Monday, April 23, 2007

Santiago Proffer Released Against Chicago Mob

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Cullotta, James "Litty Jimmy" Marcello, Frank "the German" Schweihs, Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro, Sam "Momo" Giancana, Sam Annerino, Richard Cain, Anthony Zizzo, Sam Carlisi, Tony Accardo, Nicholas Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr.,
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro, John Mendell, Frank Calabrese Jr.

Running an Outfit crew on Chicago's West Side in the 1970s, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo decided how everyday mob business would be handled -- and which of his organization's enemies would be hit, according to prosecution documents unsealed Thursday.

Lombardo was involved in everything from shaking down movie and pornography distributors to securing union payoffs and the killing of a former chief of the Cook County sheriff's police at a sandwich shop, the court filing states.

Former hit man Frank Cullotta, who has cooperated with the government, is expected to testify at the federal trial of Lombardo and 10 others that he once asked Lombardo for permission to kill a regular patron at his club who was causing problems by starting fights. "Lombardo told Cullotta that he could not kill the target, but he could break his legs and hands," the document states. "Lombardo added that if the target caused trouble after that warning, Cullotta could kill him."

With less than two months before the "Family Secrets" conspiracy case goes to trial, U.S. District Judge James Zagel ordered a redacted version of a legal document known as a Santiago proffer in the case released Thursday. The document, which provides a partial road map of the government's evidence of a conspiracy that led to at least 18 murders, had been filed under seal in March.

Among the men facing trial are reputed Outfit heavyweights James Marcello, Lombardo and Frank "the German" Schweihs.

The document is filled with the gritty business of the Chicago mob, describing how members and associates got permission from bosses to run gambling rings, make exorbitantly high-interest street loans and extort protection money from businesses. And it recounts how some connected men ran afoul of one another.

Lined heavily with deletions on some pages, the court filing does not offer many significant new details on some of the most high-profile murders charged in the landmark case, including the infamous slayings of Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro and his brother, Michael, whose bodies were found in an Indiana cornfield.

But it does include more specific allegations against Lombardo. The filing suggests he was behind the 1970 murder of Richard Cain, the onetime chief of the sheriff's police who also was a driver for mob boss Sam Giancana. And it alleges Lombardo targeted mobster Sam Annerino by placing him on his "hit parade." No charges have been filed in connection with the Cain murder. Annerino eventually was killed in 1977.

One unidentified witness apparently will testify that he knew Lombardo was in charge of a number of executions and often said his crew on the West Side "has all the firepower," according to the filing. Lombardo's lawyer, Rick Halprin, said Thursday night that when Cullotta testified against Lombardo in the early 1980s a federal judge didn't find him credible. "His main interest in testifying is to sell his book," said Halprin, who has repeatedly denied all the accusations prosecutors made against his client. "In my view, that book belongs in the fiction section."

Lawyers for the Tribune filed a motion for the filing's release, and Zagel ordered that the document be made public after giving prosecutors a chance to remove some witness names and other details. Assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars had told the judge the government's chief concern was for the safety of witnesses in the case.

One person mentioned in the filing has in fact disappeared in the past year, though sources said he was not expected to be a witness.

Anthony Zizzo, who was not charged, is identified as an underboss of Sam Carlisi. Zizzo was last seen leaving his Westmont home in August, and his Jeep was found days later in the parking lot of a restaurant in Melrose Park.

The 64-page filing details Lombardo's role in mob business, including its involvement in pornography. In one section, Lombardo is described as telling the owner of a pornography business not to use his home phone because it was probably tapped and to stay away from an adult bookstore owner named Robert Harder.

Harder was "number one on the hit list, and if you go around him you will get hit too," Lombardo allegedly said, and the document notes Harder was killed a few weeks later.

The filing also details an infamous burglary of Outfit boss Anthony Accardo's River Forest residence in 1978 while he vacationed out of state. The six suspected burglars were all killed in retaliation -- including John Mendell, whose murder was among the 18 gangland slayings charged in the unprecedented indictment.

According to the filing, Mendell and others earlier burglarized a jewelry store without realizing that Accardo had some possible involvement in the business. A few weeks later someone broke into Mendell's business, discovered the stolen jewelry hidden in the rafters and stole it.

Mendell, apparently believing Accardo was responsible, wanted to break into Accardo's residence to get the jewelry back, according to an undisclosed government witness.

A second government witness -- a career burglar who knew Mendell -- was so concerned about being wrongly linked to the burglary of Accardo's residence that he arranged to take a polygraph to show he had nothing to do with that offense or the burglary of the jewelry store. He passed the lie detector, and the Outfit "heat" on him ended, the witness told authorities.

Another Calabrese appears prepared to corroborate turncoat Nicholas Calabrese. Frank Calabrese Jr., a son of mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr., will testify about discussions with his father and uncle, Nicholas Calabrese, about a dozen of the gangland slayings, according to the filing.

Thanks to Jeff Coen and Matt O'Connor

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