Convicted Outfit extortionist Mario Rainone in a 2010 mugshot (Ill. Dept. of Corrections)
By Jason Meisner,
Trials and ArbitrationCourts and the JudiciaryDining and DrinkingAl Capone
Outfit enforcer gets 15 years in prison for having .357 on his nightstand
As a feared Outfit enforcer three decades ago, Mario Rainone was skilled in the art of extorting mob victims.
He was convicted of collecting juice loans from deadbeat borrowers with brutal force, threatening to kill restaurant owners who refused to pay exorbitant street taxes and throwing a grenade onto the roof of an Oak Park theater in an attempt to gain control of a percentage of the business.
In all Rainone has spent more than 20 years in prison for racketeering, extortion and burglary. Even behind bars, though, he didn’t stop his criminal ways. In 2010 he was convicted of bribing a corrupt guard to smuggle him salami and other Italian food into a Wisconsin federal prison.
On Wednesday, a considerably older and grayer Rainone stood silently in federal court as a judge handed down what will likely be his last sentence: 15 years for being a felon in possession of a handgun.
Reputed Outfit enforcer guilty on gun charge
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber acknowledged Rainone’s checkered criminal past in sentencing him to the minimum possible but called the 24-year term requested by prosecutors unnecessary because of Rainone’s age and health.
The 59-year-old Rainone, shackled at the ankles, passed up a chance to address the judge. As court adjourned he smiled and kissed his attorney, Joseph Lopez, on the cheek. He could be eligible for release in 2028 when he would be 73.
He's no beefer. The people he knows are either dead or in jail anyways.- Joseph Lopez, Attorney for Rainone
Rainone was convicted by a federal jury last year of having a loaded Smith & Wesson .357-caliber handgun on his nightstand at his Addison home in 2009. Authorities searched the residence after Rainone and an accomplice were caught coming out of a Lincolnshire condo building with jewelry and cash stuffed in their coats.
In seeking a lengthy term, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu noted a previous judge had labeled Rainone an “urban terrorist” who had no respect for the law. Bhachu also pointed to the burglary conviction and Rainone’s salami-smuggling caper as evidence he has no intention of becoming a law-abiding citizen.
“If you give him the opportunity, he will go out and commit crime,” Bhachu told the judge. “He will hurt people. He will take their property.”
Lopez described Rainone as a loving grandfather who once ran two legitimate pizzerias and had “paid his debt to society” for his past crimes. He also argued the smuggling case “only involves Mr. Rainone’s hunger for food.”
Rainone’s colorful mob history dates to the 1980s when he was identified as an associate of legendary mob bosses Lenny Patrick and Gus Alex, whose ties to the Outfit stretched back to the days of Al Capone. According to federal court documents, Rainone became an informant for the feds in 1989 after he thought Patrick was setting him up to be killed. He was taken into witness protection, but he later refused to cooperate with authorities after an explosive device damaged his mother's porch, according to court records.
At Alex’s blockbuster trial in 1992, several business owners testified about being terrorized by Rainone, who threatened to kill them and their families – even put their heads on poles as an example – if they didn’t pay up.
Dominic Gallo, then-owner of Francesco’s Hole in the Wall in Northbrook, said he was so terrified he secretly recorded an encounter with Rainone when he came around demanding a $200,000 street tax.
When Gallo asked what would happen if he didn’t pay, Rainone replied, “Well, then you’ll all be in Mt. Carmel (Cemetery). You, your kid, your daughter-in-law, all of you,” according to the recording played in court.
Lopez told reporters outside court Wednesday that Rainone offered no cooperation after his latest arrest.
“He’s no beefer,” Lopez said. “The people he knows are either dead or in jail anyways.”