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Who is Tommy Amato?

Submitted by on Wednesday, 26 June 20133 Comments
Cullotta: Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness

Cullotta: Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness

When I learned that Larry Neumann killed my father, Ron Scharff and Patricia Freeman, from reading the book CULLOTTA, I reached out to Dennis Griffin, who co-authored the book with Frank Cullotta. In our initial contact he had asked if I was interested in getting Larry Neumann named as the murderer of my father and Pat Freeman. When I told him that I was interested he mentioned a gentleman named Tommy Amato.

Denny said that Tommy was with Larry the night he drove to our bar and killed my father and Pat. Tommy was waiting outside in the car while Larry went inside the bar. He did not have any knowledge of what was going to happen and just drove to the bar with Larry because Larry told him that he has some business there. At this time we did not contact McHenry County Sheriff’s Office about the discovery we made in Frank’s book. We did not trust them, so we thought that we were going to have to find Tommy ourselves. We thought that if we got Tommy immunity that he may tell everyone that Larry had killed my dad and Pat.

I contacted my mom and asked her what she thought about me reaching out to this guy Tommy and trying to get help from him to name Larry as the killer. I told her that Tommy apparently drove with Larry to the bar that night dad was killed but he was not aware of what was going to happen. At this point we had a great suspicion that the investigating officer at the time, George Hendle, was on the take (I had not yet connected him to the Chicago Outfit). That is why we thought that we had to reach out to Tommy to name Larry as the killer. My mother replied, “what was he going to do PJ, get himself killed?” That was my thought exactly. If you see or are in hearing distance of a murder you should report it. However, what if you unwittingly were traveling with a serial killer who would kill you, or you knew that law enforcement was working with the mob. Should the same rules of civil responsibility apply?

The Hole In The Wall Gang being arrested on July 4th, 1981 for robbing Bertha's. From left to right, Larry Neumann, Frank Cullotta, Joe Blasko, Leo Guardino, Ernie Davino, and Wayne Matecki

The Hole In The Wall Gang being arrested on July 4th, 1981 for robbing Bertha’s. From left to right Ernie Davino, Larry Neumann, Wayne Matecki, Leo Guardino, Joe Blasko, and Frank Cullotta.

I think not. My mother and I saw this the very same way. Tommy was not responsible for telling the authorities because either Larry would have killed him or someone else in the Chicago Outfit. Let’s go back in time and talk about how Tommy found himself riding shot gun with Larry Neumann on his way to commit a double murder.

Tommy found himself in Las Vegas because he just got out of the Navy and he wasn’t doing anything back at home. He was the cousin of Elaine Cullotta, Frank’s wife. Tommy found himself hanging out with the Hole in the Wall Gang, Ernie Davino, Leo Guardino, Wayne Matecki, Joe Blasko, Frank Cullotta and of course Larry Neumann. Probably not the best influence on a young guy just getting out of the Navy like Tommy, but there he was.

Frank had recently got himself into a lot of trouble. He was caught with stolen furniture in his home. Compared to the other crimes that Frank has committed, burglary was not that big of a deal, but this would’ve been a third time that Frank is been caught committing a crime. If convicted he would be sentenced as a career criminal. Tommy was going to take the rap for him and said that he burglarized the home and sold the furniture to Mrs. Cullotta.

Larry Neumann was heading back to Chicago to commit a burglary that was supposed to be a nice score. At this point of time, Frank had witness the phone call that Larry received from his ex-wife, Debbie, stating that my father kicked her out of the bar, the reason why he was killed. This is the conversation that Larry told Frank that he was going to go back to Chicago and kill my father for the perceived disrespect of throwing out his ex-wife. Frank was confident that he talked Larry out of it but he knew how crazy and unpredictable that Larry can be. Also at this time Tommy had warrants for his arrest and Frank was worried that Tommy might be in jail when he needed him in court. Frank decided it would be best to send Tommy with Larry for two reasons. The first to keep Tommy out of trouble with his warrants in Las Vegas, and the second to keep Larry on ice, so he would not follow through on his threat to kill my father.

