Fred Roti

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Fred B. Roti (December 18, 1920 – September 20, 1999) was a powerful and long-serving alderman of Chicago's First Ward. A federal jury convicted Roti on 11 counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and extortion.


Roti was born in an apartment in Chinatown.[1] Fred's father, Bruno Roti, Sr., was known as "Bruno the Bomber" for his work as a gangster alongside Al Capone, was arrested twice in murder investigations [2] and was the first capo of what became the 26th Street/Chinatown crew[3] of the Chicago Outfit. Fred Roti's start in city government was inauspicious. He shoveled asphalt before entering World War II with the US Navy, as a machine-gunner on a boat in Europe.[4] On his return to Chicago, Roti became active in the Democratic Party, serving as a precinct captain[5] and held a succession of mundane city and county jobs.[4] Roti, Sr. owned a grocery store on the 2100 block of S. Wentworth Avenue, less than six blocks away from Alphonse "Al" "Scarface" Capone's headquarters, at 2135 S. Michigan Avenue. The diminutive Fred Roti was nicknamed "Peanuts" because of his size and called "Freddie" by his friends.[1]

Fred Roti was also the brother-in-law of Frank "Skids" Caruso, the capo who took over from Roti, Sr.

Illinois State Senator (1950–1956)[edit]

Roti served as an Illinois state senator (1951–1957).[6] At the time of his slating by the 1st Ward Democrats, Roti was described as "a state revenue department investigator and precinct captain." Roti faced nominal Republican opposition.[5] Roti was elected state senator from the 1st District on November 7, 1950.[7]

In the state legislature, Roti was a member of a bipartisan bloc of West Side lawmakers linked with hoodlums known as "The West Side Bloc." He was a consistent opponent of anti-crime bills.

When his seat was lost to redistricting, he retired from the state legislature, returned to precinct work, and took a patronage job as a drain inspector with the City Department of Water and Sewers.[8]

The "Literary" Club: "Booth One" at Counselor's Row[edit]

Roti's 1st Ward in Chicago was unique in that it included most of downtown Chicago, the "Loop," and City Hall. Roti was thus unique in having his ward office and the offices of his political operation directly across the street from his city offices in City Hall:

Conviction on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and extortion[edit]

In 1990, after serving 23 years as alderman (including Chairman of the Buildings Committee),[6] Roti was indicted for racketeering and extortion. On January 15, 1993, after deliberating 2½ days, a federal jury convicted Roti of taking thousands of dollars in bribes. The jury convicted him on all 11 counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and extortion. The jury found him guilty of two out of three "fixing" charges, convicting him of taking $10,000 for influencing a civil court case and $7,500 to support a routine zoning change, both in 1989. But the jury cleared him of the most serious allegation, sharing $72,500 for fixing a Chinatown murder trial in 1981.[9] Roti was sentenced to four years incarceration and served three years in a minimum-security prison in Oxford, Wisconsin followed by six months in a work-release program with the Salvation Army.[10][11]

U.S. Department of Justice: Roti a made man[edit]

In 1983, William Roemer, a former FBI agent, told the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that "informants continue to advise through the years {that} [former 1st ward alderman John D'Arco and Roti were the front men for businessman Pat Marcy and for the mob."[12]

Roti was identified as a member of La Cosa Nostra in the 1991 Annual Report of the Attorney General of the United States.[13]

On August 11, 1999, in a civil racketeering complaint against the Chicago Laborers District Council (CLDC), the Justice Department described Roti as:

Fred Roti was convicted of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) conspiracy, bribery and extortion regarding the fixing of criminal cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County, including murder cases involving organized crime members or associates and was sentenced to 48 months' imprisonment. Roti was released from prison in 1997. As First Ward alderman, Roti was a key political patronage boss and, along with his co‑defendant Pat Marcy, a fixer for the Chicago Outfit. Roti has directly participated in interfering with the rights of the members of Laborers' International Union of North America in the selection of their officers and officials in that he has improperly influenced the selection of officers of the CLDC and has been responsible for the pervasive hiring of mobster Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra's crew members and associates at the Chicago Streets and Sanitation Department. Roti is a "Made Member" of the Chicago Outfit.[14]

An ill Roti never commented on the allegations.[1]


Roti's legacy lives on through the many City of Chicago employees whose hiring he effected.[8] He also led the fight for Chicago's handgun ban in Chicago's City Council and was instrumental in placing the Chicago Outfit's main plant, William Hanhardt, now a convicted jewel thief due to be released from prison in 2012, in the position of Chief of Detectives.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Washburn, Gary (1999-09-21). "Fred Roti, 1920–1999: Alderman made laws, broke them". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  2. ^ "One family's rise, a century of power". Chicago Sun-Times. 2006-05-22. 
  3. ^ Herguth, Robert C.; Novak, Tim. (2006-05-22). "Club: 'We do a lot of good things'". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  4. ^ a b Davis, Robert; O'Connor, Matt (1993-01-17). "Roti isn't laughing anymore". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  5. ^ a b Howard, Robert (1950-11-05). "Assembly rule is at stake at polls Tuesday". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 19. 
  6. ^ a b Fremon, David (1988). Chicago Politics Ward by Ward. Indiana University Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-253-31344-9. 
  7. ^ Tagge, George (1951-03-06). "Democrats put Annunzio at the helm". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 19. 
  8. ^ a b Smith, Sandy; Powers, Thomas (1959-12-29). "11 in Roti Clan Get City Jobs". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1. 
  9. ^ O'Connor, Matt (1993-01-16). "Roti joins aldermen's hall of shame". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. 
  10. ^ Gradel, Thomas J.; Simpson, Dick; Zimelis, Andris (2009-02-03). "Curing Corruption In Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report #1" (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  11. ^ Gradel, Thomas J.; Simpson, Dick; Zimelis, Andris (2009-05-13). "The Depth of Corruption In Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report #2" (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  12. ^ Peterson, Bill (1989-07-15). "SURVEILLANCE AT LUNCH LEAVES ALDERMEN UNFAZED". Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Annual report of the Attorney General of the United States. 1991. p. 15. 
  15. ^ Cooley, Robert (2005). When Corruption Was King:. Carroll & Graf. p. 116. ISBN 0-7867-1583-9. 

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