March 29, 2000
Bill Jahoda: The Chicago Outfit's "Mister In-Between"
Copyright © 2000 by Dan E. Moldea
Bill "B.J." Jahoda leans against his black Cadillac Fleetwood in the parking lot of the Hamilton Hotel in Itasca, five miles west of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Athletic and well groomed, the forty-six-year-old Jahoda appears unseasonably sun-tanned for a life-long resident of the Midwest. Dressed casually, he could easily be mistaken for a professional golfer. Six-foot-two and a hundred and ninety pounds, he has medium-length, straight brown hair, and striking blue eyes.
Now pacing by his car, Jahoda lights a Raleigh Filter King with his gold Dunhill cigarette lighter and notices his right hand uncharacteristically trembling just a bit. His long slender fingers taper to impeccably manicured nails. He wears a Cartier wristwatch--which notes that it is 8:10 A.M., Thursday, April 20, 1989. A gold ring that cradles a rare U.S. gold coin is on the small finger of his left hand, and a two-and-a-half carat diamond ring adorns the index finger of his right hand.
Actually, Jahoda is neither a golf pro nor the kind of guy who spends his leisure time at a country club. However, he does have, in certain circles, a feared and respected reputation as a savvy businessman. He is, after all, the chief operating officer of a thriving enterprise with $25 million in annual revenues--all of it in cash. Last year alone, he earned more money than the combined annual salaries of the president and the vice president of the United States.
No ordinary entrepreneur, Jahoda works as the managing partner of the Chicago Mafia's most profitable illegal casino gambling and bookmaking operation. The Chicago Crime Commission, the United States Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Justice have already identified him as a key "soldier" in "The Outfit".
But, over the past few years, his demanding though profitable career--arbitraging numbers on sporting events, fielding wagers, and hustling rigged casino games--has degenerated into horrific acts of betrayal and violence. Although federal law enforcement agencies and the media have never identified Jahoda as a "hitter" for the Mafia, they suspect him of participating in two highly-publicized gangland murders. Press coverage and scrutiny from the federal government have made him public property.
Overwrought after being conned into playing unwitting roles in the murders of two men he knew and liked, Jahoda has decided to make his most dramatic move in his long career with the underworld. Willing to jeopardize his personal safety, he is prepared to place his life in the hands of his worst enemy: Thomas Moriarty, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service's famed Criminal Investigations Division, a high-tech version of Eliot Ness's unit when he brought down Chicago's Al Capone.
At this moment, Bill Jahoda intends to flip--to give himself up and become a government witness against his colleagues in the Chicago Outfit. This bold plan is even more remarkable and unique, because Jahoda has not been caught and forced to plea-bargain in return for his cooperation. He wants to volunteer to come in on his own--without talking to an attorney or even asking for any promises or concessions from the federal government, which clearly has the power to take away his freedom.
Regardless of the consequences, Jahoda has made this decision as a matter of conscience. Risking everything, he knows only one thing for sure: the biggest gamble of his entire life lays before him.
Because of the obvious dangers, Jahoda has had to concoct a plausible cover to lure special agent Moriarty into his plan. He knows that it would be unlikely for Moriarty to agree to meet with him anywhere alone--because federal agents usually come to Jahoda and other mob figures in teams of two or more.
To complicate matters, Jahoda has been told by his boss--Rocco Infelise, the ruthless consigliere of the Chicago mob--that the local Outfit "owns" a top federal law enforcement official: code name, "Whiskers." Jahoda realizes that Moriarty would not meet with him without talking to his own supervisor. For all Jahoda knows, Moriarty's boss could be "Whiskers".
Jahoda needs an explanation in case he and Moriarty are seen together--or if word leaks to "Whiskers" about the meeting and consequently to Rocky Infelise.
The two-hundred-and-fifty pound Infelise has massive hands and forearms, dark, dead eyes and a starkly menacing presence. A horse racing enthusiast, Infelise has a criminal record going back to 1952 with arrests for murder, burglary, armed robbery, and narcotics trafficking. He has also been convicted for firearms violations and the theft of a million dollars in silver bullion. He has a widely-known reputation as a brutal stone killer.
Since getting out of prison in 1978, Infelise has become the most feared street boss in the Chicago Outfit. Now, as consigliere of the local mob, three of the local mob's five street bosses report directly to him: Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis; Robert "Gahbeet" Bellavia; and Louis Marino.
As a prospective government witness, B.J. knows that federal prosecutors will ask him to take dead aim at Infelise and bring him down. Realizing that is no small task, Jahoda always believed that the intuitive Infelise has had the ability to look into his soul. Although Infelise looks like a thug, he possesses a shrewdness that supersedes intelligence. Simply speaking, Jahoda isn't sure that he can take a shot at Infelise and remain composed--without this pathological killer detecting his hidden objective.
