Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Judge Profoundly Unimpressed with Retired Cop at Mob Trial

The judge who presided over Chicago's biggest mob trial in years expressed doubts today about setting bail for a retired police officer convicted in the case, saying his testimony was unbelievable.

Defendant Anthony Doyle's testimony on the witness stand was so hard to believe it brought his sound judgment into question, U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said. "What he was saying was profoundly unimpressive," Zagel said.

He said Doyle might flee to avoid prison if he was released, mistakenly assuming his daughter and several former police officers would not forfeit the homes they have offered as security for any bond. But Zagel agreed to take the bail request under consideration.

Doyle claims his sick wife needs him to be with her. The decorated former police officer appeared in court today in the bright orange jumpsuit of a federal prisoner for the first time as his attorney, Ralph E. Meczyk, pleaded with the judge to free him on bond.

Doyle, 62, was among five defendants convicted Monday of a racketeering conspiracy involving illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 long-unsolved mob murders.

He was the only defendant not accused of involvement in a murder and the only one free on bond; the others have been in federal custody for more than a year. Doyle was taken into custody only after the jury's verdict was announced.

A major part of the prosecution's case were tapes secretly made by the FBI at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., where Doyle visited Frank Calabrese Sr., a convicted loan shark who also was found guilty Monday. On the tapes, Calabrese allegedly discussed mob business.

Prosecutors maintain the tall, broad-shouldered Doyle was a loan collector for Calabrese while also working as a Chicago police officer.

Doyle testified he went to the prison not to discuss business but merely to visit a friend. He said he didn't understand much of what Calabrese was telling him and considered it "mind-boggling gibberish."

No date has been set for sentencing. A jury was deliberating Wednesday whether the four other defendants should be held responsible for specific murders outlined in the indictment, which would qualify them for life sentences.

Racketeering conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, although prosecutors estimated that the recommended sentence for Doyle under federal sentencing guidelines would be 12 to 15 years.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

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