Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mob Trial Jurors Decide to Join Judge on Vacation

Jurors at the racketeering conspiracy trial of five alleged Chicago mobsters broke off deliberations after two days Thursday and the judge said they would not return to finish their work for a week.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, who is presiding over Chicago's biggest mob trial in years, issued a brief written statement through the court clerk's office Thursday afternoon saying the deliberations had ended for the day and would resume again at 9 a.m. next Thursday.

The jury has already convicted the defendants of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that involved illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 long unsolved mob murders.

You Decide 125x125For the last two days, the jurors have been deciding whether to hold four of the defendants responsible for specific murders listed in the indictment -- something that would boost their maximum sentences for the racketeering conspiracy conviction to life in prison.

In his statement, Zagel did not explain the unusual move of sending the jurors home for a week after they had already started deliberations. He was not at the courthouse on Thursday -- the first day of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana. Chief Judge James F. Holderman declined to comment and referred a reporter to Zagel's two-sentence written statement.

Those convicted at the 10-week trial were James Marcello, 65; Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78; Frank Calabrese Sr., 70; Paul Schiro, 70, and Anthony Doyle, 62.

All but Doyle are accused in the racketeering conspiracy indictment of responsibility for specific murders -- Calabrese for 13, Marcello for three and Lombardo and Schiro for one each. But they are not charged with murder.

If the jury finds any or all of them responsible for specific murders as charged in the indictment the maximum sentence on the racketeering conspiracy charge will be boosted to life in federal prison.

Otherwise, the maximum for racketeering conspiracy alone is 20 years.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

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