Angelo J. "The Hook" LaPietra (1920–1999) was a Chicago mobster and member of the Chicago Outfit, involved in extensive loansharking operations in the city's First Ward during the 1970s and 1980s. He earned his nickname "The Hook" due to the way he murdered his victims—those that did not, or could not pay up. He would take his victim—bound and gagged—and hang him on a meat hook, (piercing the victim's rib cage with the meat hook) and then torture him to death with a blow-torch. The torch would not actually be the cause of death. The victims most often died from suffocation.
He was born to first-generation immigrants from Sicily, Italy. A high-ranking member of the Chicago Outfit, LaPietra had an extensive criminal record stretching back to 1939 that included murder, kidnapping and narcotics. He was involved in criminal operations in the suburb of Cicero, Illinois, as well as in Chicago's First Ward, LaPietra was a top enforcer under Outfit boss "Joey Doves" Joseph Aiuppa for Cicero criminal operations. As the result of a five-year federal investigation into organized crime following the murder of a small-time Kansas City, Missouri mobster, LaPietra was indicted along with Aiuppa, "Jackie The Lackey" John Cerone, and other fifteen mobsters from five cities.
LaPietra was later accused by a Kansas City grand jury with skimming an estimated $2 million from syndicate-controlled Las Vegas casinos. Federal authorities further charged that, by using money from the Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund, the mobsters were able to consolidate their control over Las Vegas casinos during the 1950s and 1960s. Federal agents had also recorded at least 12,000 hours of phone conversations through wire taps from organized crime figures in Kansas, Missouri, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Illinois and Nevada, over a period of four years.
In July 1984, LaPietra's attorney Louis Carbonara requested to federally appointed Judge Joseph A. Stephens, Jr. to have the tapes be transcribed and made available for the defendants. However, due to opposition from Chief David B.B. Helfrey, the U.S. Department of Justice's Organized Crime Strike Force in Kansas City, Missouri refused to transcribe the tapes claiming the difficulties regarding the numerous jurisdictions involved in wiretapping. This issue, among other factors, caused a series of continuances and delays as the case continued for two years and, by September 1985, was called by law enforcement officials as one of the longest in 20 years of prosecution into organized crime. While in prison in Connecticut (1988), he was disciplined and moved to a more secure prison in Virginia. His soldiers "Shorty" and brother Jimmy were caught smuggling in his favorite Italian food from Chicago. The movie Goodfellas, although based on the New York families, portrayed this in a scene.
On January 21, 1986, Aiuppa, Cerone and La Pietra pleaded guilty to conspiring to conceal ownership in a syndicate-controlled Las Vegas casino. La Pietra was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment and fined $143,409 (Aiuppa and Cerone were sentenced to 28½ years imprisonment and fined $43,000 and $430,324 respectively).
In October of 1996 one of Danny Solis's (25th Ward Alderman and appointed by Mayor Daley) first actions was to present Angelo a plaque and reward for his leadership and commitment to the community. It recognized Angelo and the Italian Club as a decision maker and a go-to person when decisions needed to have an influence.
In 1999, LaPietra died of natural causes shortly after his release from prison. He is buried along with many other mobsters in the Western Suburb of Hillside, IL. at Queen of Heavens Cemetery.
Founder of the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, at 31st and Shields. Original Club located on the corner of 26th Street and Shields. The Club carries influence in Chicago politics, Unions and Control. It's believed the $2 million skimmed in the Las Vegas Trial of 1986 was invested into building the new Taj Mahal Style Italian Club; compared to the store front location on 26th Street. The Club has marble floors and pillars, along with rooms for weights, steam, billiards, cards, country club style kitchen and banquet rooms. There are stories that Angelo would sit in the club throughout the night alone, with a loaded shotgun, looking to catch the member who was stealing the cutlets and steaks from the freezer. This private social club has the inner circle of who's who in Chicago.
Years after his death LaPietra was in the news again as three men were picked up on electrical surveillance planning to break in to his house and try to find and steal any cash or jewelry the one time mob boss may have left hidden away, one of the would-be thieves was Outfit veteran Jerry Scalise and two accomplices, they were all later jailed.
A.J. LaPietra fathered a daughter out of wedlock with an underage friend of his sister. The baby was born in 1946 and prior to the mother's 18th birthday which resulted in the birth records being sealed.