Hole in the Wall Gang Member Larry "Lurch" Neumann 1981

Hole in the Wall Gang Member Larry “Lurch” Neumann 1981

We all know that Frank’s plan didn’t work out so well. In the matter of days of Larry and Tommy being back in McHenry, Frank receives a phone call. The person on the other line told Frank that there was a double murder in McHenry, of a man and a woman at a bar, and he needed to look into it. Frank called Tommy, although Tommy did not give confirmation over the phone that Larry indeed killed two people, Frank could tell by Tommy’s response that it was Larry that killed my father and Pat. Eventually when Larry got back to Las Vegas he told Frank that indeed he did kill my father and Pat.

When Frank turned government witness, he told the investigators that Larry killed my father and Pat; and Tommy was there. Detective Dave Groover, was from the Las Vegas Metro Intelligence Division, he was debriefing Frank about my father’s murder. After speaking with Frank detective Groover sought an affidavit from Tommy, which he provided.

Detective Groover interviewed Tommy and purposely did not read him his Miranda Rights. That way anything that Tommy said could not be used against him in a court of law. And in that affidavit that Tommy provided he stated that he was with Larry Neumann on June 2, 1981, the day of the murders.

He said that Larry went into the bar while he waited outside in the car. Then at some point Tommy heard two shots, and then 10 seconds to a minute later he heard two possibly three more. Larry came out of the bar and hopped in the driver’s side of his Thunderbird and drove away. No words were spoken between Larry and Tommy. Shortly thereafter Larry handed him a firearm. Then at some point Larry drove to a bridge and pulled over. He disassembled the firearm and threw it in one of the many lakes and rivers that are found all over McHenry and Lake County. The following night Tommy stated that he was out with Larry’s brother-in-law on their way to Woodstock Illinois, where they ran into a Sheriff’s Department roadblock. Tommy was picked up and arrested for the warrants that he had in Las Vegas. Larry provided bail and subsequently Tommy was released when the authorities in Las Vegas chose not to extradite Tommy. Shortly after Tommy had given the affidavit, he recanted it. He said he wasn’t there the night Larry committed the double homicides.

27 years later the McHenry County Sheriff’s office interviewed Tommy Amato in relation to the reinvestigation of my father and Pat’s murder. He told them that he recanted the affidavit because it wasn’t true. He said that Frank Cullotta and Detective Groover was pressuring him to validate Frank’s story so that Frank would be found credible in this case and others against the Chicago Outfit. After the interview the McHenry County Sheriff’s office did not find reason and/or enough evidence to charge Tommy.

Tommy is the only one alive today that could possibly be charged in my father’s case. I’m not advocating that Tommy should be charged, I’m just saying he’s the only one alive today that could be. It begs to wonder why this case remains open.  Currently, he says he wasn’t there and the Sheriff’s office didn’t charge him. Even if he was there, what a huge miscarriage of justice it would be to charge this man. One, if he would have confessed to what he heard on that night June 2, 1981, he would have been killed. Even in the affidavit provided by Detective Groover, it mentions that special conditions needed to be sought and made because Tommy’s life was in danger. Not to mention this man was used by Frank, the mob, and law enforcement. We know that Frank was going to use him in his burglary case but law enforcement used him to.

For a while law enforcement thought that Tommy was part of the Hole in the Wall Gang. He was often targeted by law enforcement because they identified him as the weakest link in the gang. He would get picked up by law enforcement and they would often put him in special custody to let the other prisoners think that he was cooperating with them. Then he be moved to the Psych Ward where he was forced to deal with mentally ill criminals. They used other harsh tactics in trying to make him break, so he would turn on the Hole in the Wall Gang. So how did the mob use him? I’ll get to that in a second.

Amazon link to Murder In McHenry

This is the Amazon link to the book Murder In McHenry by Paul Scharff and Keith Bettinger

Since naming Larry Neumann as the killer of my father and Patricia Freeman, I have become good friends with Tommy. In a story where the good guys are the bad guys, and the bad guys are the good guys, stranger things will happen. Tommy and I’ve had long conversations on the phone talking about all different kinds of things. He lost his father at a young age and so did I, we related a lot to each other on that point. He was in the Navy and I was in the Marines, another point we related to each other very well. All in all, Tommy and I genuinely like each other. He had told me that he wasn’t there the night that Larry killed my father. To me it doesn’t matter whether he was there or not. If he wasn’t telling the truth, I get it. Why should anybody be killed to do the right thing, or why should he go to jail now for not telling the truth when the result was a death sentence. Whether Tommy is being truthful or not, I back him 110% and I know that my family does to.

