Saturday, October 06, 2007
Sylvia explores it all, and even gives us information on a powerful secret society that no one has even heard about. You will learn about secret societies that have good intentions, those that do not, and the ones to watch, which have goals that could help or hinder us. Some will really raise the hair on your neck!
The secret weapon has a name: John Scully.
For 25 years, Mr. Scully has been a gangbuster for the United States attorney in Chicago, a workhorse prosecutor who put away dozens of organized crime figures with piercing arguments, a devotion to justice and a gentlemanly style.
Scully timed his retirement for the end of the Family Secrets trial last week. He talked with the I-Team about the case and his career.
"The family secrets trail that just ended, was that the highlight of your career, would you say?" ABC7's Chuck Goudie asked.
"Yes," Scully answered. John Scully is a man of few words, maybe because those he does speak carry so much weight.
Just ask Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese and "Little Jimmy" Marcello, three of the Chicago Outfit bosses who Scully helped to convict last month of their roles in decades of criminal rackets and eleven long-unsolved gangland murders.
"There have been very few mob murders solved over the years," Scully said. "This is the result of the work of an awful a lot of people for an awful long period of time, resulted in basically in the solving of a number of cases."
After the Family Secrets victory last week, Scully's retirement was one of the first things they noted. "I can't think of retiring on a higher note," said Pat fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney.
Sixty-year old Scully is a South Sider who graduated from De LaSalle High School. He attended the Naval Academy and was assigned to ship duty during the Vietnam War aboard the U.S.S. Hull, a destroyer that put Captain Scully right off the coast of Vietnam for months.
When Scully received his law degree from the University of San Diego after the war, his enemies changed, from the North Vietnamese to North Side Chicago mobsters and their outfit brethren on 26th Street, from Grand Avenue, Cicero and Elmwood Park.
In 1993, Scully prosecuted the On Leong gambling ring based in Chinatown, a major case that exposed payoffs to the mob, Chicago police and even a Cook County judge.
Five years ago, he took down William Hanhardt, the once-successful chief of detectives for the Chicago police. Hanhardt was sentenced to 15 years for operating a nationwide jewelry theft ring, and he was an outfit operative with a badge.
"A perfect cop in the mind of an awful amount of people. He cleared so many cases and did police work that resulted in a number of people being prosecuted and being prosecuted legitimately," Scully said. "He just never took his skills against the Chicago Outfit."
At the time Hanhardt went to prison, Scully was already working on a cloak-and-dagger investigation targeting the upper crust of the outfit.
It began with a letter from Frank Calabrese Jr., son of mob boss "Frank the Breeze." It was a letter so secret that Scully's long-time trial partner, Mitch Mars, didn't reveal it to others in the office for months.
"What was the danger at that point?" Goudie asked.
"Frank Jr. was cooperating, and it was going to be against his father who was a killer in the Chicago mob," Scully answered.
In 2002, with Frank Jr. still undercover, his uncle Nick Calabrese stunned prosecutors by offering to cooperate as well, admitting that he had committed at least 14 mob hits. "There was not the realization on the part on our office or the FBI that he had been involved with murders," Scully said.
Scully said he is amazed that murderer Joey "the Clown" Lombardo took the witness stand and tried to talk his way out of the charges.
"As you sat there and looked at him, could you get the clown image out of your head?" Goudie asked. "No, I didn't have the image of Joey 'The Clown,' I had the image of Danny Seifert," Scully said.
Seifert was the Bensenville business owner that Lombardo murdered in 1974 to prevent him from testifying in a case that Scully had assisted.
"Did you feel threatened by these people?" Goudie asked.
" No, that has never been a part of the Chicago outfit's background, at least in recent years, over the last 30 or 40 years& going after agents, going after prosecutors, going after police officers," Scully said.
Scully's retirement became effective while the jury was deliberating. He was given special permission to remain at the government table. Then when the verdicts came in, he packed up and went home.
