Chicago video-poker mogul Rick Heidner is coming under scrutiny for his alleged ties to mob-connected businessmen as he seeks licensing to build a horse race track and adjoining casino in Tinley Park. The Chicago Tribune printed an expose this week on Heidner and his Gold Rush Gaming’s quest for the go-ahead by the Illinois Gaming Board to break ground on the project in the Windy City’s southwest suburb and the many potential stumbling blocks that have popped up in GRG’s road to getting casino licensed. The gaming board gave him a gaming license for video poker and slots in 2012 and the Illinois Racing Board has approved the racetrack licensing. Heidner has partnered with the owners of the Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero in the pending deal. The problem lies with his past partners though: namely Rocco Suspenzi of Parkway Bank and Trust and convicted bookie Dominic Buttitta. Suspenzi was caught up in the famously ill-fated Emerald Casino project and accompanying scandal in Rosemont back in the early 2000s when he was caught holding hidden ownership for the Outfit. The fiasco cost the city Rosemont the casino project, eventually resulting in the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. Parkway Bank and Trust began building a parking structure for the Emerald before its licensing had gone through using contracting firms allegedly owned or controlled by then-Chicago mafia don John (Johnny No Nose) DiFronzo. According to a 2003 finding issued jointly by the state’s gaming board and FBI, Suspenzi had alleged Outfit soldiers Vito and Joe Salamone as his silent partners in the Emerald deal. In a business loan using Parkway, Suspenzi funneled reputed mob figure Nick Boscarino 1.5 million dollars to silently invest in the Emerald casino project. Heidner and Suspenzi have worked numerous real estate deals together. He also did real estate deals with Buttitta, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to bookmaking and skimming money from a South Elgin, Illinois strip club he owned. Suspenzi’s son, Jeff, was busted for bank fraud (embezzling $500,000) in the months that followed him and his dad being exposed as mob fronts by the FBI and gaming board. Heidner’s name appeared in a federal search warrant executed at the office of Democratic State Senator Martin Sandoval’s office at the Capitol Building in Springfield.
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