Saturday, November 5, 2016

Milwaukee Leg Breaker

Thanks to Gary Jenkins for the following guest post. Gary is a former Kansas City Police Intelligence Unit Detective. It is a blog piece he put together about Milwaukee's Sally Papia and her plot to burn the Northbrook Inn and harm her former chef. It provides additional information on a post I did in 2012 called "The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime". 
Gary has a unique true crime podcast called "Gangland Wire Crime Stories".  Gary and his co-host Aaron Gnirk tell crime stories from Gary's career. He also researches famous Mob investigations and other crimes for content.
Sept, 2016 Gary writes:
I met Gary Magnesen in Las Vegas, he had been assigned to the organized Crime Squad and took part in the investigation of Lefty Rosenthal and Tony Spilotro and the Stardust skim. When I went out to Vegas to interview folks for my film, he cooperated and gave me a great interview. Before I went out, I obtained his book Strawmen in which he tells about his career. I noted a name, Jacob Schlecter and a description 6'6' 250s lbs and a leg breaker mentality. I did a quick check back to a narcotics investigation and surveillance we once did with the DEA and found this was the guy I was thinking of.
To go back, We had a tip and an informant that claimed he could buy weed from a mob guy named Joe Sharpino, who had a tow truck and worked out of a mob associated body shop on Independence Ave. The DEA could find no criminal record on this guy. We checked with the FBI and the Intelligence Unit records and sources and found this guy to be a mystery. The DEA were able to make a few small controlled buys thought the informant. The agent said they would keep offering more money and buying larger quantities and make this guy a big drug dealer. The informant is reporting the guy has some connection with local Italian family, but this family showed no prior organized crime connections, but one of the family members did own this body shop. The guy was an independent tow truck driver who mainly hung around the body shop. The informant was buying more and more weed and laying the groundwork to introduce a female DEA agent in as a big buyer with lots of customers in the suburbs.
We rented a nearby apartment and watched the body shop recording every license number that came and went. No mob guys were showing up. If this was a mob guy, he was not associated with any local mob folks, and if this was his real name, he had no criminal record. The informant would be seen going into the body shop and leaving, then contacting the DEA agent with a story about how Joe Sharpino was going to break somebody's legs that owed the body shop money. I even sent my informant in who was a car repo man. He offered Joe an extra car repossession job that we set up. The guy was suspicious or something because he turned down the job.
After a couple of weeks into this, the informant reported his tow truck driver had a heart attack. He went into St. Luke's hospital for heart surgery. While he was recuperating, the informant relates that he has a Universal Life minister's certificate and the supposedly mob guy wants the informant to marry him and his girlfriend while he is still in the hospital.
After several jokes about how to "wire up" the informant and record the ceremony, we let that go and the informant conducted the ceremony of the target and his new wife. Finally the guy got back to his tow truck and the body shop. The informant makes the introduction to the female agent and she makes her pitch. The guy agrees and claims he can supply 50 pounds of weed. By this time, the DEA has to get the guy identified in order to continue the investigation and put these kinds of resources into it. I ask our Fingerprint Unit supervisor to make personal calls to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) at the FBI headquarters. We had the guy's drivers license record and it showed no arrests. The fingerprint guy noted the license was issued to him at the 811 Grand, KCMO address, then he changed it to his current address.  He then checked on the guy's name and date of birth at NCIC and mentioned that fact. You see, that was the address of the Federal Courthouse, the FBI, ATF, US Marshalls office. The NCIC contact could not say exactly, but indirectly, we learned our friend was in the witness protection program. The DEA took this to the US Attorney's office who contacted the Witnesses Protection folks at the US Marshalls. After a consultation and looking at our skimpy case, the US Attorney ordered the DEA to Stand Down. The guy disappeared shortly after.  
Which gets me back to the Gary Magnesen book. In that book, he tells a story about one his first cases. His first office was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A girl friend of a Chicago Outfit guy named Frank Buccieri moved up from Chicago and opened a nice restaurant called Sally's Steak House on Juneau Ave. She was described as a raven haired firecracker who thought she was the Queen Bee of Milwaukee Organized Crime because of her Chicago relationship. She hired three local mob associates and professional criminals to help run the place. Chicago outfit guys would come into town and eat there and never pay any respect to the Milwaukee mob boss, Frank Balistrieri or Frankie Bal or Fancy Pants. He called her an Outfit wannabe in a fucking skirt. Sally, the mob moll, hired a chef after she paid for his tuition at a good culinary school. He left shortly after to open his own restaurant, the Northridge Inn. She became enraged and hired a local arsonist to burn it down.
