Former Melrose Park cop pleads guilty in gambling case

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A former Melrose Park cop whose late grandfather was a prominent Mafia boss and whose brother is a former reality TV star pleaded guilty on Thursday to his role in a gaming network once run by a now bookie sentenced to a prison term of more than two years.

John Amabile, 33, was indicted earlier this month in an investigation that also led to charges and jail time for Gregory Paloian, of Elmwood Park.

A third individual, Ramiro Barajas, was also indicted Wednesday as part of the same investigation, according to court records.

Paloian admitted in January that he led the ring from 2015 to 2019 in Chicago, Elmwood Park and Melrose Park. But federal officials said they “now know Paloian was running a bookmaking operation as early as 2012 and continued until it was shut down by the FBI.”

They also said the ring involved 60 players and that a “police veteran from a local police department” was among “Paloian’s most prolific officers.”

It turned out to be Amabile, who on Thursday admitted breaking federal and state gambling laws.

“The defendant recruited, managed and supervised players, and provided them with usernames and passwords which he acquired from Paloian so that they could place bets on professional and collegiate sporting events” via a site Web, according to a plea deal reached by federal prosecutors and Amabile, and accepted Thursday by U.S. District Court judge Martha Pacold.

The illegal gambling operation “has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings and losses for players, agents and the bookmaker. . . and generated at least $ 100,000 in gaming proceeds for the defendant, ”the agreement states.

“On a regular basis, the defendant met with his players to settle down, that is to say to pay the winnings and take the losses from them,” the document said. “The defendant shared the gains and losses with Paloian on a 50% basis and spoke regularly with Paloian by phone or text.”

Former Melrose Park police officer John Amabile walks out of the Federal Courthouse in Dirksen on Thursday morning April 29, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times

Notably, Amabile’s plea deal alleges Paloian has maintained the gaming website Unclemicksports.com, establishing the most direct link to date between the Paloan playing ring and that once led by Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice.

DelGiudice paid more than $ 10,000 a month for using that same website, according to an indictment filed early last year. The indictment also named Mettawa mayor Casey Urlacher among the accused, although Urlacher was pardoned in January by then-President Donald Trump.

DelGiudice also pleaded guilty in February to managing the gambling ring.

Although Amabile could face up to five years in prison and a substantial fine, the plea deal mentions six to 12 months as a possible range. The judge is expected to rule in August on Amabile’s sentence.

Amabile, who declined to comment after Thursday’s hearing, also agreed to confiscate $ 100,000 which “constitutes the proceeds of gambling activity,” according to court records.

He resigned from the Western Suburbs Police Department when the investigation came to light.

Joseph, Amabile’s father, is a former Melrose Park police lieutenant. Amabile’s uncle James is a former Melrose Park fire lieutenant who was convicted in a 2015 mob-related extortion case, sentenced to six months in prison and released in 2016, according to reports. interviews and records.

Joe, Amabile’s brother, became a minor celebrity after appearing on “The Bachelorette” and, subsequently, on other reality shows.

Amabile’s late grandfather, also named Joseph, was a ‘ringleader of crime in the western suburbs’ and a sidekick of high-ranking thug Sam Battaglia, before his death in 1976, according to interviews and accounts published. The grandfather was convicted of extortion in 1967 and sent to jail, according to his Chicago Sun-Times obituary.

Chicago Sun-Times death notice of Joseph Amabile, published September 17, 1976.
Chicago Sun-Times Archives

Over the years, family members have donated to political campaigns benefiting Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico, who has presided over a number of scandals and embarrassments within his police department during of his many years in power.

In 2017, former Melrose Park Police Detective Greg Salvi was sent to jail for a drug trafficking scheme that included stealing narcotics from his department’s evidence room.

In 2013, a biker club started by cops in Melrose Park was disbanded after a reporter discovered members were wearing badges pledging to support the Outlaws, a notorious biker gang described as a criminal enterprise by federal authorities. .

In 2009, former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo was convicted of a racketeering and extortion scheme and sent to jail.

Paloian was previously sentenced in 2002 to 41 months in prison for leading a crowd-connected bookmaking operation. Federal prosecutors also recently revealed that his name was on the prison contact list of jailed Mafia boss Cicero, Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno, who had pleaded for humanitarian release. A judge rejected Sarno’s claim earlier this month.

US Assistant Prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu wrote in a court filing that “Paloian has routinely sent money to Sarno Prison account since his incarceration; these are undoubtedly the product of his illegal gambling activity. “



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