Lawyers seek Arlington burial for Chicago mobster Sam Volpendesto
BY DIANA NOVAK Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org May 21, 2013 9:36PM
Convicted mobster Sam Volpendesto is seen in a photo provided by his family in uniform while serving in the United States Navy during WW II, along with a number of medals he won, including a Bronze Star, upper right, for helping to save fellow sailors trapped inside a crippled destroyer, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011, in Chicago. The 87 year-old war hero turned grizzled enforcer of the Outfit, was sentenced by a federal judge to 35 years in prison Wednesday, in the bombing of a Chicago-area video poker company. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Updated: June 23, 2013 6:11AM
Lawyers for a geriatric Chicago mobster who recently died in prison will appeal to a federal judge to dismiss his conviction and allow him to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
World War II veteran Sam Volpendesto, 89, was sentenced in 2011 for his role in the bombing of a Berwyn business and for serving as part of a mob robbery crew.
Volpendesto was charged after an informant caught him on tape complaining about how little he was paid for the 2003 bombing that destroyed a Berwyn business in competition with mob boss Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno’s video poker business.
Volpendesto suffered from numerous ailments including bladder cancer, according to his attorney Beau Brindley, but it was not clear what caused his death on Friday. Brindley said prison officials had not told the family what caused his death as of Tuesday afternoon.
At the time of Volpendesto’s death, an appeal of his conviction had been filed and was pending, according to Brindley, which could play a role in where the elderly mobster would be buried.
Volpendesto helped rescue a crew trapped aboard a sinking destroyer during World War II, an act that earned him a Bronze Star. The award and his military service would normally guarantee Volpendesto a burial at Arlington National Cemetery, but his conviction bars him from the honor.
Brindley said that because Volpendesto’s appeal was pending when he died, there is precedent for a judge to dismiss the conviction altogether.
“That would open the door for the military burial,” Brindley said.
Volpendesto is survived by his wife, Helen, and his son, Anthony. Anthony Volpendesto was also part of the robbery crew and was sentenced to 15 years in prison at the same trial as his father.
At the time of his sentencing, the elder Volpendesto was in his late eighties and in a wheelchair.
“I’m going to die anyways,” Volpendesto told U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman at his sentencing. “I’d like to go out with a little honor.”