Saturday, April 21, 2007

Who Robbed Joe Batters?

Friends of ours: Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo AKA "Joe Batters", James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Ronald Jarrett, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nick Calabrese, Frank Saladino, Tony Spiltro, Rocco Infelice, Joseph Ferriola, Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel, Daniel Bounds, James LaValley, Frank Cullotta
Friends of mine: John Mendell, Michael Spiltro

It's the stuff of Chicago mob lore, cloaked in mystery.

Tony 'Joe Batters' AccardoThieves rob the home of ruthless Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo while he's away.

Then one by one, in brutal retribution, they are rubbed out.

One well-known career burglar, not involved in the Accardo job, got so nervous he'd be killed anyway that he took a lie detector test to prove his innocence and sent it to mob bosses.

Now, the mystery around the burglary in the late 1970s is clearing as the fullest account yet of the crime and the bloody consequences is being offered in a court document made public Thursday.

It's just one of the tales on tap as part of the Family Secrets federal trial, involving the top names in the Chicago Outfit, including reputed mob leaders James "Little Jimmy" Marcello and Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo.

Those alleged mobsters and others have been charged in a case involving 18 unsolved Outfit murders.

The trial won't only be about those murders. It will reveal a secret 40-year history of the Outfit itself.

On the Accardo burglary, ace thief John Mendell was simply out to get back what he had already stolen, according to the document.

Mendell had led a burglary crew that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewelry from Levinson's Jewelry. The only problem was that Accardo was a friend of the owner.

Mendell went into hiding as he learned top mobsters were angry with him and looking for revenge. He hid the loot in the rafters of his business. But it wasn't safe there for long -- another group of burglars broke in and stole the items.

Limoges JewelryMendell wanted his loot back and led his crew to break in to Accardo's home, where the jewelry was stashed in a walk-in vault.

The feds believe this because one of their witnesses -- whose name is blacked out in the court document -- allegedly went on the jewelry store burglary with Mendell but balked at pulling the heist at Accardo's home.

Mendell was lured to his death by a fellow burglar he knew and trusted, Ronald Jarrett, according to the new document. Jarrett worked for reputed hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. Jarrett died in 2000, shot in a mob hit outside his Bridgeport home.

Participating in Mendell's murder were Calabrese Sr., his brother Nick Calabrese, Jarrett and mob hit man Frank Saladino, the court filing alleges. Nick Calabrese is cooperating with the feds and expected to tell jurors in detail how Mendell was killed. He was beaten without mercy, his body punctured by an ice pick. Five other burglars met a similar fate.

The government filing also sheds more light on the slayings of Anthony Spilotro, the mob's man in Las Vegas, and his brother Michael in 1986. The brothers were lured to a Bensenville area home, on the promise of promotions within the mob, but they were beaten to death by several mobsters, authorities say.

In 1986, federal investigators had secretly wired phones at Flash Trucking in Cicero, allegedly the headquarters for years of the Cicero mob, as well as the home phone of Cicero mob boss Rocco Infelise. Investigators heard Infelise, James Marcello and top mob boss Joseph Ferriola exchange calls to set up a meeting with Outfit leader Sam Carlisi at a McDonald's in Oak Brook on June 13. The next day, the Spilotros were slain.

All of the witness names are blacked out in the heavily redacted court document, but the Sun-Times has reported the names of several witnesses, including reputed Outfit hit man and career burglar Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel, failed mob assassin Daniel Bounds, mob leg breaker James LaValley and burglar and mob killer Frank Cullotta, a close associate of Anthony Spilotro.

Cullotta is expected to be a key witness against Lombardo but will likely undergo a vigorous cross by Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin. "From what I've been told, Cullotta, in Sicilian, means mendacious," Halprin said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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