Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Romantic Fling and Side Deals Led to Spilotro's Murder

Mobster Tony "The Ant" Spilotro was pocketing money he made from side deals behind the mob's back and boasting that some day he would occupy the throne of organized crime in Chicago. Making things worse, Spilotro was having a romantic fling with the wife of a Las Vegas-based mob associate.

"Right then a nail went in the coffin," convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese is heard saying on a tape made secretly — by his own son — and played Tuesday at the trial of Calabrese and four others accused in a conspiracy that included 18 murders, including Spilotro's. "Right then, that was one nail," Calabrese repeats.

Spilotro was known as the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas and inspired the Joe Pesci character in the movie "Casino." He and his brother, Michael, were murdered in June 1986 and buried in an Indiana cornfield.

Calabrese says on the tape that sex with the wife of a mob member violates a code. "That is a no-no, that is a no-no, that is a friend and that's a commandment," he tells his son, who secretly recorded the conversation to help the FBI gather evidence against his father.

In short order, Spilotro and his brother both were murdered — on orders from the big boss of the mob at the time, Joey Aiuppa, Calabrese says. "Joey Aiuppa had a meeting before they all went to jail and he told them he wanted him (Spilotro) knocked down," Calabrese says, then quotes Aiuppa as saying: "I don't care how you do it. Get him. I want him out."

Calabrese, 69, is on trial along with James Marcello, 65; Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, 78; convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70; and retired Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, 62. They are charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included the murders of the Spilotro brothers and 16 others.

Aiuppa was the top boss of the Chicago mob. He died in 1997 at age 89, shortly after his release from prison where he served time for a casino skimming conviction. Lombardo was convicted in the same case.

The tapes that have been played for three days now were made at the Milan, Mich., federal correctional center where Calabrese and his son, Frank Calabrese Jr., were serving time for a loan-sharking conviction.

Unknown to the elder Calabrese, his son was helping the FBI, saying he believed his father would never leave the mob and he wanted to "expose my father for what he is." Jurors also have seen videos made at the prison.

On one tape, Calabrese Sr. also says it was Aiuppa who got Edward Hanley a position with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. Hanley rose to become international president of the union, which represented employees ranging from bartenders to room maids.

Hanley, a one-time member of the AFL-CIO executive board, was repeatedly investigated by federal prosecutors but never charged. But experts often cited the union as an example of mob influence in labor.

On the tape, both Calabreses refer to Hanley — who retired from the union in 1998 and died in a Wisconsin auto accident — as "Uncle Ed" and the father says Aiuppa got him his first union job. "He started him off in the Cicero local," Calabrese Sr. says.

The tapes are a catalog of Chicago mob murders.

Calabrese Jr. interprets some of his father's remarks as confirming that he was on hand, watching from a scout car, when former mob enforcer William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte, were murdered in Lake County July 2, 1980. And likewise for the Sept. 14, 1986, murder of mobster John Fecarotta, allegedly by Calabrese Sr. brother Nicholas Calabrese, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering and is expected to be a prosecution witness.

Calabrese Jr. also testified that his father once drove him past a South Side parking lot and "gave me a nudge."

"I understood there was a dead body there," the son testified.

He apparently referred to the last remains of Michael "Hambone" Albergo, a mob figure whose body has long been sought by the FBI. Agents dug up a parking lot near U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, several years ago but have not said exactly what they found there.

Calabrese Sr. attorney Joseph Lopez said in his opening statement that they found "thousands of bones" but none traceable to Hambone Albergo.

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