Monday, July 17, 2017

Motor City Mafia by @burneystweets Takes You inside the Belly of the Beast

Motor City Mafia: A Century of Organized Crime in Detroit (Images of America), chronicles the storied and hallowed gangland history of the notorious Detroit underworld.

Scott M. Burnstein takes the reader inside the belly of the beast, tracking the bloodshed, exploits, and leadership of the southeast Michigan crime syndicate as never before seen in print. Through a stunning array of rare archival photographs and images, Motor City Mafia captures Detroit's most infamous past, from its inception in the early part of the 20th century, through the years when the iconic Purple Gang ruled the city's streets during Prohibition, through the 1930s and the formation of the local Italian mafia, and the Detroit crime family's glory days in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, all the way to the downfall of the area's mob reign in the 1980s and 1990s.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Family Secrets Mob Book by @JeffCoen is Indispensable to Know How Chicago Truly Works

If you're interested in understanding the real Chicago—and there can be no serious understanding of this completely political city without examining the Chicago Outfit—then you'll soon have a great new book on your shelves:

"Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" (Chicago Review Press) by Chicago Tribune federal courts reporter Jeff Coen.

Yes, Coen is a colleague of mine who is well-respected in our newsroom. But the reason I recommend this book is that I've followed Coen's work chronicling this case. His careful eye and clean writing style have produced years of compelling Tribune stories and now this authoritative account of one of the most amazing Chicago Outfit cases in history.

It involves the FBI's turning of Chicago Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese into a top witness and informer. Calabrese's access and insight into unsolved murders, offered up at trial by the expert killer and brother of a Chinatown Crew boss, were more than astounding. And, in a creepy but necessary way, illuminating.

Calabrese, a deadly though perpetually terrified hit man, testified against the bosses about more than 18 gangland murders in the federal Family Secrets case. Now mob bosses including his brother Frank, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and Jimmy Marcello, and fellow hit man Paul Schiro will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Later this week an Outfit messenger boy—Anthony Doyle, a former Chicago police officer who worked in the evidence section and who visited Frank Calabrese in prison to discuss the FBI's interest in an old bloody glove—also will be sentenced.

From the witness stand, Doyle gave Chicago one of my favorite words, "chumbolone," the Chinatown Crew's slang for idiot or fool. He deserves a long sentence. Federal mob watchers consider him to be close to the Outfit's current overall reputed street boss, Frank "Toots" Caruso.

Outfit helpers like Doyle, placed in sensitive government posts, in politics, in law enforcement, in the judiciary, in city inspection and business licensing bureaucracies, have long allowed the Outfit to form the base of the iron triangle that runs things.

"Doyle was one of the most interesting aspects of the case," Coen told me this week. "Here you have a police officer as a mole telling the Outfit when evidence in a murder was being sought by the FBI. I don't think the public is aware of the effort that goes into placing people in low-key clerical positions that give them great access, people that can fly under the radar."

Doyle learned the FBI was interested in a glove worn by Nick Calabrese in the murder of John Fecarotta, who himself received an Outfit death sentence for botching the 1986 burial of brothers Tony and Michael Spilotro.

"If Nick doesn't drop that glove, the FBI doesn't have the physical evidence to tell him he'd be going away forever," Coen said. "Without the glove, they wouldn't have Nick."

Nick's testimony involved the planning and surveillance of his victims, and the final end that came to them, either by a remote-controlled car bomb on a suburban highway ramp, or shotguns from a van along a country road near Joliet, or the laying on of hands and feet and ropes in a suburban basement.

The movie "Casino" depicted Outfit brothers Tony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield. That's how many of us thought they were killed, until Family Secrets revealed that they were actually beaten and strangled in a Bensenville basement.

In the gangster movies, the hit men are usually the roughest characters. But Calabrese wasn't a movie hit man, he was a real one, so frightened that he wet himself during his first killing.

On the witness stand and in the book, he comes off like what he is, a nerd of homicide, a man plagued by a sickening fear that settled on him at the first one and became like a second skin, and he found one way to deal with that fear—meticulous planning.

"He was nothing like a movie hit man," Coen said. "During testimony, he looked like somebody you'd bump into at a store in your neighborhood. But if the bosses pointed him at somebody, they could sleep, knowing the murder would be done."

On my shelf, there are books I consider to be indispensable to truly knowing how Chicago works. There is:

And now, there is Jeff Coen's Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob.

Thanks to John Kass

Thursday, July 13, 2017

After Passage of Controversial Conspiracy Law, Japan Joins @UN Organized Crime Convention

Japan has joined an international convention for tackling transnational organized crime after putting into force a law penalizing the planning of a range of crimes.

Tokyo submitted to the United Nations in New York an instrument of acceptance of the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, becoming the 188th signatory. Japan is the only country in the Group of Seven that has yet to ratify the convention, despite having signed it in 2000.

The move on Tuesday came after the controversial conspiracy law took effect earlier in the day. The government insists it will help thwart terrorism while critics say the enhanced police power could lead to the suppression of civil liberties.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has framed the law as an essential tool for tackling terrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying it was necessary to ratify the treaty. But opponents, including legal experts, have warned that the definition of terrorist groups and other organized criminal groups is vague, leaving room for anyone to be punished.

The U.N. convention calls on member countries to legislate a ban on organized crime and money laundering, and to cooperate in probes and on the extradition of suspects.

Raquel Dodge, Top Prosecutor Nominee, Vows to Fight Organized Crime

Brazil's Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve President Michel Temer's pick to head the Prosecutor-General's Office after she vowed to make fighting organized crime a top priority.

Senators voted 74-1 to promote deputy prosecutor Raquel Dodge, clearing the way for her to replace current top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in September. One lawmaker abstained.

Dodge had won approval from a Senate committee earlier on Wednesday.

Prior to the approval, Dodge said Brazil must step up the fight against organized crime, making sure that plea and leniency deals are used as instruments to help bring justice and not benefit leaders of criminal organizations.

She also called on prosecutors to stick to the law when negotiating plea bargain deals, noting that secrecy must be maintained and full immunity should not be given to leaders of criminal groups.

Thanks to Reuters.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Mob of His Own: Mad Sam DeStefano and the Chicago Mob's "Juice" Rackets

The true story of one of Chicago's most sadistic murderers who killed for power, money and pleasure. Sam "Mad Dog" DeStefano controlled the flow of money on Chicago's streets backed by the Chicago mob, he became a multimillionaire by squeezing the "juice" out of his victims. This book details the life of Mad Sam and describes the sick methods he used to kill. This book also explores Chicago's Italian mob and what was commonly known as the "juice" rackets, loan sharking, and shylocking.

A Mob of His Own: Mad Sam DeStefano and the Chicago Mob's "Juice" Rackets, explains the rackets in full detail as well as the men who made a living at killing and destroying lives.