Very interesting, in depth article thanks to Maurice Possley and the chicagotribune.com Links provided:
The Organization Man
Harry Aleman Made His Living As A Mobster-of-all-trades, Police Say, But His True Calling Was Killing
May 10, 1998 Weeks before he walked into Mama Luna's restaurant on Halloween night in 1975, Anthony Reitinger had been marked for death.
Divorced and living with his children, Reitinger had taken his 12-year-old daughter aside a month earlier. "If anything happens to me, get in touch with Grandma," he told her.
A gambler and bookmaker, Reitinger, 34, was living under a cloud because he had--in blunt and profane words--rejected organized-crime demands to pay a weekly "street tax" to continue to run his sports-betting business.
On the night he would die, Reitinger strolled down the aisle of the Northwest Side restaurant to the front window, where he paused to survey the street. Satisfied that he had not been followed, he settled into a booth and began studying a menu.
At that moment, a red Mercury Montego quietly drew next to the curb outside. Two men, both wearing ski masks, emerged. They calmly crossed the sidewalk and entered the restaurant.
Reitinger tried to rise from his seat but was too late. One masked man shoved him back into the booth, raised a .30 caliber carbine and fired four times into Reitinger's chest. Blood spurted. Customers screamed and dived for cover. Reitinger slumped forward. The second masked man stepped forward and pressed a shotgun to Reitinger's head. Two thunderous roars echoed. Silently, the two men turned, menacing the horrified patrons with a wave of their weapons, then departed as calmly as they entered. Inside, no one moved until the Montego screeched away.
In Chicago, where the term "trunk music" fittingly described the traditional and more discreet handling of organized-crime murders, Harry Aleman, who police say was one of those men in the ski masks, preferred to do his hits "New York style."
Nicknamed "The Hook," Aleman is arguably Chicago's most infamous murderer for hire. He also has the distinction of being the only mob hit man to be convicted in Cook County for one of his murders. That conviction, by a jury last fall for the 1972 murder of Teamsters union shop steward William Logan, earned Aleman a prison term of 100 to 300 years. The sentence, barring a successful appeal, likely means Aleman, 59, will die behind bars.
Retired FBI agent Jack O'Rourke knows Aleman as well as any lawman, having spent years assembling federal indictments that sent Aleman to prison in 1978 for three home robberies and later, in 1990, for racketeering and gambling conspiracy.
"Harry did like that New York style where the hit is done out in the open, in a restaurant," O'Rourke said. "He absolutely didn't fear the Chicago Police Department."
Since 1919, the number of murders in Chicago categorized as organized-crime hits totals more than 1,100. Aleman is believed to be responsible for at least 18 of those between 1971 and 1977, according to law enforcement investigators. Add in those attributed to his closest mob friend, William "Butch" Petrocelli--some of which they did together, such as Reitinger--and the total rises to nearly 30, officials say.
Chicago police detective Vic Switski, a member of the FBI Organized Crime Task Force probing mob activities, has investigated Aleman for the past decade. "He was, if not the worst, certainly one of the most infamous hit men in the history of crime in Chicago," Switski said. "He was cold-blooded. He, and Butch, too, were feared, particularly within the ranks of organized crime."
Said O'Rourke: "They didn't fear local authorities. They didn't fear prosecutors. They considered themselves folk heroes because they kept their neighborhood--that Taylor Street area near Racine--safe. They were vicious, not just in the killings. One informant told us how Harry and Butchie once took a gambler into a park office and strung him up like a punching bag. They worked on him for hours.
"They felt they were bulletproof," O'Rourke added.
Ultimately, though, Petrocelli was not; he was found tortured and killed in 1981, possibly on the orders of Aleman, investigators say. And, though still alive, Aleman has been locked up for all but nine months since 1978.
Harry Peralt Aleman was born Jan. 19, 1939, the first of three sons of Louis Aleman and Mary Virginia Baratta. It was an unusual union. His mother was Italian, his father a native of Durango, Mexico, who became, in Chicago, "sort of a Mexican godfather" who was allegedly involved in narcotics trafficking.
