Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Prosectors Begin Closing Argument in Family Secrets Mob Trial

To acquit the men on trial in the "Family Secrets" mob case, prosecutor Markus Funk told the jury Monday, jurors have to believe that three of the defendants caught on tape talking about their crimes were simply unlucky enough to be recorded while they were "play acting."

"The evidence tells you that these men are guilty," said Funk, referring to defendants Frank Calabrese Sr. of Oak Brook, Joseph Lombardo of Chicago, Michael Marcello of Lombard, Paul Schiro of Phoenix and Anthony Doyle of Wickenburg, Ariz.

It would be enough, Funk said, to convict the men on racketeering charges if they simply knew of mob activities and helped plan them. But each defendant, Funk alleged, personally committed the crimes as well.

For four of them, that means murder. And with that, Funk began to recite the circumstances of each of the 18 murders alleged in the case.

One of those was the 1974 killing of Daniel Seifert in Bensenville. He was gunned down at his factory after signing up to testify against Lombardo for stealing from Teamster funds.

Lombardo testified he didn't know Seifert was going to testify against him, but Funk noted that as part of the case, Lombardo would have had papers delivered to him notifying him of Seifert's testimony. Seifert was killed and the government dropped the case because their key witness was dead.

"So it (the murder) paid off, in a perverse way, for Mr. Lombardo," Funk said.

In that case, the evidence against Lombardo includes two store clerks testifying it was Lombardo who bought the police scanner recovered from a car used in Seifert's murder. Seifert's brother also testified that Lombardo, a few weeks before the killing, called him and warned him to "straighten out" Danny.

"What additional proof could one want?" asked Funk. "How 'bout a fingerprint?"

Lombardo's fingerprint was found on the title application for the car used in the murder, he said.

He also took time to debunk Lombardo's alibi, that he was filling out a police report on a stolen wallet that day. He noted that when Lombardo was asked immediately after the killing where he had been, he never mentioned the stolen wallet or police report. And the report, noted Funk, was taken at a police station where another mobster reported cops were being paid off by the mob.

Funk also hammered home the case against Frank Calabrese Sr. in the 1970 murder of Michael Albergo, a juice loan collector and partner to Calabrese. Authorities were issuing subpoenas in the juice loan business at that time, and Albergo had received one, Funk said. "Albergo said, 'I'm not going to jail by myself.' That's a mistake to say something like that to these men," Funk said.

Nick Calabrese, the brother of Frank Calabrese Sr., testified that he, Calabrese Sr., and Ronald Jarrett picked up Albergo near Sox Park and Frank Calabrese Sr. strangled him. "He (Calabrese Sr.) cut Mr. Albergo's throat as well, just to make sure," Funk said.

Nick Calabrese said the body was buried at a warehouse on the 3300 block of South Shields in Chicago. At the time, it was under construction. Now, it's a parking lot for U.S. Cellular Field.

That, Funk said, explains why the body was never recovered. The building was razed and the earth on the spot -- about 5 feet deep -- was hauled away, Funk said. "Mr. Albergo's remains were removed over 20 years ago in the back of a pickup truck somewhere," Funk said.

Then he predicted, "I suspect you're going to hear (from defense attorneys) that Nick Calabrese invented all of this."

But besides Nick Calabrese's testimony, Funk told jurors, are tape recordings of Frank Calabrese Sr. and his son, Frank Calabrese Jr., who cooperated with prosecutors. In the recording, Calabrese Sr. discusses with Calabrese Jr. what Nick Calabrese could testify to, and he apparently talks about multiple murders, describing some in gruesome detail, including the shotgun slaying of Richard Ortiz and Arthur Morawski in Cicero. Ortiz, Calabrese tells his son, was the target and Morawski just happened to be there.

"The Polish guy (Morawski) that was there happened to be a nice guy," said Calabrese Sr. on the recording. "Wrong place at the wrong time."

Calabrese Sr. said that to call off a hit because an innocent person was in the way couldn't be done because other Outfit leaders might think you were weak for "freezing."

Funk encouraged jurors not to simply believe or disbelieve the testimony of Nick Calabrese, who he conceded was a "cold-blooded" killer. But additional forensic evidence, he said, corroborates Nick Calabrese's testimony and makes it believable, which means jurors should convict, Funk said.

"Who gives them the right to take the lives of other human beings?" asked Funk. "How is it that they can just walk into a business and demand money? "Because they know how to instill fear in other human beings," said Funk, answering his own question. "Kill another human being if he gets in your way."

Funk will continue his closing argument Tuesday and defense attorneys will then respond, after which prosecutors will get another chance to speak. Closing arguments are expected to continue through Thursday.

Thanks to Rob Olmstead

Store.HBO.com

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