Monday, 19th February 2018

Millionaire Gets His Way With Benigno’s Office

Posted on 06. Mar, 2013 by in Organized Crime, Politics

If you did not read my piece about Illinois Secretary of State bigwig Thomas Benigno, please do so now because it serves as an entree to this week’s article. You may access it by clicking here.

I would like to tell you about a very wealthy Lake Forest, Illinois, resident named Joseph “Joe-Millionaire” Vasselli, who made millions of dollars with Illinois-based Houston Foods. From 1996 to 1999, Joe-Millionaire made a habit of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. A 1999 Lake County DUI cost him the privilege of driving legally. According to his official driving record, Joe-Millionaire lost his license for roughly six-months, which was a good thing for him because by law he should have lost it for a much longer period.

In case you are wondering how Joe-Millionaire managed the speedy return of his driving privileges, the answer begins with his father and some would suspect that it ends with Thomas Benigno.

Joe-Millionaire is the son of one of 1964’s most notorious burglars in the City of Chicago – the now late Outfit heavy Louis Vasselli. The burglary crew that Lou Vasselli ran didn’t just rob people; they also raped and tortured their victims. The crew took great pleasure in hurting women during home invasions. In some cases they maimed these poor women for life.

II Jack's Italian Restaurant

II Jack’s Italian Restaurant

Lou Vasselli, who was alive and well in 1999, had a long-established relationship with the now late Willie Messino, one-time Outfit co-underboss, who was also alive and well back in 1999. It is no secret to mob-watchers that Willie Messino held court almost on a daily basis at the now defunct II Jack’s Italian Restaurant of Chicago (located in the “PATCH” at Grand Ave and Wood Street). This establishment was owned at the time by Attorney Jack Cerone (son of Willie’s late Outfit overlord, John “Jack” Cerone).

An important dinner-meeting took place sometime in the fall of 1999 at II Jacks Restaurant. Among those alleged to be in attendance at the dinner-meeting are Attorney Jack Cerone, gangster Willie Messino, then Illinois State Rep. Skip Saviano and burglar Lou Vasselli. During the dinner-meeting, Lou Vasselli expressed his concern about his son’s driver’s license suspension/revocation. He asked the influential group whether anything could be done to tap the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office for a favor. It wasn’t far into the dinner-meeting before the name Thomas Benigno was one of the names prominently mentioned. By the end of the dinner-meeting, almost everyone was certain that a deal could be struck.

Not long after that meeting, Joe-Millionaire’s official driving record with the State of Illinois Secretary of State’s Office was fixed. He regained his privilege to drive, at the expense of justice.

So if anyone tells you that corruption has disappeared within the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office since controlled by George Ryan, tell them that it appears to some as if it is business as usual for those who know Thomas Benigno and/or his cronies.

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  • Great piece Frank. In addition to the important news, I
    found the information via your hyperlink regarding II Jack’s somewhat
    informative. For multiple reasons, I would not have Cerone on any committee.

  • Mr. Unbiased

    Is this the same Joseph Vaselli that Joe Fosco conned out of $400,000 Dollars with the help of Cerone Jr. & Fratto?

  • Mr. Unbiased

    Yes, it is the same Joe Vaselli. The Don is a personal friend of mine. He learned the whole complete story about Joe Fosco from his Uncle who is a made guy in the Elmwood Park Crew. He was then ordered to turn against Fosco to basically destroy his threads which is what happened. Nobody hardly at all comments on this blog anymore. Before The Don made up with his Uncle and found what really happened behind Joe Fosco’s story about being extorted by the Outfit ( which never happened ), he and another guy named Black Angelo were the best commentors and were more accurrate about how the Outfit was structured and operated than Joe Fosco ( which probably made Fosco a little jealous). Joe Fosco, along with the help of Jack Cerone Jr. & a couple other people, conned his friend Vasselli into investing money into a business venture that was destined to go bad from the beginning. Fosco was then cut out of the deal by Cerone Jr. In other words, the con man ( Joe Fosco ) got conned after he set up his friend Vasselli to be conned. That is why Joe Fosco hates Jack Cerone Jr.

    • Dear Mr. or Ms. (so called) Unbiased,
      Coning and/or a con is fraud and I never faced a fraud charge in my entire life anywhere on this planet; and I do not face such a charge today. In addition, I will state for the record that I did not con and/or defraud Mr. Vasselli (or anyone for that matter) out of anything. Therefore, your unsubstantiated, baseless and false allegations are nothing but libelous actions. Your feeble attempt to compromise the credibility of ANP in order to aid the bad guys who are exploited here is nothing more than a pathetic rescue ploy by anonymous helpers who wear masks such as “Mr. Unbiased.”
      I request that you cease and desist in spreading libelous information about me. If you continue to clutter these threads with your garbage, I will block you as I have blocked the other two anonymous detractors, who you have identified by sharing their idiotic monikers. Thank you.
      /s/Joe Fosco

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  • Logic6903

    Joe is Willie Messino related to the late Clement and Christopher Messino? Also would Chris Spina also be a holder in Jack Cerone’s Grand/Wood Enterprises?

    • Dear Logic,
      Sorry for the delay in getting to you. I overlooked your message.
      Clem and Chris are the sons of Willie’s brother. He had more than one brother. I think his brother Blessi was their dad. Chris Spina had nothing to do with Cerone or II Jack’s.

      • Logic6903

        Thanks Joe. Were any other of Willie’s sons or nephews made in the Outfit?

