Former informant makes surprise visit
July 2, 2007 (WLS) -- Robert Cooley was a crooked lawyer with mob connections. Almost 20 years ago, he turned informant and helped send judges, aldermen and mobsters to prison. He showed up Monday at Chicago's current mob trial and was asked to leave.
The judge did not explain why he asked Cooley to leave the courtroom but clearly given Cooley's role in past outfit trials he might be a distraction for some witnesses as well as the five defendants.
When Cooley appeared at the federal courthouse Monday afternoon, he had a movie producer in tow. The former federal informant, disbarred attorney and author of a tell-all book about Chicago's mob said the planned film should be his long-awaited financial reward:
"Now it is time to reap the harvest," Cooley said. "I worked hard to do what I did and got no credit before. Now I think I will with the movie."
During the 1970's and 80's, Cooley was a self-described mafia "mechanic" or fixer of court cases. He bribed judges, court clerks and cops to keep his outfit clients out of jail.
Later, as a federal witness, his testimony anchored as many as nine trials that exposed the mob's stranglehold on Chicago's city hall and the courts.
Cooley caused a stir Monday afternoon when he entered the courtroom where five alleged outfit bosses -- men he knew from the past -- are facing decades-old charges in the "Family Secrets" trial.
"I was never close to think of those," Cooley said. "I knew who they were and they ran in the same circles as I did but they knew who I was and there are no surprises. They pretty much put the mob out of business a while back and I don't think it is running."
Even though his mob connections date back thirty years, Cooley said he was not asked to be a witness in "Family Secrets."
He said the men on trial are not -- as alleged -- the outfit's modern day bosses. That person, he says, remains in the background, but still pulling the strings in Chicago.
"There's somebody right now who has been run the city for a long time and I'm not talking about Mayor Daley but hopefully his day will come," Cooley said.
Cooley said he's living in California now and was never hidden by the federal witness protection program.
No word on when the movie based on Cooley's book might be filmed or released. It still in the research stage.
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