Chicago Outfit bosses have devised some shrewd excuses to stall justice, from feigning heart attacks and strokes to babbling incoherently as if possessed by an evil spirit.
About the time most people were starting to thaw the Thanksgiving bird last week, Rudolph C. "Rudy" Fratto of Darien was filing a motion to put off his federal court sentencing for a while.
His lawyer needs a vacation in a sunny place.
And then after the vacation his lawyer needs eye surgery.
Most people would take a break after an operation, but maybe the attorney needs to rest up for the surgery.
Regardless, by syndicate standards Fratto's delay tactic - laying it off on his lawyer - deserves a C at best.
But as lame as the motion may be, the occasion allows me to revisit Mr. Fratto, whose well-cleansed and affluent suburban lifestyle has allowed him rapid upward movement in the Outfit, according to mob investigators.
As the omnipotent overseer of Outfit rackets in Elmwood Park, according to mobologists, for years Fratto has flown just below the fed's radar.
Then, the lanky and birdlike Fratto committed the same mistake that eventually brings down all crooks: tax charges.
The feds finally got Al Capone that way. They caught Rudy Fratto when he neglected to ante up more than $141,000 in taxes on about $835,000 in income. So, the government got him indicted by a federal grand jury.
Now I know that federal prosecutors could get a hamburger indicted, as Joey "the Clown" Lombardo said recently in the Family Secrets mob murders case.
But after they are indicted, nobody makes them plead guilty as Fratto, 65, did last month.
The kindly U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly set sentencing for Jan. 12, which allowed Fratto to spend the holidays with his family.
Last Thursday Mr. Fratto no doubt gave extra thanks for his timely fortunes and took an extra helping of mashed potatoes.
And he will be able to enjoy a very merry Christmas and a blissful New Year with his loved ones before the judge considers handing him 12 to 18 months, which is the term called for in his plea bargain.
A year and a half isn't the kind of stay at the Crossbar Hotel that "Scarface" was given for breaking federal tax laws, but it no doubt is an unwelcome cold spell for a late-budding mob boss.
Now though, Mr. Fratto's sentencing may be delayed even further due to his lawyer's vacation plans and untimely cataract surgery.
The Fratto motion, to be heard on Wednesday morning in federal court, asks for a delay in sentencing to Feb. 12 for the convenience and pleasure of Fratto's attorney, Arthur N. Nasser.
"The defendant's attorney had made plans to visit with his family during Thanksgiving weekend in McLean, Va., and Christmas in Charleston, W.V." states the motion.
"Thereafter, he has reservations to travel to Palm Springs, Calif., for 12 days departing Dec. 28, 2009 and returning to Chicago on Jan. 9, 2010. Upon his return to Chicago he is scheduled to have a cataract removed from his right eye ... on Jan. 14, 2010."
Such an excuse might have been better suited for Fratto's dearly-departed crime syndicate relative, Luigi Tomaso Giuseppi Fratto, who was a gangland boss and labor racketeer from the 1930s into the '60s.
Fratto was also known as "Cockeyed Louie" due to his off-kilter eyeball. Modern surgery could have fixed the problem.
"Cockeyed" is just one of Fratto's blood relatives who toiled in the trenches of the mob when it was in its infancy during the 1920s.
Rudy's public behavior certainly befits that of a smart-aleck Outfit boss. Federal records first reported by the ABC 7 I-Team revealed that Fratto was considered a major threat to major mob witness Nicholas Calabrese, a reformed hitman.
Calabrese' compelling testimony helped put away top hoodlums during the Family Secrets trial. Fratto was not charged in that case.
Also, he was photographed over the years by federal surveillance teams during meetings with mob leaders. In 2001, he was seen at a secret Outfit summit where the takeover of video-poker turf in the suburbs was being hatched.
On another occasion, Fratto was observed meeting with former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt. The duo was plotting of a proposed gangland hit, according to testimony in 2002 during a sentencing hearing in Hanhardt's jewel theft case. The hit did not occur and Hanhardt is serving a federal prison sentence.
But getting a sentencing extension because your lawyer needs a Palm Springs vacation? Wimping out like that surely will not earn Rudy Fratto a place in the Outfit's Hall of Famous Ploys, Tricks and Tactics.
• Chuck Goudie, whose column appears each Monday, is the chief investigative reporter at ABC 7 News in Chicago. The views in this column are his own and not those of WLS-TV. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at twitter.com/ChuckGoudie