John William Tuohy
William Hanhardt, a one-time high-ranking member of the Chicago Police who went to prison for running a mob-connected jewel-theft ring, has died at age 88 from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In an overreach, the government called Hanhardt one of the most crooked cops in Chicago history, (There have been Chicago cops who were far worse than Hanhardt although they probably stole less money than he did) However Hanhardt is the highest-ranking Chicago Police officer ever to be convicted of a crime.
Federal prosecutors said that Hanhardt ran a mob-tied, highly sophisticated theft ring that stole tens of millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry from salesmen across the country. When they indicted Hanhardt, the Justice Department note that “Hanhardt's organization surpasses in duration and sophistication -just about any other jewelry theft ring we've seen in federal law enforcement”
Then-Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scully added "His greed and loyalty was to the mob and to his mob-associated jewelry theft crew, which were more important to him than his family, the Chicago Police Department or the citizens that he was sworn to protect"
Hanhardt worked for the Chicago Police for 33 years, joining the force in 1953, and making headlines on a regular basis including an incident in 1962, when, while staking out a North Side home, he Hanhardt came across three robbers with a submachine gun and ended up in a shootout in which two of the suspects were killed.(Below)
Gifted with an encyclopedic memory and a natural charisma, he was seen as a cop's cop and he rose through the ranks quickly. He was commander of the burglary section, chief of detectives, deputy superintendent, head of the Central Investigations Unit, a hand-picked team that targeted, among others, jewel thieves. He worked closely with the FBI, piling up commendations, including one from J. Edgar Hoover. He retired in 1986 as a captain.
Thomas P. Sullivan, who served as U.S. attorney in Chicago from 1977 to 1981, said "He was a very commanding presence - a big man" and he used it when he played a mob killer in Michael Mann's 1980s television show "Crime Story."
Hanhardt later became a technical adviser to the series.
But there was a darker side to him as well. He came out of the near West Side neighborhood, "the Patch," and grew up with a number of future mob bosses including Sam Giancana.
In the 1950s, a corrupt ex-cop claimed Hanhardt had shaken down bookies and burglars and Bob Fuesel, a retired Internal Revenue Service agent who worked on organized crime cases during the 1960s and '70s, says he was told by members of the police intelligence unit "to stay away from that guy. ... He was bad news."
Fuesel also said that it was common knowledge for decades among organized crime prosecutors that Hanhardt was associated with the mob. In fact many mob informants told the FBI that Hanhardt been on the underworld payroll for decades.
The charge is backed up by bank robber Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel said several years ago that in the late 1960s, the word was that the mob boss Angelo Volpe was paying a high ranking detective $1,200 a month and sweetening the deal with a new car every two years.
Also in the Sixties, Hanhardt’s name and phone number showed up in the address book of a murdered labor racketeer.
Just before he retired from the force in 1986, Hanhardt testified at the trial of mobster Anthony Spilotro, the Outfits man in Las Vegas and his brother, Michael. During the trial Hanhardt took the unusual step of discrediting a key government witness. The judge ruled a mistrial, and the Spilotro Brothers were released and returned home to Chicago where they were murdered.
Court documents also claim that in 1979, after he had left the force, Hanhardt might have leaked details of a major FBI investigation into Las Vegas casinos skimming to the mob.
He was also a political hack. While deputy superintendent, he was demoted for allegedly having ties to the corrupt 1st Ward, which was then controlled by the mob but he was later promoted to chief of detectives.
Hanhardt's crew was formed while Hanhardt was still on the force, and included Chicago mob hit man Paul "the Indian" Schiro (He was nicknamed "The Indian" because of his physical resemblance to an American Indian or an Asian Indian depending upon who told the story ) who kept his base of operations in Phoenix, Arizona.
A career criminal, he entered the Outfit through his childhood friendship with Anthony Spilotro. Schiro was a long time member of Spilotro’s "Hole in the Wall Gang" that operated mostly out of Las Vegas. It was Spilotro who moved Schiro to Scottsdale, Arizona in the 1970s.
Schiro became a partner with 73-year-old Emil Vaci who operated a mob-connected business bringing high dollar gamblers to Las Vegas. The mob, some say it was Schiro himself, eventually murdered Vaci.
Vaci got his because he had been implicated with Jay Vandermark, a slot skim expert who cheated the Chicago mob by diverting some of the skim to himself. On June 7, 1986, Vaci's body was found wrapped in a tarp in a drainage ditch canal near 48th Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix.
After Spilotro's murder, Schiro allegedly became the boss of Chicago interests in Arizona, taking the job from Jack Tocco of Detroit but the Vaci murder came home to haunt him.
Schiro was convicted in 2001 for his role in the Hanhardt’s jewelry theft ring and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.
In 2005 Schiro was among the indicted on charges of racketeering and murder as part of the massive “Operation Family Secrets" run by the Justice Department. Outfit hitman-turned-government witness, Nicholas Calabrese, said that Schiro acted as a lookout and listening to a police scanner during the hit on Vaci and also took part in the planning of Vaci's killing. Calabrese said he and an accomplice pulled Vaci into a van, then Calabrese shot Vaci several times in the head and dumped his body in a canal. Schiro was convicted of racketeering in the Vaci case and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Another member of the crew was William "Cherry Nose" Brown, the nephew of Mad Sam DeStafano, a murdering Chicago mob lunatic.
