An alleged Chicago Outfit mobster with ties to the crew once helmed by Joey “The Clown” Lombardo pleaded guilty to a state racketeering charge last week, more than four years after he tried to rob a stash house on the city’s Southeast Side.
Robert Panozzo Sr., 59, pleaded guilty to one count of violating Illinois’ RICO Act, court records show. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
However, he may be released on parole in just 4½ years if given credit for time already served in the Cook County Jail.
He was initially charged with two counts of violating the state’s RICO Act, along with solicitation of murder, manufacturing/delivering more than 900 grams of cocaine, conspiracy to commit murder and burglary.
All but one of the RICO charges were dropped, records show.
Cook County court records show that his state prison sentence will run concurrent to whatever sentence he might incur in the federal case.
Panozzo, a convicted burglar, and four others — including his son — were arrested in July 2014 after a failed attempt to rob what they believed to be a drug stash house on the Southeast Side.
When he was arrested, Paul Koroluk, another convicted burglar, was wearing a silver police star emblazoned with the Illinois seal and “security police officer,” authorities said at the time.
Informants told police the crew posed as cops while stealing narcotics and cash from drug dealers. They conducted about half a dozen rip-offs a year, one informant said.
The crew was arrested as they were trying to steal 40 kilograms of cocaine that law enforcement left inside the house, prosecutors said at the time of their arrest.
An informant also told police that Panozzo bragged about throwing an elderly woman down her stairs, killing her, after he conned her into signing over her West Town property to him.
Panozzo also allegedly participated in arsons. In April 2014, he was charged in federal court in Rockford with allegedly paying an accomplice $1,000 to set fire to the car and home of a man who owed Panozzo $100,000.
In 2006, Panozzo Sr. and Koroluk were each sentenced to seven years in prison for burglaries that targeted wealthy residents in the north suburbs. They allegedly continued to carry out burglaries after they were released from prison three years later.
They used an insurance salesman who gave them information about items on victims’ homeowner’s insurance policies, an informant said.