Stone Park (Ill.) Mayor Robert Natale has been accused by federal prosecutors of shaking down drivers when he was a cop and taking mob payoffs as mayor. But that hasn’t stopped a local police union from endorsing Natale in his re-election bid–because he has been tough on crime, the union says. Stone Park residents received a letter last week from the Ill. Council of Police & Sheriffs, which represents Stone Park officers, endorsing the mayor and his slate of candidates for election Apr. 3.
Norm Frese, boss of the tiny union, said he had no problem endorsing the mayor, who awaits trial in federal court with alleged West Side and DuPage County mob boss Anthony Centracchio and two others. Natale, mayor since 1989, insists he is innocent.
The union letter says State Police data show crime was down in Stone Park in 2000 by 67% from 1999. The only problem: The number is wrong. The crime rate was down, but not as much as the union and Natale say, based on numbers the village provided. The crime rate for 2000 was down 22.3%, according to the measure commonly accepted by criminologists.
Natale lost Apr. 3 to Ben Mazzulla who won 56% of the vote to Natale’s 44%. [Chi. Sun-Times 4/1, 4/4/01]