Bill Roemer and Informants

Bill Roemer FBI

Bill Roemer was one of the first FBI agents assigned to Chicago’s Organized Crime Squad. He and his fellow agents in the C-1 Squad (organized Crime Squad) lost their access to many off-the-books wiretaps and hidden microphones. Once the Omnibus Crime Control Bill passed in 1968, Congress made it illegal and punishable by a prison sentence to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant. To replace that source of intelligence on the Outfit, Chicago agents started developing “deep throat” informants. Gary Jenkins examines two of Roemer’s most important informants. In FBI documents, they were identified as Sporting Goods and Romero.

Sporting Goods

Roemer claimed that “Sporting Goods” was a “street boss” who was considered a source for more than ten years. It is not known exactly when but I believe he had been providing tidbits since the early 1970s and some people allege he started full bore about 1974. Romer never mentioned his ethnicity, never said he was Italian, Jewish, or other.

A Chicago Outfit street boss would be a guy who managed a crew and directed gambling, bookmaking, and other criminal activities within an assigned territory. The traditional Outfit territories were the South Side of Chicago, the North Side, and the Loop. The Outfit unlike the New York Families was not a La Cosa Nostra Organization from top to bottom. Sporting Goods likely was not an “inducted member” of the Mafia or a Made Guy. Some non-Italian mobsters like Jake Guzik, Murray Humphreys, or Gus Alex had crews and managed others and Accardo and bosses since Al Capone gave them a lot of power and responsibility. Romer claimed that “Sporting Goods” provided the FBI with names of corrupt politicians, law enforcement members, updates on the general activities of Outfit members. Roemer talked about how he and “Sporting Goods” maintained an ongoing close friendship and even had dinner together every Friday for years. Roemer introduced “Sporting Goods” to his wife and she often talked to him on the phone when he called Roemer at home and even joined them for dinner once in a while.   “Sporting Goods” suffered a heart attack in the middle 1980s and died. Romer claimed that  “Sporting Goods” offered to give Roemer him a large sum of early retirement money. Roemer later recalled this death with sadness indicating the closeness of that relationship. Romer provided clues that “Sporting Goods” was an older man with polish and intelligence. He was a successful mobster, but he was developed emotionally to develop a real friendship with Roemer and his wife. I believe that the guy was not a member of the LCN because Romer specifically identified “Romano” as an LCN member.


Roemer described “Romano” described as a “top tier” mobster who was “high up in the rank of the Chicago mob.” Furthermore, he described him as an inducted LCN member. In Accardo, Roemer indicated that Romano was a capo. He wrote, “When Dominic DiBella, the capo on the North Side of Chicago, died, we weren’t able to ascertain who his successor was. I went to my source, the made guy who was in the same position as DiBella, and learned that it was Vince Solano. Another interesting fact about this revelation is that just before DiBella died, the entire hierarchy of the Outfit met at a restaurant to pay him some tribute. You all will know this as the famous “Last Supper” photo taken just before DiBella died. So Romero had to be there and the name of every mobster at the meeting is known. Of all the mobsters who were present that day and could be called a capo and a made member of the LCN, only Vince Solano and Dominic Butch Blaise are possibilities. It is well known that Romano had informed on Sam Giancana during the 1960s and had even visited him in Mexico. Romano remained was close to Giancana after his return from Mexico in 1974. Roemer wrote about how he dealt with Romano. He would meet him for dinner and state some mob gossip wrong like it was a fact and wait for “Romano” to correct him and give him the Intel he was after. By “finessing” his questioning. He only had to allow “Romano” then “straighten him out a bit. By doing this, he did not make Romano feel like he was informing. Roemer’s crafty tactic eventually caused  “Romano” problems later after Roemer transferred out of Chicago. Other FBI agents approached “Romano” to work with them. Romano denied he was ever an informant and denied he ever met Roemer. Chuckie English and Butch Blasi both match this description and were supposedly inducted LCN members. Another interesting fact is that after Giancana returned from Mexico and was murdered, Butch Blasi was one of the last people to see him alive. The government never charged him with this murder. He met with Agent Roemer the very next day and claimed that Sam was peaceful and content when he died and that “outside forces” killed him. Roemer maintained that Blais was not the man who killed Sam, Giancana. My money is on Blasi because Chuckie English was murdered and Blasi died a natural death.

Show Notes by Gary Jenkins

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3 thoughts on “Bill Roemer and Informants”

  1. Gary,

    Great stuff on Roemer who had a family member as a congressman. I read all his books years ago and it’s where I learned about Spilotro and Mad Sam as an example and the skim and Vegas and Kansas City with the outfit and the teamsters. Richard Cain was murdered by Joey the Clown in Rose’s in late 1973 and Roemer spoke with respect for Accardo. It was my opinion that many were jealous of Roemer and it’s why they blast him similar to NYPD Detective Joe Coffey who was always on the crime shows relating facts and stories and Coffey was part of the Son of Sam task force. Many also would blast Coffey as an egomanic but I think it was jealousy. I see that now with Frank Cullotta. As an example, they blast Frank for using the term made man in Vegas and Captain in reference to Frank and Spilotro but Frank always explained he was not inducted with the blood and card ceremony and that Chicago doesn’t make men like NY does and by using the term Captain he was saying that he was Tony’s backup watching his back.
    I learned about Lefty from Roemer and years later alot of the stories from Roemer were confirmed by Frank. Alot of times Frank would also say that is what I remember so I never looked at Frank as a BS artist and all these years later find alot of what Bill Roemer said as credible as well as Joe Coffey in NYC.
    Thanks Gary!

    1. You are welcome. You are exactly right about all the strong feelings about Roemer. He was a ball-buster and did not slow down to worry about what others thought about him. A people-pleaser does not get much done in that job.

    2. I really liked Joe Coffey. Much more than the interviews the Roemer did. I found that Bill was much more of a media hound. Joe Coffey doing police work in New York in the 70s would not be that fun. All the crazy crap that was going on. I’ve got respect for Bill and Ive read some of his books. The books I read were very good. But he could come off as really arrogant and full of himself sometimes. Id prefer to listen to Coffey in a interview than Bill anyday. Just my opinion.

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