Sneed: ‘No one should die like that,’ ex-Ald. Ambrosio Medrano says of Michael DiFoggio
By Michael Sneed October 30, 2013 8:28PM
Michael DiFoggio leaves the Dirksen Federal Building on July 26, 2012, in Chicago. | Sun-Times file photo
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:16PM
The mole is dead and the man he helped convict is talking.
Former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano, who is now facing a second stint in a federal prison on corruption charges, tells Sneed he is “sick” over the apparent suicide Tuesday night of federal informant Michael DiFoggio, the snitch who snagged him in a federal sting.
“Nobody deserves to be put in a position to kill himself,” he said, referring to DiFoggio as a man whose neighbors described him as a “rat.”
“No one should die like that.”
Medrano, an affable, loquacious man, tells Sneed: “I didn’t think I would feel like this, but I’m taking it pretty badly. It’s something I don’t wish on anyone.”
Medrano, who could face a 20-year prison sentence for two recent federal convictions, had been serenaded in 1996 by another FBI mole, John Christopher, with whispers of illegal gain, contracts for sale and clout for a bargain.
“I have a bunch of emotions running through me right now,” Medrano said. “I take responsibility for what I did. I will serve my time. It’s nobody’s fault but my own. But I have friends and family. It sounds like [DiFoggio’s] world had fallen apart.”
Sneed is told that DiFoggio, a Bridgeport businessman and government informant who was found guilty of income tax evasion, had been notified that his wife had filed for divorce two weeks ago and “a process server had just caught up with him the day he apparently shot himself,” a Sneed source said.
The source added: “DiFoggio had called his wife Tuesday, said he just couldn’t take it anymore . . . and she is the one who called the police, who found him dead next to a revolver later that night.”
“I feel for his family,” said Medrano, whose wife is still recovering from a kidney transplant. “The whole situation is a nightmare. I know what my own family is going through. I had not talked to him in a long time, even before” the undercover operation blew wide open.
“I had not seen him since June 2012, but I hear he had a lot of pressure on him like divorce and being shunned by a lot of his friends in his neighborhood. Tough. Real tough.”
“I feel terrible about it,” said Medrano, who is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday to reset a sentencing hearing before federal Judge John Tharp.
Rumors also abound that DiFoggio, who also helped the FBI secretly record former Cook County Board Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno in their corruption sting, may have been under pressure to continue working with the feds.
“He had been a regular neighborhood guy. A happy-go-lucky kind of guy,” Medrano said. “But I knew his dad better than him.”
Ironically, Sneed has interviewed Medrano several times since 1996, shortly after he pleaded guilty in the Operation Silver Shovel probe of corrupt politicians.
Medrano originally exchanged his political career for $31,000 in payoffs.
Back then, Medrano had wept when he realized he had destroyed his career, pleaded guilty, claimed he had refused to become a government informant and insisted he had accepted full responsibility for what he had done.
Sneed also interviewed Medrano when he got out of prison in 1998.
Back then, Medrano told Sneed: “I thought it was the end of my life. But I was willing to become better, not bitter” after being released from a federal prison in Oxford, Wis. “There was no one else to blame but me. Nobody forced me to accept the money. It was my own fault.”
Back then, he claimed books by former presidential aide John Ehrlichman, who went to jail after the Watergate probe, and books on reflection, such as “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” helped him during his 21 months in prison.
Medrano now tells Sneed he is involved in two Bible study groups a week and has had a “real spiritual eye opener.”
◆ The big question: How wide do the eyes of Medrano, who keeps saying the same things — and making the same mistakes — have to be to avoid getting in trouble again?
Sneedlings . . .
Congrats to PJ and Mary O’Dea on their 50th wedding anniversary . . . and John and Polly Kelly on their 50th anniversary . . . and Elyse Mach on her 50th year of teaching at Northeastern Illinois University. . . . Thursday’s birthdays: Dermot Mulroney, 50; Dan Rather, 82, and Alex Dana, 68.