Harry “The Hook” Aleman Part 2

Harry Aleman and Butch Petrocelli

Harry Aleman matured into a full-fledged member of the Chicago Outfit. It was like he was born to fill the purpose of stealing, intimidating, and serving Chicago Outfit bosses in many ways. Although he was slightly built, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 145 pounds, Aleman became so feared in underworld circles in the 1970s that small-time hoodlums trying to collect gambling debts simply invoked his name to collect. Two Chicago loan sharks were convicted of extortion and sent to prison in 1978 for collecting a $6,500 debt from a South Side tavern owner by saying that Aleman would come after him if he didn’t pay. Prosecutors said it was a ruse and Aleman was not involved in any way.

Harry the Hook teamed up with a childhood friend named Butch Petrocelli. The team hung out at the Survivors Athletic Club on Taylor Street. This was the kind of mobster social club you see in the movies. The cappuccino machine was always going. In the winter the men sat around tables and talked or played cards. As the weather warmed up, by summertime, the dangerous-looking inhabitants were standing out front wearing wife-beaters or polo shirts and sansabelt slacks. Inside Petrocelli and Aleman developed skills as bomb makers by packing 2-inch pipes with black powder and a little nitroglycerin. These were used to get the attention of any businessman who refused to cooperate with the gang. This duo first came to the attention of law enforcement in 1969. A painting contractor told agents that he had lost $6,000.00 to an Outfit bookmaker and he had been threatened with death if he did not pay the “Vig” (interest) on the debt because they converted it to a juice loan. He had been accosted by two men who beat him up, threatened to bomb his house and kill his wife. He made arrangements to meet these two men and make a payment and alerted the agents. When he arrived at the pre-selected meeting spot, the agents caught Harry Aleman and Butch Petrocelli parked nearby. The victim identified them as the two men who had beat and threatened him. A grand jury has presented this evidence and no indictment was ever returned. This would not be the first case that Harry Aleman ever had just disappear inside the Cook County judicial system.

Harry Aleman will never be a made guy and never be a boss but he will become the leader of home invasion crews, hit teams, keep the Taylor Street’s Crew’s bookies in line, and collect from loan shark victims who were behind.  A lot of high-powered businessmen, lawyers, accounts, and normal men can make deals, make the hard business decisions and attract capital to create powerful companies. Most Outfit guys could probably not do any of these things except for the hard-faced, empty-eyed killers like Harry Aleman, Frank the German Schweihs, Carl Tuffy DeLuna, Anthony Spilotro, and many others. Men who have no compunction about saying “I will kill you” and their eyes show they mean it. Harry Aleman was one of the best. A small man who could switch from an easy-going intelligent demeanor to project a menace and threat with no remorse in a split second.

Butch Petrocelli and the murder of Sambo Cesario

Harry and Butch Petrocelli were a powerful duo, not the dynamic duo exactly but they were a powerhouse pair in the outfit. One of the earliest murders they were suspected of was Sam Sambo Cesario. Actually, Sambo Cesario had once been an uncle of Harry’s by marriage until he divorced Aleman’s aunt Viola Ferriola. She was also Outfit Capo Joe Ferriola’s sister. Sambo was a well-known and feared Outfit member who had been described as a Capone man and a middle echelon mobster in the 1950s. In June 1971 Sambo married a woman named Nan Partipilo. He had kept this relationship hush-hush because she had been the girlfriend of Felix “Milwaukee Phil” Aldersio who was on a death bed in prison at that time. Many young mobsters wanted the approval and favor of a guy like Milwaukee Phil. On October 19, 1971, a warm October evening, the newly married couple were relaxing on lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of their Brownstone at 1071 West Polk. Two masked men approached them, and one was carrying what was described as a .30 cal. Carbine. The man with the carbine butt stroked Sambo onto the ground and beat him mercilessly. The other man fired 4 pistol shots into Sam “Sambo” Cesario killing him.

A lot of inside information about Aleman’s criminal activities was learned from his Taylor Street crew member Louis Almeida. Tune in next week for more of the adventures of Harry “The Hook” Aleman.

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