Sal DeLaurentis

IPSN, Spring 1991

The Man Who Loved His Work.

Up North in the fast-growing collar-county areas of Wauconda, Island Lake, Crystal Lake and Lake Zurich, the affable and well-turned-out Salvatore DeLaurentis was widely regarded as quite a solid citizen.

To his neighbors in extra-plush Inverness, Solly D was a charming family man who liked to keep the elegant homestead looking elegant. In an area where driveways sport automobiles by Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, Solly D’s black Cadillac Seville with vanity plates was not at all ostentatious.

DeLaurentis, now 53, was held in particularly high regard in Island Lake, a town in the process of transforming itself from a sleepy World War II-era summer resort into a full-blown real estate boom-burg of the ‘90s. The DeLaurentis family has long owned property in the area and has for years operated a thriving bowling alley, a separate liquor store and, until last year, a popular pizza restaurant.

As an insight into the kind of duality that pervades the character of Solly D, he is remembered for the great pride he took in remodeling a run-down gas station building into his quite acceptable liquor store structure. Although the DeLaurentis family could have no doubt afforded to hire some local construction contractor to do the job, it was Solly D himself and a couple of pickup hammer-swingers who did the conversion.

On that construction project, Solly D was seen diligently mixing his own mortar and carefully laying brick upon brick, converting what had been the entrance to a gas station bay into the front of a workmanlike liquor store. And for anyone who came by, Solly D had a quick smile and a show of obvious pride in his learn-by-doing bricklaying effort. Then, several years later, DeLaurentis demonstrated the same good humor and willingness to pitch in when he started his pizza restaurant in a double storefront structure that had previously housed Island Lake’s local TV repair shop.

But none of that up-by-the-bootstraps work ethic has anything to do with the reasons Solly D has been sitting, since last February, with Rocky and others of The Crew in the confines of the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Instead, Salvatore DeLaurentis, also known as Pizza Guy and Solly D, is out of circulation because he is under federal indictment on charges of murder, racketeering, extortion, gambling and lottery offenses, credit card fraud and violations of the federal income tax statutes.

“I love my work,” DeLaurentis told Jahoda (and his hidden tape machine) as the pair were driving back to Illinois from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

“I’m so fuckin’ busy, but I enjoy it. I enjoy my work. Always did. I wish it didn’t have that sentence threatening over you all the fuckin’ time, but that’s what it is, it is,” Solly D told Jahoda.

At the time DeLaurentis was confiding his innermost feelings about his chosen profession—on September 13, 1989—he had risen to the position of underboss in The Crew, reporting only to Infelice. At that time, about four years had elapsed since the brutal torture-murder of bookmaker Hal Smith. And that murder, according to earlier Jahoda tapes, was a criminal act that DeLaurentis had clearly taken part in. As for loving his work, the Jahoda tapes make it obvious that Solly D was not talking about the work of making pizza or selling six-packs.

To Solly D, “the business, the thing,” was the single most important part of his life. He is captured on tape repeatedly talking about when he and Infelice and others of The Crew are eventually busted, one or more of them must get out on bond to keep “the thing” going. One indictment document describes DeLaurentis as the quintessential “company man,” and makes the point that despite his knowledge that sooner or later he would be arrested, he apparently never gave any thought to getting out of “the business.”

And on the tapes leading up to the Hal Smith murder, DeLaurentis tells Smith that he will be “trunk music” unless he makes “street tax” payments of $6,000 each month to The Crew. Later, Smith’s beaten, tortured and mutilated body was found in the trunk of his car. Trunk music.

In an odd irony, perhaps the singular incident that led to his death, when Hal Smith was arrested for operating a gambling enterprise, some $600,000 in cash was seized in his Mt. Prospect home. With that kind of cash stash on hand, not only the authorities but Rocky and Solly D and others of The Crew could reasonably estimate Smith’s gambling grosses, as well as his ability to pay a “street tax.”

Given the kind of people Smith was competing with, $6,000 a month, or about one percent of the money seized in his home, seems, in retrospect, like not too high a price to pay to avoid becoming Solly D’s “trunk music.”

In initially refusing to release DeLaurentis on bond last February, Magistrate Rosemond declared that there are “no conditions of bail which, either alone or in combination, will reasonably assure the safety of the witnesses or of the community in general against the dangerousness of this defendant.”

At the time, Solly D’s friends and family had offered to post his bond with various pieces of real estate valued at $2,277,620.00. Subsequently, Judge Ann Williams also refused to release DeLaurentis on bond and, more recently, Fred Forman, the new U.S. Attorney, filed a brief with the Court citing Solly D’s “love” for his business as continuing good reason to keep him safely locked up.