In 1981, 10 year old Paul Scharff was awakened and told the news that his father, Ron Scharff, was killed by unknown persons at his McHenry County neighborhood tavern. Twenty-eight years later, Paul receives a call telling him who killed his father. In this story, we learn that sometimes the bad guys are the good guys and the good guys are the bad guys. This is the fascinating true story of a mob killer working with the son of a murder victim to uncover the truth behind his father’s death.
Paul Scharff received a phone call from a family friend in 2008. The friend, Jim Hager, related that his daughter, Holly Hager — Paul’s one-time babysitter — had read a book that she believed included a segment on Ron Scharff’s killing. Although the names of the victims and the specific location of the crimes weren’t included, she felt everything else matched. Jim agreed and reached out to Paul.
Paul immediately buys a copy of Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness by Mob killer turned government witness, Frank Culotta. At this time, Culotta was in the Witness Protection program, hiding from his former Chicago Outfit bosses. The Culotta story was actually written by well known true crime author, Dennis Griffin. Paul soon found Mr. Griffin and told him of his connection. By this time, Paul knew this book had been published in 2007 and he had heard nothing from the McHenry County Sheriff. To contact Culotta, Dennis Griffin connects Paul with Culotta’s former handler, retired F.B.I. agent, Dennis Arnoldy. After being vetted by the former agent, he is put in direct touch with Culotta.
In this episode, Paul tells us how he learned about his father’s death and the friendship he developed with Frank Culotta, a former associate of his father’s killer, Larry Newman. He learns Newman’s mob boss was Tony Spilotro (“The Ant”), a dangerous and feared Chicago Outfit member. Frank Culotta will say that even The Ant was afraid of Newman, also known as Lurch, because he looked like the Adam’s Family TV show character. Culotta tells Paul that Lurch killed Ron Sharff because he learned that Ron had thrown Lurch’s ex-wife out of his bar. Paul becomes suspicious of the McHenry County Sheriff’s office because they are not following up on this information. Paul learns that if any law enforcement agency collaborates Culotta’s information, this makes him a more creditable witness in other mob trials. This is the first of three exciting and interesting episodes.