According to informants for law enforcement in Illinois, the 1981 car-bombing murder of Chicago mob associate and fledgling trucking magnate Michael Cagnoni was linked to a fight for control of mafia affairs in the Windy City suburbs involving reputed current Outfit boss Salvatore (Solly D) DeLaurentis. Informants for multiple agencies have opined that besides a beef over produce shipping routes from California to the Midwest, Cagnoni’s problems with the Outfit had ties to his siding with a DeLaurentis rival in the feud for power in the rackets in Lake County and parts of McHenry County in the early 1980s.

On the morning of June 24, 1981, the 37-year Cagnoni was blown to bits as he drove his 1979 silver-colored Mercedes-Benz towards the Tri-State Tollway near the border of Hinsdale, Illinois and Western Springs, Illinois, right outside of Chicago, and a bomb planted underneath the car was detonated as he made his way onto the entry ramp. The Cagnoni slaying was included in the epic Operation Family Secrets indictment, charging 14 Chicago mobsters with various racketeering offenses and 18 gangland executions spanning back almost four decades.

The Family Secrets trial started 10 years ago this week, eventually convicting Outfit leaders James (Jimmy the Man) Marcello, Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo and Frank (Frankie the Breeze) Calabrese of a series of cold-case mob murders. Calabrese and his younger brother Nick (Nicky Slim) Calabrese were nailed for blowing up Cagnoni, as well as a dozen other hits. Nicky Slim was the government’s star witness. Frankie the Breeze passed away in prison in 2012, five years following his conviction.

Solly DeLaurentis, 78, avoided indictment in the Operation Family Secrets case, having already gone down in Operation Good Ship Lollipop a decade and a half earlier. DeLaurentis was released from federal prison in March 2006, three months prior to the Family Secrets trial beginning, and allegedly became day-to-day boss of the mafia in Chicago around 2012.

The Good Ship Lollipop was the nickname of the wing of the Outfit’s Cicero crew DeLaurentis belonged to in the 1980s which oversaw mob affairs in suburban Lake County. Per FBI records, Mike Cagnoni had been paying the Cicero crew a street tax for protection in his trucking routes in the years leading up to his homicide. FBI agents observed Cagnoni delivering tribute envelopes of cash to Cicero wiseguy Michael (Big Mike) Spano at Spano’s Flash Trucking Co. which were then filtered up the latter to Cicero capos Ernest (Rocky) Infelise and Joe Ferriola, the crime family’s future don.

Spano became boss of the Cicero crew once Infelise was incarcerated and Ferriola died. Today, he is alleged to be retired from the Outfit, walking free from his own racketeering conviction two years ago.

In the wake of Cagnoni’s death, at least two police informants told authorities he had gotten caught in the crosshairs of a battle for gambling, prostitution and extortion territory in Lake County, pitting DeLaurentis, Infelice’s protégé and his Lake County liaison, against longtime suburban crew boss Joseph (Black Joe) Amato. Bolstered by support from Infelise, a former war hero and paratrooper in the military, per Chicago Crime Commission documents, DeLaurentis set his sights on deposing Amato and absorbing his rackets in addition to expanding deeper into bordering McHenry County.

Cagnoni’s car-bomb murder may have been the first salvo in a mini mob war featuring the use of explosives as the weapon of choice. Black Joe Amato’s driver Nick Sarillo survived a car-bombing attack in 1982. Infelice and DeLaurentis ordered a string of fire-bombings of Amato’s gambling and massage parlors throughout the second half of 1981 and all of 1982, tactics responded to in kind with Amato ordering the bombing of DeLaurentis-affiliated businesses and properties, according to the CCC files.

“We’re taking over Lake County, we’re grabbing the whole thing” DeLaurentis and his best friend and mob running buddy Louis (Louie Tomatoes) Marino were recorded boasting to a wired associate of theirs in a restaurant booth less than six months after Cagnoni’s murder.

Reacting to the Cicero crew’s demand that he raise his monthly tribute amount to them due to the squashing of a beef on Cagnoni’s behalf removing pressure from other area mob crews upset at Cagnoni’s cartage-hauling company undercutting produce shipping prices from the west coast, Cagnoni reportedly resisted and tried to take refuge with Amato, per a pair of informants. Amato allegedly promised Cagnoni protection from Infelise and Ferriola in exchange for a lesser street tax..

It took a sit down held in 1983, moderated by then Outfit boss Joseph (Joey Doves) Aiuppa, to settle the bad blood between Amato and Infelice, Ferriola and DeLaurentis, according to files in the CCC document archive. The result of the sit down was Amato basically being forced into semi-retirement and DeLaurentis and Louie Marino gaining their desired foothold in Lake County.

Amato died of natural causes in 1998. Marino did the same earlier this year. Ferriola succumbed to cancer in 1989 only a few years after he took the throne and Infelise passed away in prison in 2005, doing time on the Operation Good Ship Lollipop bust.

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