The first of the heists took place in Wisconsin in 1984, two years before Hanhardt retired from the force. In that case, a Chicago-area jewelry carrying $310,000 in watches stopped at a Holiday Inn in Glendale, Wis., and parked and locked his Mercedes-Benz by a front doorway and went inside to use a bathroom. When he came out minutes later, the car and the goods were gone. Other heists masterminded by Hanhardt took place in Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The gang stalked jewelry salesmen around the country, analyzing their travel patterns, making duplicate keys of their cars and enlisting private information from police databases. After retiring from the Police Department in 1986, Hanhardt tapped a Chicago police sergeant and a detective to access law enforcement computers to help him gather intelligence about jewelry salesmen targeted for theft. The Hanhardt gang stalked more than 100 jewelry salespeople handling more than $40 million in merchandise over 15 years.
"It was a very sophisticated kind of conduct, the kind you usually just see in the movies and on TV shows," said Eric Sussman a former prosecutor on the case
They used coded language, aliases and carried bulletproof vests and a fake mustache and beard. Their tools and equipment ranged from lock picks to planting bugs and a device with flash bulbs to temporarily blind victims. They kept meticulous records on potential targets, obtaining their phone numbers (some unlisted), bank account information, frequent flyer numbers and travel itineraries. They convinced auto manufacturers they were dealers to get access codes to cut new keys for cars. And they bought luggage that matched bags carried by their targets, so they could make a quick switch.
Unlike most crook they knew how to wait. Months before a hotel hosted a trade show for jewelers, the crew worked to distract hotel clerks and make duplicate keys for the safety-deposit boxes where salesmen would store gems.
While the gang actually got more than $5 million worth of goods, they had targeted more than 100 jewelry salesmen and $40 million in jewelry, gems and watches.
It all came apart in 1999 when an associate in the jewel theft ring got involved in a nasty divorce and led a private eye to a bank safe deposit box that contained scores of uncut diamonds and jewels and a phony ID her husband had used along with phone bugs and car tracing beepers. Word of the account soon reached the FBI who began looking into Hanhardt's jewel-theft ring in the mid-1990s not an easy job for the FBI who face an onslaught of resistance from within the police establishment when they first began the investigation.
By 1996, a decade after he had retired, the government was wiretapping his home phone, recording hundreds of conversations. The tapes revealed Hanhardt was calling police department contacts, who did database searches on jewelers.
An informant gave the agents copies of index cards with information on jewelers used by Hanhardt and others to conduct surveillance. A check revealed that several of those people were, in fact, theft victims. Surveillance showed Hanhardt and his crew attending a jewelry show in Tucson in 1996, using a false name to register and obtaining a safe deposit box at the hotel. From that the Hanhardt organization managed to take copies of keys for a safety-deposit boxes where salesmen would store gems.
A trap was set.
A jewelry salesman who had been robbed by the gang of $310,000 in Baume & Mercier watches agreed to act as a bait for an FBI investigation into the case. The salesman packed $58,000 in luxury watches provided by the feds, in the trunk of his Lincoln and drove from his house in suburban Chicago and headed south into Indiana as two cars -- a Buick Century and an Olds Cutlass -- trailed him 50 miles, all the way to the parking lot of the Spa restaurant in Porter, Ind. He parked and went inside, one of the thieves opened the trunk of the Lincoln with a key and lifting out two jewelry cases sped away. The thieves had used a valet key they copied while the car was at a repair shop. But FBI agents sitting in a van were videotaping the scene. The film showed that one of the look outs in the robbery was William Hanhardt.
Hanhardt and his gang were arrested a few days later.
“His greed and loyalty was to the mob and to his mob-associated jewelry theft crew, which were more important to him than his family, the Chicago Police Department or the citizens that he was sworn to protect,” then-Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scully said at Hanhardt’s sentencing hearing in May 2002.
Hanhardt pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of conspiring to transport stolen property across state lines in eight heists in seven states over more than a decade. He agreed to pay $4,845,000 in restitution for stolen jewelry, gems and watches and was eventually sentenced to 12 years behind bars.
A jewelry industry official said at the time of Hanhardt's guilty plea, "I've not seen anything as detailed and as lengthy as the dossiers they put together on the traveling salesmen," calling the gang's work "unprecedented."
But it went further than jewelry theft. At Hanhardt’s 2002 sentencing hearing, authorities also disclosed that in 1996 he asked a police investigator to keep him posted on a heroin shipment from South America. The fed’s believed that Hanhardt intended to tip off the drug dealers with the information.
A week after his plea Hanhardt was rushed to a hospital from his home where he was found unconscious. Doctors determined that he had taken an overdose of a powerful pain killer in a suicide attempt. He was arrested and placed in the psychiatric unit at a local Hospital.
In prison, Hanhardt dealt with a series of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. (He was also drawing a police pension of more than $70,000 a year because his conviction came two years before the felony forfeiture rule was enacted.)
He was released from prison in 2011. A week before Hanhardt was released from prison Jerry Scalise then 74 years old, was about to go on trial when the FBI found a letter he had written to former chief of Hanhardt, which read “Everyone in court looks at you as guilty and that defendants often forget they did do the crime.” The only approach, Scalise wrote, is to make something else the issue to trick the jury.
Is the hood who stole the 45-carat Marlborough diamond from a British jewelry store in 1980. He was caught and did a long prison sentence in the United Kingdom. When Scalise returned to the U.S., he teamed up with Marlborough diamond cohort Art Rachel and mob soldier Bobby Pullia, and allegedly plotted suburban bank heists.
Art Rachel and Bobby Pullia
Scalise and crew also tried to rob the residence of former mob boss Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra, according to the government, targeting the home for hidden valuables after news reports that another Outfit boss, Frank Calabrese, had stashed money and jewels behind the basement walls of his house.
Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra,