Sunday, March 09, 2008

Judge Approves of Prosecutors Romancing US Marshal

Arresting and romancing don't mix.

That was one of the conclusions of a federal judge Friday as he rejected a request from a deputy U.S. Marshal who wanted his statements to investigators kept out of his upcoming trial for allegedly leaking secrets to the Chicago mob.

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, once a rising star but now suspended without pay, said he was coerced into making statements that he leaked information concerning a witness he was guarding - Nicholas Calabrese, a mob hit man turned federal witness.

Prosecutors argued they were interested in getting Ambrose to cooperate - in "romancing" him, as U.S. District Judge John Grady characterized it.

Prosecutors said authorities didn't wind up arresting Ambrose, 39, of Tinley Park, during a meeting in September 2006 with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI agent Robert Grant, the head of the bureau's Chicago office.

Fitzgerald and Grant wanted to pitch Ambrose to cooperate.

They thought he leaked the information on Calabrese but didn't know how imprisoned mob boss James Marcello learned of it. They wanted Ambrose to fill in the blanks.

Fitzgerald testified at Friday's court hearing he told Ambrose at the start of the 2006 meeting he wasn't under arrest.

Grant backed up Fitzgerald's testimony.

Ambrose, though, told the judge Fitzgerald never mentioned he wasn't under arrest - a key omission.

Ambrose argued whatever he told Fitzgerald and Grant in the meeting shouldn't be allowed as evidence at trial because he was coerced. But the judge didn't buy it.

"If you're going to romance him, arresting him is inconsistent with romancing - or pitching him - as they put it in testimony," Grady said.

Ambrose's attorney, Francis Lipuma, said Ambrose was disappointed by the judge's ruling, but Ambrose still plans on going to trial.

The U.S. attorney's office had no comment on the judge's ruling.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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