By Ronald Koziol and John O`Brien.
April 23, 1985
Wearing a hood to protect what was said to
be a new identity, Ken Eto, a former gambling boss who survived
a mob assassination attempt in 1983, told the President`s Commission
on Organized Crime Monday that Vincent Solano, an official of
the Laborers` International Union of North America, ordered him
killed. Solano, who sat nonchalantly in the hearing
room in the Dirksen Federal Building as Eto testified, invoked
his 5th Amendment protection against self- incrimination, declining
to answer questions when he was called to the witness stand.
Eto, 64, identified Solano as a North Side
crime syndicate rackets boss as well as president of Local 1
of the mob-linked Laborers` Union. Asked to identify the mob`s "ultimate
source of power," Eto said, "Being able to corrupt and bribe
city officials, politicians and policemen and instill fear in
the general public by threats, intimidation and murder."
In other testimony, a former vice president of the Laborers` Union
said that the Elmwood Park man who heads the union threatened
to kill him at a union dinner in 1981. "You`re dead, you`re dead," Robert
E. Powell quoted Angelo Fosco, union president, as telling him
in the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The commission began three days of hearings
on mob penetration of unions and businesses with testimony on
the 625,000-member Laborers` Union. Fosco joined Solano and several
others in declining to testify. Fosco`s lawyer handed out a 10-page statement
criticizing the hearings and accusing the government of subjecting
Fosco to illegal electronic evesdropping.
Another union official who refused to testify
was Salvatore Gruttadauro. The commission sought to question him
about his ties to AAA Chemical Toilet Co., which holds city and
Chicago Park District contracts to supply portable toilets for
At the start of the hearings, commission
member Thomas McBride said the federal government has determined
that four labor organizations are controlled by organized crime:
the Laborers` Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,
the International Union of Hotel and Restaurant Employees and
Bartenders and the International Longshoremen`s Association.
The commission will focus Tuesday on the
1.4 million-member Teamsters union. Jackie Presser, Teamsters
president, is scheduled to appear. Presser`s lawyer asked that Presser be allowed
to appear at a later date. The request was denied by Samuel Skinner,
commission vice chairman and a former U.S. attorney in Chicago
who was presiding in the absence of the chairman, U.S. Appeals
Court Judge Irving Kaufman of New York.
Powell said that Fosco threatened him shortly
before a Laborers` Union election as rumors circulated that Powell
would seek the union presidency. Powell, then the union`s first
vice president, said Fosco aapparently didn`t believe his denials.
Powell said that as aides pulled Fosco away,
he was overheard telling them, "I`ll break his (Powell`s)
legs." Powell said he took the threats seriously
and often carried a gun and wore a bulletproof vest. He said he
was aware that Fosco, who succeeded his father, Peter Fosco, as
union president in 1975, was connected to mob interests in Chicago.
Eto indicated that Solano ordered him killed
for fear that he would spill mob secrets. Eto said he had been
indicted by a federal grand jury on gambling charges and faced
a prison term if convicted. During about 45 minutes of testimony, Eto
provided a rundown of crime syndicate business deals from the
30 years he operated in the mob.
Among his disclosures:
Eto was not the only witness to wear a hood. A former official of the Laborers` Union in New York, now a building contractor, also hid his identity. While Eto gave his name, the former union official remained anonymous and kept his voice secret by whispering testimony to another hooded witness who relayed it to the commission. The witness said that corrupt union officials regularly allowed mobsters onto construction sites to operate betting games and engage in loan sharking. As the witness testified, all that could be seen of him were his eyes and his hands. He wore a gold pinkie ring on each hand.
-- Anthony Accardo is still the "boss of bosses" in the Chicgo crime syndicate, but Joey Aiuppa and Jackie Cerone run the day-to-day operations.
-- Eto once sought mob permission to open a strip joint in suburban Lyons but was turned down because Lyons "was considered sacred territory by Aiuppa." Aiuppa reportedly controls Lyons` "sin strip."
-- At one time on behalf of the mob, he owned a nightspot called Bourbon Street at 936 N. Rush St. Eto added that he was ordered to sign over the bar to Solano`s son. Though promised "compensation" for giving up the business, he said he never received any.
A deposition from another former Laborers`
Union official contended that organized-crime families in New
York control all construction contracts there worth $500,000 to
Copyright 1998, The Tribune Company.