Not that long ago, about two months ago, I was on a radio show with Frank Cullotta. He mentioned something that I found very interesting and I still think about. He had mentioned in the recent investigation that he was told by the Sheriff’s office that they were seeking immunity for Tommy Amato but couldn’t get it. I thought that was kind of strange all things considering. Now this goes back to my previous question, how did the mob use him?

Since the release of my book, MURDER IN MCHENRY, I found out some interesting facts. The day after my father was killed Tommy was picked up by the Sheriff’s Office and he was interviewed about my father’s murder. The thing that’s funny though, there is no record of that interview anywhere. The only reason I know that he was interviewed is  because George Hendle said so to the FBI, when he was being investigated by them. One of the people that was at that interview, was Adam Bourgeois. If you been following my blogs or read my FOIA appeal, you would understand the link. Adam Bourgeois, is the attorney for the Chicago Outfit. Doesn’t it seem odd that Adam Bourgeois would be called in for this interview of Tommy?

So what if Tommy did get immunity, he might be able to get this terrible thing off his chest. Just as important, he might be able to explain why George Hendle never took any notes or provided any record of this interview, or why Adam Bourgeois was there. Inquiring minds would like to know, or at least I would. Maybe there is a reason why Tommy wasn’t given immunity. It might prove that I’m not chasing ghost in getting to the bottom of what happened to my father 32 years ago. I think it would prove that there’s people today, that walk among all of us, are indeed the real people that I’m chasing, not ghosts. Are you curious to what Tommy knows?

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3 Comments »

  • Duncan Mchenry says:

    I hear George died of Colon Cancer. Guess thats what he gets for sh…tn on everyone. May you rest in peace George…..I remember George, he is one of the predecessors that laid the ground work for the Nygren and Zinke regime… Some of the authorities in Mchenry County have become experts at pushing everything under the rug…There is no justice for the victims of crime in Mchenry County when there is a pay off….Yep a Pay off… In 1994 I was made an offer by an attorney to pay off a judge….Now Zinke either your just dumb or just rich, or both… And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the answer to that one.. How much money do you have? This crime should have been solved 27 years ago and you know it..You have the answers sitting in your files at the Mchenry County Court House….And, the facts have been laid out in Paul Scharffs book…..Do you even know how to read?……Wouldn’t want to jeopardize your relationship with the Mafia, now would you?…….You owe an explanation not only to the Scharff family, but every single tax payer that resides in Mchenry County……..The tax payers of this community are sick and tired corruption and we are demanding answers Zinke and Nygren……….SOON…..NOT 27 YEARS FROM NOW!….

  • Duncan Mchenry says:

    The Mchenry County Sheriffs office had more than enough evidence when they spoke to Tommy Amato about the murders. They should have arrested Larry Neumann that day. Instead, they chose to cover up the crime, accept a bribe, and go after innocent people. Pat’s boyfriend Glen was a victim of character assassination lead by the Mchenry County Sheriffs office. They knew how the game was played and encouraged the public to join the “band wagon” to intimidate, harass, and torture Glen. Sure wish I knew who the officers were that took him out to a corn field and held a gun to his head, so Glen would falsely confess…Thank goodness this Innocent man did not confess….It is time for those officers to be held accountable and do some time in Federal prison, where they can receive a taste of their own medicine…..Hey Nygren and Zinke things haven’t changed much…..Clearly, certain members of the MCSD lead by Nygren had perfected their skills by the time they got to Gary Gauger. They knowingly and willingly falsely prosecuted him….Just wondering how the rate of inflation has affected bribes. How much was a bribe worth in the 80’s compared to a bribe today…???????????????? GG or Golly Gosh Judge, you should be able to answer that question? You know what I mean judge…..I have had an opportunity to observe you in court…What are you worth these days? You must have worked really hard for that money? I think you will spend the rest of your life in Federal Prison. Sure Hope it was worth it your Honor……….

  • Duncan Mchenry says:

    If you want change in Mchenry come out and vote election 2014. This is your chance to vote Zinke and Nygren out of office. They are the laughing stock of our community, because of the way they have conducted themselves in office..We the people have the power to make change..If corruption continues we have no one to blame but ourselves….join the ‘Bandwagon for a new government in Mchenry County” Say “NO” to drug shipments in Rita Corporation and Corruption in Mchenry County….

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