In an interview with a Cook County probation officer last fall, Aleman gave a partial description of his youth, growing up in an apartment building at 917 S. Bishop St. that was owned by his maternal grandmother and full of uncles, aunts and cousins.
"My father was hard on me, extremely hard," Aleman said in the interview, a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune. "He beat me every day until I left home. He used his fist or a horsewhip. If I looked at him the wrong way, he beat me. My mother . . . would intervene and consequently got hit herself."
The beatings stopped from age 7 until age 11, Aleman reported, because his father was imprisoned on a robbery conviction. During that time, he recalled, the family often found itself short of cash. While attending Crane Tech High School where he was a halfback on the football team and a member of the physics club, Aleman took up boxing at the Duncan YMCA. His hard left hook earned him his nickname: the Hook. When he won a competition, family finances were such that, faced with choosing between a trophy and $7.50 in cash, the decision was easy.
"I took the $7.50," Aleman told the probation officer.
After graduating from Crane in 1956, Aleman enrolled in the now-defunct Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and graduated in 1958 with a commercial art diploma. Though he had studied to be a commercial artist, Aleman soon turned to other means of support, according to O'Rourke, including selling race track tout sheets and working at the produce markets on the Near West Side.
"I sold produce. I sold drawings," Aleman said. "I hustled in general."
Aleman's first serious crime occurred in 1962 and provides the first public indication of his emerging fearlessness.
According to police, Aleman, his brother Freddie and two other men were arrested in the beating of Howard Pierson, the 23-year-old son of the commander of the Chicago police robbery section. Police said the four were in a bar on North State Street when Aleman pushed a woman through a plate glass window. Pierson said he chased Aleman and the others out, then flagged down a police car. Police were questioning Aleman and the others when Pierson caught up with them. Without warning, Aleman attacked Pierson, breaking his jaw. For that incident, Aleman received two years' probation.
In 1964, Aleman went to City Hall to wed Ruth Felper Mustari, a widow with four children. Ruth's first husband, Frank Mustari, had been a hit man too--but met his end in 1957 when the tavern owner he was stalking, tipped off by a growling watchdog, drew and shot first.
Ruth has been at her husband's side throughout the years, whether she was delivering bond money (in 1976 after Aleman was indicted for Logan's murder, she came to the Cook County Jail with a suitcase containing $250,000 to bail him out, not realizing that she needed only $25,000), emerging victorious in 1977 when Aleman was acquitted of the Logan murder or nervously waiting out a jury's deliberations, as she did last October when Aleman was convicted after a retrial for the Logan killing.
Aleman has no biological children. He told the probation officer that as stepfather to Ruth's four children--the two boys and two girls were ages 3 to 9 in 1964--he focused instead on being a real father for them.
"I raised them," Aleman said. "I consider them my own. I couldn't be any closer if they were my own blood. I love my kids. I love my wife. I have six grandkids--this gives me hope."
Family members have been staunch in their defense of Aleman, calling him a loyal and loving father and husband. In an interview in the office of Alex Salerno, one of Aleman's lawyers, Ruth Aleman and her oldest daughter, Terri Amabile, described Aleman as a stern but caring man who has continued to be a source of strength despite his imprisonment.
"He was wonderful to my children," Ruth Aleman recalled. "He took the kids to Kiddieland, to dinner, on picnics, camping. He always had time for the kids.
Amabile, her eyes brimming with tears, recounted how Aleman washed her hair and her sister's in the kitchen sink. "We had long hair and he was so gentle, getting the tangles out."
As a teenager, she remembers her father lurking outside of school and church dances to see whom she was leaving with and to ensure that she was where she had promised she would be.
"He guarded those kids like Ft. Knox," Ruth said.
Dinners were a family affair. "We had to be together," Amabile said. "No phone calls were accepted. He used that time to find out what was going on and we could talk about what was bothering us. I remember sitting at the table until 8 or 9 o'clock some nights. We wanted to be there."
Aleman's rise in organized crime was simultaneous with that of his uncle, Joseph "Joe Nagall" Ferriola, who had married a sister of Aleman's mother. In 1970, Ferriola was described as the No. 2 man under Jackie "The Lackey" Cerone, then believed to be the operating head of the Chicago crime syndicate.
