Rival TV-movie studio sues Illinois over help for Cinespace

Bruce Rauner Pat Quinn   

CoStar Group Chicago Studio City's “business has declined precipitously, to the point that it is in danger of going out of business,” the complaint says.
A longtime Chicago TV-movie studio once called a front for organized crime has filed suit against the state of Illinois, alleging that the Quinn administration wrongfully directed productions to a rival, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.
Two companies that go by the name Chicago Studio City allege that the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity used its control over Illinois tax credits to establish a “practice of steering Chicago-oriented (film) producers exclusively or primarily to Cinespace,” according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. As a result, Chicago Studio City's “business has declined precipitously, to the point that it is in danger of going out of business,” the complaint says.
And the state conspired with Cinespace to direct producers to boycott Chicago Studio City, the complaint says.
The favoritism shown Cinespace was dictated by former Gov. Pat Quinn, according to the complaint, citing statements made by the former managing director of the Illinois Film Office. Quinn is not named in the lawsuit.
Cinespace, which also is not named in the lawsuit, also used "political and labor union influence" to win $17.3 million in state grants from the Quinn administration, including a $10 million grant in late 2014 that was questioned by the Rauner administration. The money was returned in March.
The state's actions violated federal anti-trust laws as well as the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the complaint says. The lawsuit was filed May 8 by two companies, Chicago Studio Rental and Chicago Studio Real Estate Holdings.
In a report issued in 1986, the President's Commission on Organized Crime said Chicago Studio Rental was “known to Chicago law enforcement as a La Cosa Nostra front.”
John Crededio, who founded the company in 1979, was an “associate of LCN member Joseph Ferriola,” the report said. Ferriola, a reputed mob boss, died in 1989.
Chicago attorney Santo Volpe, who represents the companies, said, “Chicago Studio City was never a front for organized crime.” The “sole owner of Chicago Studio City is and also has been John Crededio,” he said, noting that the commission report was nearly 30 years old.
Ferriola and Crededio were “very close friends,” Volpe said. “I don't know how that translates into Chicago Studio City being an alleged front,” he added.
The state's wrongful conduct began in 2010, shortly after Cinespace was founded, the complaint alleges.
Chicago Studio City, located in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side, is a 100,000-square-foot facility. Cinespace, with about 1.45 million square feet, is about 5 miles east on the site of the former Ryerson Steel mill in North Lawndale.
The $10 million grant was awarded by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in the waning days of the Quinn administration. The money was given with the stated purpose of expanding the facility, but was handed over without any appraisals of the properties to be acquired or even contracts with the property owners.
Cinespace CEO Alex Pissios has defended the deal. A spokesman declines to comment on the allegations.
The Rauner administration declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Update, 3:55 p.m. — A spokesman for Quinn said the lawsuit is without merit.

Reputed mob enforcer pleads guilty to threats, violence to collect debts

By Jason MeisnerChicago Tribunecontact the reporter
Reputed mob associate loses tough-guy demeanor as he pleads guilty in court to extortion.
Reputed Outfit associate Paul Carparelli was caught on undercover recordings ordering a beefy union bodyguard to "crack" a guy who owed a debt, federal authorities say.
He also was captured referring to people who cooperate with law enforcement as "rats" and laughing with glee when he heard his goons had broken the arm of a construction rival in a pipe beating, according to court records.
But on Friday, Carparelli had lost the tough-guy demeanor as he quietly pleaded guilty to three counts of extortion for using threats and violence to collect debts on behalf of two businessmen.
Judge revokes bond for alleged threat on life of witness"Yes, ma'am," Carparelli, 46, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, told U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman when she asked if he understood the charges.
Carparelli, who allegedly has long-standing ties to the Outfit's Cicero crew, faces up to about 12 1/2 years in prison at his sentencing on Sept. 29 under federal guidelines, according to prosecutors. But Carparelli's lawyers said the figure should be much lower — perhaps as little as about five years behind bars.
After Carparelli's arrest in July 2013, agents recovered two guns, $170,500 in cash and nearly $200,000 in jewelry — including a gold bracelet with the name "Paulie" spelled in diamonds — in a safe hidden in the crawl space of his Itasca home, court records show.
In pleading guilty, Carparelli admitted that Mark Dziuban, who owned a suburban printing company, asked him and co-defendant George Brown to travel to New Jersey to look for a Nevada businessman who had failed to pay back several hundred thousand dollars. Carparelli also sent Brown and a co-defendant to Wisconsin to threaten another businessman who owed Dziuban money.
Brown, a union bodyguard described by prosecutors in one filing as a "three-hundred pound muscleman," later began cooperating with authorities and recorded numerous conversations with Carparelli, court records show.
In a February 2013 phone call, Carparelli was recorded telling Brown to go to the home of another victim to collect a $66,000 juice loan debt, according to Carparelli's plea agreement.
"(Expletive) ring the bell and crack that guy," Carparelli was quoted as telling Brown. "Don't even say nothing to him. ... Go over there, give him a (expletive) crack, and we'll get in contact with him."
In another plot, Elio Desantis, owner of a suburban electrical company, enlisted Carparelli and Brown to help collect a $90,000 debt from a construction company operator, identified in court records only as Individual B. Desantis had met Carparelli while performing electrical work at Carparelli's pizza restaurant in Bloomingdale and knew of his "tough guy reputation," court records show.
Desantis was recorded telling Brown he "thought of going the lawyer route" but decided it would be more efficient to have them take care of it.
"All really Paulie has to do," Desantis said of Carparelli, "is pick up a phone and say, 'Hey, (Individual B), I want to meet you,' and he'll probably (expletive) his pants and meet him. You know what I mean?"
After Carparelli and Brown paid Individual B a visit, he began writing checks to Desantis to cover the debt, records show.
Desantis pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the plot and was sentenced in February to a year in prison. Dziuban was found guilty at trial and is awaiting sentencing.
In a ruse devised by the FBI, an undercover agent posing as a New Jersey State Police investigator called a Carparelli associate and asked questions about his travels to the state two years earlier, court records show. The real purpose of the call worked, touching off a flurry of phone calls and meetings between Carparelli and others worried about who may have ratted them out, court filings show.
Prosecutors have alleged in court filings Carparelli took pleasure in arranging beatings on behalf of the Outfit. During the investigation, an undercover informant also recorded Carparelli explaining how he felt about people who cooperate with law enforcement.
"As long as you don't steal from me, (expletive) my wife or rat on me, you're my friend 1,000 percent," Carparelli said to the informant in 2013, according to prosecutors. "You hear that? You hear that? Those three (expletive) things …That's the type of person I am."
While free on bond last month, Carparelli allegedly threatened the life of a witness against him outside a Chicago-area Wal-Mart, pulling up alongside an employee of the witness and saying, "Tell him he is a (expletive) rat. Tell him he knows what happens to rats," according to prosecutors.

