Lawsuits Expose Cicero�s Tony "Ant-nee" Accardo Connections
Cicero Law Suits Allege Golf Sales Pressures
— Open Door to Maltese’s Strong Arm Tactics
IPSN July 16, 1997
Two lawsuits filed during the past few months have nudged open public scrutiny of how Cicero’s Mafia Princess Betty Maltese strong arms sales for her Golf Outing and keeps her $1 million campaign war chest the largest in Cook County.
Maltese’s golf outing will be held July 16 at St. Andrews Country Club. Mob watchers will be on hand to record visits by mobsters friendly to the Maltese Organization, and politicians hoping to dip into the Maltese campaign stash.
But with an FBI corruption probe of the Maltese organization intensifying and the likelihood of major indictments of Maltese and her closest aides looming, the turnout of top political figures at the golf outing is expected to be low.
The two new lawsuits offer some insight into how an obscure suburban town official like Maltese can raise the largest campaign war chest in Cook County.
And, it puts the spotlight on a little known relative of the infamous crime syndicate figure, Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo. Accardo’s kin is Tony “Ant-nee” Accardo, a short pudgy fellow with no known mafia connections other than his friendship with the late mobster Frank “Baldy” Maltese and his wife, Cicero Town President Betty Maltese.
While the real Accardo earned the nick name “Joe Batter’s” after smashing in the skull of a victim who found himself in disfavor with Accardo’s old boss, Al Capone. Cicero’s portly Accardo, better known as “Ant-nee” by his friends and associates, is better known as the muscle behind forcing old ladies to vote the “Republican” way on election day, threatening to withhold their free town purchased blue bags for recycling.
(Well, “Ant-nee” does claim to be an “actor,” and he did pose for a portrait in which he imitates Marlon Brando’s sinister mob character, Don Corleone, from the movie The Godfather, and that he proudly showed to everyone at Town Hall.)
Tough guy, that “Ant-nee.”
“Ant-nee” figures prominently as Cicero Building Commissioner in both suits and is suspected of also trying to muscle businessmen into buying tickets to Betty’s golf outings.
The first lawsuit was filed in early June by Ronald Keller, the owner of the Casablanca Flea Market at 3200 S. Cicero. Keller alleges that his flea market operation was ordered shut down by “Ant-nee” Accardo for no legitimate reason.
“Ant-nee” Accardo wields tremendous clout, when President Maltese releases his chain, and he can open and close any business in Cicero at any time for any reason, as the law suits graphically demonstrate.
Keller has always maintained good relations with the Maltese organization. He purchased hundreds of tickets to her annual golf outing each and every year, including to this year’s outing. That can amount to thousands of dollars in contributions for a guy who does not play golf that much.
But for Keller, and most other businessmen in Cicero, they don’t have a choice. If they don’t buy the tickets, their stores and shops are harassed with building code infractions and ridiculous claims of hazardous health code violations that are exaggerated.
Keller’s problems began when he asked Accardo, and one of his inspectors during a routine check, why the Town of Cicero allowed the dumping of massive amounts of waste across the street, on property adjacent to the Bel-Air Drive-In, which is the plaintiff in the second law suit filed several weeks ago.
Maltese, according to Keller’s attorneys, has an eye out for his property. Seems that Maltese has always envisioned tearing down the nearby Grant Works neighborhood, and replacing the homes of the lower income Hispanics who dominate Cicero’s population with newer, and more expensive homes that might attract higher income whites to return to Cicero’s neighborhoods.
And, Keller’s Flea Market would make a good Casino and Hotel, some believe, and it has always been Maltese’s goal to bring land based casinos to Cicero. The Flea Market is located blocks north of Sportsman and Hawthorne race tracks, and Maltese has lobbied Senate President “Pate” Philips and House Minority Leader Lee Daniels, to place Cicero at the top of the Casino approval list, should casinos ever be approved.
Imagine the operation of the Mafia Princess Casino. Instead of handing out free gambling chips, President Maltese would stand at the door collecting huge profits while handing out gas masks to the casino patrons to off-set the stench of the nearby Sanitary District drying beds to the South.
What was the violation that caused Accardo to dispatch a gaggle of Cicero inspectors to Keller’s property?
