Harry "The Hitman" Aleman's step-daughter, Franky Forliano, speaks candidly about the book she says will show her father's other side. Carol Marin reports.
In the history of organized crime in Chicago, few were feared as much as Harry "The Hitman" Aleman. Federal authorities believe his body count is 18 or higher.
Aleman died in prison a little more than two years ago. Now his step-daughter, Franky Forliano, is writing a book she says will show her father’s other side.
In an interview at her west suburban townhome, Forliano talked about the unapologetic tribute to father.
"I was like, 'OK he was bookmaking, I knew that, OK.'" she said. "Or he loans, if he did some juice loans. I didn’t think that was bad either."
Asked if anyone told her as a teenager that her father was an Outfit killer, Forliano denied it.
"No, not ever. They wouldn’t dare say that to me," she said.
In 1977, Aleman was charged with the 1972 murder of union official Billy Logan.
"He sat us down as a family and said, 'There is going to be a lot of negative press coming my way,'" Forliano recalled.
But in a bench trial, Judge Frank Wilson, despite two eyewitness accounts, declared Harry Aleman an innocent man.
Prosecutors were stunned.
"We will never see a case with better evidence for a crime syndicate killing," then-Cook County State’s Attorney Bernard Carey said at the time.
Aleman smiled in court and left in silence.
But within a year he was in prison on a federal charge of home invasions.
"Harry was unbelievable brutal," said Thomas Moriarty, who at the time was a Special Agent with the Criminal Division of the IRS.
For independent bookmakers who crossed the mob, he said there were only three options.
"And the options were you can pay us, you can quit your business, or you can die," he said.
Aleman was behind bars for 11 years, returning to Chicago in 1989.
A few months later an astonishing event occurred at a suburban banquet hall: family and friends gathered to celebrate Aleman’s 50th birthday.
"I missed a lot of birthdays but this is the best one I’ve ever had," Aleman said nervously when handed a microphone.
In reality it was his 51st birthday. He had turned 50 in prison.
There were plenty of hugs and handshakes. There were birthday envelopes and dancing.
And Ruth Aleman got her husband to do something he never did: speak in front of a camera.
"I said, 'I love you very much,'" Aleman told his wife after a few moments of coaxing.
"These people pay more respect to their Outfit confidants than they do their own family,' said Moriarty. And Aleman was no exception.
Aleman, according to Moriarty, was so secretive he once had the phones removed from his house.
"He realized you could not wiretap him at his house if he didn’t not have a telephone," Moriarty recalled.
Aleman’s freedom was short. A year after the party he returned to prison for the rest of his life for extortion and the murder of Billy Logan. The historic re-trial of the Logan murder occurred after FBI mole Robert Cooley testified the original judge had been bribed.
On his deathbed, Forliano said her father denied the only murder for which he was charged.
"I said, 'Dad, did you do this? Just tell me,'” Forliano said. “He goes, 'Honey, I did not kill Billy Logan."
Asked if there is any doubt in his mind Aleman did the killing, Moriarty replied, "none whatsoever.”
Forliano made one appearance in the short-lived TV show Mob Wives’ Chicago but opted out. She is now working on a new reality show, called Boss Lady’s, about a suburban bar she and friends plan to open.
Today, she is surrounded by memories that she is putting into words. Her unfinished book is titled "They Can’t Hurt Him Anymore."
And she says she is not concerned about any remaining vestiges of the Outfit and her book.
"They have to understand, this is my story. I’m talking about my father. I have that right,” she said.
Still the book will contain few family secrets, she said.
Just the way Harry Aleman would have wanted it.
"He’d say, 'Honey do whatever you got to do,'" Forliano said. "He’d be proud of me right now."
Harry Aleman was 71 when he died in prison in May of 2011.