Man convicted of 1982 murders may get new trial due to corrupt judge who oversaw case

The double murder case against Robert Gacho, 66, is headed back to Cook County after a federal appeals court determined his conviction by Judge Thomas Maloney — who was ensnared in the notorious Operation Greylord investigation — violated Gacho’s rights.

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The Leighton Criminal Courthouse

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A man once sentenced to death by a corrupt Cook County judge who was ensnared in the fed’s Operation Greylord investigation may get a new trial in his nearly 40-year-old double murder case.

Robert Gacho was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1982 crime by the late Judge Thomas Maloney. But the state Supreme Court reversed the sentence several years later and sentenced Gacho to life in prison.

For decades, Gacho, now 66, sought a new trial, claiming that a co-defendant bribed Maloney, therefore, tainting Gacho’s case.

On Monday, Gacho’s case was assigned to Circuit Court Judge Adrienne Davis for an arraignment hearing on May 13 following a decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year that found Gacho was “deprived of his due-process right to trial before an impartial judge.”

A spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Kim Foxx declined to comment Tuesday, and wouldn’t say if the office had determined whether it would prosecute Gacho again.

Gacho, Dino Titone and Joe Sorrentino, were charged in the murders of Aldo Fratto, 39, and his nephew Tullio Infelise, 26.

A DuPage County forest ranger found Fratto and Infelise in the trunk of a car, shot multiple times with their hands bound in a forest preserve near the Des Plaines River on Dec. 11, 1982, the Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time.

The night before, Titone and Gacho had stolen the victims’ cocaine in a drug deal gone bad, prosecutors said.

When the forest ranger found them, Fratto was dead, but Infelise lived long enough to tell authorities that “Robert Gott or Gotch,” “Dino,” and “Joe,” had attacked them.

Gacho and Titone were tried together before Maloney. Titone allegedly paid Maloney to acquit him, although the judge ended up convicting him at the end of the bench trial.

Ex-judge Thomas Maloney leaves the Federal Building after pleading not guilty to charges he agreed to fix five criminal cases.

Ex-judge Thomas Maloney leaves the Federal Building in October 1991 after pleading not guilty to charges he agreed to fix five criminal cases.

Sun-Times Media

A state judge later vacated Titone’s conviction “because Maloney had a motive to convict Titone to deflect suspicion from himself” after accepting the bribe and as federal authorities investigated him, according to court filings. Titone was later convicted again after a second trial.

Gacho never paid money to Maloney, but was allegedly encouraged by his defense attorney to come up with $60,000 to bribe the judge.

“Maloney’s willingness to take bribes for acquittals had a sinister flip side. To deflect suspicion from his criminal scheme and give defendants an incentive to cough up bigger bribes, Maloney built a reputation as one of the most ruthless judges on the Cook County bench,” the 7th Circuit judges wrote.

Maloney was convicted in 1993 of taking bribes to fix cases as part the “Operation Greylord” probe. The federal sting led to convictions against 15 judges.

Maloney died in 2008 shortly after his release from prison.

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