Vrdolyak Role in Silver Shovel Corruption Revealed During Ald. Jesse Evans Trial
Ed “The Godfather” Vrdolyak, who for years has dodged the Federal Government’s Silver Bullet has surfaced as a target in the Silver Shovel Corruption probe and the investigation of corruption in the Town of Cicero, sources have told the IPSN.
Vrdolyak, whose take from Cicero is estimated at more than $1 million a year in undetailed “consulting” fees, is the power behind Cicero’s mobbed up Town President, Betty Maltese.
Vrdolyak, according to sources, is named in the indictment of 21st Ward Alderman Jesse Evans, whose corruption trial just ended.
But aside from that, Vrdolyak’s name has surfaced several times during the prosecution of the Evans’ case.
US Attorney Jim Burns has charged that Evans pocketed $7,300 from a businessman in his ward in exchange for arranging street sweepers to clean around his construction site. And, Evans is also charged with extorting $10,000 from the operator of a rock crusher in his ward and attempting to extort another $10,000 from a grocer who applied for a liquor license.
Evans was convicted June 17 on 15 of the 16 charges against him, including accepting bribes.
Ironically, Alderman Evans had opposed the rock crushing operation of businessman Dan Callaghan, which had been closed down, but allegedly did not hesitate to take Callaghan’s money which was deposited in an obscure bank account held by the alderman.
During the trial, Evans’ attorney denied that his client had engaged in any wrongdoing, and explained that the money he accepted had been taken as a campaign contribution.
But the highlight came when the US Attorney brought the case together, alleging that Vrdolyak had persuaded Callaghan to pay the $10,000 to Evans if he wanted to reopen his business.
Evans’ defense was that he was embarrassed to take the money from his “long time foe” and deposited in a little-used, obscure bank account.
Assistant US Attorney Sean Martin told jurors last week that Vrdolyak “put this whole corrupt arrangement together.”
Phone records subpoenaed by the government showed numerous contacts were made between Vrdolyak and Evans in early 1995 when Callaghan and a partner gave the Alderman the alleged $10,000 bribe.
Vrdolyak has not been charged in the Evans case, but he is certainly the focus of an intense corruption probe that has spilled over into suburban Cicero, where Vrdolyak’s influence determines policy and politics.
More than just the Town Attorney, Vrdolyak has been involved in Cicero since December 1992, when sources claimed friends of mobster Ernest Rocco Infelise intervened to help elect Betty Maltese, the wife of ailing Town Assessor and convicted mob racketeer Frank J. “Baldy” Maltese, to win election as Town President.
Betty Maltese lied to her political allies and aides, claiming she would reform Cicero Government and distance the town from the illegal practices of her husband, who died six months after her election in April 1993.
Vrdolyak swore Betty Maltese in as president after both her elections in April 1993 and April 1997 and is named the “godfather” of a baby girl Betty adopted in the days immediately following her re-election.
But last year, details began to surface about alleged criminal wrongdoing that Betty Maltese refused to explain, causing a political split between her and four of her former political allies and several aides.
Although Betty Maltese was re-elected, tapping into a campaign warchest of more than $1 million and the political advice of Ed Vrdolyak, the FBI probe into her activities and Vrdolyak’s role continues.
(Vrdolyak’s ties to mobsters were detailed in the May 17, 1997 issue of the IPSN and can be read on the IPSN Web Site at https://ipsn.org).
While Vrdolyak has longed been involved with waste haulers operating in the Chicago area, his ties to Cicero increased since 1993.
Vrdolyak maintains a lucrative financial relationship with Cicero.
Last month, for example, Vrdolyak’s firm was paid more than $30,000 by the Town Board members, with no discussion or explanation as to what the “consulting services” entailed.
Dennis Both, who has been Town Attorney for many years, left the Town to work for Vrdolyak in March, 1997 under a special contract that grants him a $75,000 annual retainer through Vrdolyak by the Town, performing the same services he performed while serving as Town Attorney. The new agreement allows Both to handle other business for Vrdolyak and to bill Cicero for overtime expenses, previously not billed.
Both was instrumental in causing the political rift that surfaced between Betty Maltese and her former political allies and the former Town Police Chief Emil J. Schullo.
At that time, Maltese was threatening to fire Both, who told friends and confidants that if she did fire him, he would expose her alleged corruption.
Angry with Maltese, Both then detailed instances of alleged wrongdoing, much of which surfaced during the election.
Both was the individual who told friends about Maltese’s investment in Specialty Risk Management, the reputed mob connected insurance company that over billed Cicero more than $9 million while managing the Town’s employee’s insurance program.
The over-billing is under FBI investigation. Dozens of subpoenas have been issued targeting Maltese in the probe.