It was as a member of organized crime's "Taylor Street crew" that Aleman and his pals such as Petrocelli, Louis Almeida, Leonard Foresta and James Inendino began to flex their muscles, according to law enforcement officials. Foresta and Inendino ultimately would be convicted of home invasions or gambling activities. Almeida, who became Aleman's driver and all-around gofer, would eventually break from Aleman in 1974 after escaping what he believed was an attempted hit by Aleman and Inendino.
It was Almeida who, after his arrest in Ohio in 1975 en route to a murder job in Pittsburgh, began cooperating with law enforcement and became a key witness against Aleman. Almeida's testimony in 1978 was key to Aleman's first conviction, and his testimony last year played a part in Aleman's conviction for Logan's murder.
Logan, authorities believe, was Aleman's second murder and the second done for family reasons. According to evidence at Aleman's trial last fall, Logan was killed while involved in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife, Phyllis, who testified that she was Aleman's second cousin and that after divorcing Logan, she had had an affair with Petrocelli.
Investigators have been told that Logan sealed his fate when his ex-wife warned him to stay away or she would talk to Aleman. "(Obscenity) that guinea," Logan reportedly replied, using a derogatory term for an Italian.
Shortly thereafter, according to Almeida, he drove Aleman to Logan's home where Aleman ambushed Logan as he left for work at a loading dock in Cicero. Logan was cut down by two shotgun blasts on Sept. 27, 1972.
Aleman's first official hit was on his own uncle, Samuel "Sambo" Cesario, according to authorities. The deed was handled with the help of Petrocelli and occurred on Oct. 19, 1971, according to O'Rourke. Two men wearing masks walked up to Cesario as he and his wife sat in lawn chairs in their front yard at 1071 W. Polk St., and Cesario was clubbed and shot to death.
The reason? Cesario, according to authorities, had secretly married the girlfriend of Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio after the Wisconsin gangster went to prison.
By day, Aleman, Petrocelli and others hung out at the Survivor's Social and Athletic Club, a dimly lit and nondescript storefront on Taylor Street, just west of Racine Avenue. The club was their headquarters for a reign of terror that included bombings, murders, home invasions, beatings and shakedowns, according to authorities.
It was sometime in the early 1970s, authorities say, that Ferriola and Aleman decided to reorganize gambling, particularly sports betting operations, and force independent bookmakers to pay tribute or "street tax" for the right to operate.
One of those was Vincent Rizza, a Chicago police officer who worked Loop traffic duty until he resigned in 1976 after he was ousted from Mexico following his arrest for trying to buy cocaine. While still a police officer, Rizza branched out into the bookmaking business. After news accounts reported that one of his wire rooms was raided by Chicago police, in late 1974 or early 1975, Rizza received a visit from Aleman and Inendino.
Sitting in a restaurant on Chicago's Southwest Side, Rizza recalled that Aleman and Inendino sat across from him and, at first, said nothing, fixing him with ominous stares.
It was a look for which Aleman would become well-known. Though he is a slightly built man--5 feet 8 inches tall and 145 pounds--Aleman's public face is a grim look, marked by depthless coal-black eyes.
As Rizza recalled, Aleman began the conversation. "Harry told me I owed him street tax . . . 40-some thousand dollars."
Aleman said Ferriola had instructed them "to organize Chicago the way it was back in the '30s and '40s. Those were his exact words," Rizza said.
Worried, Rizza paid a visit to his own clout in the ranks of organized crime, Angelo LaPietra, the boss of the Chinatown neighborhood, and explained his plight. "Angelo said it is a very serious situation I had gotten myself into," Rizza recalled. He said he gave LaPietra a paper sack stuffed with several thousand dollars that LaPietra promised to deliver to Aleman in an attempt to negotiate a deal.
In fact, Rizza said, such a deal was hammered out; Aleman and his pals got 50 percent of his winnings and agreed to pay Rizza's losses, and Rizza paid $1,000 a month in street tax. Though the terms seemed harsh, Rizza continued to operate at a profit.
