Retired FBI agent and famed Midwest mob buster Pete Wacks died of natural causes last week at 79. Born and raised in New York City, Wacks worked the Chicago mob for 30 years, joining the office in 1966 fresh out of Syracuse Law School. He finally hung up his spurs in 1997, after a career known for smashing the Outfit’s grip on the Teamsters union and cracking the Las Vegas casino-skim conspiracy.
In the early 1980s, Wacks was one of the catalysts in Operation Pendorf, which resulted in the historic Strawman I and Strawman II cases, responsible for dismantling the Midwest mafia’s dominance of the Vegas hotel and casino industry by toppling mob regimes in Chicago, Kansas City and Milwaukee. Wacks tracked Chicago mob capo Joey (The Clown) Lombardo and Teamsters pension fund chief, Allen Dorfman daily. The Teamsters Central States Pension Fund paid for a great deal of casino development in Las Vegas by ownership groups with significant ties to organized crime throughout the 1960s and 1970s under Dorfman’s stewardship.
Dorfman reported to Lombardo, who by the 1970s was running the Chicago mob’s Grand Avenue crew on the city’s Westside and was in charge of keeping tabs on union affairs and the casino skim. When Lombardo’s business partner, Danny Seifert, was going to testify against him and Dorfman in a pension-fund fraud case in 1974, Seifert was brutally gunned down in front of his wife and young son.
Almost a decade later, upon getting nailed with Lombardo in the first Strawman case, Dorfman himself met a grisly end, getting shot to death in the parking lot of a suburban Chicago hotel leaving a lunch meeting in 1983. Lombardo did eight years in prison for the casino skim and bribing a U.S. Senator before reemerging on the streets of the Windy City and rising to the rank of Outfit consigliere until he was jailed again in the mid-2000s. He was convicted for taking part in the Seifert execution at the landmark Family Secrets trial in 2007 and died back in the fall.
Wacks was rumored to have had a romance with Seifert’s widow while investigating her husband’s murder and testified at the Family Secrets trial that she never told him that she suspected Lombardo of being one of her husband’s killers. Emma Seifert testified at the trial that she identified Lombardo, even though he was wearing a ski mask, by the way he moved during the attack at her husband’s office on the morning of September 27, 1974.
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