Scully said he has no plans for the big salaries that some of his colleagues receive after retiring to private practice. He plans to spend time with his grandchildren.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
As jury selection was set to begin yesterday, lawyers for Mr. DeVecchio asked for a bench trial before the judge overseeing the case, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of State Supreme Court. Justice Reichbach warned the lawyers that he had been investigated by the F.B.I. while a student at Columbia University, where he organized student protests in the 1960s. Mr. DeVecchio was undeterred. The trial was set to begin on Oct. 15.
Monday, October 01, 2007
|Chicago mobsters planted a bomb in the car of Michael Cagnoni, killing him, in 1981. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice|
It all started with a letter sent to our Chicago office in 1998: the son of a Windy City mobster wanted to help us collect enough evidence to have his gangster father put away for life. The letter spawned a seven-year investigation that culminated in a federal courtroom in September with guilty verdicts.
We dubbed it “Operation Family Secrets,” and it’s one of our most successful organized crime investigations ever. The indictment named 14 defendants and included 18 previously unsolved murders.
The man who approached our Chicago office with an unprecedented offer to help was at the time serving a prison sentence with his father, Frank Calabrese Sr. The son agreed to wear a wire during conversations with his father as they talked about the family business.
That family business was the Chicago Outfit, a criminal enterprise operating out of the city for more than four decades. The Outfit had an organized structure and chain of command with “crews” that were assigned specific geographic territories around Chicago.
What kind of business was it? Typical mob stuff: loan sharking, extortion, and gambling, to name just a few. And, of course, murder. Calabrese Sr. talked to his son about three murders he was connected to, with our tape recorders catching all the details.
Thanks to the recordings, our agents got court permission to tape other conversations between Calabrese Sr. and certain visitors. The mobster liked to talk and apparently didn’t mind conducting business from prison.
Soon, our agents had collected enough information—and corroborated it with evidence—to build an iron-clad case against the senior Calabrese for the 1986 murder of mobster John Fecarotta in Chicago. The evidence also clearly implicated Calabrese’s brother, Nicholas W. Calabrese.
Faced with the overwhelming evidence, Nicholas decided he wanted to cooperate, too. He started spilling more family secrets. A lot of them, in fact, including details about 18 previously unsolved mob hits.
Eventually, seven agents worked the Family Secrets case. Everything our agents learned—through the different wire taps, through our own surveillance, and statements from cooperating witnesses—had to be checked out and verified, a process that literally took years to accomplish.
Agents pored over thousands of documents—including old police reports, financial statements, property records, and even seized gambling receipts. “We were checking material that went all the back to the ‘70s,” said Special Agent John Mallul, our Organized Crime Squad supervisor in Chicago and one of the original agents to work on the case.
All the evidence was handed over to a federal grand jury that in April 2005 returned a 43-page indictment. The list of those charged read like a “Who’s Who” in the Chicago mob.
The trial for five men—Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo, Paul “The Indian” Schiro, and Anthony “Twan” Doyle—started in June and ended August 30. The government called more than 125 witnesses and presented more than 200 pieces of evidence, including dozens of photos. All five were found guilty of racketeering and related crimes September 10.
Of the remaining defendants in the indictment, two died prior to trial (Frank Saladino and Michael Ricci), six pled guilty, and one (Frank “The German” Schweihs) was too ill to stand trial.
“This was an exceptional case,” Mallul said. “We haven’t had an individual cooperate like this, and give us this kind of detailed information, before. It helped us take out three crew bosses and the acting head of the Chicago Outfit.”
Thanks to the FBI
It was addressed to now-retired FBI supervisor Tom Bourgeois, who was then the organized crime section chief. It was from Outfit prince Frank Calabrese Jr., serving a prison sentence in Milan, Mich.
Junior offered to implicate his father, Frank Sr., and uncle Nick in the unsolved murder of Outfit hit man John Fecarotta.
"It came in the mail. I couldn't believe it," Bourgeois told me last week during an interview with current FBI agents at the FBI's expansive new headquarters on the West Side. "We went to Frank to authenticate what he told us in the letter. And then we formulated a strategy on how we were going to approach this case. Strategy was the most important part here."
The recently concluded Family Secrets case took agents countless hours transcribing and decoding prison-house code, in which, for example "Zhivago" meant the two murdered Spilotro brothers buried in a cornfield. It also sent them reinvestigating cold Outfit hits from 30 years ago.