And he continued to see Aleman and Inendino, almost daily, after they recruited him to help them ferret out other independent bookmakers that they could take over, Rizza said.
It was Rizza who first telephoned Anthony Reitinger to advise him that Aleman was demanding street tax from Reitinger's $100,000-a-month bookmaking operation.
When Reitinger responded with an obscenity and said he would never pay any street tax, Rizza reported back to Aleman. "He said he would kill that (obscenity)." Rizza tried again to persuade Reitinger to change his mind, but Reitinger dug in his heels. "He said he wouldn't pay. He wasn't interested," Rizza said.
Rizza then met with Aleman.
"I told him it's a dead deal, that Reitinger wasn't coming in," Rizza recalled. "Aleman told me to forget about it, that Reitinger was a dead man. . . . He said he was going to whack Reitinger."
Rizza said Aleman planned to kill Reitinger on Halloween because he would not attract much attention wearing a mask. On that night, Rizza was at home watching a television news report about Reitinger's death. Then, he recalled, "The phone rings. It's Harry Aleman: `We killed that (obscenity). I told you we would kill that guy.' "
As an added source of income , Aleman organized Almeida, Foresta and, at various times, others to commit home invasions and burglaries. Each participant was paid $500 for his work and the proceeds were turned over to Aleman, according to Almeida.
Foresta was a career petty criminal. By 19 he had already been imprisoned for larceny and at age 20 he was arrested for robbing a woman of $42 in her apartment lobby. By 1970, Almeida, a dropout who couldn't get past the 6th grade, had served time for armed robbery, grand theft, burglary, and bond jumping. When he was released that year, he immediately sought out Aleman, who advanced him a $2,500 loan and put him to work as a personal aide, trailing Aleman to the driving range, the shooting range, restaurants and the Survivor's Club.
"I went and got his wife's car," Almeida testified in 1978. "Drove it to May and Taylor (Streets), had it fixed. I had tires put on the car. I did other odd jobs. . . . I used to get my ammunition from Harry. He used to make his own ammunition in the garage of his house."
Some of the Aleman-directed heists were less than successful. On Sept. 16, 1972--11 days before Logan was murdered--Aleman directed Almeida and Foresta to burglarize a home in south suburban Oak Lawn where Aleman believed $40,000 in cash was kept in the basement. But after tying up a woman in the home and terrorizing her baby, Almeida and Foresta left with only $1,800 and some jewelry.
Another heist, in November 1973, was almost a complete flop. Aleman, Almeida and Foresta used a Cook County sheriff's police badge as a ruse to gain entry to a North Side home where Aleman believed a coin collection worth $70,000 was kept. After ransacking the place and ripping boards from a basement wall turned up no coins, Aleman grabbed a camera rather than leave empty-handed.
There were big hauls, too. A home invasion in Indianapolis in 1973 netted $25,000 in furs, cash and jewelry, and in late 1974 Aleman and Petrocelli burglarized the residence of a neighborhood drug dealer and walked off with $25,000 in cash, Almeida said.
The beginning of the end for Aleman surely can be traced to January 1974, when Almeida, Aleman and Inendino parked in an alley near Harrison Street and Racine Avenue. They were in a "work car," a car that could not be traced and was used to commit crimes, Almeida recalled.
As the car rolled to a halt in the alley, Aleman got out and walked to another car where he pulled a shotgun out of the trunk. Almeida, suspecting his death was imminent, drew his own .38 caliber pistol and left. From then on, he avoided Aleman.
Almeida had only about a year of freedom left. In March 1975, he was arrested in Ohio while driving to Pittsburgh to assassinate a labor official. He immediately "flipped"--became a government witness--and implicated Aleman in the murder of Logan.
Though Aleman would ultimately be suspected of nearly 20 murders, the slaying of Logan would be the only one for which he would be brought to trial. After Almeida implicated Aleman, the case was reopened and police came to Robert Lowe, a gas station manager who had lived across the street from Logan. Lowe told investigators that he had been out walking his dog and came face to face with Aleman as he stepped out of the car immediately after shooting Logan.