Twitter @jmetr22b

Feds say alleged extortionist with mob ties threatened witness

Posted: 04/16/2015, 06:33pm | Jon Seidel

Federal authorities want to lock up a defendant they say is an Outfit connected extortionist who just this week leveled a threat against a witness in the case against him.
Paul Carparelli, who is charged in a series of extortion plots, allegedly followed one of the witness’ employees out of a Wal-Mart parking lot Tuesday in west suburban Addison. As the pair idled at a stoplight, Carparelli allegedly gestured from his black Cadillac sedan for the employee to roll down the window of his white van.
“Tell [the witness] he is a f – - – - – - rat,” Carparelli said, according to prosecutors. “Tell him he knows what happens to rats.”
Carparelli’s attorneys did not immediately comment on the accusation. But prosecutors, who said they have security footage of Carparelli following the employee out of the Wal-Mart, plan to ask U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to revoke Carparelli’s bond Friday. They said Carparelli’s comment had a “clear meaning.”
“The cooperating witness would be subject to severe violence or killed,” they wrote, “just as other federal witnesses have been killed in the past. The punishment for acting as a witness against the Chicago Outfit has been well-documented.”
Prosecutors also quoted from recorded conversations between Carparelli and a cooperating witness in which he allegedly laid out what prosecutors called his “three cardinal sins.”

“As long as you don’t steal from me, f – - – my wife or rat on me, you’re my friend one thousand percent,” Carparelli allegedly said. 

Chicago mob suspected in car bomb murder

By Robert Nolin Sun Sentinelcontact the reporter

Reputed Chicago mob associate dies in car bomb blast
Reputed Chicago Mafia associate Joseph Testa, 53, had escaped three previous bomb attacks.
But he wasn't so lucky that July 1981 evening when he backed his car out of a parking space at the Tamarac Country Club in Oakland Park.
A remote-control operated bomb, planted on the driver's side of the car, exploded. Testa was thrown 100 feet. His right leg and part of his right arm were blown off. He died two days later. The case was never solved, but police theorize the killing was mob related.
Previously, bombs were detonated at property Testa owned in Chicago. Two months before the latest attack, a man called his Fort Lauderdale home to say, "Testa will die."
A wealthy builder, Testa bragged of Mafia connections, and was reportedly associated with the Anthony "Big Tuna" Accardo family in Chicago. "Associates he traveled with in the Chicago area were known organized crime figures," a FBI spokesman said after his death.
Authorities suspect Marshall Caifano, a Chicago hit man who favored car bombs, had Testa killed from prison. Caifano, however, died of natural causes in his 90s in 2003.