Jahoda will have to double-cross Infelise, the man he has depended on and trusted for the past ten years; the man who has given him the opportunity to become wealthy and powerful beyond his dreams.
Meantime, Jahoda, while taking on Infelise, wants to place DeLaurentis, Bellavia, and Marino on his agenda. Although he has no grudge against either Bellavia, a non-descript gangster who appears to have an ability to blend into walls, or Marino, a seemingly friendly guy who can turn deadly in a heartbeat, Jahoda's antipathy toward DeLaurentis has intensified after Solly D recently took the underworld's sacred blood oath and officially became a "made" member of the Mafia.
DeLaurentis has a reputation as the flashiest guy on Infelise's crew. At five-seven, 160 pounds, and triple-tough, DeLaurentis's only goal in life has been to become a mobster. In fact, he would have promised his first born for the opportunity. A good-looking megalomaniac, Solly also prides himself as a talented amateur singer.
With Infelise's 1988 promotion to consigliere, DeLaurentis's power has grown; he has replaced Infelise as the street boss of Lake County. In effect, he is now Jahoda's crew chief.
DeLaurentis's animosity towards Jahoda peaked in September 1985 after Penny Carson--a dark-haired, fiery brown-eyed beauty-- jilted Solly D after two dates and then began a love affair with Jahoda. After making his bones with the Mafia fours years later, DeLaurentis, flexing his newfound power, has told Jahoda that he now has the muscle to avenge all acts committed against him, real or imagined.
Jahoda knows that DeLaurentis possesses the patience and authority to order both him and Penny murdered.
To facilitate his plan to flip, Jahoda--still pacing in the parking lot, waiting for Tom Moriarty--has created a ruse. The previous day, he called Moriarty and claimed that the thirty-two- year-old Penny Carson and her ten-year-old daughter, Stacy, have been receiving a sudden rash of obscene phone calls. Jahoda told Moriarty during their conversation, "You people are listening in on our calls! At least, I hope you are! We've got a problem with a pervert! And I need to talk to you in person!"
In effect, Jahoda has to "qualify" Moriarty, even though from past experience he believes him to be incorruptible and relentless. Jahoda wants to weigh Moriarty's reaction to his fictitious problem. Also, he presumes that Moriarty will give him another pitch to become a federally-protected witness-- because he always has.
After putting out his cigarette, Jahoda walks into the hotel and sees the federal agent alone in the coffee shop. Six-foot- one and with green eyes and dark hair, the thirty-six-year-old Moriarty, a twelve-year veteran of the IRS, has investigated, tailed, wiretapped, and attempted to put Jahoda behind bars for over six years. He doesn't have a clue about Jahoda's intentions.
In this little coffee shop, amidst the bustle of mid-morning diners, one of law enforcement's most extraordinary adventures is about to begin.
In the wake of this meeting with Moriarty, Jahoda--who was represented by former U.S. Strike Force attorney David Schippers--offered to wear a wire on his colleagues in the underworld. After months of memorializing these conversations, he became the key witness before a federal grand jury and then at the longest criminal trial in the history of the U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The result? Twenty convictions.
Speaking of Jahoda's contribution, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "In Jahoda, the Internal Revenue Service agents [with whom he worked], found a rare combination: a mob insider with a broad vocabulary and a seemingly steel-trap memory."
At Jahoda's sentencing hearing, federal prosecutor Mitch Mars testified for his star witness, saying: "There is no doubt that the cornerstone of that investigation and the cornerstone of the government's success at trial was Mr. Jahoda's cooperation. . . . Mr. Jahoda's testimony led to a single-handed demise of the entire street crew. . . . In my view, his cooperation is unparalleled."
U.S. District Judge Ann C. Williams agreed, concluding at Jahoda's sentencing hearing: "Let me say one other thing that the Court was persuaded by: The fact that when you came to the government, you didn't ask for any consideration, any favors, and no deals. . . . And you knew that given the nature of the information that you had and the length of time you had been involved in this organization and, indeed, your extraordinary memory and the voluminous records that you kept, that the information that you could present to the government would put you in a tremendous bargaining position with respect to your future. . . . It is for that reason that the Court feels that imposing any kind of sentence which would require you to serve in the custody of the Attorney General is not warranted."
A heroic Mafia mutineer, Bill Jahoda deserves better than to be called "a rat."
William E. Jahoda died of liver failure on May 7, 2004. He was 61.