The feds' investigation connected the business of McCormick Place to the Outfit and was based on hours of FBI tapes and an undercover informant.
Fratto wasn't laughing when he found out that more than 50 of his conversations had been secretly recorded by an FBI operative working undercover as a consultant with clout at McCormick Place.
Fratto's co-schemer, Inverness businessman William "Billy" Degironemo, already pleaded guilty a few days ago. His plea deal will be similar to the one Fratto will enter Thursday, according to Fratto's lawyer. It will claim that Degironemo and Fratto were in cahoots in the McCormick Place scheme to win forklift contracts by obtaining secret bid information. Fratto will admit his role in the forklift caper back in 2006 that was valued at a few hundred thousand dollars.
As the leader of the Outfit's Elmwood Park crew, the 67-year-old Fratto is considered by mobologists to be one of Chicago's top five most powerful hoodlums. He has organized crime in his blood. His most notable relative was Luigi Tomaso Giuseppi Fratto, a gangland leader and labor racketeer from the 1930s into the 1960s.
Luigi Fratto was also known as "Cockeyed Louie" due to his off-kilter eyeball. Rudy Fratto was photographed over the years by federal surveillance teams during meetings with other mob leaders. In 2001 he was seen at a secret Outfit summit where the takeover of video-poker turf in the suburbs was being hatched.
Federal records first reported by the I-Team revealed that Rudy Fratto was considered a significant threat to Nicholas Calabrese, a key witness in the Operation Family Secrets trial.
But when he was charged in the McCormick Place case last year, Fratto continued to play wiseguy, enjoying the disruption provided by his horn-tooting driver.
Fratto is a resident of southwest suburban Darien and is a convicted tax cheat. He was just released in July from a year-long federal sentence in that case. According to the terms of Thursday's plea bargain, he faces up to twenty years in prison and restitution.