Convicted mob bookmaker twice a winner in Melrose Park
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter December 1, 2013 7:08PM
In 2010, Carl Dote and his his wife, Paula, said on WTTW-Channel 11’s show “Check, Please!” that they were the owners of Danny's restaurant in Melrose Park. The appearance raised questions about how Dote, a convicted felon, could own a restaurant with a liquor license. Felons typically can’t obtain a liquor license.
Updated: January 3, 2014 6:02AM
Convicted mob bookmaker Carl Dote has had good luck with the village government of Melrose Park.
The restaurant he once ran with his wife in town got a liquor license — despite Dote being a convicted felon.
And the 64-year-old Dote got an even more direct benefit from the village — a job as a dispatcher in the public works department that pays $32,500 a year, plus health insurance, the Sun-Times has learned.
Dote insists his criminal behavior is in the past, and he said he likes his public works job with the village, which provides much-needed insurance.
“I work and I work and I work,” Dote said. “I do my job, I’m there every day.”
The mayor of Melrose Park did not return calls seeking comment last week.
The hiring of Dote raises questions about the west suburban village, according to Arthur Bilek, the executive vice president of the Chicago Crime Commission.
Though there’s nothing wrong with hiring a convicted criminal,“this shows that former bookmakers can still find a haven in Melrose Park, a town long known for relationships with organized crime,” Bilek said.
Dote is also be known around Melrose Park for Danny’s, the restaurant he said he used to run.
Both he and his wife, Paula, got in trouble last year with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission after they appeared on WTTW-Channel 11’s show “Check, Please!” and proclaimed in 2010 they were the owners.
The appearance raised questions about how Dote, a convicted felon, could own a restaurant with a liquor license. Felons typically can’t obtain a liquor license.
Dote later insisted he was never the owner of the restaurant. He lists himself as a manager on a resume the Chicago Sun-Times obtained from Melrose Park. His name didn’t appear on the forms needed to get a liquor license, but the state Liquor Control Commission wasn’t pleased with what it found.
An investigation revealed that Dote and his wife were both cosignatories on the business’ bank account, a commission spokeswoman said.
“We fined the business $2,500 for subterfuge and required that both Carl and Paula Dote be removed from the business bank account and the license,” said Sue Hofer, the commission spokeswoman.
Paula Dote still works at the restaurant and told the Sun-Times she’s not the owner “but I’m still here.” Next door to the restaurant is a takeout window called “Paula’s Xpress.” A photo of what appears to be Carl Dote hangs in front of Danny’s register.
According to the liquor commission, the owner of Danny’s is Linda Scavo, who’s married to the suburb’s disgraced former police chief, Vito Scavo. Vito Scavo was sentenced in 2010 to six years in prison for muscling local businesses, including the now-closed Kiddieland, to hire his private security business. He’s expected to be released next year and the liquor commission said it will review the license annually “to make sure he is not involved in the business.”
Meanwhile, Dote says he has had nothing to do any more with bookmaking or any sort of gambling, much less with organized crime, since being convicted in a 2000 bookmaking case and sentenced to more than two years in prison. Dote was also a low-level player in Elmwood Park crew leader Marco Damico’s multimillion-dollar gambling operation, according to a 1994 case.
Dote first worked for the village in 2007 and resigned in 2009. He told the truth on his job application about his criminal past, according to records. He said a friend told him about the job, though he doesn’t specify who, and added that his qualifications included “good people skills.”
Dote returned to the village in December 2012, records show.
“It’s good insurance. I’m in need of insurance,” he said.
And he doesn’t want his past dredged up, again. He doesn’t want to lose his job, either.
“I’m not happy because I’m afraid this is going to [inform] people who don’t know about what happened 15 years ago,” Dote said. “I don’t think that’s fair.”