The mob boss who once controlled the south suburbs and Northwest Indiana has died in a Minnesota federal prison at age 88.
Dominick "Tootsie" Palermo, who made his home in South Holland and in Orland Park, was scheduled to be released from the Federal Medical Center at Rochester on Aug. 10.
He was convicted in August 1991 of extorting protection from bookmakers and gamblers in Northwest Indiana, which is considered part of the Chicago Outfit's south suburban territory.
He was given a 32-year prison term.
Palermo's death leaves only Nicholas "Nicky" Guzzino, 63, of Chicago Heights, behind bars in connection with the December 1990 indictments of 15 people by a federal grand jury sitting in Hammond.
Guzzino, who was 49 when convicted of racketeering and extortion, is serving his time at the Waseca Federal Correctional Institute at Waseca, Minn. Sentenced to 39 years in prison, Guzzino is due to be released Sept. 17, 2015.
The remaining defendants either cooperated with the government or have served their prison time except for Steven Sfouros, formerly of Munster, who fled to Greece after being indicted.
The prosecution 15 years ago was the last major operation against so-called "traditional" organized crime in Northwest Indiana, and since the convictions of Palermo, Guzzino and the others no one has stepped forward to fill the vacuum left by their absence.
Federal authorities cite several reasons, among them the proliferation of nontraditional organized crime such as street gangs and the legitimization of gambling, which was the lifeblood of Palermo's operation.