Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Anthony Pellicano Worked for Mobster Lombardo?

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Cullotta
Friends of mine: Anthony Pellicano

Private investigator Anthony Pellicano shot to fame working for Hollywood stars. But when he worked in Chicago 30 years ago, Pellicano hustled for an alleged rising star of a different kind: Infamous Chicago mobster Joseph "Joey The Clown" Lombardo.

Pellicano's investigative work from 1974 on Lombardo's behalf could provide Lombardo an alibi for the brutal murder of Daniel Seifert, who was to be a key witness against Lombardo in a Teamster fund embezzlement case. Lombardo is charged in Seifert's death in the upcoming Family Secrets mob trial in Chicago.

These days, Pellicano has his own problems as he sits in jail awaiting trial on charges he illegally wiretapped the conversations of the enemies of his rich and famous clients. Those allegations have rocked the Hollywood elite. But in 1974, Pellicano was working for Lombardo, compiling information to show Lombardo was far away when Seifert was gunned down the morning of Sept. 27 outside his Bensenville factory.

Prosecutors are expected to tie Lombardo to the Seifert murder by pointing to his fingerprint on a title application for a car used in the slaying.

Pellicano's investigation, though, contends Lombardo was at the International House of Pancakes in the 2800 block of West Diversey the morning of the murder. After Lombardo left the restaurant, he noticed someone had stolen his wallet from his car's glove compartment. Lombardo went back inside the IHOP and reported the theft to two cops having breakfast. They wrote a report, which is included in Pellicano's work. There's a signed statement from one of the cops and another from a driver's license facility supervisor who says Lombardo came in the morning of the murder for a duplicate license.

Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin, called his client's alibi "rock solid." He said Pellicano's current difficulties have no impact on his work for Lombardo.

In another court document obtained by the Sun-Times, a government informant, former mobster Alva Johnson Rodgers, a Lombardo associate, alleges in late 1973 or early 1974 that Pellicano asked him to burn down a Mount Prospect building. Rodgers alleges he did just that, but Pellicano was never charged.

Pellicano is being held in custody because he allegedly asked unnamed Chicago mobsters to put a hit on a witness against him, according to a government court filing.

Pellicano's attorney, Steven F. Gruel, disputed the allegations and said he's seen nothing to buttress claims his client is tied to the mob.

Also, on Monday, Lombardo's attorney filed a motion asking the feds for a pre-publication copy of a book by a government informant, mobster Frank Cullotta. Cullotta may be a witness at the Family Secrets trial, and his book could provide fodder for the defense.

Prosecutors should have access to Cullotta, who is hiding under a new identity, Halprin noted. "For all I know, he's Ann Coulter," Halprin quipped.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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