October 12, 2019 — Chicago video-poker mogul Rick Heidner is coming under scrutiny for his alleged ties to mob-connected businessmen as he seeks licensing to build a horse race track and adjoining casino in Tinley Park. The Chicago Tribune printed an expose this week on Heidner and his Gold Rush Gaming’s quest for the go-ahead by the Illinois Gaming Board to break ground on the project in the Windy City’s southwest suburb and the many potential stumbling blocks that have popped up in GRG’s road to getting casino licensed.

The state gaming board gave Heidner a gaming license for video poker and slots in 2012. The Illinois Racing Board has approved the racetrack licensing for Heidner’s proposed Tinley Park property development.

Heidner, 62, has partnered with the owners of the Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero in the pending deal. The problem lies with his past partners though: namely Rocco Suspenzi of Parkway Bank and Trust and convicted bookie Dominic Buttitta.

Suspenzi was caught up in the famously ill-fated Emerald Casino project and accompanying scandal in Rosemont back in the early 2000s when he was caught holding hidden ownership for the Outfit. The fiasco cost the city of Rosemont the casino project, eventually resulting in the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

Parkway Bank and Trust began building a parking structure for the Emerald before its licensing had gone through using contracting firms allegedly owned or controlled by then-Chicago mafia don John (Johnny No Nose) DiFronzo and his brother, Outfit capo Peter (Greedy Petey) DiFronzo. According to a 2003 finding issued jointly by the state’s gaming board and FBI, Suspenzi had alleged Outfit soldiers Vito and Joe Salamone as his silent partners in the Emerald deal.

In a business loan using Parkway as a conduit, Suspenzi funneled reputed Chicago mob figure Nick Boscarino and relatives of deceased Outfit crew boss William (Willie Potatoes) Daddano 1.5 million dollars to silently invest in the Emerald casino project. Daddano, who died of natural causes in 1975, headed the Chicago mafia’s burglary division.

Heidner and Suspenzi have worked numerous real estate deals together. Heidner has also done real estate deals with Buttitta, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to bookmaking charges and skimming money from a South Elgin, Illinois strip club he owned. Suspenzi’s son, Jeff, was busted for bank fraud (embezzling $500,000) in the months that followed him and his dad being exposed as mob fronts by the FBI and gaming board.

Heidner’s name and a reference to his Gold Rush Gaming appeared in a federal search warrant executed at the office of Democratic State Senator Martin Sandoval’s office at the Capitol Building in Springfield last month. Why or in what context Heidner and GRC has surfaced in the Senator Sandoval probe is currently unknown.

Johnny DiFronzo died of natural causes in 2018 at 89 having sat atop the Chicago mafia for 25 years. The Salamone brothers hail from DiFronzo’s Elmwood Park crew and are linked to DiFronzo’s No. 1 advisor, Marco (The Mover) D’Amico, the Outfit’s consigliere on and off for the past decade and a half. The 64-year old Vito Salamone owns DeMarco’s Restaurant in Itasca, for years a frequent gathering spot for DiFronzo and D’Amico.

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