Saturday, July 28, 2007

Co-op Exec Said to Have Paid Mob to Avoid Union Trouble

Friends of ours: Tony Accardo, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nick Calabrese, Michael Spano, Rocky Infelice
Friends of mine: Michael Cagnoni

The head of a cooperative association specializing in shipping fruits and vegetables was also delivering a briefcase stuffed with cash to mob figures before his murder, a witness testified Thursday.

"Yes, I believe that was one of the gentlemen," security expert Fred Pavlich told the trial of five alleged mob members after studying an FBI surveillance photo of the late Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo.

Pavlich said he resigned as head of security for the shipping cooperative that Michael Cagnoni headed only weeks before a powerful bomb erupted under the driver's seat of Cagnoni's Mercedes on June 24, 1981. Pavlich said the night before he resigned, he got a threatening phone call that didn't mention Cagnoni by name but still persuaded him that it would be prudent to give up his post as the association's security director.

Federal prosecutors say convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr. was responsible for the Cagnoni murder. Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, the government's star witness, described how a bomb was planted and detonated by an automatic radio-controlled device. An eyewitness, who was at one time a U.S. Marines explosives expert, testified Wednesday that the blast sent huge hunks of metal flying through the air, produced a giant cloud of smoke and tore Cagnoni's body in half.

Calabrese, 69, is among five men charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included extortion of "street tax" from businesses as well as illegal gambling, loan sharking and 18 murders.

Pavlich testified Cagnoni was a brilliant shipping executive who figured out a way of setting up a cooperative association consisting of Chicago and New York grocers and California produce growers. He said thousands of trucks were going back and forth between Chicago and the West Coast every week aboard railroad cars with the association's shipments.

On arriving in the Chicago area, some trucks went to local grocers while others went on to New York to supply produce to supermarkets there. But every week Cagnoni also carried a briefcase stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash to Flash Trucking, a suburban Cicero company that made most of his Chicago-area deliveries, Pavlich testified.

Flash was owned by brothers, Michael and Paul Spano. Michael Spano is serving a 12-year prison sentence for his 2002 conviction for helping former Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese swindle the suburb -- long plagued by mob influence -- out of millions of dollars in insurance money.

Prosecutors say that when longtime Cicero mob boss Rocky Infelice was sent to prison in the early 1990s he dubbed Michael Spano his successor.

Pavlich said sometimes money was delivered to a meeting in a Rosemont hotel that Cagnoni and a number of other men attended.

"I of course kept my distance and went downstairs as I was told to do," Pavlich said. But he identified an FBI surveillance photograph of Accardo, who for decades was one of the most powerful mob bosses in the country, as that of one of the men on hand for at least one meeting. "I believe Rocky was there every time I was there," the former security director said, speaking of Infelice.

Calabrese attorney Joseph Lopez asked Pavlich whether he made the payments to avoid union problems. Pavlich said that as he understood it, that was one of the reasons.

Undertaker Testifies at Mob Trial

Friends of ours: William "Butchie" Petrocelli

As both a gun dealer and an undertaker, Ernie Severino was able to serve the Chicago mob in many ways. Now he's helping the feds.

The 60-year-old Severino testified in the Family Secrets trial of five alleged mobsters. They're accused of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 murders. One of the murder victims was Butchie Petrocelli, the leader of the so-called "Wild Bunch."

Severino testified yesterday that back in 1980, he supplied Petrocelli with 100 guns. When other mobsters pressed Severino to hand over some items he'd been keeping for Petrocelli, Severino balked, fearing Petrocelli would come back and get him. On the stand yesterday, Severino said they answered: "He's not coming back." Petrocelli turned up dead.

Friday, July 27, 2007

America's Most Wanted on The Chicago Syndicate

America's Most Wanted on The Chicago Syndicate
Rebekah Johnson: In 2006, John Walsh named Rebekah Johnson one of the year’s most wanted fugitives. And last month, police finally picked her up. But despite cops finding an AK-47 and nearly 1000 rounds of ammo in her apartment, Johnson entered a not guilty plea to a New York judge a few weeks ago.

Jean-Marie Jean-Francois: To many of those who knew him, Jean-Marie Jean-Francois was a friendly, church going man. But cops say he had a dark side. According to them, Jean-Francois practiced voodoo and abused his long-time girlfriend, Fritz-Anna. Finally, a restraining order was filed against him, and that’s when police say he exploded—killing Fritz-Anna, and hitting the road.

Cornell & Story Killers: 17 years ago, Robin Cornell and Lisa Story were killed in Cape Coral , Fla. Now, police say all their leads have dried up and they need your help this week in re-opening this cold case.

Guillermo Ramirez: When Amber Fish wrote a letter to America ’s Most Wanted about the rape she suffered at the hands of Guillermo Ramirez, we were touched. In 1992, Ramirez was arrested, but cops say he got out on bond and made a break for it. Now, 15 years later, Amber is still looking for justice. Police say if Ramirez has left the U.S. east coast, then he’s probably in the Philippines . This week, you can help us finally put an end to his run.

Igor Koumlikov: Cops say rumors were swirling around Detroit that somebody killed Jan Jasinski and buried her in her own backyard. Now that police have found the body, they’ve narrowed their list of suspects down to one man—a man by the name of Igor Koumlikov. Koumlikov has been on the run for seven years, and by now could’ve made it out of the U.S. On AMW.COM, we not only have photos of Koumlikov but also of the hole where cops say Jan’s body was found.

Adamson Killer: The Colombia River Gorge that divides Oregon and Washington is a picturesque destination for many sightseers. But last September, the area became a grisly crime scene. Dismembered body, including the victim’s hand, began washing ashore. Police were able to identify the John Doe as Douglas Adamson. Now it’s our job to figure out who killed him, and why.

Goodfella, Henry Hill, Says NBA Ref Donaghy Just the Tip of Scandal

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Family, Jimmy "The Gent" Burke, Paul Vario
Friends of mine: Henry Hill

Tim Donaghy was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He was an All-American kid who played baseball and basketball in high school and then attended Villanova University. Following college Donaghy eventually would reach the pinnacle of his chosen profession -- a referee in the National Basketball Association.

Henry Hill grew up in the hardscrabble streets of East New York in Brooklyn. He was hardly a student, spending most of his days hanging out with the gangsters who held court across the street from his parents' home. Hill and his colleagues would would go on to commit some of the most notable crimes of the past 30 years.
Tim Donaghy

Once you cross the line like Tim Donaghy, you're just another criminal.

You can't avoid the name Tim Donaghy these days.

If you don't know who Henry Hill is, then stop what you're doing and go and rent "Goodfellas." It's the 1990 Martin Scorsese film based on Hill's life as a soldier in the Lucchese crime family in New York City.

If you've seen the movie, you know about the Lufthansa heist (where Hill's crew stole $5.8 million from a vault at JFK Airport), the cocaine dealing (this was the genesis of Hill's downfall, courtesy of the Nassau County narcotics task force), the violence, the murders … all of it. Sure, that all led to Hill's ending up in the FBI's witness protection program, but there's one story "Goodfellas" didn't tell you and it's this story that brings Hill together with Donaghy more than David Stern would ever like to think about.

Henry Hill was the mastermind behind the the Boston College point shaving scandal in the 1978-79 season. And Hill believes this latest scandal could be a lot bigger than just Donaghy.

"There's still a million ways to do it today," says Hill. "That's why [Donaghy] didn't get caught for so long." Plus, Hill adds, "the government works in strange ways. They'll let you go and go and go until they have a huge case against you, right when you think you won't get caught the feds reel you in and you're hanging from their fishing poles. Now, with this whole NBA thing? Forget it. Now that everyone is talking they have computer records, they have everything. It's going to get a whole lot bigger than this … you wait for the trial. This is going to be the tip of the iceberg. This guy Donaghy is in a lot of freakin' trouble."

Hill always was looking to make his next score. He was a good earner for Jimmy "The Gent" Burke (Jimmy Conway in the movie, played by Robert De Niro) and Paul Vario (Paul Cicero in the movie, played by Paul Sorvino) and when he had an idea about a scam or a robbery, it usually worked out. So when Hill approached them with his latest idea, everyone jumped at the chance to make a few bucks. The idea: Get a couple guys on the Boston College basketball team to shave points off the spread so Hill and his friends could lay bets all over town and clean up.

Why Boston College? For one reason -- Hill had an "in."

Back in 1978 one of Hill's associates was Paul Mazzei, a former inmate with Hill from Pittsburgh who helped set up a lucrative cocaine business after the two got out of prison. With this new powerful connection to one of the major organized crime families, Mazzei always was bragging to his friends back home.

"Paul would talk a big game to his friends about his organized crime connections, and how they could make the [B.C.] thing happen," says Ed McDonald, who at the time was the attorney in charge of the Organized Crime Strike Force in NYC. "One of Mazzei's friends from Pittsburgh was a guy named Tony Perla, who was a librarian at a junior high school. I know, you can't make this stuff up. His brother, Rocco, grew up with a guy named Rick Kuhn who at the time was on the B.C. basketball team."

One summer when Kuhn was back in Pittsburgh, Rocco asked his friend if he was interested, it went up the chain to Mazzei and then to Hill and his crew in New York and the fix was on.

Kuhn wasn't some 18-year-old babe in the woods who just got caught up with the wrong people. He had been a pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization before he blew his arm out, so he arrived on the B.C. campus as a 23-year-old with a few years of pro ball under his belt.

