The beginning of 1985 was quite bloody in the Chicago mafia. Bodies were falling like dominos. The gruesome Hal Smith slaying was just one of three Outfit murders to take place at the start of the 1985, all three occurring in the same month’s timespan. Smith, an independent bookmaker, Leonard (Little Lenny) Yaras, a high-level Jewish Outfit associate and Charles (Chuckie English) Inglese, an aging Windy City mob heavyweight tied by some, at least tangentially, to the John F. Kennedy assassination, were all killed between mid-January and mid-February 1985.

Chicago goodfella Robert (Bobby the Gabeet) Bellavia, a soldier in the Outfit’s Cicero crew, was released to a halfway house last week after 25 years behind bars related to his conviction for conspiracy to murder Smith, among other racketeering offenses. Bellavia, 76, was allegedly one of four hitmen that beat, strangled and stabbed the stubborn Smith to death on February 7, 1985 in a private residence located in Long Grove, Illinois. Cicero regime strong-arm Robert (Bobby the Boxer) Salerno was the only person convicted of the physical act of homicide itself in the case. The 48-year old Smith ran a massive sports-gambling ring and repeatedly refused to pay a street tax to the Cicero crew.

Three weeks preceding Smith’s grisly slaying, Little Lenny Yaras, the son of deceased Outfit lieutenant and labor-union power Davey Yaras, was wacked. The younger Yaras, a 44-year old fast-rising hoodlum in Chicago, was ambushed by a pair of masked gunmen as he pulled out of his parking space at his A-I Industrial Uniforms Rogers Park headquarters on the morning of January 10, 1985. Almost exactly a month later, on February 13, less than a week following Smith’s murder, Chuckie English, slain Outfit boss Sam (Momo) Giancana former right-hand man who had just recently came out of retirement, was shotgunned to death by two masked assailants in the parking lot of the popular Chicago mafia hangout Horwath’s in Elmwood Park (this article’s feature image is a photo of Inglese on the slab in the morgue).

Like Inglese, the elder Yaras was implicated in a mob plot to murder the U.S. President in 1963 (they both maintained close relationships with Jack Ruby). Davey Yaras, the Illinois mob’s emissary in Miami in the 1960s and early 1970s, died of a heart attack while playing a round of golf at a Florida country club in 1974. He was partners on the street with Lenny Patrick, the Jewish Godfather of the Chicago Northside’s Rogers Park neighborhood, his son’s direct superior in the Outfit at the time he was killed, unable to prevent it because of his non-Italian heritage.

The door was officially opened to rubout Little Lenny Yaras when his Italian benefactor, Joseph (Little Caesar) DiVarco, was incarcerated on a racketeering conviction the day prior to his execution. DiVarco oversaw the city’s Rush Street entertainment district for the Chicago mob’s Northside crew. According to Cook County Sheriff’s Department documents, Little Lenny worked in the Northside crew as a bookie, collector and drug dealer.

In the final years of his life, his skill at thuggery made him a valuable commodity in Outfit circles and syndicate administration began farming out his services to other crews, most notably the Cicero regime’s giant sports-gambling unit ran by Dominic (Large Dom) Cortina and Donald (The Wizard) Angelini. Yaras was looked at by federal authorities as a possible getaway driver in the 1983 slaying of mob associate and insurance mogul Allen Dorfman, a hit carried out by the Westside Grand Avenue crew.

Informants told the FBI following his death that the Cicero crew suspected Yaras of skimming from his collections for Cortina and Angelini and when he was called out for his behavior he got into an intense verbal spat with Cicero lieutenant Lawrence (Hungry Larry) Pettit. Chicago Crime Commission files name Pettit and his brother Joe, as the people that took control of Yaras’ rackets after he was killed.

Outfit associate and Cicero crew member David (Red) O’Malley, a former police officer and convicted racketeer, was put on trial for the Yaras hit, but acquitted of the charges. O’Malley did 10 years behind bars for helping Cicero wiseguy Bobby Salerno oversee bookmaking and loansharking operations.

Chuckie English, 70, sealed his fate to an early grave by returning to the Outfit after a brief retirement. He quickly started stepping on people’s toes. Inglese angered mob powers, Joseph (Joey Doves) Aiuppa, John (Jackie the Lackey) Cerone and Joe Ferriola, when he came back from Florida in the early 1980s. He had retreated south following Sam Giancana’s assassination in 1975, only to return to the Chicago underworld with longtime don Tony (The Big Tuna) Accardo’s permission.

Ironically, Accardo was the one who eventually sanctioned his murder, per FBI records, at the request of Ferriola and Aiuppa, both Cicero guys. Ferriola was feuding with Inglese in the years leading up to his murder. Aiuppa, the Outfit’s acting boss from the early 1970s until the mid-1980s, was on the verge of turning over day-to-day leadership duties to Ferriola because he and Cerone, his Elmwood Park-based second-in-command, were heading off to prison for stealing from the Las Vegas casinos they controlled.

Current reputed Chicago mob don, John (Johnny No Nose) Di Fronzo and alleged modern-day Elmwood Park capo, Rudy (The Chin) Fratto, had their names surface as suspects in the Chuckie English hit, however, neither were ever charged. One informant told the FBI that Fratto “made his bones” on the Inglese job, setting the stage for his “making” three years later. Inglese was dining with a group of judges and politicians at Horwath’s, a Chicago gangland haunt dating back to Prohibition, the night he was done in.

 

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  1. Howie Siegel

    Got anything on Sam Weisbrodt? He was my uncle, grew up with Leonard on Maxwell St. And worked with him, too, Rush St. Liquors. Known as Little Sammy or Sammy W.

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