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August 9, 1929|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
September 21, 2005 (aged 76)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Albert Tocco (August 9, 1929 – September 21, 2005), also known as "Caesar" (though this was actually his baptismal name), was a high-ranking member of the Chicago Outfit during the 1970s and 1980s. He allegedly controlled the rackets on the South Side of Chicago, the south suburbs, and parts of Northern Indiana (Al Capone's old stomping grounds). Tocco is believed to have been the first mob boss whose spouse testified against him.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Tocco was a second generation Italian-American, whose grandparents were from Italy. He was the youngest of his siblings, and grew up in south suburban Chicago Heights, Illinois. Tocco had two sisters, Anne (Goff) and Marie (Mattio) and a brother, Joe Tocco. Albert Tocco's father, Michael Tocco, was a decorated World War I veteran and an accomplished business man.
During the Great Depression, six-year-old Tocco was already working to help support his family. Once a teenager, he helped his father run the largest cement business in Chicago. Tocco was 17 when his father died from cancer.
He became Chicago's most feared man.
Chicago Outfit[edit | edit source]
Tocco, a reputedly "Made Member" of the Outfit, oversaw its operations in several of Chicago's southern suburbs during the late 1970s through the 1980s. His organization, centered in Chicago Heights, Illinois, dealt mainly in stolen car "chop shops," prostitution and illegal gambling. Although he was never convicted of murder, he was implicated in numerous gangland killings aimed at solidifying his control over these industries. Tocco was indicted on federal charges, in 1988, and fled overseas to Greece. Tocco was eventually located in Greece by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who used his young son as bait and returned Tocco back to the United States where he was arrested. Tocco was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, extortion and tax fraud and was subsequently sentenced to over 200 years in prison.
Wife turns government witness[edit | edit source]
Tocco's international escape may have led his wife, Betty, to turn on him. Or it may have been his absence that allowed Federal Agents to exploit her emotions and uncertainties at a weak time for her.
Betty Tocco was believed to be the first wife of an organized crime leader to testify against her spouse, and she reportedly entered the federal witness protection program with their son Michael Tocco, Tocco's only offspring. (He had stepchildren from a previous marriage) Among other things, Betty implicated her husband in several killings, including the brutal 1986 murders of Anthony Spilotro (the mob's man in Las Vegas for two decades) and his brother Michael. The Spilotro case was portrayed in the Martin Scorsese film, "Casino", which was released in 1995. The Reputed Chicago mob boss James Marcello was convicted in the Spilotro killings at the 2007 "Family Secrets" trial, which also saw three other top mobsters and a former Chicago police officer convicted. The version of the killings described by Calabrese was not consistent with Betty Tocco's testimony. Albert Tocco was convicted with the understanding that he was indeed involved in this act. The FBI has yet to publicly announce whether Tocco's name is now cleared of these allegations due to the recent convictions, or if they'll just let it go unmentioned.
In an interview published in the Chicago Sun-Times just after Tocco was sentenced in 1990, Betty called her husband a ruthless thug who abused his family, broke the mob's, "code of ethics", and even cheated his (step) daughter at tic-tac-toe. Though this article incorrectly attributes such testimony to Betty, it was actually the testimony of FBI agents who had worked on the case for several years, and demonstratively showed extreme prejudice in trying to characterize Tocco in a negative light, given their failed attempts during previous years to attribute crimes to him. Such testimony caused a public debate about the positives and negatives of both Betty and Tocco — littering the Chicago media with public letters and call-ins.
Ties to suburban public officials[edit | edit source]
Tocco's trial also brought to light widespread corruption in Chicago Heights city government, where Tocco's waste management company held the city's garbage hauling contract. A federal probe would reveal that Tocco doled out more than $75,000 in kickbacks to Chicago Heights officials in return for the inflated contract. Sixteen public officials, including former Mayor Charles Panici, would be convicted in various bribery and extortion schemes.
Prison and death[edit | edit source]
Tocco spent the last 16 years of his life in various federal penitentiaries. The majority of his sentence was served in penitentiaries in Lompoc, California and Marion, Illinois, a supermax prison. On September 21, 2005, Albert Tocco died from a stroke in the penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, where he was awaiting medical treatment for several issues.
Michael Tocco attended his father's funeral after being away for 16 years; he was pictured on the front pages of most Chicago media that covered the event, and described him as a "spitting image of his father". The funeral was attended by hundreds of family and friends who remembered Tocco as a, "loving, family man."