In 1994, Chicago Heights Deputy Chief of Police Sam Mangialardi was indicted after four years of investigation by federal authorities. He was convicted on 16 counts of corruption that included racketeering, aiding and abetting a drug conspiracy, extortion to allow a drug ring to flourish, money laundering, theft of government funds, civil rights conspiracy, filing false tax returns, and witness tampering. Mangialardi accepted $10,000 monthly payments to protect the city’s top drug dealer.
In 1995, Mangialarid was sentenced to 10 and a half years in federal prison, ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution, and fined more than $20,000. Federal prosecutors described Mangialardi as being a “Godfather” like figure.
Sam Mangialardi, who was 46-years old when sentenced in 1995, was unapologetic and defiant. At his sentencing, he presented that he was awarded Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the American Police Hall of Fame for exchanging himself for a hostage and then overpowering his armed captor.
Mangialardi was not the only public official investigated, indicted and sentenced. Then an Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gallo said that the Chicago Heights Police Department was not run by the mob, but it was run like the mob. Gallo did not seek the maximum penalty for Mangialardi because Mangialardi promised cooperation with future investigations.
Former Chicago Heights mayor Charles Panici, along with 14 other public officials and 6 Chicago Heights police officers were convicted of federal charges including civil rights violations, racketeering, witness tampering, bribery, extortion, and money laundering. Read the rest of this entry