"I'll tell you, because Kuhn was older, he knew what was going on, he was definitely calling the shots," says Hill. "He brought in the captain of the team and the leading scorer because he had to -- he tried to shave points and he messed up a couple games. We are all losing money until those other guys came on board."

Today Henry Hill has turned in his titles of point shaver, witness and gangster for more benevolent ones. Hill sells his art on eBay, he's opening a restaurant in New Haven, Ct., called Henry Hill's Goodfellas and his tomato sauce, Henry Hill's Sunday Gravy, will be for sale at stores and on the Internet in August. "I'm surviving. I'm doing better than surviving, I'm existing," says Hill. "I have a bunch of irons in the fire and I shouldn't even be here."

Out of the nine games they attempted to fix, Hill and his associates won bets on only six. "That's right," adds McDonald. "I used to call them 'The Gang That Could Shoot Straight.' If it were left to Kuhn, they wouldn't have made a dime."

Kuhn, the team's starting center, soon recruited two other starters. Payment to the players was set at $2,500 to $3,500 per player, per game. At times, cocaine was used as payment for Kuhn, and he wasn't even good at that. "We found out that one time, when B.C. was on their way to a tournament in Hawaii, Kuhn lost a whole thing of coke in the airplane bathroom," says McDonald. All three players were on board and everyone was "winning." Hill adds, "It was great, there was a lot of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll … and missed shots."

Goodfella, Henry Hill, doesn't think NBA Ref Tim Donaghy is the only one out there, just the only one to get caught.The questions swirling around Donaghy now include whether he made certain calls that affected games or point spreads and whether anyone should have noticed. "It's harder than you think if you're not looking for it," says Hill. "At B.C. we had three guys cooperating with us and even the coach didn't notice. Well, there was a little suspicion, but we made it through the season OK. We didn't think anything of it. I know I didn't."

As far as money, even though it's 2007, the Gambino crime family isn't making Donaghy fill out a W-2 -- organized crime is still a cash business.

"Here's how he probably did it," says Hill. "You get a nephew or a cousin or someone you trust. You meet them in a restaurant somewhere and you have them hand you the envelope. And it's cash. Always cash. Nothing on the Internet or with a bank. That stuff is too traceable. If it's more than that we get word to you to leave your keys on your tire, when you come back there's a bag of money in your trunk. Like I said, there's a million ways to do it."

But how did Henry Hill get caught? He didn't. He gave himself up.

After the Lufthansa heist in 1978, Jimmy Burke started eliminating everyone involved to avoid any possibility that someone would turn an informant -- and send him to jail for the rest of his life.

"Everyone in town knew who did it, they just couldn't prove it," says Hill. "First the feds would come to my house with B.S. warrants, then they started coming with pictures of the bodies. Everyone got whacked here. Eleven guys including two guys' wives got it. I started to see the writing on the wall, but wasn't sure until I heard the tape."

It was the tape that would end Hill's career in the mafia and begin a series of trials as a government witness. A record Hill is proud of: "Hey, we went 11 for 11. All convictions."

On that tape Hill heard Jimmy Burke talking to Paul Vario. "I hear Jimmy talking about me," says Hill. "Jimmy says 'we gotta whack him.' I couldn't believe it. That floored me. I thought I was immune to all that because of how tight I was with those two guys. In the end it didn't matter."

Almost immediately, Hill entered the witness protection program.

Hill explains that one part of the program includes signing a contract that basically states "you get caught in one lie, the whole deal was off. But I could confess to anything. I didn't commit any murders, but I was present many times when murder was committed. So when you sign that, you have to change your whole way of thinking. My life was on the line, my family's life was on the line.… They had everything I had done, even my terrible record as a kid. So, you have one choice: Be absolutely truthful."

During his debriefing, the FBI would ask Hill all sorts of questions based on the information they had -- phone records, surveillance, airplane receipts.

"They start coming at me with all these records. 'Henry, why were you talking to Jimmy right here? Why did you keep flying to Boston?' Compared to the other stuff I was doing, I didn't even think it was a crime. What was I doing in Boston? I was shaving points!"

Listening to this was McDonald, Hill's sponsor in the witness protection program.

"Man, when I told him about B.C., Ed McDonald went postal, he went ballistic," says Hill. "He couldn't believe what I was telling him."

McDonald admits they had no clue about the point shaving. "No, we wouldn't have even known about it," says McDonald. "That was totally out of the blue." Adding to McDonald's reaction was that he was a graduate of Boston College and even played on the freshman basketball team. Hill's testimony regarding the B.C. point shaving scandal resulted in multiple convictions, including Kuhn, Mazzei and Perla.

That closed the book on one of the biggest scandals sports has ever known. But what about Tim Donaghy and his partners?

Hearing reports that it wasn't until after a few days that Donaghy's name was made public that he requested police protection, Hills says, "That's a joke he doesn't have protection. He's probably under wraps with the feds. I bet he's going into the witness protection program."

Hill thinks Donaghy will "probably get 10 years and they'll make him go to Gamblers Anonymous. Then they'll suspend the sentence probably. Hey, the guy has a disease, he's a degenerate gambler and he's a fool for what he did. Still, he'll try to cut the right deal and get immunity if he can for everything." But there's still the question of how Donaghy and his partners got caught.

Hill thinks it's because everyone got greedy. It would make sense not to go overboard and fix too many games … and of course never talk. You don't know who's listening.

"Sense isn't part of it, once [organized crime] got their hands on him, they were never going to let him go," says Hill. "They owned him and they were calling the shots, no question. They're too greedy because they're betting money everywhere now: the Internet, Vegas, every bookie they can find, and everyone wanted a piece. It can get out of hand real fast."

According to Hill, everyone from himself to Donaghy is subject to the failings of the human condition -- that's why you'll never see him bet on sports again.

"Maybe I'll make a pinky bet for 10 bucks with a guy if we're watching a game, but that's it," says Hill. "All these people are humans -- they're greedy, they use steroids, maybe they have a coke habit. Who knows? Look at the bike guys in the Tour. It's everywhere. There's too much money involved. And the guys that are helping them? Players, officials, whatever -- they know they're only in the game for a few years and that's if they stay healthy. They all want to put something in the cookie jar. They buy all sorts of stuff with cash only. Cars and art, all that B.S. Hey, art goes up in value. I know. That's my main source of income, my art. You can find it on eBay, by the way."

Hill doesn't think Donaghy is the only one out there, just the only one to get caught. "I'm pretty sure there are guys all over on the take," says Hill. "They're going to get these guys good, because like always, they're after the Gambinos. And I'll tell you, I wouldn't be surprised to see some players involved."

Of course, like Hill said, this is nothing new. "Back in the '70s I had a joint on Queens Boulevard right between Aquaduct and Belmont. Every jockey in town came in and bet there." Other athletes had places as well. "There were athletes and bookies everywhere back then."

Hill would run into a few of them -- they were hard to miss. "Joe Namath used to fool around with my girlfriend's roommate back then," says Hill. "I used to see Joe over at the apartment every couple days. Before he left for Super Bowl III though, he told me to 'bet the f------ farm' on the Jets. I went down there and took the money line. Man, did I clean up."

Hill didn't just run into athletes in his line of work. "I used to have a guy that reffed games in the Garden in the '70s," says Hill. "I don't want to use his name, but he was a degenerate gambler. He'd come to Belmont or Saratoga and tell one of us 'I want $4,000 on the seven horse' or whatever. And we'd send someone in front of him to make his bet. That guy would leave the tickets on the table and the ref comes up and bets a couple bucks on something else, then, when he walks away, he palms the ticket for the $4K bet. I mean, what the hell is a ref doing betting $4,000 on a race?"

As Hill learned, it all comes to an end. Money, friends, easy living … it all disappears.

"My father was strict as they come," says Hill. "He realized who I was involved with when I was a kid and he would say 'stay away from those bums across the street.' Well, I didn't listen. As my mom used to say, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, I got blinded by that life. I thought it was the good life. Good living, Cadillacs and diamond rings. In reality, it's just jails, institutions or death."

Welcome to the rest of your life, Mr. Donaghy.

Thanks to Mike Philbrick

News Reporters on Mob Payroll?

I am always amazed at how the media covers mob trials.

There are so many expert commentators. They all report on the mob like they have been covering them for years.

Actually, some reporters have been covering for them for years. One reporter was on the payroll of a mobster for years. Every reporter knew but no one said his name, because the mobster was an alderman and committeeman.

No. I’m not talking about Fred Roti, the kindly alderman of the First Ward who was the City Hall representative for the Mob’s political enforcer, John D’Arco Sr.

When I first arrived at City Hall in 1976, as a freelance writer doing my first interview with the first Mayor Daley, “da Boss,” to the time I left in 1992, it was obvious that many reporters knew a lot more about the Chicago mob than they let on.

The only time we write about them is when one of them decides to squeal, or is brought before a court. And then the reporters, hypocritically, pontificate about the ills of the Chicago Outfit, the Mafia, la Cosa Nostra.

Hypocrites because all of the reporters, including me, knew which ones were the mobsters and which ones weren’t. We knew which powerful aldermen and committeemen were the lackeys of the Chicago mob, and who were their attorneys, too. Yet, we never exposed them. These mobsters walked into the Chicago City Hall Press Room all the time. They attended meetings of the Chicago Democratic Organization, all the time.

They buddied up to even the Republicans out in DuPage County and stood next to Cook County State’s Attorneys.

