Thursday, October 30, 2008

Attorneys Disqualified from Organized Crime Bombing Case

A federal judge disqualified two lawyers Tuesday from representing a pair of defendants charged in a mob-related case with blowing up a coin-operated amusement company in suburban Berwyn.

Judge Ronald A. Guzman disqualified attorneys Alexander Salerno and Edmund Wanderling, saying they have "numerous and multifaceted" conflicts of interest.

Mark Polchan, 41, and Samuel Volpendesto, 84, are charged in the February 2003 bombing that ripped apart the Berwyn offices of C&S Coin Operated Amusements.

Prosecutors say the blast was a message from the mob to the company to quit horning in on its $13 million monopoly on gambling in Chicago's western suburbs.

The two men were arrested July 30 when federal agents fanned out across northern Illinois, raiding offices and hangouts of the Outlaws motorcycle gang. Polchan is a member of the Outlaws. The two have pleaded not guilty.

A call to Salerno and Wanderling at their offices late Tuesday was not immediately returned. A message was left with their answering service.

Salerno showed up at the home of an unnamed mob member who could become a defendant in the case when federal agents searched it on July 30, Guzman said. Wanderling apparently called Salerno and urged him to go to the home, he said.

Salerno also represented a key witness in the case and Wanderling had represented that witness's son, the judge said. He said Salerno previously served as an attorney for Volpendesto, who is now represented by Wanderling.

"These circumstances make it extremely difficult for the court even to admonish adequately Volpendesto or Polchan as to the many different ways that this prior relationship could result in prejudice to either during the course of these proceedings," Guzman said in a 15-page written opinion.

"Under these circumstances it is extremely difficult for the court to satisfy itself that either Volpendesto or Polchan understand fully the consequences of waiving their Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel," he said.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

Bonanno Crime Family Associate Convicted

Earlier Monday, after a two-week trial, a jury convicted JOSEPH YOUNG of the March 29, 2005 murder of Robert McKelvey, racketeering, and numerous other crimes of violence.

The convictions were announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Division.

As established at trial, JOSEPH YOUNG was an associate of the Bonanno Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, and was assigned to a Staten Island-based crew led by Bonanno soldier, Gino Galestro. Galestro ordered the murder of another associate in the crew, Robert McKelvey, in order to punish McKelvey for openly boasting of the crew’s criminal activities, and YOUNG agreed to do the murder in exchange for $10,000. On March 29, 2005, another associate of the crew lured McKelvey to a meeting at the historic Kreischer mansion in Staten Island, where YOUNG lived and worked as the mansion’s caretaker. When McKelvey entered the foyer of the mansion, YOUNG stabbed him. McKelvey escaped through the front door, and was tackled by YOUNG, who dragged McKelvey to a decorative garden pool in front of the mansion and drowned him. Following the murder, YOUNG and three associates of the crew disposed of McKelvey’s body by dismembering it with hacksaws, burning the pieces in the mansion’s furnace, and discarding the remaining ashes and bone fragments in the mansion’s septic tank system. Pursuant to searches of the septic tank and wooded area around the mansion, the FBI and personnel from the Medical Examiner’s Office of the City of New York recovered bone fragments and personal effects of McKelvey, and a spot of McKelvey’s blood was recovered from the stairs leading to the mansion’s basement.

In addition to the McKelvey murder, the jury convicted YOUNG of the following additional crimes of violence:

• the summer 2005 attempted arson of a vehicle whose owner had crossed Galestro;

• the September 2005 gunpoint robbery of the Pine Tree Holistic Center, an illegal massage parlor in Springfield, New Jersey, where YOUNG’s girlfriend worked at the time;

• the October 20, 2005 gunpoint extortion of an individual who owed tribute money to Galestro’s crew;

• the January 27, 2006 arson of a home in Staten Island while the residents were asleep inside, one of whom suffered a near-fatal heart attack while attempting to fight the fire;

• the autumn 2005 conspiracy to rob a pizza parlor in Coram, New York, by gunpoint;

• the May 12, 2005 assault in aid of racketeering of a mechanic who was a business rival of other mechanics connected to the crew; YOUNG and another member of the crew assaulted the mechanic at his place of business using a police-issue baton and a crowbar, resulting in a broken knee cap and other serious injuries; and

• the July 1, 2005 gunpoint carjacking of a BMW at the Menlo Mall in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

In addition, YOUNG was convicted of purchasing two firearms through false statements, and then obliterating the guns’ serial numbers and illegally transporting them from Pennsylvania to New York.

Galestro previously pled guilty to racketeering charges that included the McKelvey murder.

“We are gratified with the jury’s thoughtful and considered verdict in this case. The mafia continues to commit unspeakable acts of violence in our community, and we will not rest until we bring the criminals who commit those acts, including murder, to justice,” said United States Attorney Campbell.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, “Once again the popular misconception of a more genteel and nonviolent mob is put to lie. Today’s La Cosa Nostra families may devise some schemes that are more sophisticated than their ancestors’. But they still commit murder and mayhem.”

