Saturday, August 25, 2007

Playing Dumb is Wrong Prescription on Witness Stand

Anthony (Passafiume) Doyle, the hulking former Chicago cop tied to the Chicago Outfit, doesn't look like a guy who takes many beatings.

Known as "Twan" on the street, Doyle looks more like a guy who gives them for free. But he needed a doctor after the beating he took on the witness stand Thursday in the Family Secrets Outfit trial.

After a severe cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk, Doyle looked flat and gray, like the pork chops in the sandwiches at the Maxwell Street Polish stand on 31st Street byda viaduct.

Twan looked like he needed a doctor.

So I drove over after testimony was done, for a pork-chop sandwich, to the doctors office there, to see if Dr. Frank "Toots" Caruso would make a house call and tend to his lifelong friend.

Federal authorities consider Caruso, a former labor leader ousted from his union for crime connections, to be a major street boss in the Outfit. Funk kept referring to him in open court as "The Doctor," which he said was Outfit code, in the tape recordings from the federal prison in Milan, Mich., where Doyle visited Chinatown loan shark Frank Calabrese.

Prosecutors say Calabrese wanted the doctor to make a visit, to tend to sickly friends who might talk to the feds.

Since I was hungry, and Doyle appeared in need of doctorly advice, there was only one place to go. This doctor's office smelled of onions and grilled meat, which is nicer than antiseptics.

Is Dr. Toots here? Where's Dr. Toots?

"Toots no here," said the grill man through the window.

So I left my office number and ordered two pork-chop sandwiches, or sangwiches as they are called, one for me and one for my trusty colleague, the Polish Spartacus.

Light on the onions, I said. "I'll take mine regular," Spartacus said.

We stood outside, eating our tasty sangwiches at the counter on the sidewalk, reflecting on the testimony and anticipating walking across the street for a fine cigar.

Doyle's testimony had been rather predictable. He didn't know nothing. He didn't know why he used code words so easily that he appeared quite fluent in the obscure Chinatown dialect of the Outfit language.

It's not Chinese. It's not classic Italian. It's Chitalian.

On tape, Doyle and Frank Calabrese spoke of "doctors" (Caruso) and "purses" (bloody gloves sought by the FBI) and "sisters" (gangsters) and "sickly sisters" (guys who might testify against the Outfit) and the "family" (you know) and so on.

It sure sounded incriminating, but Doyle had a reason. He testified that he played along with the Calabrese code he called "gibberish" and "mumbo jumbo" because he didn't want to look stupid. So he kept talking, incriminating himself into a federal charge that as a cop in the police evidence section, he warned Outfit bosses that the FBI was looking for a bloody glove that would frighten "sickly sisters." At least, that's his theory.

"I gave him lip service," Doyle said. "I didn't know what he was talking about. I don't wanna look like a chumbolone, an idiot, stupid," Doyle said from the witness stand.

There is a tasty Sicilian Easter cake called ciambellone, but Twan doesn't look like a tasty Easter cake. He looks more like the guy you never want to meet in a parking lot at night.

He was especially upset that prosecutors dropped the portion of the tape on him where he keeps referring to "the doctor." He didn't want to be a chumbolone about "the doctor" either, but that put him in a bind with prosecutor Funk.

"I never heard of a name called 'doctor,'" Doyle said of Caruso. "And I've known him my entire life!"

He denied this, he denied that, and if I hadn't been reading the transcripts and watching the tapes along with the jury, I'd have believed him. Perhaps they do believe him.

Outside the federal building, Hollywood producers were filming another exciting Batman movie -- this one about Batman fighting the Chicago Outfit.

The streets were crowded with extras and trucks, and production crew members told me that the big trucks with the equipment belonged to "Movies in Motion," the company founded by William Galioto, another former Chicago cop and brother-in-law of Jimmy Marcello, one of the other Outfit bosses on trial in Family Secrets.

They must think we're chumbolones. We reflected on this, walking across the street to the cigar shop, hoping to find Dr. Toots enjoying a stogie. We had two fine cigars ourselves, but the Doctor wasn't in.

Three Chicago Police detectives were inside, smoking cigars, resting their paws on their guns on their belts.

How's crime? "It always goes down when it rains," said one detective, and everybody laughed.

The TV was on, with a rerun of a M*A*S*H episode, and Col. Sherman T. Potter was speaking kindly, giving fatherly advice. I wonder if Dr. Toots would give his friend Twan that same medicine.

Thanks to John Kass

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