Free building tours, health fair, including booster shots, at Jefferson Masonic Temple on Oct. 16
by BRIAN NADIG
History took center stage at the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association’s Sept. 29 meeting when members discussed the community’s 109-year-old Masonic temple and took a look back a the “Operation Greylord”investigation that revealed a corrupt Cook County judicial system.
Tour of the Jefferson Park Masonic Temple, 5418 W. Gale St., will be offered during a free health fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the temple, said event organizers Elliott Velez and Jim Hamilton.
The temple, which serves several Masonic lodges, was constructed at a cost of $17,755 in 1912, according to the Jefferson Masonic Association website. The first Masonic lodge in the Jefferson Park area was formed in 1868, and several of the community’s founders were members.
Velez, who serves as the 5th Northeastern District Deputy Grand Master, said that Freemasonry is not the secret society that is often falsely portrayed as and that while members are required to believe in a deity, they come from a wide variety of religions and cultures. He added that older members often serve as mentors for younger members and that community outreach and charitable work are key components of the group.
At the health fair, Walgreen’s will be offering seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster shots, and the Versiti Blood Center of IL will be taking blood donations.
To help the pharmacy prepare for the fair, those interested in a vaccination are asked to register at email@example.com Also, those seeking to donate blood can sign up at https://donate.illinois.versiti.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/5586257
The fair also will include the Medinah Shrinner’s Clown Unit and food from DSD Deli, 5205 N. Milwaukee Ave., and Ix-chel Gelato, 4968 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Also at the meeting, Wayne Klatt discussed the book he wrote with FBI informant Terrence Hake about the federal investigation in the 1980s that sent judges and bagmen to jail. “Operation Greylord: The True Story of an Untrained Undercover Agent and America’s Biggest Corruption Bust” was first published in 2015.
Klatt, who was a longtime reporter for the former City News Bureau of Chicago, said that the U.S. Justice Department suspected widespread corruption in the county’s court system when a mob hitman was acquitted of murder despite eyewitnesses.
Mobster Harry Aleman was later retried and found guilty, and Frank Wilson, the judge in the first trial, committed suicide while he was under investigation for bribery.
Aleman became the first person in U.S. history to be acquitted of murder and then found guilty in a second trial. It was determined that there was “double jeopardy” since Aleman was not in jeopardy in the initial trial due to the corruption, Klatt said.
Hake worked undercover for four years, first as an assistant prosecutor and then as a criminal defense attorney. He often wore a recording device while the bribes were being carried out and at social gatherings that included those who Hake would later testify against, Klatt said.
“He’s doing FBI work without any training, (and) he was in charge of FBI agents,” Klatt said. “He testified at 23 trials.”
In all, the investigation resulted in charges against 103 judges, lawyers and other court personnel. In one of the investigation’s more high-profile cases, judge Richard LeFevour was found guilty of taking kickbacks in drunk driving and other traffic cases.
Klatt described Hake as a man of high morals and that it was amazing how Hake was able to “participate” in the wrongdoings that later sent many others to jail.