Excerpted from CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.
Frank Cullotta, Tony Spilotro and their gangs, weren’t the only burglars and robbers operating in and around Chicago at that time. In fact, the streets were overrun with crews of professional thieves. This infestation of crooks prompted the Chicago Police Department to create a special unit to confront the problem. Even the tough Cullotta respected their efficiency.
The new outfit was called the Criminal Intelligence Unit, or CIU. A man named Bill Hanhardt was in charge of it; Jack Hinchy was second in command. Those cops were sharp, and if Frank hadn’t known better he’d have thought they were burglars or robbers themselves. They thought just like he did and were right on his heels all the time.
Hanhardt was a quiet guy who did his talking with his eyes. Frank was in his office a few times and Hanhardt asked him questions about things he’d done that nobody knew about, but the cop did. Frank didn’t know then how he knew those things. And he found it kind of scary that Hanhardt had so many things figured out.
Hinchy, in Frank’s opinion, was a maniac. He used to threaten Frank by saying, “Cullotta, some day I’m going to catch you walking out of a joint you just robbed. I’m going to be right there, and I’m going to blow your fucking head off.”
Frank would just smirk at him, which made him all the madder.
Frank, his car-bombing friend Mikey, and another guy named Vince, were doing truck hijackings. They got word from a dispatcher about a load of televisions and made the snatch. The rig was driven to a big junk yard the gang used. The whole yard wasn’t theirs, but they had a guy lease a body shop in the front. They paid all his bills and that got them access to the yard when needed. The plan was to leave the rig and come back in a couple of days to move the load. They didn’t know it then, but the CIU was on them all the time. When they returned the cops were waiting.
Frank was up on the trailer when the yelling started, and then he heard gunshots. There was a fence behind the trailer and he tried to jump to it, but didn’t make it. He ran toward the corner of the fence, but backed off when he saw a leg coming through. The cop ordered him to the ground with his hands on top of his head. Then he hollered to the other cops, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I’m back here and I’ve got Frankie on the ground. Don’t shoot!”
Frank doesn’t know if it was intentional or not, but he thinks that cop saved him from getting shot. If he’d tried to run he believes he would have been killed. Mikey was shot in the arm and in the ass. They were all arrested. Mikey was taken to the hospital and Frank and Vince went to jail. They were bonded out the next day. The events of that night convinced Frank that it was time to take a break from truck hijackings.
Frank’s observation that the CIU cops thought just like burglars and robbers proved to be accurate in the case of Bill Hanhardt. On October 25, 2001, the former CIU boss pled guilty to overseeing a ring of jewelry robbers and having a decades-long relationship with organized crime.
In April 2002, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune spoke with Frank about Hanhardt. Frank said he wasn’t surprised to learn about Hanhardt’s double life. He told Kass that he became suspicious of the cop at the time of the jewelry store robbery in the Maller Building on Wabash Avenue. Frank said that the day after that score Hanhardt pulled him in and said he never figured Frank to be in on the job. Hanhardt laughed about it and let him go. Frank told Kass, “The only guys who knew [about his involvement] were Tony and one other guy on the score. How could Hanhardt know so quick?” Frank posed that question to Tony. “The look Tony gave me made it perfectly clear to me that they [the Outfit] had him. Years later Tony told us, ‘That’s our guy. We got him.’ I was no angel, but he’s no better,” Frank concluded.
The 77-year-old Hanhardt is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minnesota. His projected release date is January 13, 2012.
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