Professional Jeweler Archive: FBI Catches Mastermind of Gang

February 2001


FBI Catches Mastermind of Gang

A retired police chief, a former jeweler and four others are indicted in robberies. FBI credits JSA for assistance

A retired chief of detectives with the Chicago Police Department was indicted for leading a ring of thieves that targeted traveling jewelry sales representatives across the country in the 1980s and 1990s, says the FBI. A former jeweler and four other men were indicted also. They are charged with taking $4.85 million in merchandise in eight robberies in Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

The FBI credited the jewelers’ Security Alliance, New York City, with assisting in the investigation.
The FBI identifies William A. Hanhardt, 71, who retired from the Chicago Police Department in 1986 after a 33-year career, as the mastermind of the gang. The former jeweler named in the indictment is Guy Altobello, 69, who worked at Altobello Jewelers, formerly located in Villa Park, IL, and now in Wheaton, IL. He allegedly gave his codefendants information about jewelry salespeople who did business with Altobello Jewelers so they could determine the best time to attack.

Defendants Arrested

Shortly after the indictments were handed up, FBI agents began arresting the defendants. “The indictment effectively dismantles a prolific jewelry theft ring that operated with virtual impunity, directed by a corrupt law enforcement official,” says Kathleen McChesney, special agent in charge of the Chicago field division of the FBI. “The public expects aggressive enforcement of the law by its police officials, not collusion with criminals.”

The defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy and transporting stolen property across state lines.

A racketeering conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Transporting stolen property convictions could mean up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the defendants.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $4.8 million from five of the six defendants, along with the homes of Hanhardt and another defendant.

The indictment contains details of how the gang gathered information about their victims using such things as airline tickets, hotel bills, rental car information and even the number of miles driven.

– by Jack Heeger

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications