Harry "The Hook" Aleman (January 19, 1939 – May 15, 2010) was a Chicago mobster who was one of most feared enforcers and assassins for the Chicago Outfit during the 1970s. Aleman got the nickname "Hook" from his boxing career in high school.
Born in the Little Italy section, specifically, the Taylor Street area of Chicago, Aleman was the first of three sons of Louis Aleman and Mary Virginia Baratta. The Legendary Taylor Street was the port-of-call for Chicago's Italian Americans. Aleman was a nephew of future Chicago Outfit acting mob boss Joseph Ferriola and uncle to Joseph Aleman.
Aleman's mother was Italian, his father a native of Durango, Mexico who was involved in narcotics trafficking. In a 1997 interview, Aleman said that his father beat him every day. The only relief Aleman got was from ages seven to eleven, when Louis was in prison.
In 1956, Aleman graduated from Crane Technical High School and enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts to study commercial art. In 1958, he graduated with a two year degree in that field. Aleman went to work selling race track program sheets and produce from the South Water Street Market.
In 1964, Aleman married Ruth Felper Mustari, a widow with four children. Due to an accident as a teenager, Aleman wasn't able to produce children of his own. However, according to Ruth and his stepchildren, he was a loving and kind husband and father.
In 1962, Aleman was charged with assaulting Howard Pierson, the 23-year-old son of a Chicago police commander. The incident started when Aleman, at a bar with his brother and friends, pushed a woman through a large window. Pierson chased Aleman out of the bar, then flagged down a police car. Police soon stopped Aleman and started questioning him. When Pierson arrived at the scene, the enraged Aleman punched Pierson, breaking his jaw. Aleman was convicted, but received only two years' probation.
During the 1960s, Aleman was also arrested for malicious mischief, illegal gambling, possession of burglary tools, assault, and aggravated assault, Motor vehicle theft|grand theft auto, armed robbery, and aggravated kidnapping.
In the early 1970s, Aleman decided to force independent bookmakers in Chicago to pay extortion payments, or "street tax", to the Outfit. If the bookmakers refused, Aleman was willing to use force on them.
According to law enforcement and the Chicago Crime Commission, Aleman committed 13 murders in Chicago between 1971 and 1976. His victims allegedly included Richard Cain, a top aide to boss Sam Giancana, along with counterfeiters, mob informants, a former police officer, and another mob enforcer. Aleman was prosecuted for only one murder: the 1972 Logan killing. FBI agents were reported to have said that Aleman "oozed menace" and his mere presence was usually enough to enforce the Outfit's will.
On September 27, 1972, Aleman murdered local Teamster's Union official William "Billy" Logan in his Chicago neighborhood. Two witnesses, most notably, Robert "Bob" Lowe, then 24, a mechanic and next door neighbor and friend of Logan, watched Aleman commit the murder and prosecutors thought they had a strong case. According to prosecutors, the reason for Logan's murder was that the union man was obstructing Aleman's crew from hijacking trucks. For his testimony against Aleman and for protection during the possible forthcoming indictment of Aleman for the murder of Logan, and the presumed subsequent trial for the Logans' murder, Lowe was placed in the FBI's Witness Protection Program, and his family were moved from their apartment nearby and relocated to designated place in hiding from possible reprisal from Aleman.
According to Robert Cooley, who was Aleman's defense attorney, "...behind the scenes I picked up information that was total dynamite. The hit, I learned, had nothing to do with unions and all the other crap in the indictment. It was strictly personal. Billy Logan, the victim, had been married to Harry's cousin. They had a bitter divorce and argued constantly over custody of their son. Logan used to beat her up big time. The final straw came after one of the fights when she said, 'You better be careful, cause Harry won't be happy about it.' And Logan replied, 'Fuck that guinea.' He probably could have beaten her up a few more times and it wouldn't have mattered. But Harry wasn't going to let some Irish goon get away with calling him a guinea."
However, shortly before Aleman's trial started, Cooley was asked by First Ward political boss Pat Marcy to arrange a bench trial with a judge who could be bribed to acquit. Accepting the arrangement, Cooley offered a $10,000 bribe to the Cook County Circuit Court Judge Frank Wilson to find Aleman innocent. Wilson agreed, but later demanded more money to compensate for the risk. As a result, Aleman was acquitted in a bench trial.
In 1978, Aleman was convicted under the RICO act for organizing a series of home invasion robberies. Sentenced to thirty years imprisonment.
Prison for life
During the late 1980s, investigators started Operation GamBat, an extensive investigation into decades of corruption and mob ties inside the Chicago court system. In February 1990, fearing prosecution from his actions during the 1977 Logan trial, retired judge Frank Wilson shot himself to death at his Arizona retirement home.
In 1991, Aleman pleaded guilty to extorting money from bookmakers Anthony Reitinger and Vince Rizza in 1972. Aleman was convicted and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. In 1993, based on Robert Cooley's testimony, Aleman was re-indicted for the 1972 Logan slaying. In 1997, Aleman was convicted of the Logan murder and sentenced to 300 years in state prison. The eyewitness testimony of Billy Logan's neighbor Bob Lowe, now 49, was again used by the prosecuting attorneys during the trial. Aleman's re-trial and subsequent conviction are historic as he is the first American to be retried for murder following a fraudulent first trial. The retrial, however, does not constitute double jeopardy. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled original trial presided by Judge Frank Wilson was a sham – because the acquittal was guaranteed by the bribe he accepted.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution ruling was named Harry Aleman vs. Judges of the Criminal Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, et al., 1998. The ruling basically means that if in a bench trial the defendant is found not guilty, but if evidence is shown that an act of bribery took place between the defendant and the judge, the defendant can be retried again for the same crime and it would not be considered double jeopardy. This is because the defendant was never in jeopardy to begin with.
Aleman died from complications of lung cancer, which he had been battling for many years, on May 15, 2010 at Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg, Illinois.
Harry Aleman's daughter, Franky Forliano, made a guest appearance on VH1's Mob Wives Chicago as a friend of Pia Rizza, the daughter of crooked cop and government informant, Vince Rizza. In May of 2016 Franky Forliano released a book They Can't Hurt Him Anymore telling about her father and his retrial.