Incarcerated Chicago mafia hit man Steve Mandell wasn’t happy with the Outfit’s leadership structure during his final years pounding the pavement for the mob, according to a new Chicago Tribune report related to Mandell’s suspected role in an unsolved 2012 murder. Mandell is a suspect in several gangland slayings dating back decades.
The Trib reported this week that Mandell, already doing a life prison sentence for attempting to torture and murder a pair of Chicagoland businessmen in order to take over their assets, was caught on an FBI video and audio wire talking about the fall 2012 death of Sicilian Highland Park, Illinois restaurateur Giacomo Ruggirello the day he died in an alleged arson fire and his Highwood eatery was robbed. In an intercepted conversation via a bug in federal informant George Michael’s real estate office, Mandell was caught complaining about his bosses in the mob as well, lamenting them for being “weak and ineffective”. According to the article, this venting session including criticizing reputed Outfit street boss and Westside captain Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena, described by some in recent years as the most feared and dangerous man in Chicago.
Mandell, at one time a Chicago cop who went by the name Steve Manning and was kicked off the police force for running a stolen car and insurance-fraud ring, is a member of the Outfit’s Elmwood Park crew. Michael is a local real estate tycoon. Both were observed by the FBI eating with Vena at his favorite Westside haunt, La Scarola, back in July 2012, a meal in which the 69-year old Vena reportedly rejected sanctioning Mandell’s proposed torture and murder plans.
“I’ll show you what Elmwood Park really looks like…..I can get real nasty,” Mandell was recorded boasting to Michael five years ago, two months after the lunch at La Scarola.
Hours after Giacomo Ruggirello, 61, was found dead from smoke inhalation in his smoldering home on September 24, 2012, Mandell discussed the fire with Michael and uttered ‘Do you think they (the Outfit) will respect my work now?”
Albie Vena, like Mandell, is a person of interest for local and federal authorities in a multitude of murders reaching back years to the Outfit’s heyday. He was acquitted at a jury trial in the 1990s for the killing of a low-level Chicago mob drug operative named Sam (Needles) Taglia. Per court filings tied to Mandell’s case — he was convicted at a 2014 trial — the Outfit’s Elmwood Park crew is directly under Vena’s auspice, despite him not being the daily caretaker of activity in the area.
Vena is also responsible for affairs on the city’s Northside, according to Chicago Crime Commission documents. The Northside rackets is where he cut his teeth as an enforcer and collector in the 1970s and 1980s. The Outfit’s Northside crew was rolled into the Westside regime around the beginning of the New Millennium due to general mob attrition.
Elmwood Park has traditionally been territory controlled by the Di Fronzo family. Ailing 89-year old Chicago mafia don John (Johnny No Nose) Di Fronzo resides there and his younger brother Peter (Greedy Petey) Di Fronzo, was the crew’s capo up until he joined his older sibling in semi-retirement in recent years. According to sources, these days leadership in Elmwood Park is split between crew chiefs Rudy (The Chin) Fratto, a protégé of the Di Fronzos and Anthony (Tony D) Dote, the right-hand man of alleged Outfit consigliere Marco (The Mover) D’Amico, a longtime Di Fronzo brothers’ confidant.
When Mandell made his comments regarding the Outfit hierarchy in 2012, John Di Fronzo was in the process of stepping away and allegedly handing over the reins of the crime family, at least on an acting basis, to Salvatore (Solly D) DeLaurentis. The 78-year old Solly D represents the Chicago mob’s Cicero regime. Vena assumed leadership of the Westside or Grand Avenue crew in the late 2000s, per sources on the street and in law enforcment.