By Chuck Goudie - June 1, 2009
CHICAGO, IL -- Former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo has been convicted of racketeering and fraud in what authorities described as a decade of corruption. The verdict follows a seven week trial during which Scavo was prosecuted on 22 counts of extortion, racketeering conspiracy, obstruction of justice, mail and wire fraud, and filing false personal and corporate income taxes. The federal court jury had deliberated for five-and-a-half hours. During the ten years that Scavo was chief, prosecutors contended that he ran his department as an illegal racketeering enterprise. Instead of working to serve and protect, authorities said he devoted much of his on-duty time to extortion, intimidation and lying. Scavo was indicted on charges he used Melrose Park police personnel and equipment for his own private security ventures -- one firm in which he had a financial stake and another unlicensed firm that Scavo solely owned. Prosecutors said Melrose Park businesses, such as Jewel, were told if they were going to hire private security, they needed to go through Chief Scavo."They were told falsely - it is alleged - that the police officers were insured, that they were off duty, and they were also told, if they did not hire these people, there'd be consequences," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald when Scavo was charged. He was on trial with Gary Montino - the current Deputy chief and Michael Wynn, a part time cop. They too were convicted. In addition to the alleged private security scam, prosecutors said Scavo set up ghost payrolling and also lined his pockets by charging parking fees to visitors of a local haunted house during Halloween.