On April 14 of this year, no less than seven Cicero inspectors including John Maltese, Betty’s step-son, “Ant-nee” Accardo himself, and Felix “Col. Sanders” Matteucci, were ordered to the Flea Market where they cited it for numerous building code violations deemed a threat to the health of the public. Also among the inspectors was Terry Carr, a restaurant owner and Willow Springs Trustee who moonlights as a Cicero Health Inspector. He is the son of Cicero’s Cook County Comr. Alan C. Carr, no fan of Betty’s heavy handed style, but fearful of retribution from her, none-the-less.
Accardo complained that the Flea Market’s roof had not been repaired, even though it was Accardo who refused to give the roofing contractor (hired by Flea Market owner Keller several months earlier) the required permit to allow him to make the repairs.
It’s no coincidence that Accardo, Matteucci, and the gaggle of inspectors happen to be Betty’s top ticket sales people for her golf outing.
Sources at Town Hall report that Accardo, Matteucci and others were ordered into President Maltese’s office in early June and handed 500 golf outing tickets each.
“Sell them or eat them,” President Maltese barked.
“Ant-nee,” Col. Sanders and the rest scampered out of the office determined to sell the tickets to whomever would buy them. At $75 each, they could cut a heavy chunk out of each inspector’s annual salaries.
Keller and the Flea Market are expected to return to court on July 16, the morning of the golf outing, before Federal Court Judge Wayne Andersen.
What was the health hazard that the inspectors alleged the public faced while perusing items at the flea market? Details are provided by the Cicero Health Commissioner, Wayne R. Cichowicz, who testified to the following during a Town run hearing at which Betty Maltese served as the hearing “Judge Wapner.”
“Attorney” Barry Pechter, whose family donates heavily to Betty Maltese, had just questioned Cichowicz about the health hazards seen during one of the inspections. When Keller’s attorney, Ken Ditkowsky, objected by challenging Cichowicz’s qualifications, Betty responded curtly: “Your objection was overruled before. I said his qualifications. His degrees in the sanitation, his different masters degrees, I think qualifies him for the sanitation.”
Ditkowsky then continued with his cross examination by flashing photographs taken by the town inspectors of alleged toxic materials that might pose a hazard to the public.
Ditkowsky: Doctor, do you have a medical degree?
Cichowicz: I do not.
Ditkowsky: Now, in 9 Q [referring to prior testimony] you said you saw toxic material. Is that correct?
Cichowicz: That’s correct.
Ditkowsky: Now, you are referring to the items on the shelf, is that correct?
Cichowicz: That is correct.
Ditkowsky: And the first item on the shelf is something called Palmolive?
Cichowicz: That’s correct.
Ditkowsky: And that’s soap, right?
Cichowicz: That’s correct.
Ditkowsky: And the second item over there is what?
Cichowicz: I can’t read it. But if you are asking me what the toxic material is, it’s Fantastic.
Ditkowsky: So the only item you really found that is toxic is Fantastic?
Cichowicz: That’s correct.
Ditkowsky: Is that a soap product?
Cichowicz: It is a cleaning agent that is toxic when consumed.
Later on …
Ditkowsky: All the items in this picture are cleaning materials, right?
Cichowicz: They are.
Ditkowsky: And they are common materials used in the home?
Ditkowsky: In fact, they are even used in your home?
Betty “Judge Wapner” Maltese ruled against the re-opening of the Flea Market based on the testimony of Cicero Health Commissioner Wayne R. Cichowicz, her appointee, and one of her top precinct captains and ticket sales people, too. (Cichowicz is a doctor of Naprapathy.)
The second lawsuit was filed during the last week in June by Loews Chicago Cinemas, which happens to own the Bel-Air Drive-In theater that Keller had asked about.
You can’t miss the Bel-Air, which has a large projection movie screen, and is surrounded by mounds of weedy dump hills that rise several stories high, right on Cicero Avenue.
The theater is owned in part by former Cicero President, former Judge and longtime Maltese nemesis Christy Berkos.
Maltese has never forgiven Berkos for his role in the conviction of her husband, “Baldy” by the feds on racketeering charges. Before “Baldy” could set foot in jail to serve out his 18 month sentence, he died a painful death stemming from pancreatic cancer.
It was taped conversations “Baldy” had concerning Berkos trying to influence the outcome of a case involving a mobster associated with Maltese who turned out to be a rat, that got “Baldy” in trouble.
