prevent later claim
that neither he nor his associates intended to whack Oliver but someone...he wasn't sure
just who it was...had a gun.
Armed with baseball bats; their faces concealed by ski masks. the crew entered the store
and began pulling down the racks of magazines and paperbacks. The two or three patrons who
lingered inside the building were locked inside a video booth for "safe
keeping." Meanwhile, the merchandise was piled into the crew's van when suddenly a
gunshot rang out from inside the store. Mike Oliver was shot in the chest and died
instantly. Who shot Oliver? No-one stepped forward to claim responsibility. And as the
boys in the crew debated among themselves what course of action should next be taken, the
body of Mike Oliver was already beginning to get stiff. They loaded Oliver into the van.
Borrowing a page from a similar episode graphically depicted in Good Fellas, the Martin
Scorcese-directed Hollywood film, Scarpelli and his pals decided among themselves to go
get something to eat and then talk over the unexpected developments while the corpse
moldered in the rear of their vehicle. Contract murder conjures up a healthy appetite it
Scarpelli said that Jerry Scalise suggested that a grave be dug in a wooded field located
near the intersection of Route 83 and Bluff Road in DuPage County not far from Scalise'
residence. Scarpelli and Salerno went forth and dug a shallow grave and the remains of
Oliver with a cache of pornographic material from the store were covered over with dirt.
The grave remained undisturbed until the FBI Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) dug far and
wide and discovered the remains much later.
Rocky Infelice was not pleased with what had transpired at the Elk Grove Village book
store. Scarpelli tried to explain that a patron who had been lurking inside the store
killed Mike Oliver and the identity of that person was not known."'Whose idea was it
to wreck the store?" Infelice demanded. Scarpelli. his voice lowering, replied that
it was Butch Petrocelli. Infelice shook his head and said nothing. Later, Petrocelli sent
an associate back to the book store to ignite an explosive charge and obliterate what was
left of the building. And as usual, Scarpelli received no fee or honorarium for his
services. "It was just business...all In a day's work."
Infelice's growing displeasure with Scarpelli over his refusal to abide by an edict to lay
low and "not steal," convinced Gerald Scarpelli to cooperate with the government
investigators. Wire tapped conversations between informant Dukie Basile and Scarpelli in
which the ways and means of syndicate assassination were discussed helped "turn"
Gerald Hector Scarpelli - the not-so-wise guy who was unable to siphon a decent income
from his outfit endeavors In order to live the good life. "I never thought he
(Basile) had the balls." Scarpelli bitterly complained.
With a record of 18 arrests and three prison terms staring him in the face, Scarpelli
hoped to cut a favorable deal before Federal Judge Milton Shadur whereby Scarpelli would
be released in return for his continuing cooperation with the federal prosecutorial
Just two days before Judge Shadur was to rule on a defense motion to suppress all evidence
relating to the robbery Indictments Including videotaped statements to federal agents,
Scarpelli asphyxiated himself in the changing area adjacent to a shower stall at the
Metropolitan Correctional Center. He had been awaiting trial for 9 ½ months. Now he was
dead, and by his own hands. His fast exit from the world was a legit action of his own
doing; an end "to business."
Another inmate waiting patiently outside the shower room for Scarpelli to finish his bath
complained that Scarpelli was taking too long to cleanse himself. The guard banged on the
door and still there was no response. When the door was opened they found the lifeless
body of Gerald Scarpelli. Three plastic bags were wrapped around his head and two bed
sheets secured to the neck and ankles. Why he did himself in is purely speculative - but
one theory put forth is almost laughable.
"He was a proud man who came from a good family and didn't want to tarnish his
family's reputation," alibied attorney Jeffrey Stelnback. Gerald Scarpelli's
ignominious suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center was a perfect reflection of
the dreary aspects of his entire career in organized crime. His entire career offers
convincing proof that the life of a gangster is not always one for the movies - though the
other Jerry - Jerry Scalise -would likely disagree.
The mastermind of the Marlborough Diamond heist is free and clear at a time when the
Outfit is in turmoil. Much of the Chicago Heights crew, which Scarpelli and Scalise owed
allegiance to, are either in jail or out of commission. The word on the street is that
Chinatown, 26th Street, and the Cicero crews have coalesced under a new boss -John
Monteleone. The Grand Avenue crew, which John "No Nose" DiFronzo commanded until
prison caught up with him, Is slowly coming apart.
Jerry Scalise is 56-years old now. The precise role he is to play in the changing order is
yet to be determined, though we have it on good authority that Scalise underwent a
religious experience while doing his time In the British prison. Reportedly he has
expressed the desire to become a monk someday.
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