Chicago Mafia’s ‘Crew Cut Boys’ Make Court Appearance In ’14 Racketeering Case

Chicago Outfit figures and Operation Crew Cut co-defendants Robert (Bobby Pinocchio) Panozzo and Paul (Big Paulie) Koroluk were in court this week in the Windy City on their racketeering case levied in the summer of 2014. Panozzo and Koroluk are allegedly part of the Chicago mafia’s Grand Avenue-Westside crew and infamous on the Illinois gangland scene for their proficiency at the art of stealing.

The convicted felons are charged, among other things, with running a subunit within the Grand Avenue regime specializing in robbing area drug dealers and other high-end burglary endeavors. They were caught red-handed in a Cook County Sherriff’s Department sting where they robbed a stash house set up by the police. On Thursday, Panozzo and Koroluk were brought to Chicago’s Cook County Circuit Court on 26th and California for a status hearing. Authorities made sure Bobby Pinocchio and Big Paulie never got a chance to interact with each other.

Both have pled not guilty and per sources, continue to fend off FBI requests for their cooperation in a top-priority federal RICO investigation targeting their Grand Avenue crew capo, fiery reputed Outfit leader Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena. Panozzo’s former driver and bodyguard Jeff Hollingshead, also once a part of Vena’s inner circle, began cooperating with authorities in late 2013. Koroluk’s wife and Panozzo’s namesake and son were busted in Operation Crew Cut as well. They’ll potentially all go on trial by the end of this year.

In terms of loyalty to “the Life,” Panozzo and Koroluk, a legendary thief in the annals of the Chicago mob the past three decades, are “rock solid” and “haven’t budged an inch” despite a “fullcourt press” by the feds, one GR source claims. The two have been partners on the street for more than two dozen years.

According to a source in law enforcement who laid eyes on Panozzo in Cook County lockup Thursday morning, the so-called Bobby Pinocchio, nicknamed for his skill at deceit, was looking worse for the wear, described, as “gaunt and grey-haired.” Panozzo sports a reputation for viciousness, alleged to have chopped one drug-dealing theft-victim’s ear off with a samurai sword and killed an elderly lady after forcing her to sign over her assets by tossing her down a flight of stairs in the 1980s.

The 67-year old Vena and the 56-year old Panozzo are particularly close friends, according to sources who know the pair of Westside wiseguys. At times in the past, Panozzo has acted as a “chief of staff” of sorts for Vena, per sources, as well as looked after all the Grand Ave. crew’s narcotics operations. Vena, like Panozzo and Koroluk, a multiple-time convicted felon, was acquitted of the 1992 mob murder of low-level Outfit drug lieutenant Sam Taglia by a jury at trial.

Back in the fall, Gangster Report cited multiple sources predicting an indictment against Vena and several of his associates would drop before Christmas 2015. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, sources do tell GR that the Westside Goodfella contingent remains on high alert. Vena, called by some the most dangerous and feared man currently walking the streets of Chicago is said to be spending more time at his farm property in suburban Elgin, Illinois than normal, trying to “change up his routine.” Traditionally, Vena spends his afternoons at Richard’s Bar on the corner of Grand Ave. and Halsted Road, his evenings at the Westside crew’s longtime unofficial mess hall, the scrumptious La Scarola, right next door.

Vena’s alleged second-in-command, Christopher (Christy the Nose) Spina, is said to have moved primary residences in the past three months, grown a beard and has been changing cars “every two weeks,” according to one source on the Westside. Spina has tried avoiding the whole “Richard’s, La Scarola” scene as much as possible since at least Thanksgiving, the source said, and only meeting with Vena when completely necessary.


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