Ex-Melrose Park cop pleads guilty in gambling caseRobert Herguthon April 29, 2021 at 4:30 pm

Dirksen Federal Courthouse | Sun-Times Media

John Amabile was charged earlier this month as part of the investigation that also led to charges and prison time for Gregory Paloian of Elmwood Park.

A former Melrose Park police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in a gambling ring once run by a mob-connected bookie who already faces a prison sentence of more than two years.

John Amabile, 33, was charged earlier this month as part of the investigation that also led to charges and prison time for Gregory Paloian of Elmwood Park.

Paloian admitted in January that he ran the ring from 2015 until 2019 in Chicago, Elmwood Park and Melrose Park. But the feds have said they “know now that Paloian was running a bookmaking operation as early as 2012 and continuing until shut down by the FBI.”

They also said the ring involved 60 gamblers, and that “a veteran police officer from a local police department” was among Paloian’s “most prolific agents.”

Amabile’s father Joseph is a former Melrose Park police lieutenant. Amabile’s uncle James is a former Melrose Park fire lieutenant who was convicted in a mob-related extortion case in 2015, sentenced to six months in prison and released from custody in 2016, according to interviews and records.

Amabile’s brother Joe became a minor celebrity after appearing on “The Bachelorette” and, subsequently, other reality shows.

Chicago Sun-Times archive
Chicago Sun-Times obituary for Joseph Amabile, published Sept. 17, 1976.

Amabile’s late grandfather, also named Joseph, was a reputed “crime kingpin in the western suburbs,” and acolyte of high-ranking hoodlum Sam Battaglia, before his death in 1976, according to interviews and published accounts. The grandfather was convicted of extortion in 1967 and sent to prison, according to his Chicago Sun-Times obituary.

Over the years, members of the family have donated to political campaigns benefitting Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico — who has presided after a number of scandals and embarrassments within his police department during his years in office.

“This young kid, I don’t know what he was doing,” Serpico said when Amabile was first charged. “I can’t control people. . . . Am I responsible for the world? I think the only thing we can be is responsible for ourselves.”

In 2017, former Melrose Park police Detective Greg Salvi was sent to prison for a drug-dealing scheme that included stealing narcotics from his department’s evidence room.

In 2013, a motorcycle club started by Melrose Park cops disbanded after a reporter discovered members were wearing patches pledging support for the Outlaws, a notorious biker gang that’s been described as a criminal enterprise by federal authorities.

In 2009, former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo was convicted in a racketeering and extortion scheme and sent to prison.

Paloian was previously sentenced in 2002 to 41 months in prison for running a mob-connected bookmaking operation. Federal prosecutors also recently revealed that his name was on the prison contact list for imprisoned Cicero mob boss Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno, who had been arguing for compassionate release. A judge denied Sarno’s request earlier this month.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu wrote in a court filing that “Paloian has regularly sent money to Sarno’s prison account since he was imprisoned; these are no doubt the proceeds of his illegal gambling business.”

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