        Also why was II Jack’s put right in Spina/Lombardo territory as opposed to some place that Cerone was well-known like Elmwood Park? Grand/Wood intersection is very close to a few of Spina’s properties…I would think it would be odd if Spina was buying restaurants and had a real estate group in Elmwood Park without cutting the DiFronzo’s in, so what gives when they do it in Grand Avenue?

        • Dear Logic,
          Willie’s oldest son Pete Basile (illegitimate son), is rumored to be a ‘made’ member of the Chicago Outfit. I will double check on it. His legitimate sons (Chris is now deceased) only fantasized about being ‘made’.
          In the spring of 1996, 5-guys collaborated for the purpose of opening one restaurant, which was called Colucci’s Restaurant. Pete Agliata, Ralph ‘Pudgy’ Massey, Frank J. Carbonara, George Colucci and Willie Messino (the only four people who were aware of Willie’s silent share of the restaurant, via George Colucci’s known ownership, were George, Willie, Willie’s daughter and me) were the five true owners of the restaurant. I believe opening the restaurant on Grand Avenue and Wood Street (in the City of Chicago) was George Colucci’s stupid idea. Ralph and Pete were newly ousted union officials (who used to work for my father) and were both game for taking part in George’s stupid idea. Frank was close friends with Pete and Ralph and eager to be involved with his friends’stupid business interest. I remember it was a big move for Frank because he was recuperating from complications of open heart surgery at the time.
          Note: All the partners were close to the Cerone Family.
          Jack esquires adopted son, Jackie, became a manager of the restaurant because he went to school for hotel/restaurant management and was looking for a job.
          By the summer of 1996, old man Cerone (the gangster) died and Jack esquire was left in sole control of his late father’s illicit cash fortune. Immediately after the death of gangster-Cerone, Ralph, Pete and Frank took issue with George and walked out on him. Jackie (the adopted Cerone) nagged his dad about buying out the 3-partners who walked away from George’s stupid investment/restaurant. Since Jack esquire no longer had his father to obey, he foolishly decided to cave in to his adopted son’s ignorant nagging. By late summer, perhaps early fall (1996), Jack esquire became two-thirds owner of Colucci’s Restaurant.
          Soon after Cerone became majority owner, the adopted Cerone soon (in my opinion) turned into an unbearable power-freak. It wasn’t long before the 20-something year old adopted Cerone started with disrespecting George Colucci, who was roughly 50-somethiong years his senior. By the end of the year, Colucci took all he could stand of the adopted Cerone’s disrespectful behavior and he left the restaurant venture. According to Willie, Cerone esquire allegedly attempted to screw Colucci out of his steak of the restaurant, which included Willie’s silent share. However, on secret advice of others, who included Willie, George solicited the help of the Outfit boss at the time (Johnny Apes) and everything worked out for George – Cerone ended up buying out Colucci for fair market value (per orders of Johnny Ape).
          By the New Year, 1997, Cerone esquire was sole proprietor of Colucci’s Restaurant. Early on in 1997, I was having dinner with Cerone esquire while he was considering a new name for the restaurant. His adopted son was also present. The adopted son was desperate to name their place Goodfellas. Esquire and I cringed when we heard the adopted Cerone’s suggestion. Esquire liked the name II Jack’s because it reminded him of a place he liked in New Orleans that bared the same name but only in the French language. The fact that he and his adopted son were both known as “Jack” is what clinched it.
          You may read about the demise of II Jack’s here (Esquire incorrectly states the year in which he bought in by 1-year): http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/AppellateCourt/2012/1stDistrict/1110214.pdf

          • Logic,
            I should add that Jack’s adopted son resigned from II Jack’s Restaurant after a major news station armed with cameras, gained access (lawfully, thanks to Ralph Lopez) to the kitchen of the restaurant and exploited numerous health code violations on the nightly news. Apparently, the adopted son decided that being embarrassed was a good enough reason to abandon his father (this is my opinion). I doubt Jack’s real son would ever abandon him in such a way.

          • Alan

            Are you saying Apes was above John D at a time?? I did always wonder how it went from Aiuppa, to Carlisi, then switched to John D. OR did you say it that way because JD was locked up, or it was a crew matter, not a outfit matter?

          • Alan,
            Top boss was DiFronzo. Apes was the street boss, but DiFronzo always maintained the upper hand.

          • Alan

            So JD took over after Sam C. HOw would that work, is that odd given they where from diff crews?? Or was that just how good of a politician JD was as you describe. And you always spoke of Fratto as a Elm park crew guy, but wasn’t he one of Sam C’s guys? I have NO conections, these come from friend of friend of friend type comments I hear, or articles I read. So sorry if these are way off

          • Alan,
            I’ll be more specific. Sam was with Aiuppa and JD was with Cerone. However, Aiuppa and Cerone were with Accardo. Got it?

          • Top bosses from the Capone years to today.
            (In order) Capone, Campagna, Ricca, 3-year war/power-struggle between Accardo and Giancana, Accardo (bearded by Aiuppa and Cerone), Aiuppa and DiFronzo.

            Powerful street bosses:
            Teets, Ross, Phil, Rocky, Johnny D (when he was a street boss), Joey A, Apes, Little Jimmy, Fat Ass… I will look into more names soon.

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  • This man is a snake. My father gave him his start at Houston foods sweeping floors, mentored him up through the company, and then when Joe had an opportunity to cheat my father, he jumped on it. My dad died a few years later and we swear it was from heartbreak. Joe deserves every bit of negative press he receives.