“Baldy” was merely taking orders from his boss, now incarcerated mobster Ernest “Rocco” Infelise, former Cicero Don who used to meet “Baldy” in his car on 35th Street near Austin Blvd., to collect bag money from illegal gambling under his control.
Seems that in the early summer of 1996, Maltese decided she wanted to get even with Berkos, and she ordered Town Attorney Dennis Both to shut the theater down. In front of several witnesses, Maltese stormed into Both’s office, adjacent to her own, and yelled (to the best of one witnesses’ memory), “He won’t buy tickets. He doesn’t help us. I don’t care what you have to do, shut him down.”
Both replied meekly that they had no reason to shut the theater down, noting they were not in violation of any town ordinances.
Said Betty, “Make one up.”
Both, the obedient legal beagle that he is, immediately ordered the Bel-Air Drive-In Theater closed.
The marquee at the entrance of the theater was blank with only the words “Opening Soon” placed on its rafters. That week, Accardo accompanied by a gaggle of ticket-selling inspectors, swarmed down on the property and placed blue “horses” to block the drive-in’s entrance, with red signs that read, “Closed By Order of the Town of Cicero.”
At the end of the summer and the outdoor theater season, the sign was changed to read, “See You Next Year.”
Maltese would drive her black Cadillac Allante past the theater’s entrance and laugh, as she would sometimes pass it on her way to and from work or political meetings.
In 1997, despite a secret meeting between Betty and Berkos arranged by Allan C. Carr, the theater remained closed.
The next day, Loews, no business slouch and one of the largest business operations in Cicero, hired one of the state’s top law firms, Mayer, Brown & Platt, to file suit.
In the suit, Loews alleges that Cicero tried to force the theater owners to purchase tickets to Betty Maltese’s golf outing and they refused, and it was their refusal that forced the closing of their theater.
The Bel-Air Drive-In theater has operated for years, under the shadow of the strange dirt and debris mounds that Keller made the mistake of asking Accardo and other Cicero inspectors about.
Ironically, the Town Inspectors approved the opening of the theater in May 1996, and a business license was issued. The theater opened on May 17, 1996.
On June 24, one month before Betty’s Golf Outing, “Ant-nee” Accardo’s inspectors swarmed down on the theater, and this time they ordered the bathrooms and the concession areas shuttered. On June 26 and 27, they came back and ordered the entire theater shut down and told employees that the “owners” should call “City Hall” right away to fix the problem.
Cicero police placed barricades at the entrance the next day and they even went so far as to post a town employee to sit at the entrance all day.
According to the lawsuit, Loews repaired each citation they were notified of, and, as they did, new code violations were identified as needing repair by “Ant-nee.”
The citations did not stop.
But they could have, the suit alleges, if they had just purchased a gaggle of tickets to Betty’s golf outing.
In fact, when they did not purchase tickets, Cicero inspectors returned to the theater after the July 17, 1996 golf outing, on July 18th, 19th and 26th, and identified new code violations on each of those days.
Loews never got a chance to have a hearing to challenge the closings.
This year, Loews was told flat out not only could they not re-open on April 26, but they couldn’t get a business license to operate in Cicero either.
Dennis Both, who now works for Edward R. Vrdolyak, Godfather to Betty’s adopted baby girl and the political “Svengooli” who controls Cicero’s politics and the Maltese organization, sent a letter to Loews dated May 29, 1997 in which he promises that Maltese would never condone any action by any inspector to force them to purchase tickets to a political golf outing.
In fact, Both claimed, he would turn over evidence submitted by Loew to the Cook County State’s Attorney, Dick Devine. What would be turned over? Info concerning “Ant-nee” Accardo and other inspectors suspected of trying to force the theater owners to purchase golf outing tickets.
Looks like “Ant-nee” is going to be Betty’s fall-guy.
That’s alright, Dennis.
You don’t really have to alert Devine.
Illegal ticket sales associated with the Maltese golf outings will certainly play a major role in indictments expected to be handed down by the feds this fall.
But, there is one other certainty.
Had the theater or flea market been owned by one of Betty’s mob friends, you can be sure, a bottle of Palmolive would not have stood in the way of their making money or Betty getting her political share.