On December 29, 1974, Joseph Basile called Jacob Schlechter, an unindicted co-conspirator, instructed Schlechter to set the Northbrook Inn on fire that night. Schlechter did so in the company of his wife, who later contacted the police and began supplying information concerning the ongoing conspiracy. Following the fire, Schlechter went to Basile's home to collect money for his work. Basile gave Schlechter $100 and told him that another $900 would be forthcoming from out of town. Schlechter asked what the fire was all about, and Basile told him that it was ordered because the chef had "screwed over" Sally Papia and because of a "personal grievance" Basile had against this chef.
On New Year's Eve, two days after the fire, Papia ran into the Chef at a local restaurant. Dropping a lighted match into an ashtray, Papia said, "I told you this was going to happen."
In early January, Schlechter asked Basile for the balance of the money due him for setting the fire. Basile deflected the request by advising Schlechter that they were getting pressure from a Frank Balistrieri, who had lost some juke boxes in the Northbrook Inn fire, and that Schlechter should not tell anyone of his involvement in the fire.
On January 7, Russell Enea approached Schlechter in Papia's restaurant and asked him if he knew anything about the fire. Schlechter, complying with Basile's order to keep mum, said that he did not. Three days later, apparently satisfied that Schlechter could be trusted, Enea again approached Schlechter and directed him to break the Chef's  wrists "so he never cooks again." Enea said that "Max" would get in touch with Schlechter to talk about the job. Shortly thereafter, Max Adonnis contacted Schlechter and told him to kidnap the Chef and take him to a garage so that Adonnis and Enea could break his wrists personally. Schlechter and Adonnis then discussed the plan with Herbert Holland, who was to assist in the endeavor. Adonnis explained to Schlechter and Holland that this Chef owed Sally Papia $5,000, that he had "screwed over Sally," and that he wasn't going to get away with it. Adonnis gave Schlechter a slip of paper listing the Chef's address, the make of his car and its license plate number. A week later, Adonnis passed along a photo of the Chef taken in Papia's restaurant on which Papia's handwriting appeared.
During the next couple of weeks, Holland, Schlechter and Adonnis attempted to locate the Chef without success. On January 18, Enea, disturbed by the lack of progress, approached Schlechter and, gesturing with his wrists, inquired what Schlechter was doing about the chef. Schlechter and Holland renewed their efforts to locate the Chef but failed to do so, much to the expressed chagrin of Enea and Adonnis. Finally, Adonnis saw the Chef at a local restaurant and obtained his new address, place of employment and license plate number, which information he passed on to Schlechter with instructions to do the job right away.
After purchasing a baseball bat and two ski masks for use in the battery, Schlechter and Holland went to The Chef's  place of employment in the early morning hours of February 9, 1975. While waiting for him to leave work, the two were confronted by police because the auto in which they were riding matched a description of a stolen car.
The Milwaukee police were going to the Chef's apartment. As they arrived at the guy's apartment, they saw two suspicious men cruising the area. They got them stopped and found two baseball bats in the car, two ski masks, the Chef's photo and his address inside the car. They arrested them for CCW and they spent the night in jail. Gary Magnesun and his partner went to the jail the next morning after being notified that one of the suspects wanted to talk to the FBI. This was Jacob Schlecter who was 6'6 250 lbs with a leg breaker's mentality. He was not as tough as he looked. Schlecter agreed to work with the Bureau and set up Sally and her underlings. Soon, he was out of jail and wearing a wire. He was able to record Sally and her co-conspirators talking about this plot to kill or injure the former chef.
During this time Joseph Basile, the guy who originally ordered the arson, was picked up and taken to Fancy Pants.  He was livid and told the guy that Sally did not have the clout to approve this arson and he should not have done it without checking with Fancy Pants first.
Jacob Schlecter would testify against Sally Papia and her co-conspirators and they would go to jail for the arson and attempted murder of the Chef. Schelcter would be relocated in the Witness Protection program to Kansas City Missouri, until he got into trouble acting like a mobsters and selling a little weed. he was relocated somewhere else.


  1. Interesting... I wasn't aware there was an "epilogue" on Schlecter, but now I'd be curious to find out more... is he still alive? Did the DEA open a file on him? It's interesting to see the decisions he made.

    1. Thanks Gavin, good points, I reached out to Gary but as of yet haven't heard back

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