Friday, May 09, 2008

Part 2 of the Chicago Mob's Family Secrets Trial to Start by the End of the Year

Alleged mobster Frank "The German" Schweihs has eluded law enforcement officials twice but prosecutors said Thursday they are not through trying to bring him to trial.

Schweihs went on the run three years ago when prosecutors unveiled their sweeping Operation Family Secrets indictment against the top echelon of the Chicago mob.

He was missing for eight months before FBI agents swooped down on his hideaway nestled deep in the Kentucky hills.

Then he missed the Family Secrets trial due to a battle with cancer.

Federal prosecutors now say Schweihs is healthy enough to face trial. They have blocked out an early September date for his trial which they said could last as long as two months.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk told U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel Thursday that the government could call as many as 110 witnesses.

Zagel said he didn't know if the September date would hold but added he would try to have the trial by the end of the year or soon after.

Schweihs is accused of a June 1986 murder in Arizona and squeezing "street tax" payments out of a suburban strip joint and an Indiana porn shop by threatening the owners with violence.

He's also accused of going on the run to avoid prosecution.

The Family Secrets trial ended in September with the conviction of five alleged mobsters in a racketeering conspiracy involving decades of extortion, loan sharking and murder.

One of the five Family Secrets defendants convicted in September, loan shark and hit man Frank Calabrese Sr., was in court Thursday to complain that he isn't getting enough time to study his case while locked up in the federal government's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Calabrese, who according to witnesses strangled a number of victims and then slashed their throats to make sure they were dead, appeared before Zagel wearing orange prison coveralls and leg irons.

Federal officials said they had allotted extra time for Calabrese to have access to a computer and CD ROMs to study his case. But his attorney, Joseph Lopez, said the correctional officers on the floor where his cell is located haven't been honoring that order.

Zagel scheduled a hearing for next week and said he hoped the problem would be straightened out by then.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

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