The Chicago mob’s Westside crew is being eyed in a series of recent daytime robberies in the city’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, per sources in Illinois law enforcement. Last week, the Chicago Police Department issued a public alert about the “backdoor break-in jobs,” burglaries that take place in the afternoon focusing on residents who are away at work and have lax or no security systems. There were five reported robberies in the month of September. Among the items reported missing were large amounts of cash, jewelry and police electronics equipment

Traditionally, the Outfit’s Westside regime, more commonly referred to as the Grand Avenue crew on the streets, has been known as a crew that specializes in burglaries and high-end heists. Windy City Westside mob stalwarts Robert (Bobby Pinocchio) Panozzo and Paul (Big Paulie) Koroluk went down in a state racketeering bust two years ago centered around a robbery ring they ran targeting drug gangs. The pair was convicted together on burglary charges in 2006

The 57-year old Koroluk took an 18-year plea bargain back in the spring. Panozzo, 56 and once the reputed “chief of staff” for alleged Grand Avenue capo Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena, is cooling his heels as a guest of the government awaiting trial on those charges as well as an additional extortion charge arising out of federal court in Rockford, Illinois.

Vena, 68, is said to have risen to street boss these days. Vena’s 66-year old brother in law, Charles (Chuckie the Electrician) Russell, a convicted felon, trusted Outfit associate and reputed expert burglar, allegedly has been seen spending time in Jefferson Park since the beginning of the summer, GR sources claim. Jefferson Park is on the city’s Northwest side, mob territory belonging to Vena’s Grand Avenue gang of wiseguys, thieves and assorted misfits.

Russell was born in West Virginia and relocated to Chicago in the 1970s. He did almost two decades behind bars for raping a woman and then throwing her out of a window in 1993. Chicago Crime Commission files tie Russell to legendary Grand Avenue crew enforcer and hit man Francis (Frankie the German) Schweihs, who died of cancer in 2008 while in prison awaiting trial in the landmark Operation Family Secrets murder and racketeering case.

Rumors of a federal indictment naming Vena and members of his crew in a racketeering conspiracy, possibly involving unsolved homicides, have proven unfounded. The FBI did confirm to media outlets back in August that Vena is considered a top suspect in the 2006 disappearance and murder of Outfit underboss Anthony (Little Tony) Zizzo.

 

 

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