GR EXCLUSIVE: Feds Eager To Get Chicago’s Team Hollingshead To Turn On Vena, Assert Sources

The Chicago mob’s husband-and-wife tag team of Jeff and Jillian Hollingshead is proving quite the thorn in the side of the Outfit these days. If the federal government has its way, it will only get worse for the Windy City mafia when it comes to the Hollingsheads. According to sources in the Illinois law enforcement community, the feds want to squeeze more out of the couple than just high-ranking Grand Avenue crew hoodlum Robert (Bobby Pinocchio) Panozzo, the westside Chitown mobster who the pair served up to the government on a platter last year – their cooperation resulted in his racketeering, attempted murder and home invasion ring bust in July 2014 –, specifically Panozzo’s boss and Jeff Hollingshead’s former boss, Grand Avenue capo Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena. FBI agents are “pushing hard” for the Hollingsheads to give up Vena, an underworld figure that the media in Chicago dub the most dangerous man in the entire city and currently in the crosshairs of an intense federal criminal inquiry into his activities as a modern-day leader of the Outfit.

Jeff Hollingshead, a hulking 49-year old goodfella and one-time top lieutenant to Panozzo and Vena, is in jail on racketeering and home invasion charges, too. His arrest in September 2013 on a bond violation spurred a string of events that eventually led to Panozzo’s arrest in a sting operation last summer and if the feds get their way, will aid in landing the pint-sized, but incredibly feared 66-year old Vena behind bars as well in the not-so-distant future.

Jillian Hollingshead, Jeff’s younger wife, actually went to the cops first, delivering them a tipoff that Panozzo was supposedly trying to locate witnesses in her husband’s case so he could kill them. Described as “a real spitfire, real street smart,” by those who know her personally, Jillian, retrieved what the government thinks was a witness hit list, in the backseat of the couple’s red-colored Ford Mustang which Panozzo returned to her in the days after Jeff’s jailing in September 2013, per police records. Jeff Hollingshead would go on to tell authorities that he was given the document by famously flashy Chicago mob lawyer Joe (The Shark) Lopez at a coffee shop located just blocks away from the area’s Little Italy on Taylor Street and instructed by the well-known mafia mouthpiece to “give this to Bobby, he’ll know what to do with it,” which in turn he did.

Uncharged with any crime at this moment, Lopez admits handing over the witness list to Hollingshead, however, claims it was simply routine pretrial tactics to find future witnesses so they can be interviewed prior to taking the stand, not harmed. Lopez and Vena, according to sources on the street, are “very close” and “socialize together frequently.” Vena was almost charged in Panozzo’s case even without help from the Hollingsheads and Lopez, along with Vena, are both still be investigated, per a source in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Jeff Hollingshead was raised off Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy, always a hub of local mafia activity, in the 1970s and 1980s. As a teenager and Twentysomething aspiring gangster, he gravitated to “The Patch,” another Italian-gangster heavy neighborhood a few miles west centered at Grand and Ogden Avenues and went to work with Bobby Panozzo under the direct tutelage of legendary westside mob czar Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, Panozzo’s mentor in the rackets. Hollingshead’s cousin is Lombardo’s former driver and Vena’s reputed current “No. 2,” Christopher (Christy the Nose) Spina.

A civil lawsuit filed in Illinois in 2004 linked Hollingshead to the trucking industry, the Teamsters union and a company owned by Christy the Nose’s brother, John, and his wife, according to court files. State records show Hollingshead’s one-time ownership of a trucking business with a pair of Chicago attorneys.

When Joey Lombardo was nailed in the infamous Family Secrets case of the mid-2000s, imprisoned for life in 2006 for his role in the 1974 slaying of government witness Danny Seifert, a brutal shotgunning to the head in front of his wife and young son, Vena was reportedly named Joey the Clown’s replacement as captain of the Grand Avenue crew (Lombardo rose to Outfit consigliere in 1992, but remained in control of his westside regime simultaneously via his “acting” capo Vincent (Jimmy Boy) Cozzo). Seifert and Lombardo were friends and business partners. Seifert’s son was actually named Joey after Joey the Clown.

