Intelligence Report: Good Cop, Bad Cop

September 27, 2011 4:28:07 PM PDT
A longtime Cicero Police officer was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for his role in a mob racketeering crew.

In this Intelligence Report: Two sharply different portraits of former officer Dino Vitalo were presented in court.

This is the epitome of good cop, bad cop, all within one cop. Forty-two-year-old Dino Vitalo was variously described Tuesday at his federal sentencing hearing as either the world's greatest policeman or the world's worst.

Vitalo was sentenced to two years in prison. He had pleaded guilty to providing police information to top members of the Chicago Outfit, most notably Mike "The Large Guy" Sarno.

It was Sarno who led a mob racketeering crew and was convicted of blowing up a Berwyn video gaming company that was in competition with organized crime.

In court Tuesday afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said that Vitalo's moonlighting with the mob -- and leaking sensitive information -- had a negative impact on the government's ability to investigate organized crime. In 18 years with Cicero Police, Bhachu said, Vitalo had "a pattern of not following the rules, "does not care about the rules," and "followed the rules he wanted to follow."

The Town of Cicero has long been dogged by organized crime connections, going back to Prohibition, when Al Capone established his gangland headquarters there.

But, in court Tuesday, Dino Vitalo's lawyer suggested it was unfair to paint him "with a broad brush of a corrupt officer." Attorney Todd Pugh said he hoped that "a man's life isn't judged by his mistakes."

Pugh offered several letters applauding Vitalo, including one written by Cicero Police Commander Raul Perez, who praised Vitalo's years of dedication and service.

The prosecutor responded to those letters of support for ex-Cicero Patrolman Vitalo and said that "you have to have a screw loose in your head to think he is a top shelf officer."

Raul Perez himself is no stranger to discipline. He was suspended for misconduct while working as state police bodyguard to Governor Rod Blagojevich.

In handing down Tuesday's sentence, Judge Ronald Guzman observed that Vitalo was "very much at home with these people," members of the outfit, and that he was in cahoots with other cops.

One of the other outfit-connected cops, James Formato from Berwyn, was to be sentenced Tuesday but it was put off until late November.

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