Friends of ours: James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Michael Marcello
Friends of mine: Robert Urbinati
A former Franklin Park police officer acted as an important communications link between a high-ranking mob boss in prison and his minions on the outside, a federal prosecutor disclosed in court Tuesday.
The fresh details about former officer Robert Urbinati, 60, came at a court hearing in which he was sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in a suburban, mob-run video poker empire.
Urbinati admitted in February to taking $500 a month as a Franklin Park officer to protect the video poker machines in local bars. But he also would reach out in the early 1990s to Michael Marcello, the brother of convicted mobster James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, who was in prison. Urbinati would relay Outfit problems to Michael
Marcello, who would visit his brother James in prison and get answers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Levine said. Urbinati is related to the Marcellos, but the family relationship wasn't specified in court.
When James Marcello gets out of prison next year, he is expected to lead the Chicago Outfit, law enforcement sources have said.
Urbinati's attorney, Joseph Lopez, disputed the government's contention that Urbinati was an important link in the mob's communication network, calling the accusation "highly speculative" and without a basis in solid evidence.
Prosecutors, though, have pointed to a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation in which Urbinati and another player in the conspiracy, Thomas Tucker, talk about problems they are having with Robert Natale, then the mayor of Stone Park, who wanted a larger bribe payment for his services to the mob. Both Tucker and Natale were
convicted as part of the investigation.
In the recorded transcript, Urbinati tells Tucker that he "was with Mickey [Marcello] last night. I explained everything to him, he's going to talk to Jimmy, but he said, even he said . . . you know that guy [Natale], he was supposed to get something."
Michael Marcello was not charged in the case. And Lopez called James Marcello "a model prisoner."
The sentencing of Urbinati wraps up the current case. The investigation, though, into illegal video gambling in the suburbs continues.
The machines are a cash cow for the Outfit. One machine alone can rake in $100,000 in profits a year, with the mob splitting the take 50-50 with the bar owner. And there are hundreds of such machines in the Chicago area.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said the crimes Urbinati committed were "very disturbing," especially since his sentencing came when Americans were commemorating the dedication and sacrifice of so many of its men and women in uniform in relation to Sept. 11.
"He was a crooked cop," the judge said of Urbinati, who wore a badge in Franklin Park from 1968 to 1995.
Thanks to Steve Warmbir
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