1989 Year of the Stool Pigeon Robert Cooley

September 27, 2021

Robert Cooley

Outfit Stool Pigeon Robert Cooley and his impact on the Chicago Outfit is examined in this first of seven short episodes on the year 1989 which became known as the Year of the Stool Pigeon. Outfit historians Camilius Robinson and Paul Whitcombe discuss the importance of  Robert Cooley. He was a former Chicago Police Officer, son of a Chicago cop who worked as a lawyer in the notorious and corrupt Cook County court system. Cooley volunteered his services to the FBI out of a guilty conscience and he had a side benefit of being able to walk away from a huge gambling debt.

Harry Aleman and double jeopardy

Harry Aleman was a notorious hitman and enforcer for Joe Ferriola boss of the Cicero Crew. The FBI turned an Outfit associate named Lou Almeida. The Outfit learned that Almeida was going to testify that he drove the getaway car when Harry Aleman murdered a low-level Teamster named Billy Logan.  The Cook County prosecutor found another eyewitness and took Aleman to a jury trial. Someone in the Outfit contacted Robert Cooley because he had participated in putting in the “fix” on many cases. He knew which judge, bailiff, clerk, or police officer he could bribe. In the Aleman murder case, Cooley made sure a judge named Frank Wilson was assigned to the trial. He told Aleman’s defense attorney to ask for a bench trial and he paid Judge Wilson a $10,000 bribe. Sure enough, Wilson returned a not-guilty verdict stating the eye-witness and the getaway driver were not believable.

Cooley turns

After Robert Cooley turned into a state’s witness, he testified about the bribe to Judge Wilson. The Cook County prosecutor refiled the same murder case against Harry Aleman. The defense claimed double jeopardy or that the state cannot try the same case again after a not-guilty verdict. The new judge ruled that the corruption was so bad the first trial was not really a trial. the prosecution also used former Chicago cop Vince Rizza who will be discussed in a later episode.

Show notes by Gary Jenkins
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