Cozzo died of cancer in 2007. Lombardo, 86, is said to be ailing in prison. Vena has set up shop at Joey the Clown’s old hangout, La Scarola, a small Italian eatery on the corner of Grand Ave and Halsted. Acquitted in 1994 of a gangland execution, Albie the Falcon is a suspect in several other mob murders dating back decades, hits the FBI are probing at this very second.

Albie Vena

Around the same time Lombardo was being sent up the river and Vena was assuming his captain’s spot, Jeff Hollingshead met Jillian, attractive and almost two decades his junior, and the two began a torrid romance, according to more than one friend of the couple’s, marrying in 2009. The female Hollingshead popped up on the FBI’s radar almost immediately in 2005 when their courtship started – her picture was snapped by federal surveillance units at dinners and lunches in Illinois and on vacation with a number of major-league Chicago mobsters, Vena, Panozzo, Spina, longtime don John (Johnny No Nose) DiFronzo, former acting boss Michael (Fat Mike) Sarno and slain former underboss Anthony (Little Tony) Zizzo, among them. One obtained surveillance log cites both Hollingsheads attendance at a dinner in Downtown Chicago with Vena, Panozzo, DiFronzo and Zizzo in the weeks leading up to Little Tony’s disappearance exactly nine years ago this week.

Zizzo and Sarno were alleged to be fighting over gambling and video-poker machine territory in the months before Little Tony vanished on August 31, 2006 – his body has never been found. Sarno was incarcerated in December 2010 on a racketeering conviction related to the “joker poker” industry and routes to place machines in.

In between the years Zizzo was whacked and Sarno was sent to the can, surveillance records show the Hollingsheads accompanying Fat Mike Sarno, Vena and Panozzo on lavish trips to Las Vegas. Per Cook County Sherriff’s Department documents, Sarno and Vena were silent partners and financial backers of a glass installation business Jeff Hollingshead maintained in Nevada and Hollingshead “learned to steal as a young man from Joey Lombardo, Albie Vena and Bobby Panozzo.” These documents claim that Hollingshead reported straight to Johnny No Nose DiFronzo and his brother and aide-de-camp, Peter (Greedy Petey) DiFronzo, out of Elmwood Park in the late 2000s after Panozzo was jailed on another robbery case and Vena fled to Florida to avoid the heat from Panozzo’s 2005 indictment.

The DiFronzo brothers are alleged to be in semi-retirement, pretty much totally removed from day-to-day Outfit affairs. Cicero crew-based Salvatore (Solly D) DeLaurentis is reputed to be the syndicate’s street boss-acting boss on behalf of the DiFronzos, grabbing the reins from Sarno. DeLaurentis oversaw the Lake and McHenry County faction of the Cicero regime prior to ascending to the throne in late 2012.

Pinched for kidnapping and home invasion in October 2009, Hollingshead posted bond and awaited trial. Upon his bond being revoked on the afternoon of September 25, 2013 for firearm possession, his buddies in the mafia smelled blood in the water and circled him for attack like sharks do prey in the ocean. Jillian Hollingshead was accosted by Panozzo, 55, within minutes of Jeff being locked away. He threw a mix of physical intimidation and sexual innuendo at her as he drove her home, says one set of police records. The next day, documents connected to Panozzo’s pending case say, Panozzo staged a robbery of the Hollingsheads suburban residence while he chauffeured Jillian to Jeff’s bond-revocation hearing at Cook County Circuit Court on Septembr 26, 2013. Informants tells authorities that Panozzo sent his pal and co-defendant in his case, Paul Koroluk, and two other associates into the Hollingshead home that day to pilfer it for cash and jewelry.

Bobby Panozzo

Bobby Panozzo

After repeated rejections of Panozzo’s sexual advances and constant pleas for the return of the stolen money and property, Jillian went to the FBI with what she had and what she knew. She advised her husband to do the same and he did. On July 19, 2014, Panozzo and his robbery crew (responsible for hundreds of drug-house ripoffs) were bagged by the cops in a setup to make them think they were knocking off a cocaine-stash when in fact it was a sting.


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