Excerpted from CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.
Hijacking full truckloads of merchandise could produce big scores, a fact not lost on Frank Cullotta. As with his other criminal endeavors, having inside information was a big asset for him and his crew. Color televisions were a hot item at the time and carried high price tags. Frank had a friend who was a dispatcher at a truck terminal. He told him to keep his eyes open for loads of color televisions. The dispatcher started calling Frank about once a month to give him information on what trucks to hijack. Once the load was taken it was sold at the best price available. But if the entire load was fenced at one time the take was minimal. To earn more money Frank gave television sets to ten legitimate people he knew. And then he gave them ten more sets on consignment to sell to their friends. After all the TVs were sold Frank collected the money and split it with his crew. Everybody made out on the deal.
One particular truck hijacking had the potential to be a major score. It didn’t involve televisions; it was a load of Max Factor lipstick with an estimated value of $350 thousand. Frank got involved when an acquaintance named Skeets contacted him. He said he had a big hijacking lined up and wanted to bring Frank and his crew in. He knew they had good work cars along with nerve and experience. The gang learned which exit ramp the truck would take and positioned their work car on that overpass.
The actual hijacking worked this way:
Skeets and one of his friends cruised the Kennedy Expressway until they spotted the rig with the lipstick. Then they sent an electronic signal to the work car and followed the truck. One of Frank’s men backed the work car down the exit ramp and stopped, forcing the truck to a halt. When the truck stopped, Frank jumped on the running board and stuck a gun in the driver’s face. He got the driver out of the cab and into the trunk of the work car, and then got back into the rig and drove it away.
A couple of miles down the road everyone pulled over and switched plates on their vehicles. Skeets unhooked the trailer, switched cabs and drove away with the full load of lipstick. The whole operation went as smooth as silk. Apparently nobody spotted the hijacking and there were no related calls heard on the police radios.
After three weeks Frank’s crew still hadn’t received their money. He kept bugging Skeets about it. Skeets said the merchandise was in a warehouse and he was just waiting for somebody to come along with the right price.
Meanwhile, Frank mentioned the hijacking to Tony. “I heard about that job, but I didn’t know you were part of it,” Tony said.
“Yeah, but this fuckin’ Skeets says he hasn’t sold the load yet and we haven’t seen our money.” “That’s true. He’s got the stuff stored where it’s safe. I’ll keep an eye on it and make sure you get the right cut,” Tony assured him.
About a week later Skeets took the load to Wisconsin to try to move it. The feds busted him and all that money went down the drain. Frank and his crew never got a dime out of it.
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