Chicago Boss and Top Cop in Business Together

Ex-U.S. Marshal for Chicago, Peter J. Wilkes, partnered with a corrupt boss of the Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am., John Serpico, in a company that was bankrolled by a loan listed in a criminal racketeering suit against Serpico. Serpico was indicted Aug. 4 for allegedly using his union muscle to get a series of illegal bank loans. He and his codefendants, Maria Busillo, the president of the Central States Joint Board, and Gilbert Cataldo, an ex-Chicago housing comm’r, pled not guilty Aug. 23 to all counts.  Serpico was also named in a civil racketeering suit against the Chicago Laborers’ Dist. Council on Aug 12.

In addition to the utter outrage of law enforcement working with a corrupt LIUNA boss, more troubling is the fact that the U.S. Marshals Service runs the ultra-secretive federal witness protection program, where mob informants cooperating with the government hide from their old mob associates. U.S. Marshals also transport jailed mobsters who are secretly cooperating with prosecutors. Additionally outrageous is the fact that one of this company’s clients was the federal government. It ran a detention center for illegal aliens for the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service. INS is a branch of the Dep’t of Justice.

The company, Protective Service Systems, Inc., was formed by Wilkes two months after he resigned as U.S. Marshal on Sep. 12, 1986. At the time, he was being investigated for entertaining a girlfriend on government money, basing personnel decisions on sexual favors and misuse of confiscated property. He wasn’t charged.

It’s unclear when they became partners, but Serpico’s indictment alleges the startup cash for PSSI came from an illegal loan secured by Serpico. The indictment names the company, but not Wilkes, who is referred to only as “Individual B.” One of the nine loans cited in the indictment, for $195,000, was used by PSSI to buy a building to reportedly hold illegals for INS. The timing of their partnership raises questions about what, if any, connections the two had while Wilkes was still a top law enforcement official. [Chicago Sun-Times 8/16/99; Chicago Tribune 8/24/99]