When I left newspapering for a brief sabbatical into the dark and seamy world of Chicago politics as a consultant, some of my clients were, in fact, mobsters. The most notorious were those in the Town of Cicero.

I was always amazed at how reporters called Betty Loren-Maltese asking for favors on one hand, and, maybe not getting them, sat back while their newspapers pummeled her in their coverage on the other.

I’m not defending the incarcerated mob heiress and vicious Town President who relished in destroying lives and careers and lying. She deserves her prison sentence and far more. But let’s not pretend that the news media in Chicago isn’t cozy with the mob or that just Mayor Richard M. Daley is afraid to talk about the topic.

The mobsters have been crawling around Chicago City Hall, and Democratic and Republican politics in Illinois, for generations and we only address it when it becomes the headline and can’t avoid writing about it.

I won’t spill any beans. Why should I be any different? The Chicago news media doesn’t care and I doubt that most Chicagoans really care either.

We know they are there. We voters elect them to office. And we elect their political pals, cronies, lackeys and funders to government office, too.

So, as we listen to the sordid and grisly tales offered by Nicholas Calabrese in the highly touted “Family Secrets” mob trial now taking place and filling our front page headlines and columns and the TV reports of overly tanned and hyped up TV reporters, remember, the mob is there because we all allow them to be there.

I wonder if Chicago politics depends on them being there.

Thanks to Ray Hanania

Mafia Barber Avoids Jail

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family

It was a close shave yesterday for an East Harlem barber who nearly went to prison for lying to the FBI about his Mafia clientele.

Instead, a federal judge sentenced Claudio Caponigro to a year's probation for playing dumb when FBI agents asked him to identify photos of some of his mobster pals

"Your honor, I'm sorry to hurt anybody," Caponigro, 76, told Manhattan Judge Lewis Kaplan.

The Italian immigrant will go back to doing what he has done for more than 56 years - cutting hair in his tiny shop on E. 116th St.

Caponigro's lawyer, Michael Washor, said his client is "embarrassed and shamed" but has no plans to retire. "This is a man who has devoted his life to his family, to his neighborhood and, believe it or not, to his profession," Washor added.

Caponigro was indicted last year along with 45 others in a vast racketeering conspiracy that included charges that the acting boss of the Genovese crime family signed off on a hit from prison.

FBI agents visited Caponigro's shop in November 2004 and asked him if he could identify several Genovese crime family members. Later, he was caught on tape telling mob-lawyer-turned-informant Peter Peluso, "They ask me a couple of questions. I don't answer not one question. I says, 'I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just a barber.'"

Caponigro was sentenced with several other septuagenarian mobsters accused in the same case.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

The Mob Will Extort Street Taxes from Anyone

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr., Fred Roti, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Jackie "The Lacky" Cerone

I could just kick myself for missing Monday's installment of the Family Secrets mob trial playing out at the federal building here in Chicago. There's so much that doesn't make the headlines that is every bit as spellbinding as the stuff that does.

No, I'm not talking about who got whacked in 18 old, cold, brutal unsolved mob hits. Or even referring to the riveting testimony of Nicholas Calabrese, the mob hit man and betraying brother of defendant Frank Calabrese Sr., whose deadpan delivery and downcast eyes mesmerized the jury for five days.

What I'm talking about are those little snippets and small moments when the intersection of the Chicago Outfit and this city's powerbrokers and businessmen comes into startling focus.

The high drama of the day dealt with the cross-examination of Calabrese by defense attorneys who sought to undercut his credibility and shore up the fortunes of the five defendants whose prospects of dying outside prison are looking rather dim. But what happened at the end of the day wasn't even mentioned in the Tribune account and only briefly in the Sun-Times, the last paragraphs of which read:

"CHICAGO BUSINESSMAN VICTOR CACCIATORE TESTIFIED HE WAS A VICTIM OF OUTFIT EXTORTION AND . . . PAID $200,000 IN THE EARLY 1980s TO THE PEOPLE EXTORTING HIM AND THREATENING HIS FAMILY."

Victor Cacciatore? The Chicago attorney and real estate developer? Chairman of Lakeside Bank? Member of convicted ex-Gov. George Ryan's transition team? One of the partners of now-indicted Antoin "Tony" Rezko's defunct 62-acre riverfront parcel in the South Loop? Holder of loads of government contracts and political contributor of at least $385,000 since 1995?

Yes, that Victor Cacciatore.

When he took the stand this week at the request of federal prosecutors, it was to buttress what Nick Calabrese had been saying about the Chicago mob. That they will muscle, extort, threaten or kill anybody if they think they can get away with it.

Thank goodness for Sun-Times reporter Steve Warmbir's blog that delved into this small but fascinating aspect of the trial.

Warmbir reports that Cacciatore testified he was being extorted by the mob in the 1980s, though "his memory was fuzzy."

In the 1980s, Cacciatore told the court, somebody put the head of a dog on his son's car and shot out his back windshield. Cacciatore called the cops. Oddly, he refused to tell police at the time who exactly it was who was extorting him to the tune of $5 million. Instead, Cacciatore went to 1st Ward Ald. Fred Roti, someone who had sent a lot of business Cacciatore's way. The extortion demand dropped to a mere $200,000.

Roti, you may recall, went to federal prison in the 1990s on corruption charges. It was revealed that he was a made member of the Chicago mob.

Cacciatore told the court this week that he had some familiarity with mob figures and had lived next door in River Forest to Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, the onetime head of the Outfit. When shown the so-called Last Supper photo of Accardo, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Jackie "The Lacky" Cerone and others, Cacciatore was able identify a number of them. But on the stand, he still could not identify those extorting him nor did he recall telling investigators years ago that by naming names he'd be signing his own death warrant.

Cacciatore, a civic-minded philanthropist not accused of anything, didn't return my calls Tuesday. But, like the trial itself, he leaves us wanting to know much more.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Son of Mob Hit Man Takes Witness Stand

Friends of ours: Ronnie Jarrett, Nicholas Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nicholas Ferriola Johnny "Apes" Monteleone, Angelo LaPietra, Jimmy LaPietra, Nicholas D'Andrea, Al Pilotto, James Marcello, Sam Guzzino

Ronald Jarrett looked at the video screen on the witness stand in the Family Secrets trial on Tuesday and saw the image of a mustachioed face staring back.

Chicago Outfit, Mob Hit Man and Bookie, Ronnie Jarret"That was my father," he said of Ronnie Jarrett, a noted Outfit hit man and bookie who was gunned down in 1999.

The younger Jarrett, 35, was one of a series of prosecution witnesses called Tuesday to corroborate some of prosecution witness Nicholas Calabrese's key testimony over the last week about mob murders, how the Chicago Outfit made its money and what role Frank Calabrese Sr. and other defendants played.

Jarrett, in a white dress shirt and buzz-cut hair, testified that his father was a member of Frank Calabrese's Outfit crew and ran a gambling operation. When his dad was sentenced to prison in 1980, both Calabrese brothers dropped by to visit him, he said.

On his father's release from prison, Jarrett said, the two of them began working together in a gambling ring that took bets on football, basketball and horse racing, among other sports. Some of the money went to Frank Calabrese's family. Ronnie Jarrett bankrolled the operation, his son said, keeping cash in a bedroom drawer or a coat pocket in his closet.

The operation expanded to two offices, one in Burbank and another in Chicago, Jarrett said. Gambling slips were hidden in the ceiling of the front porch of the Chicago office, he said. Times were good, he said, until his father's fatal shooting just before Christmas in 1999.

Jarrett said he once asked reputed mob figure Nicholas Ferriola who was responsible for his father's death. Ferriola, who has pleaded guilty as part of the Family Secrets prosecution, brought players to the gambling operation, he said.

According to Jarrett, Ferriola told him that Johnny "Apes" Monteleone ordered his father's hit. Nicholas Calabrese had testified that Monteleone took over as boss of the Outfit's 26th Street crew after the deaths of brothers Angelo and Jimmy LaPietra in the 1990s. "He told me that my dad had a problem with Johnny 'Apes,'" Jarrett testified.

On cross-examination by Joseph Lopez, the attorney for Frank Calabrese Sr., Jarrett acknowledged that Calabrese had tried to push him away from bookmaking. Through his questioning, Lopez also suggested that Jarrett's father could have been killed for refusing to let his gambling operation be controlled by Monteleone. To his knowledge, the younger Jarrett said, his father didn't pay "street taxes" to Outfit bosses.

In the afternoon, prosecutors called witnesses in an attempt to bolster Nicholas Calabrese's account of the murder of Nicholas D'Andrea, who had been suspected in an attempt on the life of reputed mob capo Al Pilotto on a golf course in Crete.

The heart of the government case involves 18 long-unsolved gangland slayings. Calabrese's brother and four other defendants are on trial in the landmark case.

Calabrese had described the killing in detail last week, saying D'Andrea had been lured to a garage in Chicago Heights. Calabrese testified he had been told that a tall man and a short man would walk into the garage and that he was to club the short man with a bat.

On entering the garage, the tall man took off running, possibly tipping off the shorter D'Andrea, Calabrese had said. It then took several members of the hit squad, including Family Secrets defendant James Marcello, to overpower and subdue D'Andrea, Calabrese testified. D'Andrea's body was later found in the trunk of his car, according to testimony.

