A reputed top Chicago mobster appeared in a federal courtroom Thursday to answer to charges of Social Security benefits fraud.
But U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly let John A. Matassa Jr., 65, walk right back out, quickly shooting down a prosecutor’s request for a cash bond.
Matassa, of Arlington Heights, pleaded not guilty to 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. The case stems from his work as the secretary-treasurer of the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711.
A grand jury handed down the indictment May 25. Matassa appeared in Kennelly’s courtroom for arraignment Thursday, and the judge scheduled a trial for March 26, 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Rothblatt also told the judge he was concerned that Matassa remains in control of union funds and has ongoing communication with potential witnesses. But Kennelly chose to put off until later any order that might restrict Matassa’s ability to do his job.
Matassa’s name came to light during the 2009 trial of John Ambrose, a deputy U.S. marshal who leaked details about 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.
Contributing: Madeline Kenney