The stepsons of a mob-linked deceased businessman have been accused of participating in a red-light camera kickback scheme that allegedly channeled thousands in cash payments to the mayor of Oakbrook Terrace in exchange for a lucrative reduction in ticket proceeds.
James Colucci, 52, of Lisle, and Joseph Colucci, 47, of Mokena, are the latest to face federal charges stemming from an extensive federal investigation into kickbacks and kickbacks involving red-light cameras installed by SafeSpeed LLC, which generates millions of dollars in fines from motorists each year in nearly two dozen Chicago suburbs.
An indictment released Friday charged the Coluccis with four counts of wire fraud. Lawyers for each defendant could not immediately be reached.
According to the charges, the Colucci brothers illegally benefited from a 2012 deal entered into by their late father-in-law, Dennis Colucci, whose company acted as a sales representative for SafeSpeed as it sought to expand into new territories.
The agreement with Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Tony Ragucci provided for Dennis Colucci’s company, DSC Enterprises, to receive 14% of all revenue generated from Oakbrook Terrace’s red light cameras, according to the deed of charge.
After the money started flowing, Dennis Colucci – a former associate of notorious Outfit hitman Harry Aleman – agreed to pay $3,500 a month in bribes in exchange for the mayor’s continued support for the cameras operated by SafeSpeed in his city, according to the indictment.
Before he died in January 2018 at the age of 78, Dennis Colucci met with Ragucci and his stepsons to discuss the arrangement, telling the brothers to “continue to make monthly payments to Ragucci” after his death, according to the indictment.
Ragucci, meanwhile, was also seeking cash payments from SafeSpeed co-founder and executive Omar Maani in exchange for renewing the company’s annual contract with the city, according to the indictment.
The Colucci brothers reportedly continued to pay the mayor monthly until September 2019, when the investigation was made public with a series of FBI raids.
Unbeknownst to Ragucci and the Coluccis, Maani had secretly begun cooperating with federal investigators shortly before Dennis Colucci’s death, according to the indictment.
Sources told the Tribune that Maani made numerous recordings of conversations with Ragucci and the Colucci brothers.
Ragucci, 66, was charged last month in a criminal information with one count of honest services wire fraud and filing a false tax return. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, but sources said he is cooperating with investigators and is expected to plead guilty at a later date.
Maani has reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that could see the bribery conspiracy charges against him dismissed once his cooperation ends.
SafeSpeed and its CEO, Nikki Zollar, have denied any wrongdoing, saying any bribes offered by Maani occurred without the company’s knowledge.
In a statement released after Ragucci’s indictment last month, SafeSpeed said the company “remains both shocked and saddened that a former colleague of his has engaged in criminal conduct and recruited people to help him pursue his selfish pursuits”.
“Their actions were clearly self-interested and done without SafeSpeed’s knowledge and undermine the important work that SafeSpeed does,” read the emailed statement. “The criminal activity of a few individuals does not and should not reflect the values and integrity of SafeSpeed, its employees and its customers.”
The allegations against the Coluccis added new intrigue to what was already a sprawling affair, ensnaring then-powerful Senate Transportation Committee chief Sen. Martin Sandoval, Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta, and several Democratic political operatives. for a long time.
Reports and sources indicate that Dennis Collucci’s ties to Outfit figures go back decades, although he has never been accused of mob-related activity.
None of the eldest Colucci’s stepsons are said to have mob ties. Joseph Colucci is a real estate and mortgage broker who also owns a bar in Tinley Park who recently applied for a video game license with the Illinois Gaming Board, records show.
James Colucci has also worked in the mortgage industry. His LinkedIn profile currently lists him as a manager at a Chicago-based healthcare consulting firm.
In May 1977, Dennis Colucci was one of four alibi witnesses who testified on behalf of Aleman, one of the outfit’s most feared killers who was on trial for the 1972 murder of William Logan, a dispatcher trucks and a member of the Teamsters union.
According to a Tribune report on the lawsuit, Colucci, then a McCormick Place dock worker, said he was with Aleman hitting golf balls at a Melrose Park driving range the night Logan was shot outside his home in Westside.
Aleman’s wife, Ruth, supported this story, which said she dropped Aleman around 7 p.m. and returned to the shooting range about four hours later, where the men were still hitting bullets from golf. “We sat around the table and talked,” she said. “We left shortly before or after midnight.”
Cook County Circuit Judge Frank Wilson acquitted Aleman of the charges. But years later, Robert Cooley, a former mob lawyer turned federal informant, revealed that he had personally bribed the judge.
Aleman was retried and convicted of Logan’s murder in 1997 – the first defendant in the United States to be convicted of murder after being acquitted of the same murder. His defense team at the second trial again raised the golf course alibi, but Colucci was not among the witnesses who testified, records show.
In 2019, the Tribune first reported that the Colucci family was under federal scrutiny as part of the red-light camera investigation in a story about an unrelated 2016 real estate deal involving a condominium in Florida owned by then-state senator Terry Link.
Link, who was under federal investigation at the time for tax issues, had sold the condo to Joseph Colucci’s mother-in-law, Catherine Lafrano, for $150,000, but never reported the profit. on his state ethics form, as required by the Tribune.
Link had previously been identified by the Tribune as the unnamed senator who wore a thread about then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo of Chicago as part of an FBI sting — a case that led to the resignation and to Arroyo’s conviction for corruption.
In an interview with the Tribune, Link then said the sale of the condo to Colucci’s mother-in-law was just a coincidence. He said he didn’t know the Coluccis and that Lofrano bought the condo after meeting Link’s wife by the condo complex’s pool while the wife and her husband were vacationing there as renters.
Given the connection to another branch of the investigation, Link said, “I could see where you would look at this, but I don’t know them.”