Morris A. Shenker was a St. Louis lawyer who represented Midwest mob figures in the 1950s and became a lawyer for Jimmy Hoffa and the $700 million Central States Teamster’s pension fund. He encouraged the…

Sally and the Chef

In part 2, Aaron and I talk about the crime that our friend Schlecter, aka Joe Sharpino, did to get himself in witness protection.  A woman named Sally Papia came from Chicago to Milwaukee and opened a nice club called Sally’s Steak House. She was the girl friend of a Chicago Outfit guy named Frank Buccieri. She was described as a raven haired firecracker who thought she was the queen bee of Milwaukee Organized Crime, because of her Chicago relationships. She hired three local mob associates and professional criminals to help run the club. Chicago Outfit guys would come into town and eat here, then never pay any respect to the Milwaukee mob boss, Frank Balistreri or “Fancy Pants.” Balistreri was known to call Sally a “wannabe in a fucking skirt.” Sally, the mob moll, hired a chef and paid his tuition at a good culinary school. He left shortly after to open his own restaurant, the Northridge Inn. She became enraged and hired a mob associate named Joseph Basile to burn it down.

On December 29, 1974, Joseph Basile called Jacob Schlechter to set the Northbrook Inn on fire that very night. Schlechter did so in the company of his wife, who later contacted the police and began supplying information concerning the ongoing conspiracy. Following the fire, Schlechter went to Basile’s home to collect money for his work. Basile gave Schlechter $100 and told him that another $900 would be forthcoming from out of town. Schlechter asked what the fire was all about, and Basile told him that it was ordered because the chef had “screwed over” Sally Papia and because of a “personal grievance” Basile had against this chef.

On New Year’s Eve, two days after the fire, Papia ran into the Chef at a local restaurant. Dropping a lighted match into an ash tray, Papia said, “I told you this was going to happen.”

In early January, Schlechter asked Basile for the balance of the money due him for setting the fire. Basile deflected the request by advising Schlechter that they were getting pressure from Frank Balistrieri, who had lost some juke boxes in the Northbrook Inn fire, and that Schlechter should not tell anyone of his involvement in the fire.

On January 7, a friend of Basile’s named Russell Enea approached Schlechter in Sally’s Steak House and asked him if he knew anything about the fire. Schlechter, complying with Basile’s order to keep mum, said that he did not. Three days later, apparently satisfied that Schlechter could be trusted, Baisile sent Enea again to approach Schlechter. Enea directed him to break the Chef’s wrists “so he never cooks again.” Enea said that “Max” would get in touch with Schlechter to talk about the job. Shortly thereafter, a friend of Sally’s named Max Adonnis contacted Schlechter and told him to kidnap the Chef and take him to a garage so that Adonnis and Enea could break his wrists personally. Adonnis explained to Schlechter that this Chef owed Sally Papia $5,000, that he had “screwed over Sally,” and “he wasn’t going to get away with it.” Adonnis gave Schlechter a slip of paper listing the Chef’s address, the make of his car and its license plate number. A week later, Adonnis passed along a photo of the Chef taken in Papia’s restaurant on which Papia’s handwriting appeared.

During the next couple of weeks, Schlechter and Adonnis attempted to locate the Chef without success. On January 18, Enea, disturbed by the lack of progress, approached Schlechter and, gesturing with his wrists, inquired what Schlechter was doing about the chef. Schlechter recruited a friend named Holland and renewed his efforts to locate the Chef, but failed to do so. One evening, Adonnis saw the Chef working at another at a restaurant and obtained his new address, place of employment and license plate number. He passed this information on to Schlechter with instructions to do the job right away.

After purchasing a baseball bat and two ski masks for use in the assault, Schlechter and Holland went to the Chef’s  place of employment in the early morning hours of February 9, 1975. While waiting for him to leave work, the two were confronted by police because the auto in which they were riding matched a description of a stolen car. The cops let them go after identifying them and they soon followed the Chef home. Supposedly, the two Milwaukee police intelligence detectives were going to warn the Chef about the renewed threat. As the cops arrived at the Chef’s apartment, they saw two suspicious men cruising the area. They got them stopped and found two baseball bats in the car, two ski masks, the Chef’s photo and his address inside the car. They arrested them for CCW and the thugs spent the night in jail. Gary Magnesun and his partner went to the jail the next morning after being notified that one of the suspects wanted to talk to the FBI. This was Jacob Schlecter who was 6’6 250 lbs with a leg breaker’s mentality. He was not as tough as he looked. Schlecter agreed to work with the Bureau and set up Sally and her underlings. Soon, he was out of jail and wearing a wire. He was able to record Sally and her co-conspirators talking about this plot to kill or injure the former chef.

This is how he ended up in the witnesses protection program in Kansas City.

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