Ex-Berwyn cop key witness in Chicago mob trial

December 9, 2010 4:45:04 PM PST
A one-time crooked cop swore to tell the truth in federal court Thursday. Ex-Berwyn Patrolman James Formato testified about his role in a mob-connected burglary ring.

The golden rule of the Chicago Outfit is that you do unto others before the police can undo you, and having the police in your back pocket had been the most efficient way mob bosses have accomplished that for almost a century.

Formato was paid to serve and protect the 54,000 residents of west suburban Berwyn. Unknown to them, Formato was also being paid to protect a multi-million dollar Outfit burglary crew.

Even while in uniform, Formato couriered mob cash. He has told federal authorities that he faked police reports and provided inside law enforcement information to west suburban rackets boss Michael "the Large Guy" Sarno, who is currently on trial in federal court with four accused associates.

Formato, no longer a Berwyn policeman, has pleaded guilty in the case and could face almost four years in prison as part of his deal with prosecutors.

During Thursday's testimony, ex-officer Formato provided a play-by-play of his moonlighting for the mob, a crew that is accused of bombing of a rival video poker business, committing home invasions and jewelry heists netting nearly $2 million.

In 2007, after Formato began cooperating with the FBI, he secretly recorded conversations with members of the gang, including Outlaw biker Mark Polchan, who is on trial.

The former Berwyn policeman will be back on the stand Friday. The government is close to wrapping up its case.


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