With great fanfare, then-Cook County State's Atty. Bernard Carey announced the indictment of Aleman in the fall of 1976. The case came to trial in May 1977 before Cook County Circuit Judge Frank Wilson. After a week of testimony, Wilson, hearing the case without a jury, acquitted Aleman, reinforcing his reputation as a mob untouchable. Days later, Aleman, ever the brazen killer, took part in the murder of Joseph Theo, a burglar involved in the stolen auto parts business, authorities say.
But Aleman's freedom was short-lived. A federal grand jury indicted him and Foresta for three of the home invasion-robberies in late June 1977. The next year, both were convicted, largely on the testimony of Almeida, and Aleman was sentenced to 30 years in prison. As he left the courtroom, Aleman paused to speak to O'Rourke.
"He came up to me, as a gentleman," O'Rourke later said. "He said, `Agent O'Rourke, I just want to tell you: No hard feelings.' "
It was that sort of attitude that earned Aleman respect in the federal prison in Oxford, Wis., where he was to spend the next 11 years. "Harry has always been a gentleman and gotten along with the inmates and guards," said Marc Martin, one of Aleman's attorneys. "He has taken college courses, painted and been a good inmate."
On Dec. 30, 1980, Petrocelli disappeared. His body was found nearly three months later on the floor of his car on the Southwest Side. He died a horrible death; his face had been burned beyond recognition and he was stabbed twice in the throat, authorities said.
Some lawmen believe he was murdered for stealing mob money, some suspect he was trying to take over gambling operations that belonged to someone else, and still others suspect Aleman ordered his death.
In 1994, Monte Katz, a career criminal who befriended Aleman while both were imprisoned in Oxford, provided grist for the latter theory, telling authorities that Aleman bragged that "Petrocelli was (Aleman's) lifelong friend who he had flattened--he meant killed" because he feared Petrocelli was going to become a government witness against him.
Aleman was released from Oxford in 1989 and he moved in with family members in Oak Brook. His finances were bolstered, authorities say, by the delivery of $100,000 in cash, as specified by Ferriola before he died two months before Aleman's release.
Aleman, who began working for his son-in-law's concrete cutting business as a personnel manager, would later describe the next nine months as "the best time of my life." It was, family and friends agree, a time for Aleman to be as close physically to his family as he is emotionally.
"We were whole again," Ruth Aleman said. "We cooked together, shared meals--years ago, Harry taught me how to cook, how to make the gravy for the meatballs."
Amabile said her son Sam was devastated at age 7 when Aleman was imprisoned in 1978.
"From the time my son was old enough to walk, he was at my father's side," Amabile said. "A great love grew between them, a love that has withstood the test of time and hardship." When Aleman was released in 1989, he instructed that Ruth and Sam be the only ones to bring him home.
Amabile recounted how Aleman stood a bedside vigil for a baby grandson who underwent surgery. "When the baby came home, my father spent every moment with his grandchild, except for the times when he would leave to work," Amabile said.
During those months after his release, Aleman drove one grandchild to piano lessons, made breakfast for the children in the morning and attended parent-teacher conferences, she said.
"Our family has one common goal and that is to keep each other strong and one day bring my father home for good," Amabile said. "We count ourselves lucky to have such a man for a father."
Sharon Kramer, another of Aleman's lawyers over the years, said, "The love in that family is genuine. He has tried to do his best to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow."
But Aleman was back in custody in February 1990 when a federal grand jury indicted him and 19 others, including Ferriola's successor, Ernest Rocco Infelice, on charges of racketeering and gambling conspiracy. Jailed without bond as a flight risk, Aleman made perhaps his only public statement in a bid to be released on bond.
"I love my wife and kids," he declared. "And that is my stability and predictability. There isn't enough money in the world to make me run away from my family. Throughout my years in prison, I survived for my family and they have stood by me."
His plea was rejected. Shortly after, Aleman pleaded guilty and was given 12 years, a sentence that ends in two years. At the time of sentencing, Aleman disclosed that he had taken up painting with oil, concentrating primarily on landscapes, and asked to be returned to Oxford to continue taking art classes. That request was granted.
