Web Exclusive: Mob's Rudy no role model

Fratto the latest family member to face the feds
October 14, 2009 9:51:44 AM PDT
As the mob's family tree has spread upward, federal authorities in Chicago seemed to keep missing one piece of low-hanging fruit.That changed yesterday with a guilty plea by Rudy Fratto Jr. The reputed suburban Chicago Outfit boss copped a plea as a tax cheat, admitting that he evaded thousands of dollars in federal income taxes.

Fratto, 65, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a single charge of tax evasion. In the plea agreement Fratto admitted not paying $141,192 in taxes on more than $835,000 income beginning in 2001.

So, instead of collecting Social Security, the aging Darien resident will be picking up a few dollars a day working a prison job. According to Fratto's plea agreement, federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 12 to 18 months. Read the Fratto Plea Agreement

The federal grand jury investigation of Fratto resembled that of a more notorious Chicago hoodlum nearly 80 years ago: Al Capone. After years of being pursued for his role in violent mob rackets, the man they called Scarface was finally nailed on tax evasion charges.

Fratto hails from a family of Chicago mobsters and publicly seemed to relish his reputation as a tough-guy. Once, on a rainy day, he was seen holding a closed umbrella as if it was a machine gun-waving it at stunned onlookers.

Rudolph "Rudy" Fratto has the Outfit in his blood. Fratto relatives have toiled in the Chicago Syndicate since the 1920's; known by such nicknames as "Cock-eyed" and One Ear." Their rap sheets were long with charges from theft, gambling and bootlegging to murder and mob mayhem.

Rudy Fratto himself has been connected with organized crime in Chicago for decades, by federal lawmen, state officials and the Chicago Crime Commission.

The top mob lieutenant for the powerful Elmwood Park Crew has never faced criminal charges before being indicted last month in the tax scheme. He lived an outwardly normal life in a suburban neighborhood with his wife and children.

According to the charges, Fratto evaded taxes by having various firms pay him through a defunct business. It was a business however in which he signed the checks.

Federal records first reported by the I-Team revealed that Fratto was considered a top threat to the safety of major mob witness Nicholas Calabrese, a reformed hitman. Calabrese' compelling testimony helped put away top hoodlums during the recent Family Secrets mob murder trial. Fratto was not charged in that case.

He was also photographed over the years by federal surveillance teams during meetings with mob leaders. In 2001 he was seen at a secret Outfit summit to plot the takeover of video-poker turf in the suburbs.

Another time, Fratto was observed meeting with former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt. The men were to work out details of a proposed gangland hit, according to testimony in 2002 during a sentencing hearing in Hanhardt's jewel theft case. The hit did not occur and Hanhardt is serving a federal prison sentence.

On January 12, Fratto is expected to join Hanhardt in prison. That is the sentencing date.

Yesterday in court Mr. Fratto told the judge that he suffers from migraine headaches.

If Mr. Fratto is strained by a decision whether to testify against the gangsters and hoodlums that he has been seen with during the decades, he didn't say.


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