YOUNG faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment when sentenced Allyne R. Ross, United States District Judge, on January 27, 2009.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Winston Y. Chan, Jack Dennehy, and William Schaeffer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rumors of the Kennedy Family's Ties to the Mafia

Rumors of ties between the Kennedys and the Mafia go back to John F. Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy, who reportedly earned much of the family fortune as bootlegger and had connections to mobsters like Meyer Lansky. When JFK faced Hubert Humphrey in the Democratic primary in 1960, many claimed that the Kennedy clan called on their mob connections to ensure a favorable vote, and similar accusations were made during the presidential election against Richard Nixon, which Kennedy won by a slim margin.

Several theories tie JFK’s assassination to the Mafia. Jack Ruby, the man who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK’s accused assassin), was a known mob associate. One theory attributes motive to the Mafia through the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Mafia reportedly hated that Cuba was in the hands of Fidel Castro, who had thrown them out of their lucrative Cuban casino businesses when he came to power. The invasion was an utter failure attributed by some to Kennedy’s refusal to approve air support.

Another theory points to JFK’s brother, Robert, whom JFK appointed to the position of attorney general after he was elected president. Once appointed, Robert Kennedy immediately began a Mafia crackdown. Robert also died from an assassin’s bullet.

Another rumor plays on suggestions that JFK kept several mistresses and girlfriends, some of whom were known to associate with mobsters. Some evidence, including federal wiretaps, shows that mobster Sam Giancana may have set JFK up with various women, all the while recording proof of the President’s extra-marital affairs. Conspiracy theorists have speculated that it was hit men sent by Giancana who murdered Marilyn Monroe, one of JFK’s supposed girlfriends. Giancana himself was murdered shortly before he was due to testify on the Mafia/Kennedy connections.

Thanks to Nicks Free Info

Organized Crime Still Active in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Metro Police arrested seven Mongol motorcycle gang members on a variety of charges out of an estimated 10 to 11 gang members believed to be in Southern Nevada.

"This has effectively dismantled both chapters in Southern Nevada," said Lt. David Logue, head of Metro's intelligence unit. Mongol chapters operated in Las Vegas and Henderson, he said.

Its members and their charges include:

  • -- Harold Reynolds, known as "Face," 40, of Las Vegas, charged in federal warrants with racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • -- David Padilla, also known as "Lazy Dave," 36, of Las Vegas, charged in federal warrants with RICO conspiracy, racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
  • -- Ismael Padilla, also known as "Milo," 33, of Las Vegas, charged in federal warrants with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • -- William Ramirez, also known as "Moreno," 38, of Las Vegas, charged in federal warrants with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • -- Jason Hull, also known as "Big Jay," 33, of Las Vegas, charged in federal warrants with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • -- John Babcock, also known as "Sinister," 43, of Las Vegas, charged in a state warrant with unlawful transfer of a firearm.
  • -- Gary Lawson, also known as "T.C.," 49, of Las Vegas was taken into custody in California as part of the operation.

Metro Police said at least nine motorcycles were confiscated, along with five revolvers, a chrome-plated pistol, three shotguns, numerous rifles and semi-automatic weapons. Some weapons and money were on display at a Tuesday news conference, said Bill Cassel, public information officer for Metro Police.

The federal racketeering indictment unsealed in Los Angeles also alleges the name "Mongols," which was trademarked by the gang, is subject to forfeiture.

The massive law enforcement crackdown against the Mongols, dubbed "Operation Black Rain," began three and a half years ago by various agencies, including local police, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Lt. David Logue, Metro Police intelligence chief.

Four agents outside of Nevada went undercover and earned a patch, becoming Mongol members, Logue said.

Former national Mongol president Ruben Cavazos was arrested at his home near South Hills Country Club in West Covina, authorities said.

Law enforcement officers served a total of 110 federal arrest warrants and 160 search warrants in Southern California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Washington state and Ohio. Seven of those warrants were served in Las Vegas by members of Metro Police, Henderson and North Las Vegas SWAT teams. No one resisted arrest and there were no injuries, Logue said.

Mongol members have been involved in previous criminal activity in Las Vegas.

Nine men, two of them Mongol members, were named in a federal grand jury indictment unsealed in April 2004 in Las Vegas on 73 counts of murder in connection with a shootout at Harrah's Laughlin casino at a 2002 gathering known as the River Run that left three people dead. Others involved were from the rival Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, authorities said. The shootout killed Salvador Barrera, Robert Tumelty and Jeremy Bell.

About a half dozen people formed the gang in the 1970s because they were banned from joining the notorious Hell's Angels motorcycle group due to their Hispanic heritage. The Mongol gang began attracting members with criminal tendencies as it grew and was then labeled "outlaw" by law enforcement officials.

