Mob Ties, Money, Women Spell Trouble for Rover Boy

Originally posted: June 3, 2005

Fourteen mostly elderly Chicagoans learned recently that their retirement insurance has run out. The FBI returned indictments against 12 top-ranking members of the “Chicago Outfit” and two former cops in “Operation Family Secrets,” charging conspiracy to commit murder (18 of them), illegal gambling, loan sharking and racketeering. The cops were indicted for passing inside information, helping the Outfit do its business.

It is unusual for the FBI to solve murders committed by the Chicago mob. The Chicago Crime Commission says that only 14 of 1,111 gangland killings have ended in convictions since 1919. The operating theory, though only partly true, seems to be that gangsters only prey on each other.

It looks like someone inside is still tipping off mobsters. When the feds began making arrests, two of their top targets turned up missing, officially on the lam. Wouldn’t you know it? These were the only two guys that interest me. My brother-in-law said they once tried to kill him.

Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, reputed to have once been Chicagoland’s top mobster, gave them the slip, later sending a handwritten note to the judge saying, “Judge, I am in dire striate (sic) at this time at 76 year old to live my life peaceful until I die.”

Frank “The German” Schweihs, accused of a lifetime of contract murders, wasn’t around when the FBI arrived at his address in Dania Beach, Fla.

Their encounter with my future brother-in-law, Richard Hauff, goes back to the early ’60s, when Richard was part-owner of a nightclub near O’Hare Airport, and Lombardo and Schweihs were reputed to be rising young enforcers for the mob.

Early on a still-dark morning, Richard was sitting in his car with a woman when police Sgt. John J. Flood made a routine check. The sergeant said he spotted Schweihs lurking in the shadows with a lead pipe. Waiting nearby in a parked car was his accomplice, Joey Lombardo. Flood wheeled his car into the driveway and demanded Schweihs produce identification. Instead, Schweihs threw a punch at Flood and Lombardo roared forward in his car attempting to run down the officer. Flood ducked the car, decked Schweihs and cuffed him. Lombardo got away.

Richard and the lady also drove off, but later he thanked Flood for saving his life. It was never clear whether Richard’s offense to the mob involved money or the woman. Either way it was serious. Flood says today: “They were going to throw him in the trunk and kill him. They don’t send Schweihs to give him a lesson. This was for real.”

On the other hand, it could have been the woman. These were the days when Richard Hauff was known as a Rush Street Rover Boy, suave, handsome, well-dressed, known to run bar tabs in the thousands and squire starlets, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, to mob-owned nightclubs. He was characterized in Chicago newspapers as a man with longtime ties to organized crime.

Richard was once blackjacked near downtown Chicago while returning from a movie with his date. The woman was the estranged wife of a Chicago mobster, himself away in Las Vegas, on assignment for the Outfit. “A good blackjacking sends a signal,” says John Flood. “It only takes two to three minutes.”

With Richard, it could be money or women. He had a certain eagerness for both. Richard began life as Hosang Torvan, an Iranian war orphan, adopted and brought to America by a soldier stationed in the Persian Gulf, my future father-in-law. He had an early knack for golf and made his spending money as a caddie at a suburban Chicago country club frequented by local mobsters. They also adopted Richard and made him a front man for their businesses. Still in his 20s, he was the owner — on paper — of a major country club, hosting PGA women’s tournaments.

Yes, Richard had mob ties. When he went to prison, his files were labeled “O.C.” — organized crime. He sometimes advertised those ties when he came to Greencastle, Ind., where he opened a restaurant called The Black Angus, named after a mob hangout near Chicago.

When he was killed in the kitchen of that restaurant, his background began to leak out and local authorities initially suspected a mob hit. But it was not Lombardo or Schweihs. Richard was killed by a jealous husband and disgruntled business partner.

With Richard, you never knew if it was money or broads or both.

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