Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Family Secrets mob trial with Sun-Times reporter Steve Warmbir

You can pay a mobster $4,000 a month, but it doesn't buy you respect

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James Marcello

An Oak Brook businessman paid Chicago mob boss James Marcello $4,000 a month, but it didn't buy him respect.

In fact, Marcello referred to the businesman, Nicholas Vangel, in code, at times calling him "Reinhardt Schwimmer," referring to the young optometrist who cavorted with gangsters and paid for his foolishness when he was killed as part of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929.

Vangel also delivered payments to Marcello's mistress as well and put her on as an employee at one of his businesses, so she could get health insurance.

But still, no respect from Marcello.

According to a government court filing, Marcello and his half-brother, mobster Mickey Marcello, considered Vangel a syncophantic wanna-be mobster.

Vangel and and his family are investors in nursing homes throughout the Chicago area.

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What a Goose!!!!


Have you heard anything about Vangel, Marcello, and Zizzo being somehow tied up in the Blagojevich shenanigans down in Springfiled? Not so much with the current vacant senate seat thing, but more re: big dollar contributions, legalization of gambling, etc...

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: I wrote a story about Vangel's big money contributions.

Of course, if anyone has anything to add, feel free.

Here's a copy of the story from a year ago:

An Oak Brook businessman who has extensive financial and personal ties to the former head of the Chicago mob has given more than $200,000 in contributions to Illinois politicians through personal and corporate donations -- with Gov. Blagojevich receiving the most money, $35,000, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Among other top recipients of donations from the businessman, Nicholas Vangel, a longtime friend of mob boss James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, were former Gov. George Ryan, House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, an analysis of the political contributions shows.

Vangel has not been accused of any wrongdoing and did not return phone messages Friday. He has denied in court documents any connections to organized crime. Some politicians who received contributions from Vangel or his businesses told the Sun-Times they were either unaware of Vangel's relationship with Marcello or had no idea who he was.

"We don't know much about the person in question and are still reviewing the contributions," said Doug Scofield, a spokesman for the governor's campaign.

A spokesman for Madigan, who received more than $17,000 over 10 years, had no idea who Vangel was and noted the amount contributed was relatively small per year. Saviano, who got more than $20,000, did not return phone messages.

Visit mobster in prison

Vangel, 66, and his family have extensive investments in several nursing homes throughout the Chicago area, as well as other businesses, but another side of him was shown during the recent Family Secrets mob trial.

In a secret videotape made by the FBI and played to jurors, Vangel was shown chatting as he visited Marcello at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., in February 2003.

As Marcello snacks on a bag of Fritos, Vangel talks with him about the secret ongoing federal investigation of unsolved mob murders, including which mob leaders have been swabbed for DNA testing. Vangel tells Marcello he will find out what he can.

The men at times speak in code, and Vangel tells Marcello he wishes an unnamed individual had gone to testify before the grand jury investigating the mob murders.

"Fact is, I mean to tell ya the truth, I was almost hopin' he'd a gone to find out what they were gonna ask him," Vangel tells Marcello.

His assistance to Marcello did not end there.

Offered house for bond

Vangel at times would deliver cash to Marcello's mistress, according to the woman's testimony. The woman was also put on the payroll of one of Vangel's businesses, so she could get health insurance.

After Marcello was arrested in the Family Secrets case in 2005, Vangel offered to put up his home, which had more than $1 million in equity, for Marcello's bond.

The judge refused to release Marcello, but if he had gotten out, Marcello could have returned to the job Vangel gave him, which involved calling upon several nursing homes on behalf of Vangel's management company.

In the Family Secrets case, Marcello was convicted of racketeering and was found to have taken part in the 1986 murders of the mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother, Michael.

Marcello drove the brothers to what they believed was a mob meeting at a Bensenville area home, where they were lured into a basement and beaten to death, according to court testimony.

Vangel is an investor in another company with the wife of a Marcello associate. Vangel is listed on the corporate records of a temporary worker business called Patriot Staffing Management Inc. with Susan Zizzo, wife of missing mobster Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, records show.


Vangel's interests do not end there. He has been, for instance, an investor in the well-known Rush Street restaurant Tavern on Rush, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Vangel is the former owner of the Carlisle banquet hall in west suburban Lombard and was among nine people arrested there during a gambling raid of a Super Bowl party in 1991.

Among those arrested were William Galioto, who is a former Chicago Police officer and Marcello's brother-in-law. Galioto has been identified by the Chicago Crime Commission as a mob lieutenant. Also there were two union leaders, who lost their positions after their locals were found to be mobbed up.

Charges against all the men were dropped when prosecutors missed a filing deadline, authorities said.


The following are excerpts from a transcript of a conversation between Chicago mob boss James Marcello and his friend, businessman Nicholas Vangel, when Vangel visited Marcello at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., on Feb. 28, 2003.

The men talk guardedly about the feds doing DNA swabs on mobsters.

Vangel: Heard, uh, I heard they DNA'd him.

Marcello: They stopped by again.

Vangel: Yeah.

Marcello: . . . huh? What'd you hear so far, that they visited?

Vangel: Just him. That's all. I mean,

I know, see I'm

not . . .

Marcello: Oh, I meant the other guy too.

Vangel: The, this guy? (Pointing to his nose, the code for mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.)

Marcello: No, Rocky's brother.

The men talk about someone they know called by the grand jury.

Vangel: Did you hear of anybody that's gone to the grand jury?

Marcello: (Shakes his head no.)

Vangel: I didn't either. Just that one guy. Fact is, I mean to tell ya the truth, I was almost hopin' he'd a gone to find out what they were gonna ask him.

can you please tell me where frank schweihs is burried

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: Wish I could tell you, but I don't know.


You hardly ever update this blog, which used to be the best of its kind.

Now, if there's nothing blog-worthy to report in regard to the Chicago Outfit/Family Secrets, I don't really have any suggestions. But, I'll tell you that I did enjoy reading this one-off, trivial entry, as well as the whole thing about the Marcello's father. Anything that provides a context, history, background, etc. It'd make for good reading, and if nothing else, a reason to continue checking for updates.

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: I'll work to get more items posted. Things are slow in Family Secrets, but it will be heating up shortly.

I am truly sorry to disappoint. I know a lot of folks enjoy the blog, and I promise there will be more stuff up in the weeks to come.

Oh come on, we all know he is most certainly buried in Mt. Caramel with all of the other mobsters!

Hi Steve - Any rumors as to when part II is coming? I noticed you said that it should be heating up shortly so thought i'd try to pry some info out of ya...

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: Nothing solid on Part II to report.

My professor said Zagel made a snide comment about Funk when Funk missed a court hearing back in September (the morning after the Mars fundraiser). When one of the defense attys said something about Funk's absence, Zagel said, "He usually shows up for this case" with more than a hint of sarcasm of the word "this." Is there tension between the bench and the prosecutors on this case?

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: I didn't hear that comment from the judge, but I may not have been at the hearing, if it was routine. I haven't detected any tension between the judge and the prosecution.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Warmbir published on December 22, 2008 12:10 PM.

The story behind "Little Jimmy's" father": The court documents was the previous entry in this blog.

New sentencing dates for Family Secrets case is the next entry in this blog.

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