Chicago Tribune








By James Janega, Tribune Staff Writer.

June 24, 2000


James A. DiForti, 55, a former laborers union official and a reputed organized crime lieutenant who was awaiting trial in a 1988 murder case, died Tuesday, June 6, in Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.


He was accused of killing William Benham, the owner of B&S Pallet Co., after Benham refused to repay a $100,000 loan and threatened to tell authorities about Mr. DiForti's alleged mob ties and loan-sharking activities.


The case appeared stymied until an FBI informant implicated Mr. DiForti in the last few years.


A DNA test matched Mr. DiForti's blood to a blood trail that was found leading away from the crime scene in 1988, and Mr. DiForti was charged with murder in July 1997.


At the time of his arrest, Mr. DiForti was secretary-treasurer of Chicago Heights-based International Laborers Union Local 5. He was one of about a dozen union officials targeted by a separate federal probe of the union's alleged ties to organized crime.


Law enforcement officials believe the former $94,000-a-year secretary-treasurer was in charge of handling loans on the street during the 1980s. After stepping down from Local 5 in 1997, Mr. DiForti was involved in the horse-racing business while awaiting trial.


He is survived by a daughter, Marie DiForti; a stepdaughter Laura Pojani; a sister, Rose Hayes; a brother, John; and a grandson.


A funeral mass was said June 9.

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