"It's hard to explain to the public how much work is involved," said James Wagner, president of the Chicago Crime Commission and a former FBI supervisor, who trained several of the agents. "You have to sit and transcribe those conversations in paper format, and that takes days and days of work right there, a mountain of paperwork," Wagner said. "And go back and find old witnesses."
Family Secrets began long before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There were two FBI squads working the Chicago Outfit then. One was working the Calabrese end, the family that ran the Chinatown crew through gambling, loan-sharking, extortion and murder. But there was another FBI squad focusing on mob-boss heir apparent Jimmy Marcello of the western suburbs, who was preparing to get out of prison and run things the Chicago way.
Both squads folded into one after 9/11. Though resources were shifted toward terrorism, the Chicago FBI kept some of its top people on the Family Secrets case that many of you have been reading about this summer.
This weekend, thousands of words and hours of video will be devoted to great sports plays, the stupendous touchdowns and home runs, and all that pressure on the necks of the Cubs and Bears, professional athletes whose names are known to millions.
FBI agents on Family Secrets aren't on baseball cards. Their names are not known. Yet they're a team more important than a bunch of ballplayers.
The lead case agent was Mike Maseth, who knew relatively little about the Outfit when he was assigned the Calabrese case at its beginning. He spent nine straight determined years working the case and countless hours with Nick Calabrese after he flipped him. And agent Anita Stamat, working on the Marcello angle, decoded the Outfit dialect with the help of Ted McNamara, the FBI's walking Outfit encyclopedia. Veteran John Mallul was the supervisor with the institutional memory who took over when Bourgeois retired.
"Ted McNamara was the mastermind with the code," Stamat said. "He's worked organized crime for 15 years. He helped guide us through the context of the prison conversations. We were recording them in the visiting room. There could be 200 people there, having their own conversations, and sometimes, Marcello would say, 'Cover your mouth,' to his brother Michael, thinking we were reading lips."
They didn't have to read lips, because they were listening and taping.
Other agents include Luigi Mondini, Chris Mackey, Christopher Smith, Tracy Balinao, Andrew Hickey, Mark Gutknecht, Dana DePooter, Trisha Holt and Tim Keese. And from the Internal Revenue Service, there were Bill Paulin, Laura Shimkus and Mike Welch.
You might not know their names, but mention Maseth or Stamat or Mallul or McNamara or the others around wise guys, and their faces freeze. The officials say is the new reputed Chinatown boss, Frank "Toots" Caruso, wouldn't be afraid of an NFL linebacker, but he'd tighten up if Ted McNamara came by for a pork chop sandwich at the Caruso polish sausage stand on 31st Street in Bridgeport.
Outfit bosses Joseph "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Marcello will probably spend the rest of their lives in prison as a result of the case, and Paul "the Indian" Schiro might die inside too. The youngest person convicted in the Family Secrets trial is Anthony "Twan" Doyle, 62, not a boss but a Chicago cop who spilled police secrets about the Fecarotta murder to the Outfit.
Once the FBI flipped Nick Calabrese and began decoding the prison talk of his brother Frank and of Marcello, the case mushroomed. One phase is done. Other cases are being developed as you read this. "I feel this is what the FBI does best," Mallul said, "good old-fashioned police work and investigations, combined with fortuitous events that align themselves."
Like a mob princeling sending a letter to the FBI.
Thanks to John Kass
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I can say it was a long trial and quite an interesting mix of people. The jury was anonymous which added to the intrigue of the case. The spectators were plentiful and even tourists stopped by to see this trial. It was a long hot summer. The trial tested the system to its limits.
Most days, the court room was busting at its seems. In the end, it slowed down. There were over 100 witnesses and stipulations. There was a cart of evidence. The jury deliberated for many days and reached its decision after hours of deliberations and deadlocked on the others.
This is how the system works and that is why its great to live in America. Americans fought for this system and the other rights we enjoy. My colleagues were also a group of great lawyers with many different personalities which added to the mix. Of course, the defendants were the main attractions for the press and spectators. To me, they were the accused. - Joe Shark
Some of the outfit figures claim they're broke, but federal investigators believe those mobsters are hiding millions in assets.