The surprise of the day came when Terri Nevis, D'Andrea's former wife, said a photo that prosecutors have shown to jurors was, in fact, not her husband. "Absolutely not," she said in a whispery voice when Thomas Breen, Marcello's lawyer, showed her the photo. It remains to be seen how much the apparent error will aid the defense because Calabrese, in his testimony, said he didn't recognize the photo as that of D'Andrea.

Calabrese had said that within days of the hit on D'Andrea, Outfit bosses showed him a newspaper story about another murder. He said he had been told that the victim was the taller man who had spooked D'Andrea in the garage. Prosecutors have told the judge they will show jurors that a mobster named Sam Guzzino was killed soon after the D'Andrea hit. The government contends he was the taller man in question.

Nevis, who had begun living with D'Andrea when she was 15 and he was in his late 40s, testified that on the day he died, it was Guzzino who called D'Andrea to set up a meeting. "He said to get Nick on the phone," said Nevis, now a 45-year-old mortgage banker living on the West Coast. Another witness, Karen Brill, testified that Sam Guzzino would come by his brother's cab company in Chicago Heights where she worked. The company had a garage that shared space with a bar and brothel called "The Vagabond Lounge," Nevis said.

Brill was shown a photo of an old brown garage she said was the one she was talking about -- the same photo Calabrese told jurors appeared to look like the garage where D'Andrea was killed.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bribes to A Top Chicago Cop Detailed

Friends of ours: Angelo Volpe, Frank "The Calico Kid" Teutonico, Turk Torello
Friends of mine: William Hanhardt, Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal

A master thief and killer for the Outfit testified today that his mob boss gave a top Chicago cop, William Hanhardt, $1,000 to $1,200 a month in bribes and a new car every two years.

Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel took the witness stand Wednesday morning in the Family Secrets case and recounted to jurors in a gravelly baritone how he came up through organized crime in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s.

Siegel told jurors how his one-time boss, Angelo Volpe, who oversaw the numbers racket on the South Side, paid off Chicago Police, including Hanhardt in the 1960s. Volpe also allegedly paid off Hanhardt's long-time partner, the late Jack Hinchy. Siegel said Volpe told Hanhardt and Hinchy to leave Siegel alone because Siegel was working for him.

Hanhardt, 78, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in 2002 for running a nationwide jewelry theft ring that stole millions of dollars in diamonds and other fine gems.

Siegel, who is 71 and in witness protection, told jurors he grew up on the West Side and began stealing when he was 13 or 14, "anything we could make a buck with."

He graduated to armed robberies and worked for Frank "The Calico Kid" Teutonico as a juice loan collector. Under Teutonico, Siegel learned who was who in the Outfit. After Teutonico went to prison, Siegel went to work for Volpe, Siegel testified.

Siegel also said he was sent by mobster Turk Torello in the late 1960s to Las Vegas to help collect $87,000 from an associate of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, a subject of the book and movie "Casino."

Siegel said he got the job done. "You know, we threatened him and told him he would get hurt if he didn't pay it, and we straightened it out," Siegel said.

Siegel also said he killed three people for the mob, including one person believed to be an informant, but offered no details early on during his testimony Wednesday.

Siegel began working with investigators in the mid-1990s after he was arrested for a series of jewelry store robberies and five of his codefendants in the case cooperated against him.

"I felt I didn't owe loyalty to anybody after that," Siegel said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Mobster's Widow Testifies at Trial

Friends of ours: Nicholas D'Andrea, James Marcello

Chicago mobster Nicholas D’Andrea drove off in his silver Mercedes with his gun tucked into his belt and within hours was murdered and stuffed into the car’s trunk, his widow testified Tuesday.

Terri L. Nevis, 45, told a federal court jury that as he pulled away from their house on Sept. 13, 1981, D’Andrea was immediately sandwiched between a car in front of him and a car that seemed to be trailing him.

“Was that the last time you saw your husband alive?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk asked. “That was the last time I saw him period,” she testified.

Prosecutors blame mob boss James Marcello for the D’Andrea killing in one of the seemingly endless feuds that marked the Chicago Outfit, as the city’s organized crime family calls itself, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cybercrime Is Funding Organized Crime

For months now, the feds have said organized crime was moving into the realm of cybercrime, using hackers to run scams and break into systems.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Erez Liebermann, chief of the computer hacking and intellectual property section in New Jersey's U.S. Attorney's Office, says cybercrime has been so profitable for organized crime that they're now using it to fund the rest of their underground operations.

"In terms of the risks and rewards, there's a higher chance of getting more, financially, using the world of computer crime. Organized crime is realizing this," he said. "We have suspicions of organized crime being behind some cybercrime that we're investigating here. The attorney general has issued reports about organized crime and terrorist links using computer crime, hacking and intellectual property crimes as a way of raising revenue. It's being used to fund organized crime."

Analysts at Websense, a Web security company, reported late last year that the mob was expected to band together more closely with hackers in 2007 to form a more organized cybercrime community.

The beefed-up online crime cooperative has begun buying, selling, and trading ready-made cyberattack toolkits and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities. Dan Hubbard, VP of security research at Websense, noted that organized criminals have realized that the Internet has been an untapped resource for earning them profit. Tools and exploits to steal personal, business, and financial information are the hottest commodities for cybercriminals.

Liebermann said federal law enforcement is in a good position to tackle this burgeoning crime.

"The laws that we have ... target a lot of this activity," said Liebermann. "I do not feel handcuffed, no. There is the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act out there, and if it passes, it would enhance penalties and add computer crime to the list of predicate crimes that would give rise to a RICO [Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] charge."

The prosecutor added that when they charge someone under RICO, the sentencing guidelines provide enhanced penalties because "organized crime is an enhanced problem to be dealt with." If the law passes and computer crimes are added to the list of RICO crimes, it would enhance the penalties for organized crime with computer acts.

And Liebermann says the United States is becoming more and more able to chase down and prosecute cybercriminals, organized or not, even if they're out of the country. Until recently, launching hacking or denial-of-service attacks from outside U.S. borders was enough to keep criminals beyond the long arm of the U.S. law.

Liebermann says their reach, though, is lengthening.

"It presents a special problem, not just for the U.S. but ... other countries have recognized that this is a problem," he added. "Previously, getting information was a problem. It was a more laborious process to get that information without skipping any steps or taking any roundabouts. Other governments are able to work faster, using the same tools we previously had to get the information back on a more efficient basis. We can pick up a phone with a list of countries, like the United Kingdom or Israel, and have a live body. It's a good list of countries."

And even the countries that aren't participating in a particular process are more willing to help in some way now. That's a huge help, according to Liebermann, because of the fleeting nature of digital evidence.

"Botnet herders shift to new servers again and again and again," he said. "If you identify a server but it takes months to get information from another country, the chance of getting any information on this is very slim. If the cooperation is immediate, the chance of getting information is much better. It's a recognition that computer crime has no boundaries."

15% Off at J&R Computer/Music World

Thanks to Sharon Gaudin

Mobster Presidential Campaign Contributions

Rudy Giuliani's campaign revealed that the actor in The Sopranos who played Paulie Walnuts donated to them, even though Rudy is a Mafia-buster. It's pure self-interest. The more real mobsters who are off the street, the more jobs there are for the actors who play them. Thanks to Argus.

Chicago Crime Commission Briefs U.S. Paratroopers on Mob Tactics

Some U.S. paratroopers headed for Iraq will have a working knowledge of organized crime provided by Chicago mob fighters.

The head of the Chicago Crime Commission this month provided intelligence personnel from the 101st Airborne Division with a primer on the investigation of organized-crime rings that will assist them in their upcoming deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gangsters and other career criminals are an extra wrinkle in the security situation in the theater. Kidnappings and smuggling are pinned on organized rings in Iraq while Afghanistan is a hot bed of heroin.

Although the Crime Commission is primarily geared to monitoring the activities of the Windy City's "Outfit," its expertise can also be applied to other rings that are organized in similar fashion and engaged in venerable rackets such as extortion, murder and drug trafficking.

Commission President James Wagner said in a statement Monday that the troops received extensive background on gangs operating in the region as well as training in ways to investigate and break up such organizations.

Wagner will be revisiting Fort Campbell later this summer for briefings on the subject with top Army commanders.

Nick Calabrese Blasted by Attorney on Cross Examination

Friends of ours: Nick Calabrese, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Frank Calabrese Sr., Anthony Spilotro
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

An attorney for James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, today blasted a star witness' account that Marcello was made into the mob in a 1983 ceremony.

Marcello is half Irish, and according to the testimony of Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, only men who are fully Italian can be made members of the Chicago Outfit.

Marcello's attorney, Thomas Breen, asked Calabrese on the witness stand if he had met Marcello's "lovely mother Mrs. Flynn," referring to her maiden name.

"And Mrs. Flynn is as Irish as Paddy's pig, isn't she?" Breen said.

"Then Jimmy Marcello lied," Calabrese shot back, apparently a little rattled. "[Marcello's sponsor] Sam Carlisi lied, they lied to the boss."

Nicholas Calabrese gave a detailed account of how he, Marcello and Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., were made with several other men in a ceremony in a closed Chicago area restaurant in 1983.

Breen suggested through his questioning that Calabrese was lying about many details he gave to FBI agents and told jurors from the stand.

Breen asked Calabrese about the making ceremony.

"They serve food?" Breen asked.

"No," Calabrese said.

"No corn beef for Mr. Marcello?" Breen jabbed.

Calabrese has admitted to taking part in at least 14 murders for the mob. As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, he is avoiding the death penalty and hoping to get something less than life in prison. He's testifying against his brother Frank Calabrese Sr., Marcello and three other men on trial.

