Chewing The Fat: Chicago Mafia Don’s Nephew Slain In ’97 For Stealing From Cicero Crew

November 19, 2022 — There were some pretty dangerous individuals that didn’t care much for Chicago mob associate Robert (Fat Bobby) Cruz, a man who spent 15 years on death row for a vicious double murder tied to the Chicago mob’s one-time strangle hold on the Las Vegas casino industry before he was exonerated at a whopping fifth trial in June 1995. Fat Bobby just rubbed a lot of people in the Outfit the wrong way. He lasted two and a half years on the street after his epic acquittal until he was killed.

Cruz attended his cousin and notorious Outfit hit man Harry (The Hook) Aleman’s sentencing on a first-degree homicide conviction in late 1997 and then was never seen alive again in public. Their uncle, Chicago mob boss Joe Ferriola, was long gone, done in by a bad heart eight years earlier. Now, with Harry the Hook in prison for life, Cruz had no more layers of protection left.

The Outfit waited only a matter of days before taking action. Chicago mob leaders suspected Fat Bobby of stealing from Cicero crew rackets, both before and after he served his time on death row. Joe Ferriola headed the Chicago mob’s Cicero crew prior to becoming boss of the entire Outfit. Ferriola dropped dead on the operating table during a heart transplant surgery in 1989. He could no longer cover for his nephew.

Fifty-year old Fat Bobby Cruz was reported missing on December 4, 1997. He left his Kildeer, Illinois home after hanging Christmas lights in his front yard and never returned. His remains weren’t unearthed until a decade later, discovered by construction workers on a piece of property in DuPage County once used as a mafia graveyard by the Cicero crew’s infamous “Wild Bunch,” hit team that his cousin Harry the Hook had captained in the 1970s. The DuPage County Coroner said Cruz was shot twice in the back of the head.

Nobody has ever faced charges in the Cruz homicide. The FBI offered a $10,000 reward for information resulting in an arrest in the case to no avail. There have been people in law enforcement and on the street that dismiss the theft motive and instead theorize Aleman ordered his own cousin’s killing because he blamed him for his conviction in the second Logan murder trial — Aleman let Cruz influence his decision vetting defense atto

rneys.

Per FBI informant files, Ferriola had dispatched his ne’er-do-well nephew Fat Bobby to the Phoenix area in the 1970s to aid he Chicago mob’s west coast branch in moving stolen property, dope and dirty currency. The Outfit’s Las Vegas crew would often ship loads of “hot merch” to be fenced in places like Arizona, California, New Mexico and Florida, as well as a places to push casino-skim money through legitimate businesses.

According to state prosecutors in Arizona, Cruz masterminded the New Year’s Eve 1980 massacre of Phoenix businessman Pat Redmond and his mother-in-law Helen Phelps after Redmond refused to sell his printing company to the Chicago mob so the Outfit could use it to launder cash stolen from Vegas casino count rooms. He was found guilty at four different trials between 1982 and 1993 before he finally won acquittal at his fifth time in front of a jury in the summer of 1995 and returned to the Windy City.

Although Fat Bobby Cruz eventually walked free from the case, two African-American gang bangers from Chicago, Murray (Hoop the Hatter) Hooper and Willie Bracey and former Phoenix cop Eddie McCall, were all found guilty of killing Redmond and Phelps execution style inside Redmond’s North Phoenix residence in the early evening hours of December 31, 1980. Marilyn Redmond, Pat’s wife and Phelps’ daughter, was shot in the attack as well, but survived to testify against her assailants.

Hooper, 76, was put to death by lethal injection in an Arizona state prison earlier this week. Bracey and McCall both died behind bars before their respective death sentences could be carried out. Hooper and Bracey were part of the “Royal Family” murder-for-hire gang on Chicago’s Westside that maintained a loose affiliation with t

he Chicago Outfit, mostly for the purpose of muscle work. Fat Bobby Cruz met Hooper while both were doing time in state prison in Illinois in the 1960s.

Harry the Hook Aleman was in federal prison doing a 10-year bit for racketeering during the time of the Redmond family massacre in Phoenix. Cruz had acted as Aleman’s driver and bodyguard. Informants told the FBI Cruz was involved in narcotics trafficking upon his return to Chicago from Arizona.

At Harry the Hook’s high-profile September 1997 trial for the 1972 murder of Teamsters union steward Billy Logan in which he was convicted, Fat Bobby was in the gallery every day. Cruz was also on hand at Aleman’s sentencing hearing on December 1 when his “cugino” got 100-to-300 years in the can, mugging for the cameras and joking around with reporters. Three days later, he was gone.