You know a mobster is respected when his colleagues refuse to utter his name out loud, preferring to point to their nose to signify they mean the man known on the streets of Chicago as “No Nose.” Chicago Outfit boss John DiFronzo was that kind of gangster. He passed away on Sunday, at age 89.
DiFronzo had paid his dues in the Mafia and worked his way up, starting out as a burglar and enforcer before becoming a captain of the Elmwood Park crew involved in juice loans, waste hauling, extortion, and gambling. By the 1990s, he was one of the leading figures in the Chicago Outfit. In 1993, he was convicted of racketeering in the same case that snared Outfit boss Sam Carlisi.
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Once back on the streets, he continued climbing the ranks and by the late 1990s, he had become the official boss. He would head the organization for over a decade before his health issues – he suffered from Alzheimer’s – made his job impossible.
Despite his stature in the mob, DiFronzo managed to dodge the Family Secrets case that crippled the Chicago mob and sent many of its bosses to prison for life. It’s a remarkable feat since Chicago mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese testified that DiFronzo was present during the infamous killing of the Spilotro brothers in 1986. Calabrese claimed DiFronzo had taken a .22-caliber pistol from Michael Spilotro during the hit leaving the up-and-coming mobster unable to fend off his killers.
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