Friday, December 16, 2005

FBI Nabs Reputed Runaway Mob Enforcer

Friends of ours: Frank "The German" Schweihs, James Marcello, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Tony "the Ant" Spilotro
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

A reputed mob enforcer who has been the focus of a nationwide manhunt since federal prosecutors unsealed racketeering-murder charges against the alleged top echelon of the Chicago underworld was arrested Friday, the FBI announced. Frank "The German" Schweihs, 75, was captured without incident when agents swooped down on an apartment he had recently rented in Berea, Ky., a hilly area 40 miles south of Lexington.

Schweihs was one of two defendants who slipped away just before federal prosecutors in April unveiled the long-sealed indictment against reputed Chicago mob boss James Marcello and 13 others in the FBI's Operation Family Secrets investigation. FBI agents are still hunting Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 76, known as one of the senior figures in the Chicago mob.

The indictment charges that Chicago hoodlums and mob associates conspired in at least 19 unsolved deaths, including that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, once known as the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, and his brother Michael. Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro in the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie "Casino."

The indictment charges Schweihs with taking part in the racketeering scheme, in which the participants allegedly agreed to commit a number of killings. It also charges him with extorting "street tax" on behalf of organized crime by using "force, violence and fear" against the owners of adult entertainment clubs in Indiana and the Chicago suburbs in 2001.

Schweihs had an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in Lexington at which he waived extradition. He will be held there until he can be returned to Chicago, officials said. When he returns, Schweihs will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, who is presiding over the Family Secrets case.

FBI spokesman David Beyer said Schweihs first leased the Berea apartment two weeks ago and paid cash. His previous known residence was in Dania, Fla.

Federal law enforcement officers have been baffled in their search for Lombardo. They offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the two men.

Lombardo wrote a letter to Zagel last May, offering to turn himself in if he were guaranteed a trial separate from the other defendants. He later wrote a second letter, taking issue with news reports in the case.

Lombardo went to federal prison in the 1980s after being convicted along with then-International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Roy Lee Williams in a bribery conspiracy.

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