High-ranking Chicago mob associate and veteran Windy City professional thief Paul (Big Paulie) Koroluk pled guilty to federal racketeering charges last week and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The 57-year old Koroluk was indicted in the summer of 2014 for running an Outfit-backed home invasion and armed-robbery crew in tandem with Chicago mafia lieutenant Robert (Bobby Pinocchio) Panozzo. The pair were convicted and did prison time for a burglary ring in the 2000s.

Koroluk and Panozzo are alleged to be part of the Outfit’s Grand Avenue regime headed by reputed Westside capo Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena, the alleged successor to 87-year old imprisoned former Outfit consigliere Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, Koroluk and Panozzo’s mentor in the underworld. Lombardo’s been behind bars for a decade, locked up for the murder of a friend and business partner-turned-FBI informant in 1974.

Dating back to the 1980s, Big Paulie Koroluk has had the reputation as one of the best thieves in the whole Midwest, known for pulling high-end jobs and his overall brilliance in taking down scores. Before he was locked up two years ago, Panozzo, per sources, was said to be the Grand Avenue crew’s narcotics chief. The home invasions and armed robberies listed in the indictment almost-exclusively targeted street-gang affiliated drug houses and wholesale drug dealers. Charges of prostitution, arson and insurance fraud are included in the indictment as well.

Panozzo, 56, has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial (he’s also under indictment in a separate criminal case out of Rockford, Illinois). Appearing gaunt and quite thinner than his usual waistband-expanding self in the recent mug shot authorities provided to the media this week upon the official announcement of his plea, “Big Paulie K” will be eligible for parole in 2023.

"Big Paulie" Koroluk c. 2016

“Big Paulie” Koroluk c. 2016

Koroluk’s wife, Maria and Panozzo’s son and namesake Bobby, Jr. were both indicted in the 2014 RICO. Maria Vargas Koroluk, the niece of longtime alleged Chicago mob associate and local strip-club owner Sam Cecola, pled guilty this week and had all the charges against her dropped except a criminal trespass count. She was sentenced to court supervision (probation). Bobby Panozzo, Jr. has pled not guilty and awaiting trial alongside his pops.

The probe into what the Feds referred to as the “P-K Crew” began in 2013 with the discovery of a murder plot against a witness that was never carried out and the securing of the cooperation of crew member Jeff Hollingshead. Panozzo’s former bodyguard, Hollingshead is first cousins with Outfit heavyweight Christopher (Christy the Nose) Spina, the reputed No. 2 in command behind Albie Vena in the Chicago mob’s Westside hierarchy, and was already locked up in state prison on an unrelated home invasion and kidnapping case.

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