When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down

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Overview

Bob Cooley was the Chicago Mafia’s “Mechanic”—a fixer of court cases. During the 1970s and ’80s, Cooley bribed judges, court clerks, and cops to keep his Mob clients—hit men, bookies, racketeers, and crooked pols—out of jail. Paid handsomely for his services, he lived fast and enjoyed the protection of the men he served. He had enough money to blow on all the vices the Windy City could offer, and enough standing among Mobsters to know he would never be caught. Yet, by the end of the ’90s, without a pending ...

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Overview

Bob Cooley was the Chicago Mafia’s “Mechanic”—a fixer of court cases. During the 1970s and ’80s, Cooley bribed judges, court clerks, and cops to keep his Mob clients—hit men, bookies, racketeers, and crooked pols—out of jail. Paid handsomely for his services, he lived fast and enjoyed the protection of the men he served. He had enough money to blow on all the vices the Windy City could offer, and enough standing among Mobsters to know he would never be caught. Yet, by the end of the ’90s, without a pending conviction or a hit man on his tail, Cooley became the star witness in nine federal trials that took down the Chicago Outfit, arguably the most powerful Mafia family in the history of organized crime.

This is the story of a Mob lawyer turned mole with a million-dollar contract on his head who has clanged back and forth between sin and sainthood like a church bell clapper—a turbulent youth, a stint on Chicago’s police force, law school, and then the inner sanctum of Chicago’s Mob bosses and political leaders. With wild abandon he chased crooked acquittals for the likes of Pat Marcy, former henchman of Al Capone, who had become the Mob’s key political operative; ruthless Mafia Capo and gambling czar Marco D’Amico; and notorious hit man Harry Aleman. He dined with Mob bosses and shared “last suppers” with friends before their gangland executions.  With Cooley on their side, the Mob controlled the courts, the cops, the politicians, and could fend off the Feds. In a startling act of conscience, Cooley walked into the office of the U.S. Organized Crime Strike Force and agreed to wear a wire on the same Mafia overlords who had made him a player.

Having sent two dozen mobsters and public officials to prison, the man who bulldozed the Chicago Mob tells a tale of transgression and redemption in a book that reveals the personal story behind the federal government’s most successful Mafia investigation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this true-crime memoir, former Chicago mob attorney Cooley engagingly recounts his role in sparking Operation Gambat, a sweeping federal corruption probe into Chicago's political and judicial arenas. Operation Gambat succeeded in documenting the extensive ties between the mob and local government, thanks largely to Cooley's cooperation and courage. The author doesn't spare himself in recounting his descent into the world of crime, despite his loving family and policeman father; and his transformation from fixer and operator into avenging angel is plausibly rendered. Cooley does a nice job of taking the reader inside an undercover investigation, with its glitches, ego clashes and inevitable setbacks. Although his extensive involvement in graft makes Cooley less than fully sympathetic, his risk-taking to expose the crooked system goes a long way toward redeeming him. While the writing is more workmanlike than memorable, this is a nice counterpart to Gus Russo's The Windy City Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America, and Cooley's achievements deserve the wide acclaim this book should garner. Fans of Serpico, Prince of the City and The Informant, as well as those of Scott Turow's fiction, will enjoy this unfamiliar story. Agent, Nat Sobel. (Nov. 2) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786713301
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 370
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Cooley
receives grudging assistance from the feds to maintain his new identity. While not in the Witness Protection Program, he remains constantly on the run. He grew up in Chicago and has recently lived in several cities around the country.

Hillel Levin has been a contributing writer for the Nation, a staff writer for New York, and editor for Chicago magazine. He is the author of Grand Delusions: The Cosmic Career of John De Lorean and the coauthor of When Corruption Was King. He lives near Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Introduction v
Saints & Sinners
Chapter 1 A Deal with the Devil 3
Chapter 2 Cop Killer 23
Chapter 3 Marco & The Count 43
Chapter 4 Crime Pays 67
Inner Circle First Ward
Chapter 5 Highlife with the Lowlifes 97
Chapter 6 A Run Through the Grease 131
Chapter 7 Chicken With Wing 145
Chapter 8 The Fatal Corned Beef Sandwich 167
On the Wire
Chapter 9 In the Weeds 185
Chapter 10 The Worst Fuck 207
Chapter 11 Candid Camera 219
Chapter 12 Parting Shots for Harry and Marco 243
Legal Assassin
Chapter 13 Witness Dejection Program 259
Chapter 14 "Slander My Name" 273
Chapter 15 The Harder They Fall 293
Chapter 16 Afterlife 315
Notes 321
Operation Gambat Related Cases and Outcomes 360
Index 363
Acknowledgments 370
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2005

    I couldn't even finidh it

    This book is very slow Cooley kinda try's to make himself sound like he is someone special but, he really doesn't do anything exciting at all. Also there isn't very much action you keep waiting and waiting for some big to happen but it never does. I mad it about a third of the way through and became totally bored with it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2004

    When is the Movie? This book everyone should read

    Everyone in America should read this book. This corruption probably happens everywhere. This book is tough to put down and should become a movie. Chapter after chapter you will keep reading to get the entire story of a man who gave up his freedom, gave up his life to let everyone know about the Mob.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    He Didn't Drink

    Robert Cooley didn't drink when he played cards, and he tells you that often in the early going of this tale. The ego has clearly not dwindled as you learn more about him than you want to know. Every court house seems to have its fixers, lawyers who drink and gamble and hang out with unsavory characters. But, by the end of this book, one sees that Cooley did the real thing and you gain some respect for his work to expose the corruption in the courts. The sad part is when you realize that things never really change and that this story is repeated across the country daily.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2004

    Hard to put this one down, I had to keep reading.

    Mr. Cooley does a great job in telling his story. Funny, witty, and sometimes sarcastic, but a serious undertone best describes this one. Read about how it really was in Chicago from someone that was an important part of it. Hopefully he will consider doing a sequel about his life after Chicago.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004

    Mob and corruption...

    I couldn't put the book down. If Mr. Cooley's stories weren't a matter of record, you'd think it was fiction. Hard to believe this sort of thing goes on right out in the open for years before its finally brought to a halt. Mr. Cooley not only tells his story well, but performed a huge service for the people of the city of Chicago. Its a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2004

    Don Corleon, Eat Your Heart Out

    Being not only a Chicago native, but a relative of one of the 'characters' in Cooley's story, you can bet my level of interest in this project was pretty high. It's one part 'Godfather' (the level of real-life corruption dwarfs what Hollywood could dream up), two parts 'Shield' (the brutal violence of the Outfit is not to be underestimated), and it's defining value: it's all true. A must-read for any Chicagoan or student of criminal justice.

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