Vena Squarely In The Govt.’s Gun Scope, Chitown Mafia Chief Under Heavy Federal Scrutiny

Diminutive Chicago mob captain Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena has some rather large concerns in the future freedom department. The feds want to lock him up with a fierce passion. According to exclusive Gangster Report sources both on the street and in law enforcement, the barely 5-foot-4 Vena, a man some claim is the most feared hoodlum currently operating in the Windy City, is the target of a full-court press by a multi-agency federal task force assigned a single, yet stern directive: bring down the 66-year old crew boss at all costs.

This includes bringing heat on and applying pressure to those closest to him, like his right-hand man Robert (Bobby Pinocchio) Panozzo, who is presently behind bars facing 40 years on racketeering, home invasion, drug and attempted murder charges spawning from a bust last year. Per sources, every time FBI or DEA agents approach Panozzo, 55, he tells them to get lost, refusing to even consider the notion of dropping a dime on his reputed partner in crime. If you’re Vena, hopefully the rest of his compatriots follow suit and stay loyal like Bobby Pinocchio, nicknamed for his deceiving ways by his and Vena’s gangland mentor Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, the Outfit’s 86-year old incarcerated and infirmed former consigliere.

Albie the Falcon or sometimes simply “The Little Guy,” is alleged to have assumed command of Chicago’s westside mob territory after Lombardo was imprisoned almost a decade ago on charges related to the epic Operation Family Secrets case. Lombardo, maybe the most colorful character in Chicago mafia history, ruled the “Grand Avenue Crew” from the early 1970s until he landed in the Big House in January 2006.  Joey the Clown was convicted at the 2007 Family Secrets trial in the murder of close friend-turned-government witness Danny Seifert back in 1974.

The U.S. Department of Justice is intent on taking down Vena in similar fashion, according to law enforcement sources in Illinois, eagerly probing past Outfit hits and hoping to include one or more of them in a pending racketeering indictment against him. The feds had a chance at nailing Vena on murder charges in 1990s, however, he was acquitted by a jury in the November 1992 gangland slaying of drug dealer and mob associate Sam Taglia.

Vena was the last known person Taglia was seen with alive on the day he was killed (shot twice in the back of the head, his throat slit) and stuffed in the trunk of his car outside a tavern in Melrose Park. Upon discovering the car with Taglia’s dead body in the trunk, investigators noted the driver’s seat of Taglia’s vehicle was manually adjusted forward to accommodate a person of tiny stature like Vena, opposed to Taglia, who stood well over 6-feet tall.

Albie Vena
Albie Vena

One source tells the Gangster Report that the FBI recently put an undercover operative into the staff at La Scarola, Vena’s favorite restaurant and hangout, a one-time Joey the Clown dining staple and pseudo headquarters. Whether the federal mole is still on active duty at the yummy eatery located at the corner of Grand Avenue and Halsted Road. is unknown.

FBI agents looked on as Albie the Falcon lunched at La Scarola with Bobby Panozzo, cop-turned-wiseguy Steve Mandell and others in the summer of 2012. Per court filings, Vena is alleged to have nixed a plan hatched by Mandell to kidnap, torture and murder a pair of his rivals in an effort to seize their assets.

Panozzo is a suspect in a homicide from the 1980s where he is said to have killed an elderly woman in the minutes after she had signed over her property and the balance in her bank account to him. Despite Vena’s refusal to sanction Mandell’s demented and morbid money-making scam, Mandell tried going through with his homicidal plan anyway, only to be thwarted by an arrest and subsequent conviction for attempted murder and kidnapping.

Vena was busted for kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and extortion back in 1973 following his attack and shakedown of a former stripper girlfriend’s ex-pimp boyfriend. A Chicago Crime Commission document from 2006 connects Albie the Falcon to “at least a half-dozen Outfit executions over the last three decades and pro

bably more” and cites confidential informants comparing him to a modern-day Tony Spilotro (the basis of the Joe Pesci’s “Nicky Santoro” character in the 1995 Martin Scorsese-helmed gangster film classic, Casino) and speculating that he could be a future Godfather candidate in the Illinois mob ranks.

“The heat is on hotter than ever, we’re coming full tilt,” said one law enforcement source on the government’s assault geared towards Vena and his crew. “He knows it, we aren’t being shy. This ain’t going away. Whether there’s a murder beef at the end of the rainbow remains unknown right now, but the DOJ is telling us charges are coming down the pike, regardless. It’s just a matter of when. Outside of Cicero (the Chicago mob’s current “county seat”), Albie is the most powerful guy in the Outfit. That right there puts a target on your back.”

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