Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Protected Witness, Sal Romano, Testifies at Mob Trial

Sal Romano has been in and out of the Witness Protection Program since the early 1980s, working for a time as an apartment manager. But Romano's real talent was as a lock picker. It was a talent he says he exploited for himself and the Chicago Outfit.

Romano, an admitted burglar, knew his way around the Outfit in Chicago and Las Vegas. His testimony in the mid-1980s helped jail the Hole in the Wall gang that reported to Vegas mob boss Tony Spilotro.

Romano testified that police payoffs helped grease the way for the mob. He said that often, those payments were channeled through attorneys.

Romano said his first exposure to the Outfit was breaking into some laundry machines for mob boss Joseph Ferriola. "He's not the kind of guy you say, 'No, I don't want to talk to you,'" Romano said.

Romano also recounted an alleged botched burglary attempt in Vegas with defendant Paul Schiro. They were looking for $50,000 kept in a closet safe, but when a small dog surprised them and started barking, Romano said he called the job off. When asked later why he didn't just take care of the dog, Romano responded, "I don't do dogs."

It is alleged that Schiro was a mob hit man who could often be volatile. Romano said he was told to be careful with Schiro because he could be a dangerous man.

Other testimony on Monday focused on the gambling machine business run by Mike Marcello, called M & M Amusements. A Cook County Sheriff's lieutenant testified about the raids that saw Marcello and Thomas Johnson arrested in 2003.

Still to take the stand is one of the prosecution's other big witnesses -- the brother of Anthony and Michael Spilotro. A dentist by trade, Pat Spilotro often worked on other mobsters. He also wore a wire for federal investigators, Charlie Wojciechowski reported.

Pat Spilotro is also thought to have helped the feds track down Joey "The Clown" Lombardo when he was on the run in 2005. Lombardo reportedly went to Pat Spilatro for secret dental work.

Pat Spilotro was also the dentist for Nick Calabrese, the mob hit man involved in Spilotro's brother's murder, Charlie Wojciechowski reported. Pat Spilotro is expected to take the stand on Tuesday.

Thanks to Charlie Wojciechowski

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