Friday, April 20, 2007

Chicago Outfit Hits from Four Decades Detailed in Court Papers

Friends of mine: Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, Nick Calabrese
Friends of ours: John Ambrose

A newly released court document details four decades of alleged Chicago mob killings, including the slayings of six men accused of robbing the vault of the Mafia's biggest boss.

The 63-page document was submitted by federal prosecutors to U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel. He is to preside over the trial of 14 men accused in an indictment that blames the mafia for 18 long-unsolved murders. Jury selection is scheduled to begin June 1.

The trial is the result of the FBI's long-running Operation Family Secrets investigation.

In the robbery case, mob bosses wanted to send a message that they would not tolerate the theft of jewelry and other items from the basement vault of fellow boss Tony Accardo's house, according to the document unveiled Thursday.

"The Outfit wanted to find out which burglars were actually involved in the Accardo burglary so they could be killed to enforce the message," the document says.

Eventually, six men were blamed. The alleged organizer of the vault burglary, John Mendell, was last heard from January 16, 1978, the prosecutors said.

Among the list of 18 unsolved murders is the killing of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Chicago mob's longtime man in Las Vegas, who inspired the Joe Pesci character in the 1995 movie "Casino." His body was buried in an Indiana cornfield.

The document seeks to convince Zagel that a conspiracy existed and that third-party testimony that would ordinarily be hearsay should be allowed.

Among those expected to testify is Nicholas Calabrese, a self-described "made guy" in the Chicago mob who now is helping the government. The document says Calabrese's account of mob bookmaking, loan sharking, extortion, arson and murder has resulted in an FBI report more than 100 pages long that points the finger at organized crime leaders.

The version of the document made public Thursday is heavily redacted with prosecutors saying their witnesses are afraid of mob reprisals and would be even more terrified if their names got out before trial.

Federal deputy marshal John Ambrose is charged with leaking information about Calabrese's whereabouts to the mob. He has pleaded not guilty and claims he was not read his Miranda warning when arrested.

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