Earlier in the trial, Breen scored a point when he was able to get Nicholas Calabrese to say he did not recognize the photo of one of the men that he took part in killing, Nicholas D'Andrea, in Chicago Heights in 1981.

Calabrese said he had only seen the man briefly. The mob was interested in grilling D'Andrea about the attempted murder of a south suburban mob boss but beat D'Andrea so badly that he died before questioning.

The attorney for Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., revealed during his questioning earlier in the day that a family member of one of Nicholas Calabrese's murder victims secretly recorded Nicholas Calabrese during a prison visit.

Nicholas Calabrese took part in the murders of the mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother, Michael Spilotro. Their brother, Dr. Pat Spilotro, a dentist, was a friend of Nick Calabrese and also did his dental work, Nicholas Calabrese testified. The dentist visited Nicholas Calabrese in prison once and recorded him, but Calabrese told him nothing about the murders.

In 2001, Nicholas Calabrese sent Pat Spilotro a Christmas card from prison, telling him that he had made a decision he never believed he would have made. Nicholas Calabrese was referring to cooperating with the FBI, according to court testimony.

"God willing, I'll be home next Christmas," Calabrese wrote.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Police Sergeant Recalls Battles with Mobsters

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frankie "The German" Schweihs, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli, Jimmy Hoffa
Friends of mine: Richard Hauff

Among the observers paying close attention to the “Family Secrets” mob trial in Chicago is retired police officer John J. Flood who boasts about having one of the first law enforcement run-ins with two of the key defendants in the case.

“Joey Lombardo and Frankie Schweihs: in my lifetime and career as a police officer I have been fighting those guys in different matters of law enforcement over those years,” Flood told WBBM’s Steve Grzanich during a recent interview from his home in Las Vegas.

It is the first meeting with Lombardo and Schweihs that Flood remembers best back in 1964 when Sgt. Flood, with the Cook County Sheriff's Police, interrupted Schweihs and Lombardo and thwarted an attempted hit on mob associate Richard Hauff. “It was happening up on Mannheim Road and Lawrence Avenue at a hotel up there. I came upon it and almost got killed making the arrest,” Flood said.

That was back in the early days for Schweihs and Lombardo, before they hit police radar, said Flood. “I called into Chicago Intelligence and asked who is Frankie Schweihs and they didn’t know. I had to call a knowledgeable Chicago detective who told that’s Phil Alderisio’s bodyguard. He’s a bad guy. Find out who was in the car and who they were going to kill,” said Flood.

While the Family Secrets trial may close the books on 18 mob murders, Flood expects that other mysteries may go unsolved.

“The significant murders that Lombardo would know about would be the murders of Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli. They were supposed to testify before the Church Commission on the assassination plot against Fidel Castro but they turned up dead. If Lombardo was talking, which I doubt he ever would because he lives by his code, he could tell you who killed (Jimmy) Hoffa and what happened.”

Will guilty verdicts mean the end of the Chicago outfit? "Someone will replace Lombardo. All you have to do is look at the fabric of the American system – corporate crime, white collar crime, organized crime. There is no way in the world organized crime people are going to be leaving gambling, going to be leaving pornography, the lending of money, prostitution – it is not going to happen,” Flood said.

According to Flood, the “Family Secrets” trial will likely be the final chapter for the likes of Lombardo and Schweihs. The retired police officer said the trial also brings to a close his own 40 year career as an organized crime fighter.

Flood is the founder of the Combined Counties Police Association, one of the most well-known and respected independent law enforcement unions ever formed in the United States. He is also one of the foremost experts on organized crime and an authority on the Chicago Outfit.

Thanks to Steve Grzanich

Monday, July 23, 2007

Daley Refuses to Answer Questions on Pal's Mob Connections

Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

'Journalists don't carry guns . . . no, they carry the ink, the ink,'' railed Daley last Thursday at a City Hall news conference.

Hizzoner has been on a tear, ripping the local news media with the fury of a hurricane hitting the coast.

The mayor can be a bully at times.

Nobody wants to say it in so many words, but every department head at City Hall, certainly his 10 previous chiefs of staff who have been put through the mayoral wringer and spun out City Hall's revolving door, know what it's like to be in the woodshed. When they leave, their tongues have been torn out. Not one has ever publicly spoken of what it's like to work for Daley, understanding that it is best never to talk of he-who-shall-not-be-named.

The mayor's wrath was on full display last week. Part Jack Nicholson, part Richard Nixon, Daley roared like a blast furnace, lashed out like a wounded lion, fulminating when reporters dared to inquire about his relationship to Fred Barbara.

''I think it's ridiculous,'' fumed the mayor, refusing to answer, barking back at reporters, ''Any other questions?''

Barbara is a millionaire many times over thanks to lucrative connections to city waste hauling contracts, his wife's now-defunct trucking firm tied to the city's scandal-scarred Hired Truck program, and his ongoing banking business in partnership with well-connected politicians. But many years ago, long before he ever golfed or dined with the mayor or contributed thousands of dollars to Daley-backed candidates, Barbara had caught the eye of the feds. They believed he was mobbed up and indicted him in 1982 in a gambling and juice operation. Barbara was acquitted, never convicted of that or any other crime.

Suddenly, last Tuesday, Barbara's name was vaulted back into public view thanks to the massive Family Secrets mob trial playing out at the federal building. Nick Calabrese, aging hit man-turned-government-witness, told a spellbound courtroom about all manner of mob horrors, including how the Chicago Outfit blew up or burned down certain unlucky suburban restaurants. Fred Barbara, according to Calabrese, was a member of one of the mob's bombing crews back in the 1980s. Barbara didn't respond to my phone calls.

The front page Sun-Times headline the next day read, "Hit man: Daley pal in on mob bombing.''

For Daley, the ink hit the fan. The mayor was apoplectic. For two days, he lashed out at reporters.

''You have the power of the pen, you have a lot of power,'' he declared. ''We don't even know who you are.''

And yet he seems to know where we grew up.

''Most of you never grew up in Chicago,'' said the Baron of Bridgeport.

The problem is the mayor thinks everything is unfair these days. Just about any question, let alone criticism, rankles him. City Hall reporters take the brunt of the mayoral battering as the mayor castigates some of them for living in the suburbs, suggesting they don't really know or care about the city he loves.

He wags his finger, reminding the press of its own dirty laundry, like recently convicted Sun-Times press boss Conrad Black and his creepy, crooked right-hand man, David Radler.

''Look at all the scandals you have received as journalists, every day there is another article, I mean, c'mon, every day there's an article,'' said Daley. ''Every day there's someone, you know, doing some misconduct."

And then he lectures us on our cold hearts and callousness.

''You report a gun killing on Page 25," the mayor jabs triumphantly. ''How about that one? Because it's not your son or daughter. They're not poor. You have a lot of power, don't you realize that?''

We do.

Then again, so does the 19-year occupant of the City Hall's fifth floor.

Mayor Daley has a difficult job that he performs with passion and skill. And we in the press are no shrinking violets. We can take the bullying and the bluster. But at the end of the day, it wouldn't hurt, along with the journalism lecture, to just answer the question.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Material Girl, Madonna, to Make Movie on Mafia World?

It seems that Madonna is getting increasingly fascinated with the mafia and the gangster world.

After working with Timbaland on hip-hop tracks, the pop diva is now planning to make a film about her jailbird former lover, Chris Paciello, who was once a New York mobster.

Madonna dated Paciello for two years in the nineties, but the pair parted ways after he was jailed for murder following a theft in which a woman was shot dead by an accomplice. But now that the one-time nightclub investor is free, Madge is seriously thinking about making a movie on his life and has even met him three times in the past six months to discuss the project.

A shortlist of stars has been put together for the movie including Mark Wahlberg, John Cusack and star of massive American sci-fi series Heroes Milo Ventimiglia.

"Recording with Timbaland must have given Madonna a taste for gangsters. She's back in touch with her old flame Chris. She has met him three times to thrash out a deal - first when she went to LA for the Academy Awards, then twice in New York, including her most recent trip there last month," The Sun quoted a source, as saying.

"There's no romance. She is desperately keen to produce a film based on the book Mob Over Miami about him. She has always been fascinated by tough guys and loves his story," the source added.

However, the source adds that Madge's hubby Guy Ritchie has made it very clear that he won't be involved in the movie, as he thinks that the whole project is a bad idea.

Book Review: Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia

Contrary to popular belief, New York City was not the birthplace of the American Mafia. As students of organized crime history know, the real birthplace was New Orleans; but while the prevailing literature about the mob in the Big Easy has concentrated on the late 19th century, Deep Water takes the origin back to the Civil War. As such, this is one of the more foundational organized crime books ever written. The book wraps the definitive era of American history in with the emergence of a new kind of criminal. Deep Water is ostensibly the story of the origins of the Mafia in America told through the trials of the Macheca family, fruit merchants in New Orleans. The main character is J.P. Macheca, stepson of the Macheca patriarch and an intriguing figure from both a business and political sense - he spent nine months in the Confederate Army.

Thomas Hunt brings the story alive through his rich attention to details. You can practically smell the fetid air of the New Orleans waterfront. The one thread that ties the elements together is the rich familial history intertwined with the background history. I think in teaming with Martha Macheca Sheldon, Hunt made a smart move. Anecdotal family stories brings a dimension to the Macheca saga that you rarely get from a general Mafia book. Not wanting to lavish too much praise on the author, but it’s always exciting to find a new way to approach a subject.

