Thursday, September 29, 2005

Evidence In Mob Murders Surfaces In Casino Battle

The first piece of evidence in the Operation Family Secrets mob murder case surfaced Tuesday during a battle over a casino license. As CBS 2's John Drummond reports, a top FBI agent believes the undercover videotape shows a link between the mob and Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens.

James Marcello is identified by the FBI as the boss of the Chicago mob. In March 2004, the FBI videotaped a conversation between Marcello and his brother, Michael, at the federal prison at Milan, Michigan.

Stephens, the long-time mayor of Rosemont, had lobbied hard for the Emerald Casino Inc., to be granted a license to operate in Rosemont. But the Illinois Gaming Board rejected the Emerald bid, citing alleged mob ties. At a special hearing Tuesday on the Emerald license, the gaming board watched an undercover videotape from the Operation Family Secrets investigation. On the tape, the Marcello brothers discussed whether the mob would have a piece of any casino in Rosemont.

The two men did not use proper names when discussing the matter. The FBI said "he" referred to Stephens.

James Marcello: “Are we gonna be in there at all?”

Michael Marcello: “I don’t ... MGM or one of them companies will wind up with it. I mean he ain't going to get it like he wanted it before but...”

James Marcello: “They'll pay him so much a month and that'll be it.”

James Marcello: “You gotta say it. This guy really knew what he was doing, Mickey. They could say what they want about him.”


Attorney Robert Cliffford, who represents Emerald Casino, was skeptical of the meaning of the tape. “When I first saw this my reaction was you have a couple of sideways talking about stuff they don't know an awful lot about,” Clifford said. But top FBI organized crime agent John Mallul said that Stephens had a special interest in Emerald getting a license since he could exercise some control over it.

A spokesman for the Rosemont mayor ripped the FBI tape, calling it "meaningless." He said it proves nothing and suggests the gaming board has a "vendetta against Mayor Stephens."

As far as the videotape itself, this is the first time we've seen some of the mountain of evidence expected to be used against James Marcello and other alleged mobsters in the Family Secrets case. The video portion clearly showed the Marcello brothers having a chat in a day room at the Michigan prison. But the audio was difficult to make out. We had to read from a transcript provided by an FBI agent.

Thanks to Bulldog John Drummond

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