The trail of mob money begins with eight slices of Sopressata Italian salami and two men - convicted Chicago outfit boss Frank Calabrese and suburban lawyer Alphonse Talarico.
On August 16, during a courtroom break in the Operation Family Secrets trial, attorney Talarico was visiting with Frank the Breeze, whose family he'd represented in real estate. Federal marshals say Talarico passed contraband to prisoner Calabrese and is now banned from the courtroom. Talarico claims the contraband salami was his lunchmeat. "Must've fallen out of my pocket," he told the I-Team. "It wasn't anything devious. I wasn't trying to be a wiseguy."
He admitted to being related to wiseguys. He is the brother of mob bookmaker Michael Talarico, who testified in the case; nephew of the late mob boss Angelo "The Hook" Lapietra and ex-in-law of mob hit man Frank "The German" Schweihs. But it's Talarico's role as the real estate attorney and taxman for Frank Calabrese that has the attention of federal agents far more than his fallen salami.
Since the early 1980's, Talarico has handled vacation land deals in Williams Bay, Wisconsin for the Calabreses. Authorities are said to be examining Walworth County deed records for Calabrese and Talarico as they try to determine find Frank the Breeze's assets.
At Talarico's Oakbrook law office, he declined to appear on TV but said the allegations are "totally inaccurate. I don't know anything about it. The U.S. government can follow anything they want."
U.S. prosecutors are also following the money behind mob leader Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, unraveling what they contend was an intricate scheme to camouflage his personal fortune.
The Clown was arrested last year after being on the lamb for months with $3,000 in his pocket. But he claimed to be in the poorhouse, living on Social Security with six-figure debts. His attorney was ordered paid with tax money.
The feds don't buy Lombardo's poverty act, and the I-Team has learned agents recently delivered a subpoena to the suburban home of his son, Joey Jr.
In what's called a "third party citation to discover assets," the junior Lombardo and other members of his family are being commanded to appear in federal court with records of money or property they may be holding for The Clown.
Feds want Joey Jr.'s tax returns and records of his father's trust account that names his mother, himself and his sister as beneficiaries. Prosecutors question how The Clown could have a trust fund if he was penniless.
According to public records, Joey The Clown and his wife, Marion, divorced in 1992. But federal authorities say the split-up was a sham, that they continued to live together in a West Side apartment building until he was indicted in 2005. And when the Lombardo family sold their Florida golf course property in 2003, eleven years after their divorce, Marion Lombardo still listed herself as "a married woman" while collecting $4.5 million.
In the past year, Mrs. Lombardo has sold two properties, totaling almost $800,000.
Joey Lombardo's lawyer and the others in the mob case are bound by a gag order because the jury is still deliberating murder charges. But Joe Dinatale, who represents Lombardo's ex-wife, son and daughter, said they're cooperating and plan to turn over documents early next month.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
"It's gonna be a smaller Christmas tree that's gonna have the loyalty that once was there," Calabrese, then in prison for loan-sharking, said on the undercover recording. "And the, the big Christmas tree ... it'll never hold up. It's gonna fall. Watch it," he said.
Thanks in part to Calabrese's own recorded words, the Christmas tree tumbled last week as the Family Secrets jury found three Outfit figures responsible for 10 of 18 gangland slayings. Earlier this month, the same jury convicted the three as well as two others on racketeering conspiracy charges.
As a result, Calabrese, 70, a feared hit man blamed by the jury for seven of the murders; James Marcello, 65, identified by the FBI in 2005 as the head of the Chicago Outfit; and legendary mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, 78, face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison. But as sweeping as the case was -- resolving some of the most notorious mob murders in modern Chicago history -- organized-crime experts say the Family Secrets prosecution won't derail an entrenched Outfit that dates to Al Capone.
After the trial Thursday, Robert Grant, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office, said the Outfit remains a priority because of its propensity for violence and corruption. "They're much like a cancer," Grant said. "Organized crime, if not monitored and prosecuted, can grow, can corrupt police departments, can corrupt public officials."
