Burly Outfit boss posts $1M bond, walks

Mike Sarno says he's innocent in bombing case
June 16, 2009 2:43:13 PM PDT
A Chicago mobster known as "The Large Guy" had to post a large sum of money Tuesday to go free on bond after pleading not guilty to a federal racketeering charge.Mike Sarno, 51, of Westchester, put up $1 million Tuesday in federal court in Chicago. Sarno, whose heft and girth once earned him the nickname "Fat Boy" when he was a budding mobster, was arraigned by District Court Judge Ronald A. Guzman. Still a sizable presence, Sarno's million-dollar bond is secured by four pieces of real estate owned by relatives.

Sarno is charged with six other men in the racketeering case, including a suburban police officer and members and associates of the notorious Outlaws motorcycle gang. The sweeping conspiracy indictment tracks eight years of armed robberies, burglaries, jewel thefts and arson-all based in Chicago's western suburbs.

The FBI investigation began in February of 2003 when a pipe bomb blew up at the Berwyn headquarters of a video gaming equipment company. The firm was believed to be cutting into the Outfit's illegal video gambling profits, and investigators say the bomb attack was intended to be a warning from hoodlums. The mob's video gambling take was estimated to be at least $13 million a year.

Initially, in July of 2008, federal authorities arrested two men in connection with the bombing Mark Polchan, 41, an admitted member of the Outlaws biker gang and Samuel Volpendesto, 85. They are accused of building and detonating the bomb that demolished C&S Coin Operated Amusements, which distributed video poker equipment.

Sarno is being defended by longtime Chicago defense attorney Terence P. Gillespie, who says that his client is not a mob member and has been "a legitimate businessman" since a gambling conviction 15 years ago.

Judge Guzman also ordered that Sarno be confined to house arrest and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that will alert authorities if he leaves home. He has another court date July 14 at 10:30 a.m.

Beside Sarno, Polchan and Volpendesto, four men have also been indicted: veteran Cicero policeman Dino Vitalo; former Berwyn police officer James Formatto; Volpendesto's son Anthony and Mark Hay.


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