Plans for freedom at the millennium hit a snag in 1993 when a Cook County grand jury re-indicted Aleman for Logan's murder, alleging that his first trial had been a sham because the verdict had been purchased with a $10,000 bribe to Judge Frank Wilson. Not long after, a guard at Oxford watching Aleman meeting with two men, including his stepson Jeff, saw Aleman pass notes to the pair and say, "The two will be taken care of if this goes to trial, one after the other."
Authorities theorize that Aleman could have been referring to witnesses poised to testify against him. His exact meaning is unknown because the notes were destroyed before guards could seize them.
Aleman's lawyers lost a legal battle over whether a retrial for the Logan murder would violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy and, finally, last fall, he returned to the Criminal Courts building. The trial, which began last September, was a dramatic and historic event. For the first time in the history of American jurisprudence, a defendant was being tried for a second time after being acquitted initially.
Not only did Almeida and Lowe return from the anonymous lives they had lived during the past two decades, but Robert Cooley, a former mob lawyer, also emerged to describe how he carried the $10,000 bribe to Wilson to ensure Aleman's acquittal in 1977. Wilson, a veteran jurist with more than 1,000 trials, retired shortly after the 1977 trial amid a firestorm of criticism. In 1990, after Cooley, then acting as a federal undercover informant, visited Wilson in his Arizona retirement home in a futile attempt to record admissions about the bribe, Wilson walked into his back yard and shot himself to death with a pistol.
Ruth Aleman and an entourage of other family members crowded daily into the courtroom of Criminal Court Judge Michael Toomin for the trial. When the jury announced its verdict of guilty, they were distraught, but Aleman remained stoic, offering a hug to his weeping wife.
Since being transferred to the federal penitentiary in Memphis, Aleman spends his days painting and reading, as well as listening to opera and classical music. The family visits frequently, but pays the emotional price. "The leaving is hard," Ruth Aleman said. "Walking out the door, down the hall. I told the kids I never want Harry to see us cry. And then, when we're outside, the tears are rolling down."
The side of Aleman that law enforcement sees is invisible to the family. "If he's such a criminal, where's all the money?" Ruth said. "I don't believe a word of what they say. It's garbage."
Two years from now, when Aleman is to be released from the federal prison system, he will be transferred to the Illinois prison system to serve the 100- to 300-year term for the Logan murder. Conditions in a state prison will likely be much harsher.
It is a prospect eagerly anticipated by some law enforcement officials, who view Aleman as a man who has yet to pay the proper price for murder. Aleman was not eligible for the death penalty because it was not in effect in 1972 when Logan was killed.
"Even if Harry tried to commit a crime in federal prison, I would do my best to see he wasn't prosecuted," said a federal law enforcement official. "I want to see him in a state prison for the rest of his life."
Aleman's hit parade: Here is a list of murders that Harry Aleman is alleged to have committed or participated in, according to law enforcement officials and the Chicago Crime Commission.
Oct. 19, 1971: Samuel "Sambo" Cesario, 53, clubbed and shot to death by two masked men as he sat with his wife in lawn chairs in front of 1071 W. Polk St.
Sept. 27, 1972: William Logan, 37, a Teamsters union shop steward and ex-husband of Aleman's cousin, shot to death with a shotgun in front of his home at 5916 W. Walton St.
Dec. 20, 1973: Richard Cain, 49, a top aide to then-high-ranking organized-crime boss Sam "Momo" Giancana, shotgunned at point-blank range by two masked men in Rose's Sandwich Shop, 1117 W. Grand Ave.
Feb. 24, 1974: Socrates "Sam" Rantis, 43, a counterfeiter, found with his throat slashed and with puncture wounds in his chest in the trunk of his wife's car at O'Hare airport.
April 21, 1974: William Simone, 29, a counterfeiter, found in the back seat of his car near 2446 S. Kedvale Ave., with his hands and feet bound and a gunshot wound in the head.
July 13, 1974: Orion Williams, 38, a suspected mob informant, found shotgunned to death at 70 E. 33rd St., in the trunk of his girlfriend's car.