"We have dozens of open investigations," John Mallul, supervisor of the FBI's organized crime unit in Chicago, said in an interview.
Calabrese's prison musings about a slimmer but more focused mob appear to be on the mark, the experts said.
Law enforcement officials and the Chicago Crime Commission say the mob is now run in northern and southern sections, with street crews consolidated from six geographical areas to four: Elmwood Park, 26th Street, Cicero and Grand Avenue. Mallul estimates the Outfit has about 30 "made" members and a little more than 100 associates.
Although the mob may be smaller and more tightly controlled, it remains a force with an ability to deliver its trademark illicit services as always, the FBI and experts said.
The mob continues to push its way into legitimate businesses and infiltrate labor unions, offer gambling and high-interest "juice loans," as well as extort "street taxes" from businesses, Mallul said. "In a lot of ways, it's still the same rackets -- 50 years ago, 25 years ago and today," Mallul said.
The Outfit still controls dozens of bookies who rake in millions of dollars a year in the Chicago area, he said, giving the mob its working capital for juice loans and other ventures.
"Sports bookmaking is still a huge moneymaker for them," Mallul said. "On the low end, that can include parlay cards in a tavern all the way up to players betting $5,000 or $10,000 or more a game across the board on a weekend."
James Wagner, head of Chicago Crime Commission, said his organization's intelligence from law enforcement sources indicates Joseph "the Builder" Andriacchi controls the north while Al "the Pizza Man" Tornabene runs the south.
Wagner, a former longtime FBI organized crime supervisor, said the Caruso family runs the 26th Street crew, Andriacchi leads the Elmwood Park crew, Tony Zizzo controlled the Cicero crew until he disappeared a year ago and Lombardo still held influence over the Grand Avenue crew before his arrest.
Authorities believe John "No Nose" DiFronzo also continues to play a prominent role for the mob. His name came up repeatedly in the Family Secrets trial as an Outfit leader, sometimes under another nickname, "Johnny Bananas."
Neither Andriacchi, Tornabene nor DiFronzo has been charged in connection with the Family Secrets investigation. None returned calls seeking comment. An attorney who has represented DiFronzo in the past declined to comment. Wagner said all three reputedly rose in the ranks of the Outfit through cartage theft and juice-loan operations and have since moved into legitimate businesses.
Authorities have said Andriacchi earned his nickname through his connections in the construction business. In the undercover prison recordings, Calabrese identified Andriacchi as the boss of the Elmwood Park crew.
DiFronzo has long had a reputation as a car expert who attended auctions and worked at dealerships, Wagner said. He was convicted of racketeering in the early 1990s for trying to infiltrate an Indian casino in California. He also had connections to waste hauling, Wagner said.
Tornabene, believed by some to be the Outfit's current elder boss, earned his nickname from his family's ownership of a suburban pizza restaurant, authorities said. Law enforcement has recently observed Tornabene, who is well into his 80s, being taken to "business" meetings at his doctor's office, Wagner said.
"Many of these guys are obviously trying to stay out of the limelight as much as they can," he said.
The Family Secrets convictions could further embolden prosecutors in their assault on the Outfit. The verdicts appear to vindicate Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, one of the most significant mob turncoats in Chicago history, who provided crucial testimony on many of the gangland slayings.
His testimony could still spell trouble for DiFronzo and others he named in wrongdoing but who were not indicted, said John Binder, a finance professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and mob researcher who wrote the 2003 book, "The Chicago Outfit."
Calabrese testified that DiFronzo was among the dozen men or more who fatally beat Anthony Spilotro, the mob's Las Vegas chieftain, and his brother Michael in 1986.
"This trial showed how many of these guys had jobs where they worked for the city or at McCormick Place," Wagner said. "When you look at the number that have been connected to the Department of Streets and Sanitation, the Water Department, it's hard to explain without the idea of clout being a factor."
In addition, a former Chicago police officer, Anthony "Twan" Doyle, was convicted of leaking inside information to the mob about the then-covert Family Secrets investigation.
"It's a problem Chicago has preferred to ignore," Wagner said.
Thanks to Jeff Coen