FBI to Chicago Outfit: "We Haven't Forgotten You"

Chicago's new FBI chief issued a wake-up call to the Chicago Outfit during an interview with an ABC affiliate this week.

He vowed that the Chicago FBI office will "refocus on organized crime."

"The Chicago Outfit? We haven't forgotten about you," Chicago Special-Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey Sallet, pictured, told ABC.

Sallet was previously stationed in New Orleans, New York, and Boston; he is considered an expert in mob investigations. He began his career in New York, where his work included the investigation of the Bonanno crime family as part of the 2011 Mafia Takedown effort coordinated by the FBI in which more than 100 mobsters were nabbed. He also worked on the capture of Boston's notorious crime boss and long-time fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger, also in 2011.

"Mob guys or Outfit guys—whatever you want to call them—are resilient," Sallet said in an earlier report. "Where there is an opportunity to make money, they will engage. The reason they don't kill people the same way they did 25 years ago is because it's bad for business."

He acknowledged that the FBI in recent years has been pulled in different directions to orientate itself toward evolving threats posed by terrorism, corruption, and street gangs. Nevertheless, “the mob is still a criminal force in Chicago that cannot be overlooked,” he said.

"A group of people who wake up every single day with the idea of stealing and taking money from other people through intimidation and power is a group that we need to look at. The Chicago Outfit is 100 years old, so when you look at an organization that is 100 years old and say we're not going to work those guys because they're done, would be a huge mistake."

READ Priest Passed Deadly Intel to Outfit Member

The FBI commenced investigating the Chicago Outfit as part of J. Edgar Hoover’s Top Hoodlum Program, which launched in 1953 based on the FBI’s own admission. The ABC story says the program launched in 1959 and was Hoover's response to Apalachin. It's quite charming that the FBI's "disinformation" about the program lives on in the morgue of various media companies. See how quaintly even today the little scraps of fabricated information easily find their way back into print.

The Top Hoodlum Program was actually well underway by 1959. As per the FBI's "archived" site, (note the meager buffer that still exists: "This is archived material from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website. It may contain outdated information and links may no longer function."): “In 1953, the New York office—facing rising mobster activity—specifically asked to open intelligence files on 30 top hoodlums in the city to get a general picture of their activities and to keep an eye out for violations of federal law. On August 25th of that year, we made it an official national “Top Hoodlum Program,” asking all field offices to gather information on mobsters in their territories and to report it regularly to Washington so we’d have a centralized collection of intelligence on racketeers.”

The TPH investigation in Chicago targeted Outfit bosses and their rackets. Specifically, a select squad of FBI agents planted listening devices at two known Outfit meeting locations of the day, the Celano tailor shop on Michigan Avenue and a Forest Park tavern.

Federal agents broke into the tailor shop and put the mic—the size of a 16-inch softball—behind a baseboard. The implanted microphone was nicknamed "Little Al" by the FBI agents, in honor of Capone. Conversations from the tailor shop eventually led law enforcement to focus on Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo, Sam "Mooney" Giancana, and several dozen others.

The FBI proudly and prodigiously references Hoover’s Top Hoodlum Program for being a pioneering effort to break the mob. However, one thing the FBI to this very day doesn’t seem to acknowledge in all the verbiage is that the Top Hoodlum Program was illegal, which is why it was voluntary and why Hoover imposed restrictions on all the agents who worked the case.

William E. Roemer, Jr., assigned to the FBI’s Chicago field office, was one of the first agents to volunteer to investigate the Outfit guys under the Top Hoodlum Program. In Man Against the Mob, Roemer noted that, while breaking into places to plant bugs, the agents had to:

Try to escape without being identified if police (or the mobsters themselves) happened upon them. And if nabbed by Chicago cops, the agents could not identify themselves as such. (So they wore no badges, and left things like their credentials and guns at home.)

If they were arrested by police and the truth emerged about their FBI employment, the Bureau would claim they were “rogue agents” acting on their own. Such agents were not to refute the FBI’s portrayal of them as “rogues.”

The agents who willingly volunteered for duty did so out of their strong sense of commitment to “cracking” the mob. Or they were simply adrenaline junkies seeking a fix.

The 2005 Operation Family Secrets case was among the FBI’s most recent major investigations into the Outfit, as well as one of the most successful in FBI history.

READ Spilling Family Secrets: Frank Calabrese Senior

As the FBI noted, “It all started with a letter sent to our Chicago office in 1998: the son of a Windy City mobster wanted to help us collect enough evidence to have his gangster father put away for life. The letter spawned a seven-year investigation that culminated in a federal courtroom in September with guilty verdicts.”

The indictment named 14 defendants and included 18 previously unsolved murders.

The Family Secrets case made the Chicago news only last month when Frank Calabrese Jr. launched his "Family Secrets Tour," a two-hour guided tour of mob sites in Chicago.

Frank Calabrese Jr.

As the Tours  site notes:

Operation Family Secrets is a firsthand account of life in the Mob, stories, killings and a turncoat victory that will astonish you. Take a ride along with Frank Calabrese Jr. as he personally recounts his days and nights working as a soldier in his father's Chinatown crew. Frank Jr. has lived and experienced a life that most of us have only witnessed on the big screen.

Be a part of history and hear for yourself the shocking and completely unfiltered truth.

The following information also is posted (I pared it down to the essentials for interested parties):

Board bus Outside of Bella Luna Pizzeria
731 N. Dearborn Street
(NE Corner of Superior & Dearborn)
Last minute Tickets Call 847-261-4435 or
1.5-2 Hours
Friday 11:00am
Saturday - 11:00am and 2:00pm
Sunday - 11:00am and 2:00pm
Call for Private Tour Information

Calabrese Jr., by the way, wrote the previously mentioned letter to the authorities, offering to help prosecute his father, Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese, an Outfit killer.