William Hanhardt – Cop on the Chicago Outfit payroll

William Hanhardt as he leaves the Federal Building. Guv claims he masterminded a jewelry thief ring including the time he served as Chief of Detectives for the Chicago Police Department. CST/Brian Jackson

In the 1950s, most large Police Departments had a few corrupt officers. We were not different here in Kansas City. We got a break in 1960 the city hired a square jawed and square in every other way, F.B.I. agent named Clarence Kelley. He was able to sideline or fire the most corrupt cops. Unlike the Chicago outfit, the Kansas City Mob family did not have many local officers on their payroll.  In 1976, we did expose and arrest a cop burglary ring. My Intelligence Unit partner, Bobby Arnold was placed on a surveillance of a cabinet shop owned by one of the cops involved. It was winter and he brought a sleeping bag because the surveillance point was unheated. A few days after he brought the sleeping bag home, his wife went into the kitchen one night and found an  infestation of roaches scurrying for cover. They knew the sleeping bag was the culprit. The Intelligence Unit working with F.B.I. agents uncovered a ring of officers who were working off duty at a Sears warehouse and stealing large appliances and furniture from the docks. They all plead guilty and received a 5 year sentence with probation granted. All were vested in the retirement system and took retirement before they plead guilty to protect their retirement.

Recently I noticed a headline in a tribune article posted by Mike Byrne on his The Chicago Outfit-Old and Current news and articles Facebook page. The headline was, “EX Chicago Top Cop who ran mobbed up jewelry ring dies.” I found that William Hanhardt had been a high ranking Chicago Cop who was exposed in the Family Secrets testimony. It was reported that even back in his early career, the Outfit paid him as much as $1,000 monthly and provided a new car every two years.

In 1953 William Hanhardt made headlines early in his career with big busts and shootouts. In 1962 encountered 3 robbers with a machine gun and had a shoot out killing 2 robbers. He made headlines in a hot case involving the kidnapping and murder of a Hillside police officer named Anthony Raymond. Three men were stopped by Officer Raymond shortly after they robbed a restaurant of $5,000.00. They got the drop on him, killed him and buried him. Our friend, William Hanhardt had an informant tell him who the suspects were and where to find the body. It will come out later was that the suspects were part of an Outfit robbery crew and the Outfit bosses decided to give them up to the cops to help Handhardt.

William Hanhardt and tommy gun

William Hanhardt was a bigger than life colorful character who cultivated reporters, politicians and FBI agents. He was always able to provide background information about many Chicago crimes, political liaisons. But buy 1979 he had fallen under suspicion and he was demoted down to the traffic squad after he was accused of playing footsie with mobsters who ruled the city’s corrupt downtown ward. Yet, just months later, he was promoted to being chief of detectives by the new Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek after the election of Mayor Jane Byrne.

In 1993 Teamsters official Allen Dorfman was killed by a couple of outfit hitmen. Officers processing the scene found Hanhardt’s contact information in Dorfman’s phone book. Even after his name turned up in Dorfman’s black book, Hanhardt was allowed to enjoy the twilight of his police career as a district commander. In 1986, while still on the job, one of his last official acts was to testify in the Nevada conspiracy trial of Anthony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit’s man in Las Vegas. Hanhardt’s testimony helped discredit one of the mobster’s key accusers, Frank Cullotta. Spilotro got a mistrial and was awaiting a second trial when he was killed

In October 2000, he was indicted as the leader of a band of thieves who stole $5 million in jewelry over 12 years beginning in 1984, while he was still a top cop. Hanhardt fenced the goods through friends in the outfit. It seemed Hanhardt was able to think like a criminal because he was one. He used techniques he learned as commander of the police burglary squad to devise diabolically clever thefts. He tapped active cop friends and private detectives for leads on potential victims, targeting gem salesmen traveling with valises of valuable samples. In some cases they simply tailed a salesman and broke into his vehicle: such jobs included a $300,000 gem theft in Wisconsin in 1984, $500,000 worth of Rolex watches in California in 1986, and jewelry thefts of $125,000 in Ohio in 1989, and $1 million in Michigan and $240,000 in Minnesota in 1993.

The gang sometimes used the old spy scam of swapping identical bags with a salesman – a trick that netted $1 million worth of diamonds in Dallas in 1992 from a representative of J. Schliff and Son, a W. 48th St. jeweler.

Hanhardt’s biggest score came in 1994. For two months before a gem wholesalers show at a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, a gang member checked in under the name Sol Gold and asked to store valuables in the hotel’s safe-deposit boxes, which were in a secure room behind the front desk. He systematically copied the keys until Hanhardt was able to create a master passkey. One night during the gem show, a desk clerk allowed “Mrs. Sol Gold” unsupervised access to the safe-deposit box room. Eight gem dealers were relieved of some $2 million in valuables.

The jig was up when the woman went from accomplice to spurned wife and informed on the gang to the FBI. The federal government had plenty of evidence, including 1,307 incriminating phone calls collected during a yearlong wiretap on his home phone. For two years, cops and mobsters wondered whether Hanhardt would go to trial and give a public airing to his double life. But he pleaded guilty in 2002. He was ordered to pay $5 million in restitution and packed away to a Minnesota prison for a 12-year sentence.

He died shortly after his release.

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3 thoughts on “William Hanhardt – Cop on the Chicago Outfit payroll”

  1. William Red Wemette

    I knew Bill Hanhardt, he lied before the Grand Jury along with Dennis Farina. They set up Paul “Penuts” Panczko when he was on parole. Yes he was getting a work car for a job, however they said he had a case of guns that he moved from one car to the other. As a result, Paul went to Sandstone Prison. I talked to Paul and flipped him, to ware a wire on several people about the Balmoral Race Track robbery. When they let him out, Paul worked for me so I could keep an eye on him for the FBI. If I hadn’t talked him into flipping he would have spent the rest of his life in prison. After he kept his word, he went into WITSEC. BTW he married Doris Fisher and she went to prison on Opperation Safebet. That’s a story in itself.

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