The opening half of the book takes the reader through mid 19th century New Orleans. The Civil War, as seen through the eyes of this Southern melting pot, comes alive. From there, Hunt expertly parses out the Reconstruction policies and the ensuing political fallout in post-war New Orleans. The last part of the book deals with the assassination of Police Chief David Hennessey and the ensuing legal proceedings and eventual vigilante killings of a number of Sicilians, including J.P. Macheca. This section, having been written about before, takes a new life here, with an explanation that makes the lynching of the Sicilians more a calculated hit than a random act of mob violence.

If there is any criticism, it’s the lack of notes. It’s evident from the references that Hunt dug deep for the story. I would have liked to have seen where some specific pieces came from.

Deep Water is a worthy addition to the organized crime canon and the greater body of books on Civil War-era America.

Thanks to Blog Critic's Scott Deitche.
Scott M. Deitche is an environmental scientist by profession. He also writes on the Mafia, including the books Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld, and The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr.

Gambino Wire Tap Led to Crooked NBA Ref, Threats Now from Mobsters?

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family

The allegedly dirty NBA referee who's set to sing in a mob point-shaving scandal sought police protection yesterday -- after receiving threats that he could be whacked, cops said.

Gambino Wire Tap Led to Crooked NBA Ref, Threats Now from Mobsters?Three Manatee County Sheriff's squad cars screeched up to the Bradenton, Fla., home of terrified former NBA official Tim Donaghy to investigate menacing telephone calls against him. "Our concern is for his safety and his family's safety," said Sheriff's Lt. Robert Mealy. "We are definitely going to share any information we get with the FBI."

The rogue ref's family is even urging him to enter the federal witness-protection program, one friend said. "They think he will be killed if he goes to prison, or even if he doesn't, just because he's probably talking, cooperating, and that's ratting on the mob," the pal said. "I don't think [the Mafia] would take that very well.

"[Relatives] are very concerned for his safety," the friend added. "I think they knew something serious was going on, but not like this, not this big, whole life-or-death issue with the Mafia. I mean, it's the Gambinos."

Mealy declined to reveal more details of the threats against Donaghy, who is being investigated by federal authorities for allegedly working with mobsters tied to the Gambino crime family to fix the scores of NBA games to pay off his gambling debts.

The disgraced ref is said to be set to spill all - threatening to bring down anyone and everyone with him, sources said. He'll be naming names of other refs, coaches, players and game "validators," who sit unobtrusively in the stands to review calls on the court, the source said.

"There are other allegations of gambling that the FBI will run down," based on Donaghy's talk so far, one source said. "Everybody's pointing a finger at everyone else."

Donaghy's name came to the attention of feds during wiretap probes of Gambino mobsters. Yesterday, "he received some threatening phone calls, and he wanted them documented," Mealy said. "I know Mr. Donaghy was concerned."

Donaghy, 40, resigned from the NBA shortly after this past season amid then-undisclosed allegations that he bet on games he officiated. Feds have not yet revealed which games they are probing.

Several friends in Cape May, N.J., where his parents summer, said Donaghy's co-workers grew suspicious of his behavior about three years ago, when he would offer to trade free tickets to certain games with some refs in exchange for others - and then suddenly renege.

"He just started screwing them," one friend said. "Tickets started going missing, misplaced . . . It was no longer, 'Hey, Tim's kind of an a- - hole.' It became, 'Tim is f- - - ing with the NBA.' And that's when they stopped trusting him completely."

Retired dentist John Minutella of West Chester, Pa., where Donaghy grew up and worked at a golf course, recounted a horrific prank Donaghy pulled on him 10 years ago, when the embattled ref put a dead bird in his golf bag. Minutella found the maggot-infested carcass 24 hours later. "Nobody wanted to play golf with him," said Minutella, 64. " I can't say one nice thing about him. I believe this guy was almost soulless."

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Thanks to James Fanelli

Mafia Cop to Remain in Vegs Jail Until Tax Charges Trial

Friends of ours: Ralph Eppolito, James Eppolito, Gambino Crime Family
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

A former New York police detective dubbed the "mafia cop" must remain in custody pending his trial in Las Vegas on tax charges, a judge ruled Thursday.

Mafia Cop to Remain in Vegs Jail Until Tax Charges TrialLouis Eppolito, 57, stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen in a black-and-white-striped inmate uniform as she declared him a danger to the community and a flight risk. Eppolito's wife, two daughters and son attended the Las Vegas hearing but declined to comment afterward.

Eppolito and another former New York detective, 64-year-old Stephen Caracappa, are accused of working for the Luchese crime family while serving as officers with the New York City Police Department.

Last year, a New York jury found the pair guilty of participating in at least eight mob-related killings, but a federal judge later dismissed the racketeering case after determining that the statute of limitations had run out. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Johnson said Thursday, the judge also found that prosecutors had an "overwhelming case" against the pair.

Detention for both defendants already has been ordered in the New York case pending a government appeal of the dismissal. Johnson said he expects the state of New York to prosecute Eppolito and Caracappa on murder charges if the federal government fails with its appeal.

The two detectives retired in the early 1990s and moved to Las Vegas, where they were arrested in March 2005.

A federal grand jury in Las Vegas indicted Eppolito and his wife, Frances, in January 2006 on three counts of filing a false income tax return. Their trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 24 before U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt.

The couple's son, Anthony, has been charged with distributing methamphetamine. His trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 24 before U.S. District judge Philip Pro.

Prosecutors have said Louis Eppolito, who appeared briefly in a dozen movies, grew up in a family closely linked with organized crime.

His father, Ralph, was a Gambino family soldier, and his uncle, Jimmy, was a Gambino captain.

Louis Eppolito's 1992 autobiography, "Mafia Cop: the Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob," details his police career and his Mafia connections.

Thanks to Carri Geer Thevenot

Fear of Death Penalty Made Mobster "A Rat"

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, John Fecarotta, Jimmy LaPietra, John "Johnny Apes" Monteleone

A government witness said Thursday he sees himself as "a rat" for spilling mob secrets but added that he agreed to testify against his own brother to avoid getting capital punishment for murder.

"Did you think that you might be exposed to the death penalty in Illinois?" federal prosecutor Mitchell A. Mars asked Nicholas Calabrese, the star witness at the trial of his brother Frank and four other men. "Yes," Calabrese said.

He said a bloody glove he carelessly left in front of a North Side bingo parlor after the Sept. 14, 1986, murder of mobster John Fecarotta was used by the FBI to trace him to the crime.

He was serving a loan-sharking sentence at the federal prison in downstate Pekin 14 years after the killing when he was called to the medical unit and a DNA swab was taken from his mouth. The sample matched the DNA found on the glove that he dropped as he fled the Fecarotta shooting, Calabrese told the federal court jury.

The story capped a week of testimony in which Calabrese has described a parade of mob murders carried out by himself, his brother Frank and other members of the Chicago Outfit -- as the city's mob family is known.

Frank Calabrese, 69, is on trial along with James Marcello, 65, Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, 78, Paul Schiro, 70, and 62-year-old Anthony Doyle, a former police officer.

Frank Calabrese previously has been convicted of loan sharking, Lombardo of conspiring to bribe a U.S. senator, and Schiro of taking part in a gang of jewel thieves headed by the Chicago Police Department's former chief of detectives who is now in federal prison.

They are charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included loan sharking, gambling, extortion and 18 long-unsolved organized crime murders including that of Fecarotta.

The defendants deny that they were part of such a conspiracy. Frank Calabrese's attorney, Joseph Lopez, argues that Nick Calabrese is lying.

Nick Calabrese testified that while he was in Pekin, he spent time with Marcello who arranged for his wife to receive $4,000 a month, partly to keep him from "flipping" and becoming a federal witness.

"So I wouldn't turn out to be a rat like I am," Calabrese said. But eventually he made an agreement with prosecutors to testify in exchange for assurances that he wouldn't be subject to the death penalty in the Fecarotta case, he said.

He said that he and his brother -- along with alleged mob capo Jimmy LaPietra and John (Johnny Apes) Monteleone -- decided to kill Fecarotta, a member of their own 26th Street of Chinatown street crew. The decision stemmed from a dispute arising from one of Frank Calabrese's loan-sharking customers.

The man complained he was being forced to pay off the high-interest "juice loan" owed by a former business partner to Frank Calabrese while at the same time paying off the mortgage on Fecarotta's house.

He complained to Frank Calabrese that the arrangement was unfair.

The witness testified his brother told the man to keep paying the loan -- emphasizing the point by pulling a knife -- and then got permission to murder Fecarotta who already had been on thin ice with the Calabreses.

Nicholas Calabrese testified that the mobsters told Fecarotta that on the night of the murder they were going to plant a bomb outside a dentist's office. The idea was for Nicholas Calabrese to reach into a bag containing a fake bomb, pull out a gun and shoot Fecarotta.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

The Chorito Hog Leg

Friends of mine: Edward J. "Spike" O'Donnell, Johnny Torrio

Edward J. "Spike" O'Donnell was one of the primary catalysts for the Beer Wars in Chicago in the early 20's. After getting out of prison, he refused to go along with Johnny Torrio's plan in which the various Chicago gangsters would stick to their respective terrotories and pool their political clout. "Spike" O'Donnell is also featured as a Major Character in a new book authored by the South Side of Chicago's own Pat Hickey.

