FBI investigations of Cicero, Illinois mobsters don’t show Fitzgerald leading anything
Democratic hopeful for governor is quietly earning a "Fast Eddy" reputation for stretching the facts about his FBI career as a crime fighter
CLEVELAND, OH – There’s an April 24, 2013 article in the Cincinnati Post that reporter Sharon Coolidge wrote about Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald and his FBI career. Coolidge’s article was promoted as an “in-depth” profile the day he announced his official pursuit of the Democratic nomination for governor. It offers another glimpse of the spin he’s put on his brief FBI crime fighting activities since joining the world of politics.
He practiced law for a short time and then pursued a career in the FBI, training at Quantico, Va. He was assigned to the Chicago office, where he investigated political corruption and mafia influence in Cicero, Ill. He helped bring the Cicero crime syndicate to justice. FitzGerald and his wife liked Chicago, but they wanted to raise their family in northern Ohio. They moved back to Lakewood in 1998.
Coolidge’s article is the first to reference the “Cicero crime syndicate” as the investigation Fitzgerald claims to have “headed up” on the Cuyahoga County website where he lists his biography. A Wikipedia article about him says he “participated” in the investigation of political corruption in Cicerco, Illinois. He told reporters at his announcement for governor that, “I’m the only person that’s, I guess, ever run for governor of Ohio that actually has a record investigating corrupt politicians, putting them in jail and taking a corrupt system and making it a more transparent and honest system.”
Records from the U.S. Department of Justice and articles about the FBI’s investigations of Cicero, Illinois politicians and mobsters between 1992 and 2005 identify the FBI agents and prosecutors who were involved. Fitzgerald’s name is nowhere to be found.
Cleveland Challenger contacted the Chicago FBI office to obtain a copy of Fitzgerald’s personnel file to identify the specific dates of his employment and assignments. The newspaper was told that FBI personnel records are not public.
Fitzgerald has been extremely vague about his FBI activities to reporters who’ve taken the unchecked version of his alleged crime fighting career and shared it with readers, listeners and viewers. He joined the federal agency sometime in 1995 and left sometime in 1998, according to published reports. He’s omitted information about the specific months and dates of his employment, and has never shared information about exactly what he did with the agency as a “crime fighter.” The county executive has never revealed exactly who he investigated or put in jail, and how a junior FBI agent came to lead major federal investigations of murderous mobsters and corrupt politicians.
Three major FBI investigations of mobsters and politicians in Cicero took place before, during and after Fitzgerald’s brief employment with the agency in the Northern District of Illinois, but nowhere does his name appear in any federal document as playing a “leading” or “heading up” role as he has claimed.
Ernest Rocco Infelice’s crime family was brought down by the FBI with his August 19, 1993 sentence of 63 years in prison. That investigation piggybacked one of Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese who replaced Henry Klosak when he died in 1993. Klosak had given the mafia the keys to the city’s $50 million budget and its employees.
Fitzgerald’s two or three-year FBI stint as a junior special agent from 1995 to 1998 could have found him involved with the Loren-Maltese investigation, but records don’t show him playing a leading role.
According to a news release issued by then U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Scott R. Lassar, Loren-Maltese’s investigation was headed by FBI special agents Kathleen McChesney and James W. Martin. The Loren-Maltese indictment was handed down on June 15, 2001, three years after Fitzgerald left the FBI. In one media interview the Cuyahoga County executive said he was less involved with the investigation of Cicero mobsters and more involved in “helping” to investigate political corruption.
Loren-Maltese, Cicero’s safety director, Emil Schullo, former treasurer Joseph DeChicio and seven other defendants were indicted for diverting $10 million in public funds to a third-party claims administrator. The 10 defendants used the money for income, to invest in a northern Wisconsin golf course, an Indiana horse farm, a home and automobiles. The June 15, 2001 indictment charged them with racketeering conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and violating federal tax laws.
According to the indictment, between April 1992 and March 1997, Cicero paid a newly incorporated and unlicensed insurance administration firm, Specialty Risk Consultants, Inc., (SRC), of Schaumburg, approximately $33.2 million. SRC spent approximately $18.5 million on the town’s insurance expenses.
Loren-Maltese, Schullo and DeChicio, who comprised the town insurance committee, approved payments of approximately $28 million to SRC, knowing the payments- often weekly wire transfers of money – were made without complying with town ordinances and obtaining approval from the town board, as required by a local ordinance. $10 million was siphoned to the 10 co-conspirators. The time period of this investigation more closely correlates with Fitzgerald’s brief FBI employment history. Like he’s done as a politician, even with the FBI Fitzgerald never finished a job.
The most well-known of Cicero’s mob family investigations began on July 27, 1998, the year Fitzgerald left the agency. Frank Calabrese, Jr. wrote a letter to the FBI and said he wanted to help agents and prosecutors put his father in jail. His father, Frank, Sr., was a member of the Chicago Outfit, a made man, and a key figure in “Operation Family Secrets” as the FBI dubbed the investigation. Calabrese’s group of mobsters and hit men committed 18 murders between 1970 and 1986 and ran various old school mob loan sharking activities, drug and theft rings.
The investigation concluded with a 43-page indictment of Calabrese and other Cicero crime family members in April 2005. By then Fitzgerald had worked for Cuyahoga County prosecutor William Mason and was serving on Lakewood city council. By the time Calabrese and his Operation Family Secrets co-conspirators were sentenced to prison in August 2007, Fitzgerald was campaigning to become Lakewood’s mayor.
A former Lakewood city employee who worked closely with Fitzgerald said they saw a plaque on the wall in his office that he claims to have received from the FBI for his work with the federal agency. The employee couldn’t confirm whether it was authentic or something Fitzgerald had made up at Pete Sudyk’s and put on the wall himself. The ex-Lakewood employee believes Fitzgerald worked a desk job at the FBI.