GR SOURCES: Former Chicago Mafia Czar Fat Mike In Risk Of Being Wrapped Into Forthcoming Grand Ave Indictment

Multiple sources inside Illinois law enforcement speaking on the condition of anonymity inform Gangster Report imprisoned former Chicago mob acting boss Michael (Fat Mike) Sarno may be corralled into the pending federal RICO bust set to be levied against Westside Outfit capo Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena and his Grand Avenue crew in the near future. The small, but allegedly ruthless Vena, 67, is at the center of a multi-agency criminal investigation looking into mafia activity on the Westside. Exclusive Gangster Report sources predict Vena and members of his crew will be indicted by New Year’s. The gargantuan-sized 57-year old Sarno is currently serving 25 years behind bars for an extortion and racketeering conviction incurred in December 2010.

According to Cook County Sherriff’s Department files and first-hand sources, Vena and Sarno shared a number of business interests, both of the legal and illegal variety, when Sarno was still free. This joint portfolio included owning a glass-manufacturing company in Las Vegas “fronted” by one-time Windy City mafia associate and Grand Avenue crew member Jeff Hollingshead, who flipped and joined Team America almost two years ago after being abandoned in prison while staring at kidnapping and robbery charges. Still locked up and looking at 40 more years in the can if convicted on his own case, Hollingshead is a first cousin to Vena’s second-in-command Christopher (Christy the Nose) Spina and aided the feds in their home-invasion and racketeering bust of Westside mobsters Robert (Bobby Pinocchio) Panozzo and Paul (Big Paulie) Koroluk in the summer of 2014.

Panozzo, 56, is tight with Vena and the Grand Avenue crew’s alleged No. 3 in charge. Korluk is a master thief and Outfit breaking-and-entering specialist. Hollingshead worked closely with Panozzo and Koroluk on the street and was part of Vena’s inner circle. Federal authorities are pressuring Hollingshead to “give up” Spina and Vena, too.

Vena stepped into his Westside capo seat in early 2006 following then-consigliere Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, the longtime Godfather of Grand Avenue, being incarcerated in the epic Operation Family Secrets case and his acting crew boss James (Jimmy Boy) Cozzo falling ill with a fatal bout of cancer, per sources and CCSD records. Sources on the street in Chicago claim Vena’s promotion to a captain’s slot nearly a decade ago came as a result of Fat Mike Sarno. One of the first things Sarno did when he rose to acting boss in the months after his predecessor James (Jimmy the Man) Marcello was thrown in prison due to the April 2005 Family Secrets indictment (he’d be convicted in a murder conspiracy at trial two-and-a-half years later) was to up Albie Vena to captain of the Westside said one source.

The same source tells Gangster Report that the FBI is wondering if Vena’s close relationship with Sarno might have pulled him into a murder plot: specifically, the 2006 kidnapping and killing of Outfit acting underboss Anthony (Little Tony) Zizzo. Sarno is the top suspect in the ongoing investigation. He and Zizzo spawned from the same Cicero crew and were feuding at the time of Zizzo’s disappearance. Zizzo, 73, vanished without a trace August 31, 2006 en route to a mid-afternoon meeting on Rush Street, downtown Chicago’s main entertainment district located on the near Northside, territory that belongs to Vena and his Grand Avenue Goodfella contingent.

At least one informant has told law enforcement that Vena and then-official underboss Joseph (Joe the Builder) Andriacchi, a Vena mentor, were supposed to be at the meeting, which Zizzo thought was a sitdown with Sarno to smooth out their differences. Andriacchi, 83 and semi-retired from the rackets, is a Rush Street staple, well known to hold court and possible financial interests at several of the posh restaurants and nightclubs in the area. He is not considered a part of the current investigation into Vena’s Westside affairs, per sources with knowledge of the probe.

The son of former Outfit wiseguy Frank (Frankie Cease) Zizzo out of the syndicate’s Chicago Heights crew, Little Tony, sometimes referred to as “Tony the Trucker” or “Tony the Hat,” had trouble adjusting to taking orders from the younger Sarno and the two reportedly locked horns over power in the local video-poker machine industry. An FBI surveillance log from the summer of 2006 shows Vena dining with Zizzo in the days leading up to his murder. Sources with knowledge of Vena’s activities claim Albie the Falcon flew south to Florida in the weeks and months following both the Zizzo hit and the Family Secrets case being filed in the spring of 2005, to “get away from the heat.”

Vena, also known simply as “The Little Guy,” is a prime suspect in a long line of mob hits, but has never been convicted of a homicide. In 1995, he beat a murder rap (the 1992 slaying of Outfit drug dealer Sam Taglia).

Sarno’s name surfaced as possibly linked to helping coordinate the 2001 hit on Cicero crew loan shark and enforcer Anthony (Tony the Hatchet) Chiaramonti, an underling of Zizzo’s, per one source in a local suburban Chicago police department. He rose through the ranks of the Outfit in the generation following Little Tony Zizzo and Jimmy the Man Marcello, replacing Marcello as a driver and bodyguard for deceased crime family don Sam (Wings) Carlisi in the mid-1980s. Sarno reported directly to Cicero capo Ernest (Rocky) Infelise and became part of his “Good-Ship Lollipop crew,” running loan sharking and shakedown rackets on behalf of Infelise at the street level.

Infelise, Sarno and the whole crew, including current Chicago mob acting boss Salvatore (Solly D) DeLaurentis, went down in a 1990 RICO bust and Fat Mike, who would get smacked with another extortion case while locked up on the Good Ship Lollipop case and did a total of almost a decade in the pen. He finally walked free in October 1999 and by the early 2000s ascended to a capo post and became the Outfit’s primary liaison to the Illinois motorcycle gang circuit.

His most recent racketeering conviction surrounded his control of the Windy City video-poker machine racket and his overseeing a gigantic fenced-merchandise ring with a high-ranking member of the vicious Outlaws biker gang’s Chicago chapter named Mark (Goldberg the Jew) Polchan. Another Sarno co-defendant in the case was “joker-poker” mogul and mafia video-gambling expert Casey Szaflarski was released from prison back in the spring. Szaflarski, of Polish descent so unable to be formally initiated into the Outfit, married his daughter off to the son of reputed Outfit Southside capo Frank (Tootsie) Caruso before departing for his 5-year vacation in the not-so-friendly confines of federal custody.

FBI agents tracking Sarno’s daily movements and phone calls noted his savvy criminal ways avoiding their detection methods.

“I’m paranoid, but I got good reason to be,” he was recorded on a tapped phone line explaining his cautious behavior to an associate.

 

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