While this is primary a book that centers on World War II, the inclusion of both O'Donnell and the excellent portrayal of the South Side of Chicago made this an nice addition to my library.

Chorito is the name of a cliff overlooking the Asan beaches on Guam. In 1944, the 3rd Marines assaulted Chorito Cliff and Bundeschu Ridge. A Hog Leg is the nickname for an 1860 Colt .45 Revolver.

Within the carnage of battle is a war pitting a young man, Tim Cullen, against his battalion commander over the possession of an 1860 Army Colt .45 Hog leg revolver which can be traced back to Capt. Myles Keogh who died with Custer. The last owner is the doomed Lt. Jack Buck of Giddings, TX. Buck will be killed in the taking of Bundeschu Ridge, but Jack Buck had exacted a promise from Pvt. Tim Cullen of his platoon to keep it from the hands of Major Lucas Opley, an up from the ranks Marine of legend, and return the Colt to his family in Texas.

Parallel to Cullen’s ordeals and suffering on Japanese occupied Guam are movie house operator Juan Cruz and his family, as well as an exiled Japanese American Dentist and his movie star wife. Exacting the cruelty is the oafish Boson Otayama and the American educated Lt. Kato. Awaiting liberation are also such historical figures of Guam’s history as Father Duenas and Pastor Sablan.

The revolver, in its shoulder holster, will be taken from Lt. John A. Buck’s body by Cullen at an aid station on Guam’s Red Beach 2 and cause Cullen no end of problems. The Battalion commander wants the Colt Hog-leg. Cullen hangs on to the weapon but never uses it and is repeatedly ordered by Maj. Opley to hand it over. Opley wants it for himself. This through-the ranks career officer will undo himself through his own devices and be sent home under a cloud after years of service to the Corps after the Guam Campaign.

Pat Hickey provides more details along with a preview of part two of this book at this site.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Banker Becomes Focus of Mob Testimony

Friends of ours: Frank "Toots" Caruso, Nicholas Calabrese, Bruno "The Bomber" Roti, Fred Roti
Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

Mayor Daley's friend Fred Bruno Barbara -- who found himself accused in court this week of participating in a mob bombing two decades ago -- has had a lot of jobs over the years. Truck driver. Garbage kingpin. Multimillionaire investor.

His latest: banker.

Barbara, who once was found not guilty of trying to collect an illegal "juice" loan from an undercover FBI agent, last year joined the boards of directors of two banks -- one in Evergreen Park, another on Chicago's Northwest Side.

Barbara, who once was found not guilty of trying to collect an illegal "juice" loan from an undercover FBI agent, last year joined the boards of directors of two banks -- one in Evergreen Park, another on Chicago's Northwest Side.

In April 2006, he was appointed to the board of Evergreen Community Bank. A Barbara business partner, car dealer Joseph Rizza, was already a board member. The bank was purchased by Evergreen Private Bank earlier this year, and Barbara and Rizza remain on the board. "Fred's been a very good board member," said Darin Campbell, president and chief executive of Evergreen Private Bank.

Last October, Barbara and state Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago) got state approval to join the board of Belmont Bank & Trust, founded last year by James J. Banks, a zoning attorney who is the nephew of Ald. William Banks (36th).

Barbara, 59, who has homes in Oak Brook and Palm Beach, Fla., has been arrested five times but never convicted of any crime, records show. So state regulators had no reason to exclude him from a bank board, according to state regulators. "These are allegations, and we can't and don't make licensing decisions because someone is alleged to have done something," said Scott Clarke, assistant director of banks and trusts for the Illinois Division of Banking.

With his application to join the Belmont Bank board, Barbara submitted documents to the state showing he and four reputed mobsters -- including his cousin Frank "Toots'' Caruso -- were found not guilty 24 years ago when they were charged with trying to collect an illegal high-interest loan from an undercover FBI agent.

In court testimony Tuesday, admitted mob hit man turned government informant Nicholas Calabrese said Barbara joined two reputed mobsters when they bombed the now-defunct Horwath's Restaurant, a well-known mob hangout in Elmwood Park.

Barbara -- a grandson of early Chicago mob boss Bruno "The Bomber'' Roti -- never was charged in connection with the Horwath's bombing. He didn't return calls for comment.

Barbara built a fortune as a city contractor, getting city trucking business while his uncle, the late Ald. Fred Roti, was a powerful member of the City Council and -- according to an FBI document made public after Roti died -- a "made" member of the mob.

Barbara sold his company, Fred Barbara Trucking, in 1997 in a deal that could have brought him as much as $100 million, records show. He became a consultant to the company that now operates the mayor's much-criticized blue-bag recycling program.

Barbara's wife, Lisa Humbert, had a trucking company that was fired from the city's Hired Truck Program after, in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation, the city determined she wasn't running the business, as she'd claimed. She'd gotten city work by claiming to have a women-owned business.

Thanks to Tim Novak

15 Emmy Nominations for The Sopranos

A month after fading abruptly to black, “The Sopranos” received Emmy nominations today for best dramatic series and for the performances of five of its principal actors, including James Gandolfini and Edie Falco.

When the 59th Annual Emmy Awards are presented on Sept. 16, “The Sopranos” and “Heroes” will be competing against three other nominees for best dramatic series: “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC, “House” (Fox) and “Boston Legal” (ABC).

In the category of best actor in a drama, Mr. Gandolfini, whose Tony Soprano may or may not have survived the series’ final act, will square off against Hugh Laurie of “House”; Denis Leary of “Rescue Me” (FX); James Spader of “Boston Legal” and Kiefer Sutherland of “24” on Fox.

In addition to Ms. Falco, the nominees for best actress in a dramatic series are Sally Field for “Brothers and Sisters” (ABC); Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer” (TNT); Minnie Driver, “The Riches” (FX); Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC) and Patricia Arquette, “Medium” (NBC).

Among all series, “The Sopranos” was the most nominated, with 15, including nominations for best supporting actress for Lorraine Bracco, who played Tony’s psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, and for Aida Turturro, who played his sister. Michael Imperioli, who played Tony’s nephew Christopher, whose death in a car accident was hastened by Tony, was nominated in the category of best supporting actor.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Targeted by Mob?

It could have been just idle chitchat among bored prison inmates. The problem was, they weren't your average inmates, and the subject of their threatening chatter was the chief justice of the United States.

Languishing at the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., mobsters from three top Mafia families allegedly had murder on their minds in 1979, according to recently released FBI documents. The intended victim was Warren Burger. At least that was the story a confidential informant told the FBI two years later.

What seemed to make the idea plausible were the players — big names in two of New York City's Mafia families and a Montreal don, the documents show.

The bureau took the information seriously enough that Burger was alerted. In addition, FBI headquarters in Washington approved going to mobsters in seven U.S. cities to warn them off doing anything rash.

The documents appear to reveal, for the first time, a purported Mafia plot against the chief justice of the U.S.

The FBI's 15-month investigation, which petered out when agents came up dry on evidence, was detailed in part in 143 pages of documents that were released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Chicago Mob Hitman Reveals His First Hits

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr., Michael "Bones" Albergo, Frank "Gumba" Saladino, Tony Accardo
Friends of mine: Ronnie "Menz" Jarrett

Nicholas Calabrese paused a moment in the silent courtroom, his voice dropping off as he spoke Tuesday of the first time he took part in a murder for the Chicago Outfit.

"We gotta put somebody in a hole," Calabrese said his brother, Frank Sr., told him without elaboration in the summer of 1970. At first, Calabrese said, he thought it was a test of his courage. The brothers then proceeded to dig the hole at a construction site near old Comiskey Park. But the real test came days later, Calabrese said, when he helped hold down a man's arms while his brother strangled him with a rope -- and then slit his throat just to make sure he was dead. Nicholas Calabrese, then in his late 20s, didn't even know the victim's name, he testified.

"He was put in the hole, and we started shoveling the dirt in," said Calabrese, again pausing to keep his composure. "During this time I wet my pants I was so scared."

His brother didn't catch on, Nicholas Calabrese said, because "I had a lot of dust and dirt on my pants so you couldn't really tell."

Sitting nearby on Calabrese's first full day on the witness stand in the landmark Family Secrets trial in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse was Frank Calabrese Sr., one of five defendants, who was resting his chin in his hand and smirking.

Nicholas Calabrese's testimony Tuesday was a flurry of mob imagery -- multiple murders, bombings, scraps of paper with scribbled notes about "street taxes," a 300-pound enforcer nicknamed "Gumba" and buried Outfit cash. He spoke of sending warnings with dead chickens and puppy heads, and mice strung up with "little nooses" and left on a windshield.

And he used nickname after nickname. There was "Mugsy," "young Mugsy," Johnny "Bananas" and Johnny "Apes," not to be confused with Angelo "the Monkey."

And there was Michael "Bones" Albergo, a collector of high-interest "juice" loans. Nicholas Calabrese said Albergo had once warned that if he was going to jail, he wasn't going alone. Calabrese said he only learned it was "Bones" in the hole near the White Sox ballpark years later when he saw Albergo's photo in a pamphlet put out by the watchdog Chicago Crime Commission.

Nicholas Calabrese, the government's star witness, is expected to blame his brother, a reputed leader of the mob's 26th Street crew, for more than a dozen Outfit killings in the 1970s and '80s. He began with the slaying of Albergo, whose remains authorities searched for unsuccessfully after Calabrese began cooperating in 2002.