Sept. 28, 1974: Robert Harder, 39, a jewel thief and burglar who had become an informant, found shot in the face in a bean field near Dwight, Ill. He once escaped an assassination attempt by Aleman and a partner, James Inendino.
Jan. 16, 1975: Carlo Divivo, 46, a mob enforcer, cut down by two masked men who opened fire with a shotgun and a pistol as he walked out of his home at 3631 N. Nora Ave.
May 12, 1975: Ronald Magliano, 43, an underworld fence, found blindfolded and shot behind the left ear in his burning home at 6232 S. Kilpatrick Ave.
June 19, 1975: Christopher Cardi, 43, a former police officer who made high-interest loans to gamblers, shot eight times in the back and once in the face by two masked men as his wife and children looked on inside Jim's Beef Stand in Melrose Park.
Aug. 28, 1975: Frank Goulakos, 47, a federal informant, shot six times by a masked man who stepped out of a car as Goulakos walked to his car near DiLeo's Restaurant, 5700 N. Central Ave., where he was a cook.
Aug. 30, 1975: Nick "Keggie" Galanos, 48, a bookmaker, found shot nine times in the head in the basement of his home at 6801 W. Wabansia Ave.
Oct. 31, 1975: Anthony Reitinger, 34, a bookmaker, shot to death in Mama Luna's restaurant, 4846 W. Fullerton Ave., by two masked men.
Jan. 31, 1976: Louis DeBartolo, 29, a gambler deeply in debt, found shot in the head and with his neck punctured four times with a broken mop handle in the rear of the store where he worked at 5945 W. North Ave.
May 1, 1976: James Erwin, 28, an ex-convict who was suspected in the murders of two other reputed mobsters, cut down by two masked men with a shotgun and a .45 caliber pistol. He was shot 13 times as he stepped out of his car at 1873 N. Halsted St.
July 22, 1976: David Bonadonna, 61, a Kansas City, Mo., businessman, fatally shot and found in his car trunk there. His murder was one of several unsolved mob-related slayings that year in an apparent mob attempt to infiltrate nightclubs featuring go-go girls.
March 29, 1977: Charles "Chuck" Nicoletti, 60, a top mob hit man, shot three times in the back of the head while sitting in his car parked at Golden Horns Restaurant, 409 E. North Ave., Northlake.
June 15, 1977: Joseph Frank Theo, 33, a burglar involved in stolen auto parts, found with two shotgun wounds to the head in the back seat of a car parked at 1700 N. Cleveland Ave.
The crew: These Aleman associates have been linked to burglaries, shakedowns and murders.
Joseph "Joe Nagall" Ferriola: Described in 1970 as the mob's No. 2 man in Chicago, Ferriola oversaw several crews, including Aleman's Taylor Street crew. In the early '70s, he and nephew Aleman started demanding "street taxes" from independent gambling operations.
Leonard Foresta: A career petty criminal, he committed burglaries for Aleman and was convicted of three of them in 1978.
William "Butch" Petrocelli: Aleman's closest mob friend and suspected partner in many killings. He was found slain in 1981; police say Aleman may have ordered him hit.
Louis Almeida: Aleman's right-hand man became an informant after escaping what he believed to be an attempted hit by his boss.
FROM GOFER TO GOVERNMENT WITNESS
At first, Louis Almeida was Harry Aleman's errand boy, a gofer assigned to such mundane tasks as putting new tires on Aleman's wife's car.
Later, the short, stocky man with a high-pitched raspy voice moved up in the hierarchy of organized crime to become Aleman's accomplice in murder.
Ultimately, though, Almeida carved out a niche in the annals of crime as Aleman's nemesis--a snitch turned protected witness who provided testimony that helped convict Aleman of the 1972 murder of Teamsters union shop steward William Logan.
In an interview in a suburban hotel room, Almeida, 45, offered his insights on the man authorities call Chicago's deadliest mob hit man.
"We grew up together near Taylor Street and Racine. He used to hang around on Bishop Street and I used to see him and talk to him," Almeida recalled. "Everybody looked up to him because his family was supposed to be in the Mafia. We hung around in the pool hall, in the park. He liked to bet on the horses and I think he was bookmaking, too. He always had money . . . nice clothes. We called him `The Sheik' because he dressed nice.
