Monday, June 18, 2007

Appeals Court Orders Chicago Mob Bosses to Stand Trial

Friends of ours: James Marcello, Frank Calabrese Sr., Tony "The Ant" Spilotro

Two alleged Chicago mob bosses must go to trial this week despite their claims that they already have been convicted of the charges in the indictment, an appeals court said Tuesday.

James Marcello and Frank Calabrese Sr. each were convicted of taking part in racketeering conspiracies more than a decade ago but now are charged with an entirely different conspiracy, Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a nine-page majority opinion.

He said the latest conspiracy charges outlined a completely new case even though some of the same criminal acts were part of the indictments when the two reputed mob bosses previously were convicted.

''We have no basis at this early stage for thinking that the government will fail to prove separate conspiracies,'' the appeals court said in the 2-1 ruling. But it said the men could have grounds for appeal if new evidence ''differs only trivially'' from the evidence used to obtain the previous convictions.

Marcello and Calabrese are among a dozen alleged mob bosses and associates set for trial on charges involving 18 long unsolved killings, including that of Tony ''The Ant'' Spilotro, long the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas. Spilotro was the basis for the Joe Pesci character in the movie ''Casino.'' He was found buried with his brother in an Indiana cornfield.

The trial is expected to last four months and stems from a long-term FBI investigation dubbed Operation Family Secrets. It is considered one of the biggest mob trials in Chicago in a number of years.

Marcello and Calabrese have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Marcello and eight other men were charged in a 1992 indictment with conspiring to conduct the affairs of the Carlisi street crew by means of numerous illegal acts including extortion, intimidation, arson, murder plots, loan sharking, tampering and gambling between 1979 and 1990. He was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in federal prison.

Calabrese was charged with six others in a 1995 indictment alleging a similar conspiracy involving the Calabrese street crew. He pleaded guilty in 1997 and was sentenced to almost 10 years in federal prison.

The two men noted that there was considerable overlap between the conspiracies in which they previously were convicted and the new one alleged in the Operation Family Secrets indictment involving the Chicago Outfit. Federal prosecutors argued that the Chicago Outfit was a separate criminal enterprise from either the Carlisi or Calabrese street crew.

While Posner and Judge Diane Sykes agreed that the alleged conspiracy was something new, Judge Diane Wood said in a minority opinion she would have removed the overlapping allegations against the two men from the indictment. But she said she would still make them go to trial on the allegations that don't overlap.

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