Tuesday, November 24

Mafia Report: Chicago Outfit – Addendum Three

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Mafia Report: Chicago Outfit – Addendum Two covers a great deal of turncoat John DiFronzo’s life as an operative of the Chicago Outfit, but only generally speaks to the aftermath associated with DiFronzo’s release from prison. This Addendum will illustrate in better detail how DiFronzo forever changed the shape of the Chicago Outfit.

From the days prior to Alphonse Capone, up to John DiFronzo’s release from prison in the mid-1990s, the Chicago Outfit was a single organized-crime syndicate spanning the greater Chicagoland area. In the mid-1990s there would be a schism that forever changed the Outfit, and John DiFronzo was its primary architect.

John Difronzo

I selected this photo of John DiFronzo in memory of Wille Messino, who once shared with me that he thought John looked good in this photo.

It was DiFronzo’s plan to keep his nose clean in order to satisfy conditions established by the United States Department of Justice. DiFronzo’s deal was designed to protect him from criminal indictments for the rest of his life provided that he wouldn’t engage in future Outfit activities and/or conspiracies and remained on indefinite standby ready to supply the DOJ with culpatory information on other Outfit operatives when required.

It would be impossible for DiFronzo to accomplish this with the Outfit operating as it had in the past. DiFronzo had to allow the Chicago Outfit to operate in some reasonable fashion so his primary interest in helping the DOJ would remain inconspicuous to his criminal cohorts. Nevertheless, safeguards had to be in place to ensure that DiFronzo would not be involved in any future criminal activities and/or conspiracies.

For many decades the Chicago Outfit consisted of several crews that were under the rein of one administration. Since then, through today, The Chicago Outfit is comprised of two different crime organizations – informally known as Cicero and Elmwood Park. In this structure, DiFronzo must have seen his escape hatch. In order to maintain his freedom and keep other Outfit members from realizing what he was really doing, DiFronzo came out with an ingenious plan: he would bifurcate the Chicago Outfit.

While Outfit boss Sam Carlisi and Underboss John DiFronzo were away in prison in the mid-1990s, Johnny “Apes” Monteleone became the acting day-to-day boss of the Chicago Outfit. As acting day-to-day boss, Apes was beholden to DiFronzo, as DiFronzo remained Underboss, which is a position greater than acting day-to-day boss.

Indeed, DiFronzo was essentially the boss of the Outfit at this point. DiFronzo’s cooperation with the DOJ had already begun sealing Carlisi’s fate. Carlisi was plagued with a serious gambling criminal matter, as he simultaneously managed chronic health issues. Clearly, Carlisi was DiFronzo’s and the DOJ’s common target. DiFronzo and the DOJ mutually endeavored to make certain that Carlisi would never see the light of day ever again, no matter what would be required of DiFronzo in order to manipulate this desired outcome.

With Carlisi safely locked away, DiFronzo was able to bench the Elmwood Park crime faction, the crew that DiFronzo had belonged to since the late 1940s. Benching these operatives was the exact safeguard necessary to ensure that DiFronzo would not be involved in any further criminal activities and/or conspiracies. DiFronzo allowed the Cicero crew to continue as usual. This effectively created two different Outfit organizations.

Once the split was completed, DiFronzo gave Apes the authority to operate the Cicero Outfit as its boss, while DiFronzo maintained highly discrete and very limited access as consigliore. This would continue until the Cicero Outfit’s administration was fully and permanently developed. This strategy provided DiFronzo a comfort zone, as he was not very well connected to the operatives within the Cicero Outfit. The connections between DiFronzo and the Cicero operatives were convoluted, which provided a nice level of protection for DiFronzo. The Cicero Outfit went on to have a number of successors to Apes, and remains an extremely functional crime faction to this very day.

Naturally, the Elmwood Park operatives were not happy about being benched. So, they continued to operate discretely in hopes that DiFronzo would not detect their activity. Willie Messino, a senior operative at the time, quietly continued his life-long career as a loan shark. Michael Magnafichi somewhat quietly continued perusing his then longstanding bookmaking interests, but also attempted to develop legitimate businesses as well – unfortunately for him, he experienced little success.

Rudy Fratto didn’t have the money to lend out to be a loan shark like Willie, and he was too egotistical to ask Willie for money to lend out to others. In fact, Rudy wasn’t even equipped to run a basic gaming racket. Therefore, Rudy was left to do what he was good at doing, which was hustling amateur thugs or other fools (including some hapless Italian foreigners) by leading them to believe that he was a major Outfit boss. His comical attempts to shake down these people for protection money ultimately failed, which should not be a surprise to any reasonable person.

“Greedy Petey” DiFronzo (one of John’s younger brothers) primarily attended to his family business, D & P Trucking. However, the greed in Petey caused him to occasionally jump on various low-risk opportunities, though only in isolated situations that were usually presented by Rudy Fratto.

John DiFronzo knew that he could not trust these career criminals to remain on the bench totally and completely. DiFronzo knew that his benched soldiers – to some degree – would remain in operation in order to make ends meet or simply because of their love of crime. DiFronzo was clearly no one’s fool. By discretely causing the Elmwood Park Outfit operatives to move around in ways they thought were taking place behind his back, DiFronzo ensured that he would be unassociated with their criminal activities, as they were obviously unable to volunteer information to him about their criminal activity. This process gave DiFronzo reasonable protection from having any involvement in Outfit activities and/or conspiracies. It also gave some of his supposedly benched soldiers a way to make a living without DiFronzo’s involvement whatsoever. He certainly did not need their illicit money anymore.

With D & P Trucking, coupled with all that John DiFronzo had socked away over the years, he was in a position to do absolutely nothing serious with the rest of his life. So he spent his free time going around to a small number of watering holes and restaurants for cocktails and meals almost every day while mingling with several ordinary and common individuals for unimportant social conversation and some silly laughs – which is consistent with my slight involvement with him.

To this day the Cicero Outfit, which is basically the new – and only – Chicago Outfit, remains independent from the dilapidated and/or defunct Elmwood Park Outfit. DiFronzo’s plan to bifurcate the Outfit worked.

I will end Addendum Three here. If you have any questions or comments to share with me, please visit American News Post’s Facebook page to leave a comment or send me an email at jfosco@americannewspost.com. We will no longer respond to comments left on the ANP site. Thank you.

The Mafia Report Series:

5/13/20 – Mafia Report: Chicago Outfit

5/31/20 – Mafia Report: Chicago Outfit – Addendum One

6/4/20 – Mafia Report: Chicago Outfit – Addendum Two

7/18/20 – Mafia Report: Chicago Outfit – Addendum Four

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