"He said he had it rough at home, that his father beat him, handcuffed him to a radiator. I don't know how much of it was true," Almeida said.
Smiling as he recalled how Aleman met his wife, Ruth, whom he married in 1964, Almeida said, "She worked in this club on State Street. We used to go there quite a bit. Everybody loved Ruth, she was beautiful.
"Harry broke off an engagement to an Italian girl from the suburbs to marry Ruth and he was thrown out of the house because she was a cocktail waitress," he said. "It was a terrible argument. His father wanted him to go to college, to marry this other girl. Harry didn't want to."
Aleman was a strict father to Ruth's four children by a previous marriage, Almeida said. "One of his sons, he wanted me to beat up one time. The kid was getting drunk and staying out late and Harry didn't want to beat him up because Ruth would feel hurt.
"So I gave him a couple of light taps on the head with a rope," Almeida said. "I was going to scare him, tell him I was going to tie him up with a rope and throw him in the trunk."
In the mid-1960s, Almeida went to prison for robbery and, upon his release in 1970, received a $2,500 loan from Aleman to get back on his feet. In return, Almeida became Aleman's personal aide, driving Aleman to a shooting range in Lyons and a golf driving range in River Grove, and generally running errands.
"He told me, `Come around, don't get lost,' " Almeida said. "He was looking for armed robberies and burglaries and was trying to get people to go on them. He was also bragging that he wanted to be a hit man.
"I guess he had to announce to everybody that he was starting to kill people for money or kill people who didn't listen to him."
In 1971, shortly before Sam Cesario was murdered--a hit authorities attribute to Aleman-- Almeida said Aleman announced that he and his close friend William "Butch" Petrocelli were going on a hunting trip to Montana.
"Harry did like to hunt," Almeida said. "I don't know if he actually went that time or not. He had a stuffed bobcat, a deer head. He shot a moose one time."
Was Aleman, as authorities say, involved in as many as 18 murders?
"I don't know," Almeida said. "He liked to kill things. But sometimes, the police, if they didn't know who did a hit, I think they would just put it on Harry."
What kind of car did Aleman drive as a young man?
"I don't know--you mean legit cars?" Almeida said, chuckling. "I don't know, everybody drove stolen cars."
Almeida participated in at least three home invasions for Aleman, earning $500 each time. And he was Aleman's driver on the Logan hit. Almeida also was involved in several bombings along with Petrocelli.
Ultimately, Almeida said, he broke away from Aleman after three incidents. The first, he said, occurred in 1972, when, standing outside Aleman's Melrose Park home, Aleman told him he had just talked by phone with two of his robbery crew members and learned they had abducted Hillside Police Officer Anthony Raymond, taken him to Wisconsin and tortured him to death.
"I said, `What are you telling me this for? I don't want to hear it. I don't want to be involved,' " Almeida recalled. "That was one of my bigger mistakes. Harry didn't like that. He just looked at me. I thought he was going to have me hit."
In 1974, Almeida said he was sitting in the front seat of a car next to Aleman pal James Inendino. Aleman was in the back seat.
"Harry put a gun to my head," Almeida said. "I looked back and he put the gun down. He and Inendino started arguing and then it seemed Harry sort of forgot about it. The person we were there to shoot didn't show up. I never really trusted him after that.
"Another time, right after that, we were in an alley and Harry got out of the back and got a shotgun out of another car. He told me to look straight ahead," Almeida recalled. "All I could see was windows with white shades drawn down. I really believed he was going to try to hit me. I left and I went my own way."Further Reading Link
Link to chicagotribune.com
More of my related mob posts:
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaulee's most dangerous mobster
Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggerio-The real story of the "wise guy"
The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef - Part 1
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef Processors - Part II
Sally Papia - A life lived on the edge
The Milwakee Mob Hit on Anthony Biernat
The Milwaukee Mob Hit on August Palimisano
New York's "Joe Bananas" meets Milwaukee's Frank "Mad Bomber" Balistrieri