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How family of Chicago Outfit boss got a break on water

City meter readers always seemed to have a hard time getting inside the Bridgeport home of the late Chicago mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra to read his water meter.

So City Hall repeatedly sent estimated water bills to the 6,000-square-foot home, where LaPietra's daughter, JoAnne Lascola, lives.

City workers finally got inside on Aug. 26, 2009, to install a new meter -- one that can be read electronically by a meter reader driving past the house.

In removing the old meter, though, they found they had been drastically underestimating how much water LaPietra's family was using.

So, on Oct. 10, 2009, the city sent the family a bill for $1,156.66 -- $625.22 of that for about 355,000 gallons of water and $531.44 for sewer service.

The family balked. Three weeks later, the city slashed the bill to $256.55.

"In implementing the [automatic meter-reading] program, we found some readings from old meters came under question by customers, especially when they had not been read over a period of time," City Hall said in response to questions from the Chicago Sun-Times. "In these cases, customers were given the benefit of the doubt and charged on the basis of an average of previous bills."

In the LaPietra family's case, "A one-time adjustment of $900.11 was made to the account . . . because the customer had been estimated for a period of time, as a result of our inability to access the meter to obtain a meter reading."

Authorities say LaPietra, a brutal Chicago Outfit boss who died in 1999, ran the mob's 26th Street Crew, overseeing gambling in the Loop and Chinatown. He was once convicted of skimming millions of dollars from Las Vegas casinos.

LaPietra's family aren't the only ones who've had this problem.

Several aldermen say they've gotten complaints from homeowners who've been socked with high water bills after the city replaced their old meters with ones that are read electronically.

"My mom and some other folks are freaking out," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th). "I have someone assigned to fight these water bills that have hit homeowners. Why this dramatic increase- In some cases, [city officials] are saying they can't quite make heads or tails of it, so we're going to give you a rebate."

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