Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Clown's Hideout

Friends of ours: Joey "the Clown" Lombardo
Friends of mine: Dominic Calarco

Dominic Calarco said he went to his social club seven days a week to cook for its members, but that routine was broken by a knock on his door in January 2006.

He thought he knew the bearded man standing in front of him. But he wasn't sure until he heard the man speak, he told jurors Monday at the Family Secrets mob-conspiracy trial. The man asking for shelter at Calarco's Elmwood Park home was Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, an alleged leader of the Chicago Outfit who was on the run from federal authorities.

"He said, 'I got no place to go, can I stay with you for a couple of weeks?'" Calarco said.

Lombardo sat in the back of a row of defense tables at the trial Monday, and he didn't have any noticeable reaction to hearing about his last days of freedom. He tilted his head as he listened to Calarco, looking ahead through his tinted eyeglasses.

The two were once neighbors said Calarco, 85, and they had known each other for more than 70 years. He said he invited Lombardo in, and he said that although the case against Lombardo was "none of my business," he soon began to urge his fugitive friend to turn himself in.

There were nights Lombardo cried because he missed his family, and he appeared to be in poor health, Calarco said. They wouldn't have had far to go to find an officer, he added.

"I said all we've got to do is walk across the street," Calarco said, referring to his home being within a block of the Elmwood Park police headquarters. "He said he had a few more things to do," Calarco said.

Among them was a visit to dentist Patrick Spilotro, the brother of Anthony and Michael Spilotro, for some dental work. The deaths of Anthony and Michael Spilotro are among the 18 mob-related slayings in the case.

Star government witness Nicholas Calabrese has also testified about seeing Spilotro for dental care. Spilotro is expected to testify Tuesday.

Lombardo was arrested in Elmwood Park soon after the visit with Patrick Spilotro, nine months after he was indicted along with the other defendants in the Family Secrets case.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

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