Chicago’s Cicero crew lost their gambling boss this week. Joe “Joe Grapes” Pascucci died of natural causes at the age of 87.
Well known to the FBI, for decades Pascucci ran illegal gambling for the outfit in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs. He was last arrested in 2004 for his part in a multi-million dollar sportsbook from his home in Wheeling, Illinois. He got off lightly serving only two years behind bars. He was released in 2006.
FBI records show that Pascucci was particularly known for taking big bets. In an earlier FBI wiretap, Pascucci is heard telling an associate “I only want the big guys, no little fish.”
Pascucci got his nickname, Joe Grapes, as he was quite the homemade wine enthusiast.
Pascucci’s career spanned decades with his first gambling arrest coming in 1964. He also spent time in prison in the 1970s and 1980s for more gambling charges.
One of his biggest busts came in February 1987 when he was arrested for his part in a series of backdoor casinos that were easily making over $1,000,000 per month profit.
He ran most of his business out of his bar, Champagne John’s in Wheeling, Illinois, but also out of his home at 1461 Anthony Road, Wheeling.
Pascucci cut his mafia teeth under Captain Joe Ferriola who later went on to become the Chicago mob boss. Ernest “Rocky” Infelise replaced Ferriola as Captain of the Cicero crew but Pascucchi found it difficult for the two of them to get along. This forced Pascucchi to seek shelter from Northside crew leaders after Ferriola refused to help. Ferriola died in 1989 due to complications from heart surgery.