Heavily-feared Chicago mafia figure Charles (Chuckie the Electrician) Russell is on his last legs. The 70-year old Grand Avenue crew gangster who is out on bail awaiting sentencing on a weapons conviction has been moved to a hospice facility, per sources. Russell’s brother-in-law is Grand Avenue capo and alleged Outfit street boss Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena.
During his prime, Russell was one of Chicago’s most prolific thieves and a reputed hit man for hire. Vena often utilized Russell as a collector for his various rackets, according to sources, and Russell’s scary reputation grew to precede him in Windy City mob circles and beyond.
In December 2016, Russell was arrested by an undercover ATF agent when he showed up at a downtown Chicago deli in the South Loop to purchase a bundle of eight weapons, including a sub machine gun and an AK-47 assault rifle. The agent had infiltrated Russell’s inner circle in the months preceding the bust and recorded the convicted murderer and sex offender bragging of killing a man, pulling off 2,000 burglaries and his intention of using a blow torch to get a potential future robbery victim to open his safe.
“Nothing gets my juices flowing like putting a gun to someone’s head, taking their stuff and making it mine,” he bragged to the undercover agent at a Wicker Park restaurant and tavern in late 2016.
Last year, the sadistic Russell pled guilty to a single firearm offense and was granted bond to await trial at his girlfriend’s suburban Chicago home due to medical issues, specifically his battle with late-stage prostate cancer. The mandatory minimum sentence for a convicted felon possessing a firearm is 15 years. Attorneys for Russell speculate their client won’t live past this summer.
Russell’s longtime girlfriend is a niece of famed Chicago mobster Tony (The Ant) Spilotro, the Outfit’s high-profile representative in Las Vegas in the 1970s and first-half of the 1980s. Spilotro was heinously slain in June 1986 — strangled, beaten and stomped to death in a Bensenville basement for repeated insubordination. Years later, he was portrayed by Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci in the Martin Scorsese film Casino.
Russell was mentored in the ways of the mob by legendary Grand Avenue crew enforcer Frank (Frankie The German) Schweihs, another Windy City wiseguy well known for leaving people shaking in their boots at the very uttering of his name. Schweihs died of cancer in 2008 awaiting trial in the landmark Operation Family Secrets case, responsible for closing the book on more than a dozen Outfit homicides. Schweihs himself died a suspect in well over 10 unsolved mob hits.
Russell was convicted of a murder in 1973 and served two decades in prison for a gruesome sexual assault – in 1992, he raped a woman and threw her out of a second-story window. He was paroled from his rape case in 2011.
Between 2011 and his pinch at the end of 2016, Russell is suspected of committing hundreds of burglaries and shakedowns. Vena, called the most dangerous man in the Chicago underworld, has been the focus of a federal racketeering and murder probe going on over five years now.