While testifying in sometimes lurid details about the gangland slayings, Calabrese kept his composure, occasionally gesturing with his hands to make a point. He traded in the sweatsuit he wore on Monday for a palecollared shirt, worn untucked, and blue pants.

He sometimes leaned toward a computer screen on the witness stand to look at a betting slip or identify a photograph, a reflection of the image visible in his eyeglasses.

After describing Albergo's death, Calabrese recounted four more murders in which he said he took part. The next was the 1976 homicide of 27-year-old Paul Haggerty, a convict who was living in a halfway house and whom Outfit bosses wanted to question about his dealings with a suburban jewelry store.

Calabrese said he had arrived at his brother's Elmwood Park home and gotten another cryptic greeting. "He said, 'Don't make any plans, we're gonna be busy,'" Nicholas Calabrese said, continuing to refuse to look in his brother's direction after quickly identifying him in court earlier Tuesday.

For weeks, Calabrese said, he had followed Haggerty with a team that included hit man Frank "Gumba" Saladino and mob associate Ronnie Jarrett, nicknamed "Menz," the Italian word for half, because he was half Irish and half Italian.

The men watched Haggerty's movements for patterns, Calabrese said, following him to the bus and work. Eventually, they snatched him and drove him to Jarrett's mother-in-law's garage, he said.

After Haggerty was questioned, Calabrese said, he was left alone with him for a time, his hands cuffed and his eyes and mouth taped. He said he gave Haggerty some water and helped him use the bathroom, but the rest of the men soon returned with a stolen car to finish the job.

"I held him and Ronnie held him and my brother strangled him with a rope," he said.

Calabrese also testified about the murder of burglar John Mendell, who was killed in 1978 as an example for burglarizing mob boss Tony Accardo's home. Mendell was lured to the same garage where Haggerty was killed and then he was jumped, Nicholas Calabrese said. His brother strangled Mendell with a rope, but this time there was a twist, he said.

"My brother handed me the knife, and he said 'You do it,'" Calabrese said.

Asked by a prosecutor whether he did as instructed, Calabrese answered, "Yeah, yes I did." Next, Calabrese testified about the murders of thief Vincent Moretti, who was also killed in the wake of the Accardo burglary, and Donald Renno, who made the mistake of being with Moretti at the time.

Calabrese said he helped his brother kill Moretti at a Cicero restaurant using a rope, pulling one end as he braced a a foot against the victim's head. He said the brothers referred to the slayings in code as "Strangers in the Night," the song that was playing on the restaurant's jukebox as the slaying took place.

Though he wasn't an eyewitness, Nicholas Calabrese said, his brother told him of how in 1980 he drove a car that blocked one driven by federal informant William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte, enabling mobsters to fatally shoot the couple from a passing van in Will County.

Earlier Tuesday, Calabrese told jurors about a variety of work he carried out for his brother beginning in 1970, collecting "street taxes" and juice loans and running gambling operations. He also dutifully followed directions when it came to extorting businessmen, he said, using dead animals as threats until he had to scare one into paying by blowing out the back window of his car with a shotgun.

Calabrese said his brother had hundreds of thousands of dollars to lend on the street, a claim that caused Frank Sr. to rock back in his chair and chuckle with his hand in front of his mouth. Once, Nicholas Calabrese said, his brother misplaced more than $400,000 by losing track of a safety-deposit box. Another time, he said, the brothers buried $250,000 in cash in a steel box in Wisconsin. But on digging it up later, the money was wet, mildewed and smelly. "We tried to use cologne," Calabrese testified. "It made the smell worse."

Calabrese said cash collections had to be split, with half going to their boss, Angelo LaPietra. Calabrese said he sometimes drove the payment to LaPietra's Bridgeport garage, stuffing the envelope into a barbecue mitt that was hanging from a nail. He flipped the mitt over and pointed its thumb in the opposite direction to alert LaPietra to the hidden cash, he said.

Calabrese said that in the 1980s he and his brother bombed several businesses, including the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace; Marina Cartage, which is owned by Michael Tadin, a friend of Mayor Richard Daley; and Tom's Steakhouse in Melrose Park.

Calabrese said he never learned the motives for the bombings, but prosecutors have said that the Outfit sometimes resorted to violence to extort street taxes from even legitimate businesses.

An explosive was set off against the wall of the Oakbrook Terrace theater during off-hours. "We talked about how loud it was," Calabrese said.

Calabrese said he also threw a dynamite-packed device onto the roof of the steakhouse. It landed near an air-conditioning unit and exploded, he said. "I lit the fuse in the bag," he said. "I got out of the car and jumped up on a Dumpster."

Calabrese said he sometimes brought along "Gumba" Saladino, who was 6 feet tall and weighed 300 pounds, to collect late payments on juice loans.

"I told him, 'You stand behind me and don't say nothing, just look at the guy,'" Calabrese testified. "'Give him one of those looks.'"

Calabrese said he warned the debtors that the 5-percent-a-week loans weren't going away and that "next time, I'm not gonna come -- he's gonna come." He said he then would point toward the imposing Saladino.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Chicago's Mayor Friendly with Alledged Mob Associate?

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, Frank Calabrese Sr., John Fecarotta, Anthony Doyle
Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

Will Chicago reporters ask Mayor Richard Daley about the Fred Barbara issue Wednesday? It came up Tuesday during the Chicago Outfit trial of reputed mobsters in the Family Secrets case.

Barbara, successful trucking boss, waste hauler, and mayoral fashionista, has made fortunes on city deals under Daley and is currently a consultant on the city's blue bag program. He's a friend of the mayor, and of the mayor's political brain, Tim Degnan, who, like the mayor, is a son of Bridgeport.

Tuesday's testimony of key Outfit witness Nicholas Calabrese also put Barbara with another son of Bridgeport: Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, the late boss of the Outfit's Chinatown crew. A key Outfit killer turned government informant said that LaPietra and Barbara were present at the arson bombing of Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park in the early 1980s.

It is important to note that Barbara has not been charged with any crime recently. We tried contacting Barbara on Tuesday to ask about Calabrese's testimony, only to be told that he wasn't available for an interview with me. And federal prosecutors and defense lawyers couldn't comment because of a gag order.

So, let's clear this thing up. Is the guy with "The Hook" at Horwath's the mayor's Fred Barbara or some cunning impostor? Who best to resolve this issue than Daley?

Surely, reporters will ask him Wednesday, if he doesn't bolt town for another fact-finding mission, not to Rio, but perhaps to trace the last steps of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, while the Outfit crew from his neighborhood turns under federal heat back home.

Barbara is a political donor who sold his South Side garbage-transfer station and landfill for $58 million. He knows his way around politics and business. But what's new today is that Nick Calabrese mentioned Barbara from the witness stand. Calabrese put him at the scene at one of the Outfit bombings of west suburban restaurants in the early 1980s, as the Outfit pressured businesses and sent unmistakable messages to them.

Some of the establishments Calabrese mentioned during questioning from assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars included the following: The bombings of the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, Tom's Steakhouse in Melrose Park, Marina Cartage (the Chicago trucking company owned by another mayoral buddy recently turned Barbara rival, Mike Tadin) and Horwath's on Harlem Avenue.

Calabrese testified that Fred Barbara was with LaPietra and that the two men bombed Horwath's together. Nick testified that he and brother Frank Calabrese Sr., who is one of the Outfit bosses on trial in this case, bombed Tom's Steakhouse. All four and others met at mobster John Fecarotta's hot-dog stand in Melrose Park before the bombings, and afterward, to compare notes, Nick Calabrese said.

"It was me, my brother, and Johnny Fecarotta at Tom's," Nick Calabrese testified. "At Horwath's, there was Fred Barbara and Angelo LaPietra."

These two sentences will most likely be buried in news accounts of the larger Outfit case, because Nick also described four brutal murders in which he held people down while his brother strangled them with a rope. And Nick also testified about the severed heads of dogs thrown onto front lawns, and dead chickens, and a bizarre Outfit assignment:

To kill several pet shop mice, put tiny nooses around their tiny necks, and dangle them from the windshield of an extortion victim. But the sentences about Barbara are important sentences, if Calabrese was telling the truth, if "The Hook" took Barbara on the Horwath's bombing. The act of arson would bind a businessman to the Chinatown crew, as insurance of sorts against any future testimony.

After they met at the hot-dog stand, Calabrese said the groups went their ways. Fecarotta was known to his friends and "family" as "Big Stoop."

Fecarotta later lived up to the nickname when he botched the burial of the Spilotro brothers, forcing the Outfit to kill him on Belmont Avenue. In that killing, Nick got wounded and left a bloody glove at the scene. It was held in the police evidence room where alleged Chinatown juice collector and Chicago cop Anthony Doyle (also of Bridgeport) worked. The FBI asked about the glove. Doyle allegedly told the Outfit. And the historic case began.

I'll write about the Calabrese murders in other columns, I have the right to delay that, since you're getting that news anyway and because, well, I broke the story about Calabrese disappearing from prison and into the witness protection program, which caused a panic among the Outfit.

For now, let's remember what the mayor's friend, Fred Barbara, told the Sun-Times in 2004 about the federal juice loan charge of which he was acquitted in 1983.

"Show me my connection to organized crime," he said. "Did I turn the corner? You show me anything in the last 24 years that reflects to that nature."

I'd bet Nick Calabrese hasn't talked to the feds just about the Outfit in Bridgeport. I'd bet he's talked to them about politics too.

Thanks to John Kass

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