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‘Mob Wives’ does a hit on the mob

The women “Mob Wives Chicago”:  Leah DeSimone (left) Renee FecarottRusso PiRizzChristinScoleri NorSchweihs.  |  Rich Hein~Sun-Times

The women of “Mob Wives Chicago”: Leah DeSimone (left), Renee Fecarotta Russo, Pia Rizza, Christina Scoleri and Nora Schweihs. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 18, 2012 6:27AM



The Outfit is dead in Chicago.

Cause of death?

Embarrassment.

“Mob Wives Chicago,” which just began airing on VH1 this month, is proof positive that “omerta,” the code of silence, has been replaced by “obnoxious,” the code of reality television.

The narrative, such as it is, revolves around five tough babes whose fathers or uncle were Chicago mobsters or mob associates. The script is a vocabulary-free zone in which f-bombs multitask as nouns, verbs and adjectives.

One of the stars is Nora Schweihs, daughter of Frankie “The German” Schweihs, a reputed psychopathic killer for the Chicago mob who died of a brain tumor in federal custody back in 2008.

In a made-for-TV gimmick, Nora histrionically decides to “resume” (exhume?) his body from St. Mary’s Cemetery in Evergreen Park. “You can assure that the casket’s in the grave, but you can’t assure that it’s my father in the grave,” said Ms. Schweihs dramatically in episode two.

Suspecting an FBI body-snatching conspiracy that might mean her father is still alive, the mob daughter yearns for “closure.” (Is CSI available to run the DNA?)

Frankie Schweihs, a silent, cold, dangerous man, must have spun in his grave when the producer-paid-for shovels began to dig him up. Everybody associated with this show better say a novena he’s really dead because even frightening thugs like Joey “The Doves” Aiuppa were said to fear the lunatic wrath of the “The German.”

And if you’re going to do a show about mob wives, could you find the genuine article rather than a bunch of wannabes? Someone like Annie Infelise, whose father was a Capone era gangster named Anthony “Tough Tony” Capezio and whose husband was mob boss Ernest “Rocco” Infelise. Or Lila “Doodles” Torello, who was married to the late Cicero boss, James Vincent “Turk” Torello.

When Rocky Infelise and his street crew were on trial in 1991, Annie and Doodles came to federal court in Chicago every day. Blonde hair and high heels were their trademarks. But they were wiser than the wise guys. And kept their eyes open but their traps shut.

As Bill Jahoda, a mob bookmaker turned federal informant, always admiringly said, “Annie had more moxie than Rocky.”

Betty Loren-Maltese has moxie too. She turned “Mob Wives Chicago” down. “The producer had called me a few times, wanting me to be on the show,” she said, “but I didn’t think it was professional. It was just stupid.”

Loren-Maltese not only married the mob — her late husband, Frank Maltese, was a member of the Infelise crew — but has been to federal prison and back. “I could use the money,” she told me, “but what I saw on TV was rather immature.”

The feds have worked overtime to kill organized crime in Chicago. To lock up the Outfit’s hit men, extortionists, dope dealers, money launderers, arsonists, juice loan operators and bookies. And, in the process, worked to de-mystify what Hollywood has glamorized and mythologized.

Who guessed that five swearing, yelling babes with big hair could help do the job for them?



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