Monday, September 10, 2007

GUILTY for All 5 Family Secrets Mob Defendants

In a verdict announced this afternoon, a federal jury in Chicago convicted four reputed Outfit figures and a former Chicago police officer on all counts in the landmark Family Secrets mob conspiracy case.

Convicted on the most serious charge--racketeering conspiracy--were:

  • James Marcello, 65, identified by authorities as Chicago's top mob boss two years ago when the indictment was handed down.
  • Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, 78, a legendary reputed mob figure for decades who was convicted in the 1980s of bribing a U.S. senator.
  • Frank Calabrese Sr., 70, whose brother and son provided crucial testimony for the prosecution.
  • Paul "the Indian" Schiro, 69, the reputed Outfit member from Phoenix who is already serving a prison sentence for his role in a mob-connected jewelry theft ring.
  • Anthony "Twan" Doyle, 62, the former Chicago cop accused of passing on confidential information about the federal probe to a mob friend.

Marcello also was convicted of conducting an illegal video gambling business, bribing Calabrese's brother in hopes of discouraging him from cooperating with authorities and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

Calabrese also was convicted of running a sports bookmaking operation and extorting "street taxes" from the Connie's Pizza restaurant chain.

Lombardo also was convicted of obstructing justice by fleeing from authorities after his indictment in the case. The jury deliberated four days last week and an hour this morning before reaching its verdict.

The riveting trial, which played out over 10 weeks this summer before overflow crowds in the largest courtroom in Chicago's federal courthouse, marks the most significant prosecution of the Chicago mob in decades.

According to the racketeering conspiracy charge, the defendants extorted protection payoffs from businesses, made high-interest "juice" loans and protected its interests through violence and murder.

The heart of the charges involved 18 gangland slayings dating back decades. Among them was the infamous 1986 murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro, whose bodies were found buried in an Indiana cornfield.

The prosecution case hinged on the testimony of Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, one of the highest-ranking mob turncoats in Chicago history who linked his brother to many of the murders. Calabrese's son, Frank Jr., also secretly tape-recorded conversations with his imprisoned father. The unprecedented cooperation by relatives of a target prompted federal authorities to code-name the probe Operation Family Secrets.

Even with the guilty verdicts, the jury's duties are not yet concluded. After hearing another round of argument by lawyers and prosecutors that could take part of a day, jurors will have to decide if any of the reputed Outfit figures are guilty of any of the 18 murders. If found guilty in this second round, the defendants could face sentences of life in prison.

Frank Calabrese Sr. has been accused of taking part in 13 murders, Marcello three and Lombardo and Schiro one each. Doyle was not charged with a murder.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

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