The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Prosecutors: Police Chief Shook Down Kiddieland

By Prescott Carlson in News on Apr 15, 2009 4:40PM

Photo by pixeljones
Prosecutors yesterday detailed the case against former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo, accused of extorting the historic Kiddieland Amusement Park. Not for cotton candy and lifetime rides on the Tornado, but rather using "strong-arm tactics" to force the park to use security guards from Scavo's firm. Assistant U.S. Atty. Stephen Andersson also says that Scavo ran the security firm out of police headquarters and used on-duty Melrose Park police officers to patrol the firm's clients, leading to some "double dipping" -- they allegedly collected salaries from both Scavo and the village. Besides Kiddieland, feds say Scavo also shook down Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, truck engine manufacturer Navistar, and local bars and restaurants.

Scavo's defense attorney Tom Breen said that the prosecution's case is "off-track and overcharged." Breen also pointed out the well-known fact that many police officers work side security gigs (although usually not at the same time as their day job), and defended Scavo's honor saying he "is a copper's cop and a darn good cop for 30 years."

The investigation into Scavo's operations gained speed in 2005, when federal agents raided the Melrose Park police station and seized boxes of documents. Scavo was later indicted along with a list of others from the department including two deputy chiefs, an officer supervisor, and, in a little bit of irony, a code enforcement inspector. [Trib, Proviso Herald]