According to sources, the 1985 murder of Chicago mobster and porn king Patrick (Patsy Rich) Ricciardi is one of the many cold-case gangland hits being probed in an ongoing federal racketeering investigation of current Outfit leaders. The long-gestating inquiry’s principle target is alleged to be reputed Grand Avenue crew chief and overall street boss Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena. Upwards of a dozen unsolved mob homicides are getting a fresh set of eyes, per sources.

Patsy Ricciardi, 59, was found shot twice in the back of the head in the trunk of a stolen car on the outskirts of Lincoln Park on July 26, 1985. He had headed a large portion of the Chicago mafia’s lucrative pornography racket, according to FBI informants.

Ricciardi and Albie Vena were both members of the Outfit’s now-shuttered Northside crew in the 1980s. The Northside crew merged with the Grand Avenue regime, sometimes called the Westside crew, approximately two decades ago.

The man they called Patsy Rich never made it to the merger. He was slain for being a suspected informant and stealing shakedown money. And maybe some other reasons, like a longstanding feud within the crime family between two neighboring crews over porn and the illicit sex trade.

For years, the Northsiders and Westsiders fought for dominance in the Windy City pornography racket. The Grand Avenue gang planted a flag in the near Northside neighborhood of Old Town in the late 1960s. Repeated attempts by Northside soldiers to get a foothold in the area brought brewing tensions that soon boiled over to violence. Vena had strong ties to both camps. Ricciardi’s slaying was one of three high-profile gangland hits in less than ten years connected to beefs in the Chicago porn business.

Vena, 70, came up through the ranks of the Outfit as a ruthless enforcer for legendary Northside shot-callers like Lenny Patrick, Gus (Slim) Alex and Vincent (Innocent Vince) Solano. He was one of the Northside crew’s most reliable and feared collectors and beat a murder rap at trial in 1995. Tiny but ferocious, the powerful mob chieftain still remains a suspect in several high-profile Chicago gangland slayings.

Ricciardi’s cousin was notorious mob killer and one-time Chicago mafia don Felix (Milwaukee Phil) Alderisio. In 1971, Ricciardi bought the Admiral Theatre on Lawrence Avenue in the Albany Park section of the Northside and turned it into a porn palace. Per FBI records, he ran a sports book and a juice loan operation out of the Admiral, too. By the 1980s, the Admiral had transitioned into being a strip club. The theater had been a venue for vaudeville during Prohibition.

Ricciardi and the Chicago mob porn racket were the subjects of two grand juries, first in 1979 and then again in the mid-1980s. In the months before he was killed, indictments were filed against mob-affiliated figures in the pornography industry out of Illinois and Ohio for tax fraud. His absence from the indictment allegedly raised some eyebrows within the Outfit and rumors began circulating that Patsy Rich was a snitch. Others complained he was pocketing portions of tribute envelopes he was responsible for gathering.

On the afternoon of July 24, 1985, Ricciardi took a cab from his office at the Admiral Theatre to a meeting he had at a bar on Webster and Halsted and never returned. Two days later, he popped up dead in the trunk of a boosted Oldsmobile under some elevated train tracks near the corner of Webster and Ashland. His killers had taken his shoes and $1,000 in cash out of his wallet.

Per FBI records, Ricciardi was considered a person of interest to authorities in the murder of Windy City porn mogul Paul Gonsky, who was gunned down in Old Town getting into his Mercedes on September 21, 1976. Gonsky owned The Bijou Theatre on Wells Street in Old Town, territory controlled by the Grand Avenue crew and then Outfit capo Joey (The Clown) Lombardo. The parking lot Gonsky was killed in was owned by Lombardo’s bodyguard and main muscle Frank (The German) Schweihs, the man tasked with extorting tribute from porn shops operating in Old Town.

The 35-year old Gonsky was feuding with his partners in The Bijou over alleged skimming of funds. The matter was being litigated at the time of his murder. FBI informants said Gonsky was resisting mob infiltration of his business and Ricciardi pushed for action against Gonsky with the knowledge that he’d benefit from the fallout. With Gonsky out of the picture, Patsy Rich gobbled up more porn turf for himself, per informants. Ricciardi had been running interference for Gonsky in his troubles with Lombardo and Schweihs being that he was the one responsible for collecting the street tax from The Bijou.

Even though he was officially with the Outfit’s Northside regime, the diminutive and always dapper Vena was taught the ropes of the mob strong arm trade by Westside soldier Frank the German, according to Chicago Crime Commission files. Schweihs died of cancer in 2008 at 76 awaiting trial for his alleged role in a slew of mob murders charged in the epic Operation Family Secrets case which landed Lombardo, 90, and by then the Outfit’s consigliere, behind bars for the rest of his life and laid the groundwork for Vena’s ascent to mob administrator status.

The murder of Patsy Ricciardi in the summer of 1985 was the second slaying of a Northside crew soldier in a six month span: Leonard (Little Lenny) Yaras was bumped off that January. Yaras and Vena collected street tax, loan sharking debt and gambling proceeds for Lenny Patrick’s network of Jewish bookies and racketeers in and around Rogers Park in the 1970s and 1980s.

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