Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Role Flip-Flop: Feds Serve as Loan Sharks for Lombardo

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey The Clown" Lombardo

In a better late than never move, federal authorities are moving to collect nearly $500,000 in fines and judgments -- more than 20 years old -- against top Chicago mobster Joseph "Joey The Clown" Lombardo.

Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin, is crying foul -- over the timing of the request just as Lombardo is to go on trial, and at the interest rate the feds have charged on one fine -- 18 percent per year.

"Apparently, this is a federally approved involuntary juice loan," Halprin wrote in response to the feds' request.

With such a high interest rate, Lombardo "would have been much better off dealing with his co-defendants," Halprin cracked. Lombardo is charged with several other top mobsters in one of the most important mob trials in Chicago history.

The 18 percent per year was the interest rate allowed to be charged by law from the 1986 case. Lombardo paid $250 on an original judgment of $143,409.58 before the interest started accumulating.

The U.S. attorney's office had no comment on the timing of the motion. It comes about a year after a federal judge appointed Halprin to defend Lombardo at taxpayer expense. Lombardo said he didn't have the money to pay a lawyer, but the judge said the government could examine Lombardo's finances to see if he really did.

Halprin balks at the timing of the request, noting that the fines date from the 1980s and it comes as he is preparing Lombardo's defense in a complex case starting June 5. He also contends that Lombardo may no longer owe the money, in one instance possibly because of a settlement Lombardo made with the government in a civil case.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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