A longtime associate of reputed Outfit bosses Peter and John DiFronzo was convicted Monday of extortion for threatening a deadbeat suburban businessman and then hiring a team of goons to break the victim's legs months later when he still wouldn't pay up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt..
"How are your wife and kids doing? Are you still living in Park Ridge?" prosecutors said Michael "Mickey" Davis asked the victim during a January 2013 confrontation at a Melrose Park used car dealership, according to trial testimony. "Does your wife still own that salon in Schaumburg?"
After two weeks of testimony, a federal jury deliberated about nine hours before convicting Davis, 58, on two extortion-related counts. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.
As the verdict was read, Davis, dressed in a light gray suit with his hair slicked back, raised his eyebrows, turned to whisper something to one of his lawyers, sat back in his chair and shook his head.
Prosecutors sought to immediately jail Davis pending sentencing, but U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan allowed Davis to remain free for now so he can go to a doctor's appointment. Davis could be taken into custody when he is scheduled to return to court next week.
In the lobby of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, Davis' attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, vowed to appeal, telling reporters he was "disappointed that the jury could conclude from nothing but circumstantial evidence that it was proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
Davis' trial featured some of the biggest names in the depleted ranks of the Chicago Outfit, including the DiFronzo brothers and Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis, all reputed leaders of the notorious Elmwood Park crew. While none of the aging bosses was charged with any wrongdoing, their names and photos were shown to jurors as evidence of Davis' purported connections to the highest levels of the mob.
The alleged victim of the extortion plot, R.J. Serpico, testified that he was well aware of Davis' friendship with the DiFronzo brothers and that he often saw Davis and Peter DiFronzo cruising past his Ideal Motors dealership in DiFronzo's black Cadillac Escalade. Serpico, who is a nephew of longtime Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico, said he also had heard that Davis was partnered with DeLaurentis, a feared capo convicted in the 1990s of racketeering conspiracy in connection with a violent gambling crew run by Ernest Rocco Infelice.
Durkin said Davis has known the DiFronzo brothers since childhood and that for years he has maintained a business relationship with them through his landfill in Plainfield, where two DiFronzo-owned construction companies have paid millions to dump asphalt and other construction debris. Davis and Peter DiFronzo were also golfing and fishing buddies, Durkin said.
"As many witnesses testified, growing up in Melrose Park, or growing up in Elmwood Park as Mickey did, you come to know those people," Durkin said Monday. "I don't think at this point Peter DiFronzo is anything but a businessman. I think it's unfortunate that he gets tarred with the same brush, but the government seems hellbent on continuing to put the Outfit out of business, and I don't begrudge them that, but I do begrudge them the means that they go about doing it."
Prosecutors allege that within months of the ominous January 2013 confrontation at Ideal Motors, Davis, infuriated that Serpico had still failed to pay back a $300,000 loan, ordered his brutal beating, enlisting the help of a well-known Italian restaurant owner in Burr Ridge to find the right guys for the job. The restaurateur went to reputed mob associate Paulie Carparelli, who in turn hired a team of bone-cracking goons to carry out the beating for $10,000, according to prosecutors.
Unbeknownst to everyone involved, however, the beefy union bodyguard tasked with coordinating the assault, George Brown, had been nabbed months earlier in an unrelated extortion plot and was secretly cooperating with the FBI. In July 2013, agents swooped in to stop the beating before it was carried out, court records show.