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Feds indict reputed top Chicago mobster for Social Security fraud

Federal prosecutors have charged a reputed top Chicago mobster with Social Security benefits fraud in connection with the union where he worked.

John A. Matassa Jr., 65, of Arlington Heights, was charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft of government funds, four counts of embezzlement from a labor organization and two counts of making false entries in union records, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago.

His name came to light during the 2009 trial of John Ambrose, a deputy U.S. marshal who leaked details about a mob hitman, Nicholas Calabrese. Calabrese became a key cooperator with federal investigators and was under the protection of the marshals. Matassa allegedly functioned as a go-between for the information that eventually made its way to then-imprisoned Chicago mob boss James “Little Jimmy” Marcello.

Matassa has a long and controversial union career. The latest case stems from his work as the secretary-treasurer of the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711.

In February 2013, Matassa allegedly placed his wife on the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers’ payroll even though she didn’t work for the union, the indictment alleges. While doing this, Matassa lowered his own salary and signed his spouse’s paychecks, which caused them to be directly deposited into a bank account, according to the indictment.

Two months later, Matassa applied and was approved for early retirement benefits from Social Security, according to the indictment.

Matassa’s lawyer did not return a phone call requesting comment.

Before his latest problem, Matassa was removed from his position as president of a Chicago local laborers union over his alleged ties to organized crime in the late 1990s.

Matassa’s arraignment is set for June 1.