The Lager Beer Riot and the Birth of Law and Order

by Emmet Stackelberg February 27, 2015

One Saturday in April of 1855, a large group of German immigrants assembled around the courthouse in downtown Chicago, hoping to attend a hearing at which nineteen saloonkeepers would stand before a judge for violating one of two new laws enacted by the new nativist mayor, Levi Boone, who had promised during his campaign to curb liquor consumption. One banned the sale of alcohol on Sunday, while the other mandated a three-hundred-dollar fee for a liquor license (up from fifty dollars in previous years). As constables tried to move the crowd out of the street, a tussle broke out. The Chicago Tribune fashioned the crowd as monsters. The street, it claimed, was “crowded with a multitude of the most desperate and savage characters in the city, ready for any blood, rapine or murder.” It’s true that the crowd was angry and agitated, but it was the show of force by a constable that turned the assembly into a melee, a mob against the police.
Working-class taverns were often the center of immigrant community life, especially on Sundays, the one day most workers had off, and the liquor license fees threatened to make the cost of running one too high. What the Chicago Tribune later framed as an “ordinance requiring them to close their Lager Beer Halls on the Sabbath, and restrain their Bacchanalian revels for one day,” was in practice a great challenge to leisure and to community. German and Irish immigrants quickly found their own taverns and Bierstuben raided on Sundays, and owners of establishments in immigrant neighborhoods faced arrest for not paying the higher fees. (Drinking establishments frequented by the elite, many just blocks from the city hall and courthouse, quietly broke the law without interruption.) The Germans who assembled that Saturday feared the loss of their neighborhood life—in fact, many worried that German-style lagers, brewed mostly in Wisconsin would cease be exported to Chicago entirely without a healthy collection of Bierstuben.
When the fighting broke out, as more patrolmen showed up, the crowd began retreating north, back up the street and across the Chicago river. Eight men were arrested and placed in the jail beneath the courthouse. A mob formed on the north side of the river, determined to free the eight. The mayor had the newly constructed pivot bridge of Clark street swing open, cutting off the mob on the other side of the river from the courthouse. He handed out stars to a force of temporary patrolmen. But with the police still greatly outnumbered, he called in three independent militia as well. After a few hours, and with the assembled men on either side having not dispersed, officials decided they had to briefly swing the bridge back around to relieve backed up traffic. The moment the bridge connected both sides, the mob in the north rushed over it. In the confrontation, shots rang out, shattering a window, but in the end only two deaths were recorded: one cop and the man who shot him. The militia arrived shortly after to fully clear away bystanders. Boone declared martial law, and militia patrolled the streets that night. Two cannons sat at the ready, aimed at the scene where the mob and patrols had met.
In the week that followed, some of Chicago’s most prominent figures advertised a “Law and Order” meeting to discuss ways to “preserve the public peace.” J. Young Scammon, owner of the Marine Bank and one of the financiers of Chicago’s first railroad, was elected president of the meeting. Those present advocated for the formation of a unified police force. At the time, Chicago had two sets of police. Daytime constables and night watchmen both worked part time, with roughly the same responsibilities. They were not professional defenders of the peace; they were by and large elected directly by city residents. In fact, they didn’t even have uniforms—only small star-shaped badges.
There are two origin stories for police departments in the United States. As historian Sam Mitrani notes in his book on the origins of Chicago’s police department, the earliest departments were Southern ones, organized like militaries. They came into being to control large populations of slaves. The archetype of these was in New Orleans, a uniformed and armed force called the “Gendarmerie” that briefly patrolled between 1805 and 1806. Then there were the industrial cities’ police departments, like New York City’s and London’s, which arose out of the need to control dense populations of workers in newly crowded neighborhoods. The impetus to found London’s department—the first municipal force to have men assigned to patrol neighborhoods at all times—came out of riots surrounding the return of Queen Caroline to England in 1820. Sir Robert Peel, the department’s architect and strongest advocate, modeled it almost entirely on the department he led in Dublin—one run as an explicit arm of English power over Ireland. In New York, a series of riots in 1834 and looting after the great fire of 1835 provided the spark of encouragement to professionalize and militarize a set of constables that had originally been established in 1741, after a failed slave revolt. In both the South and North, the object was at its core the same—to try and diminish the power that comes from a lot of otherwise powerless people gathering together in a space; riots and revolts, not theft and murder, were what police departments were first made to combat.
A week after the meeting, Chicago’s city council passed sweeping police reforms: night watchmen and day patrolmen would regularly trade shifts, wear uniforms, and take orders from a superintendent of police. It followed the New York City model, with armed officers organized like a military force, designed in large part to keep the urban poor from demonstrating.
In 1856, immigrant communities rallied together behind the Democratic candidate, named Thomas Dyer, defeating Boone’s effort for re-election. The Republican Chicago Tribune declared that Dyer would likely preside over “such a police as the mob which rallied in our streets after the battle would elect. What vindicators of law and order they will be let their shouts, blasphemies and orgies on the day of the ‘big drunk’ bear witness.”
That phrase, “law and order,” which seems to gesture toward all of the ideals of urban civilization, of a clean and polite city filled with obedient citizens, had circulated in discourse about urban unrest since the turn of the nineteenth century, but with the emergence of professional police forces, its cultural meaning became solidified. Since then, the phrase has remained the essential rhetorical shorthand of police advocates—it had a particularly potent moment during the Republican electoral successes in the nineteen sixties—helping sell ideas about strengthening drug laws, restoring state death penalties, building prisons, and more heavily arming officers. From their beginnings all the way to today’s black sites and armored vehicles, police forces have been haunted by a military spirit. Armed forces and law enforcement are two guns of different gauge, forged by the same maker.
“It Was a Riot” is an occasional series about riots in American history.