March 31, 2020 – Chicago mob soldier Paulie (The Indian) Schiro is seeking early-release from his federal prison sentence for racketeering on the basis of being at risk for contracting the Coronavirus (COVID 19). Schiro was the Outfit’s representative in Arizona before getting swept up in a high-end jewelry-theft ring bust and the landmark Operations Family Secrets case. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he still has four years left to serve.

The 82-year old wiseguy has battled lung cancer the past decade and had one of his lungs removed. His attorneys filed a request for a compassionate release Friday morning. He currently resides in a prison medical facility in North Carolina. Last week, one of the facility’s employees tested positive for the virus.

Schiro ran with the Grand Avenue crew in his early days in the Chicago mafia. He was close friends with Tony (The Ant) Spilotro and when Spilotro got put in charge of all Outfit affairs on the West Coast in the early 1970s, moving his base of operations from the Windy City’s westside to the Las Vegas Strip, he placed Schiro as his man in Arizona – Schiro’s headquarters was the Scotch Mist restaurant in Scottsdale, a popular gangster hangout for visitors from the Midwest.  

Spilotro was brutally murdered in the summer of 1986 for subversive behavior. The slaying and Spilotro’s reign in Vegas were dramatized by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese in the 1995 film Casino. Actor Joe Pesci played Tony the Ant.

Less than two weeks before Spilotro was called back to Chicago and killed in June 1986, Schiro is suspected of playing a role in the murder of mob associate Emil (Little Mal) Vaci in Phoenix. Kidnapped from the restaurant he worked, Vaci was shot to death inside a moving van. Vaci, 73, and Schiro were partners in a bookmaking operation and a travel-junket business chartering flights to Vegas from the Phoenix area for gamblers and their wives.

Schiro was arrested in 1999 along with former top Chicago mob cop Bill Hanhardt for stealing tens of millions of dollars worth of jewelry, watches and furs, some boosted from safety deposits boxes, in a wide-reaching burglary ring that lasted for several years and pulled off jobs across the country. Hanhardt spawned from the same Westside Chicago neighborhood that Schiro and Spilotro grew up in.

The Operation Family Secrets indictment landed in April 2005 while Schiro was already incarcerated from his conviction in the theft case. In October 2007, he was found guilty in the Family Secrets case, but acquitted for participating in the Vaci hit.

The Family Secrets case brought charges for 18 previously unsolved cold-case mob murders tied to Outfit activity. Schiro was sentenced to 20 years in prison and is scheduled for release in the spring of 2024.

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