Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chicago Mob Bookie Who Ran Government Program For Mayor Daley Makes the News

Mark Brown reports:
Iwish I had somebody like Bridgeport developers Thomas DiPiazza and Richard Ferro to advise me on real estate matters. Then again, maybe I need the person who advises them.

DiPiazza and Ferro are the guys who paid $50,000 for a heavily polluted, essentially vacant parcel of land along the Chicago River in 1998 -- at almost exactly the same time that somebody at City Hall came to the conclusion the site would make a swell location for a city park.

Immediately thereafter, the city began taking steps to acquire the property, never quite getting the job done until six years later, when it paid the two men $1.2 million to take this same heavily polluted, vacant parcel off their hands.

I don't know about you, but I never do as well with my real estate investments.

My wife and I always joke that we buy high and sell low, which isn't entirely true, but our timing does tend to be a little off. We'll see an opportunity, but we don't take the chance until the price is out of reach, or we'll sell a house just before the market shoots sky high.

That's why I'm in awe of guys like DiPiazza and Ferro, who could do their own infomercials if they weren't camera shy, as Bridgeport businessmen tend to be.
Insider deal?

DiPiazza is definitely an interesting character. He used to be a city sewer department worker before he got in a jam in the late 1980s for being at the racetrack on city time. He seems to have quite an interest in racehorses. Until just a few years ago, he owned a horse named Medlin Road in partnership with Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, the mob bookie who ran the city's Hired Truck program in the Department of Transportation before he was charged in the federal probe.

As most of you recall, LoCoco never stood trial because he tragically died in December 2004 when, as fate would have it, he fell off a horse in what authorities said was a riding accident.

DiPiazza and Ferro may have known a little bit about the Hired Truck program themselves, as some of the trucking companies in the program rented space from them to park their trucks.

But mostly, they have proved their expertise in real estate, becoming prominent players in Bridgeport during Mayor Daley's nearly two decades in office.

Their influence was perhaps not widely known, however, until another developer, Thomas Snitzer, filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that Tim Degnan, Daley's former patronage chief and longtime friend, tried to force Snitzer to take on his pal DiPiazza as a partner -- as the price of doing business in Bridgeport. Instead, Snitzer gave DiPiazza a $1.3 million consulting contract.
Here's a picture of Nick "the Stick" LoCocco.