Top Chicago mob boss Peter DiFronzo escaped secret fed case and outlived Outfit wars, but lost fight with COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago mob boss Peter DiFronzo's DNA wasn't bulletproof after all.

At age 87, DiFronzo had survived gangland wars, underlings who plotted for his position and a secret law enforcement operation just discovered by the I-Team. But the burly DiFronzo couldn't win a fight against a tiny invisible enemy he never saw coming: COVID-19.

DiFronzo died Friday according to the Cook County Medical Examiner from complications of COVID-19. The Barrington resident died at St. Alexius Medical Center, county officials told the I-Team on Monday.

Peter DiFronzo came from a mob family. His infamous brother John had risen to the #1 spot in the Outfit before his own death in 2018. In addition to a ruthless disposition, John's claim to fame was his nickname "No Nose," that he wore as a badge of honor after his schnozzle was sliced off while jumping through a plate glass window during a Michigan Avenue jewel heist.

Brother Peter had no showy moniker and seemed to enjoy living outside the Outfit limelight and in his brother's shadow. A third brother, Joseph was also a mob lifer according to federal investigators.

But in the wake of his death, the ABC7 I-Team has learned that FBI officials and Chicago police were zeroing in on Peter DiFronzo in a top secret investigation known only to those working it in the mid-1990's and branded Operation Red October.

According to never-before-seen investigative records, police and federal agents tailed and photographed the DiFronzo brothers during meetings with top hoodlums in an apparent effort to land a criminal prosecution against the rising Outfit stars.

Operation Red October, which was a joint investigation by the FBI and the Chicago Police Department, started in about 1995.

"Certainly by mid-1995 and probably early 1995," said Chicago organized crime expert and mob author John Binder who obtained the surveillance photos and police reports.

"They were looking at organized crime in the suburb of Elmwood Park. This is after [mobster] Marco D'Amico had gone away to prison so he was no longer running that crew, but they're taking a hard look at exactly what was going on in Elmwood Park" Binder told the I-Team. "People that were being looked at because they kept coming up on the radar screen we're obviously John DiFronzo who was by 1997 pretty clearly be the boss of the entire outfit. And Peter."

However, even with the intense attention from law enforcement for months, no charges came from Red October against either DiFronzo. And they both escaped charges during the more potent federal probe Operation Family Secrets that resulted in a near-dismantling of the mob's upper crust.

Through all of the investigations, Peter DiFronzo continued to operate a waste hauling company in west suburban Melrose Park, D&P Construction, that on state records lists his wife Josephine as sole executive of the firm.

"Peter DiFronzo clearly had a very long career in crime it's why they call it a life of crime by the way, and the only thing that really put a dent into that career was the COVID-19 virus this year," said Binder.

Peter DiFronzo's funeral will be private, according to the Salerno's Galewood Chapels.
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