Needle In A Haystack: Chi-Town Mafia Boss Escaped Murder Beef In ’95

Reputed Chicago mob street boss Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena was found not guilty of murdering low-ranking Northside crew member Sam (Needles) Taglia at an April 1995 bench trial in Cook County Circuit Court in front of Judge James Flannery, Jr. That’s one homicide he no longer has to worry about. On the other hand, there are a number of others he does still have potentially hanging over his head. The vertically-challenged fireplug of a 70-year old mafia chief is being investigated for his role in several unsolved gangland slayings as part of an ongoing federal probe of Outfit activities mainly surrounding the crime family’s fabled Grand Avenue and Cicero factions, according to sources in law enforcement. Taglia, a drug-addled repeat felon, was found shot to death with his throat slashed in the trunk of his late-model Buick in Melrose Park on November 4, 1992. He had reportedly burned Vena in a cocaine deal, failing to deliver the narcotics after money was fronted to him. Vena took the reins on the Windy City’s Westside and became capo of the Grand Avenue crew in around 2007. The bump up to street boss came around five years ago, per sources. Some people dub him the most feared man in Chicago. Like Taglia, Vena had been part of the Outfit’s Northside regime. The Northside crew got consolidated into the Grand Avenue gang in the late 1990s in the years following Vena’s acquittal in the Taglia case. The Grand Avenue crew is historic in Chicago underworld circles for being ruthless and vindictive and has always housed valued enforcement units. In other words, Vena fit right in and rose quickly. The legend of “The Falcon” began on the Northside though. As a skilled collector for mob figures Gus (Slim) Alex and Lenny Patrick, Vena’s duties took him from Alex’s stomping grounds of The Loop, the city’s downtown business and financial district, to Patrick’s turf further north in Rogers Park where he lorded over a sprawling consortium of Jewish bookies and loan sharks. His reputation for viciousness was cemented in 1973 when he traveled to Florida to muscle a guy out of $35,000 by kidnapping him, beating and torturing him until he gave up the cash. Upon police in Chicago coming to apprehend Vena for Taglia’s slaying on Christmas Eve 1992, he tried to run over one of the arresting officers with his car. River Forest Apartment building on N. 13th Ave Record of robbery, drug offenses High, taken to girlfriend’s Melrose Park residence, left with Albie Buick front seat

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