Forest Park police two weeks ago arrested a man who was spotted stealing sewer caps and grates, which can weigh upwards of 50-60 pounds. Officers found a number of them in the back of his Jeep. He told police he was headed to the scrap yard to cash in.
For weeks, thieves have been making off with sewer covers from a slew of western suburbs — thanks in part to relatively high resale prices for metal.
On Thursday, police revealed where at least some of those heavy grates ended up: in a Melrose Park scrap yard that’s been linked to reputed mob figures.
The yard on Lake Street is home to two sister companies: D&P Construction and JKS Ventures. Both are, on paper, run by Josephine DiFronzo, wife of Peter DiFronzo, whom the FBI has identified as a “made” member of the Chicago mob.
The FBI has long contended that Peter DiFronzo and his brother John “No Nose” DiFronzo, a reputed mob leader, are really in charge of the operation.
The complex pays money for scrap metal and apparently had been buying the stolen municipal items from thieves — by one account for $6 each, by another for 10 cents a pound, authorities said.
A few days ago, acting on a “tip,” police from Westchester recovered more than 30 of their sewer caps and grates at JKS Ventures, each valued between $150 and $200 new.
Westchester Police Chief April Padalik said there was a large pile of stolen metal — perhaps 100 or more sewer caps and the like.
Other nearby towns that have suffered thefts include Bellwood, Berkeley, Elmhurst, Hillside, Itasca, La Grange Park, Northlake, Western Springs and Wood Dale.
Whether the DiFronzo operation could face trouble for buying stolen gear — unwittingly or otherwise — is unclear.
Josephine DiFronzo was reached on the phone Thursday night, but after a reporter identified himself, the phone went dead. She did not respond to subsequent inquiries.
Despite its reputed (and well-publicized) mob connections, D&P has secured a large amount of government-related business in recent years through its waste-hauling operation, as detailed in previous BGA and FOX 32 reports.
D&P was one of the sponsors of a village festival in Melrose Park just this past summer.
In 2007 testimony at the “Family Secrets” mob trial, John DiFronzo was implicated in the murders of mobster brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro, but he never was charged with their deaths.
This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Katie Drews, Patrick Rehkamp and Robert Herguth, and FOX 32’s Dane Placko.