The Mongols tend to recruit younger, more violent people from street gangs, said Thomas L. Chittum III, resident agent in charge in the Las Vegas branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Thanks to Mary Manning

Bond Denied for Reputed Tampa Gambino James Cadicamo

A man the government says directed a Gambino crew that muscled into Tampa is emerging as a key figure in the case against a Tampa man accused of being part of the notorious organized crime family. After hearing arguments, a federal judge denied bail today for James V. Cadicamo, who was arrested in August along with four other men charged with participating in a vast racketeering conspiracy under the umbrella of the Gambino crime family. At the same time, John A. "Junior" Gotti was named in a separate, similar indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Tampa.

Cadicamo's defense attorney, Ronald K. Cacciatore, said a key witness against his client will be John Alite, who is awaiting trial on similar charges. Alite was part of a case that went to trial in 2005 against Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio and three others. But Alite was in prison in Brazil after fleeing to Latin America.

Cacciatore and a federal prosecutor agree that John Alite was a dangerous criminal when he was on the streets, but they differ on Cadicamo's relationship with Alite.

Prosecutors described Alite as a crime crew leader who answered to Trucchio and was friends with Gotti.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Trezevant said Alite was thinking about cooperating with the government when he fled the country in 2003 after hearing threats against his life. Trezevant said Cadicamo was in frequent contact with Alite as he traveled in Cuba, South America, Greece and Africa. After he was arrested, Alite called Cadicamo from a prison in Brazil.

Cacciatore said in court papers that Alite extorted and threatened Cadicamo. A witness says Alite said he was going to hurt Cadicamo before Alite went to jail, Cacciatore said. He told the same witness he was going to persuade another witness to turn on Cadicamo and hurt him, Cacciatore said.

"I've counted at least 15 people who Mr. Alite has threatened," Cacciatore said. "Prior to Mr. Alite's arrest, … he threatened a lawyer in New York, threatened to whack him."

Cadicamo, on the other hand, has never been convicted of a violent felony and is "not going to harm anybody," Cacciatore said. "He's not going anyplace" if he is freed on bail.

Trezevant described Cadicamo as a dangerous person who committed crimes while he was on probation. He associated with members of a crew in New York that was called the "Young Guns," Trezevant said, and made plans to harm a federal witness.

Trezevant played a portion of a recorded conversation between Cadicamo and his father, Victor, after Cadicamo was arrested. Cadicamo can be heard telling his father to get rid of items. Trezevant suggested this involved evidence Cadicamo didn't want authorities to find.

"I want you to go in my closet downstairs," Cadicamo says at one point.

"I took care of it already," his father responds.

Asked about the recording after the hearing, Victor Cadicamo said his son was talking about watches he didn't want anyone to steal.

Thanks to Elaine Silvestrini

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Joins the National Gang Intelligence Center

The FBI is pleased to announce the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has joined the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC). Established in 2005, the NGIC is an FBI led multi-agency effort that integrates the gang intelligence assets of the FBI and other federal, state, and local law enforcement entities to serve as a centralized intelligence resource for gang information and analytical support
.
“The addition of CBP will only strengthen the partnership of the NGIC aimed at combating violent crime and gangs,” said Assistant Director Kenneth W. Kaiser.“ The NGIC provides the law enforcement community with a one-stop-shop mechanism for submitting requests for information and conducting relational analysis of gang information as it pertains to past and present gang investigations.”

“CBP has to be an intelligence driven organization to provide information to frontline officers to protect the nation from criminal gangs,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham. “CBP's Office of Intelligence and Operations Coordination recently announced an Anti-Gang Initiative related to fighting the growth, migration, criminal activity, and affiliation of gangs who pose a threat to our nation's security and to public safety. We welcome the ability to add the resources of NGIC to our ongoing efforts to collaborate with other federal agencies and our state and local partners to combat this unique threat.”

The NGIC is designed to combine the manpower and resources of partner federal agencies responsible for investigating and gathering intelligence on violent street and motorcycle gangs. The center supports law enforcement agencies through timely and accurate information sharing and strategic/tactical analysis of federal, state, and local law enforcement information focusing on the growth, migration, criminal activity, and association of gangs that pose a significant threat to communities throughout the U.S.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot-Machine & Jukebox Show

The Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot-Machine & Jukebox Show is the largest show of its type in the world! It's very popular with dealers and collectors from across the country and around the world for it's wide range of high-quality antique collectibles. Please don't confuse the show with typical antique shows. Their dealers generally don't bring furniture, glassware, dishes or other similar types of antiques to the show. The public is cordially invited to attend this semi-annual event, held in 2 exhibition halls at the beautiful Pheasant Run Resort Hotel.

Show Days and Times:
  • Saturday, November 15th, 2008 - 9:30 am-5:00 pm - $7.00 per person
  • Sunday, November 16th, 2008 - 9:30 am-3:00 pm - $7.00 per person
  • Friday, November 14th, 2008 is Early Bird Preview Day - $50.00 per person 7:00 am-5:00 pm (Good for admission all 3 days)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is Pope Benedict XVI on the Lam from the Mob?

John Paul II set a powerful precedent for how a Roman Pontiff can take on the Italian Mob. In May 1993, after a high-profile spate of Mafia killings, the Pope denounced the Mob's "culture of death" in an emotionally charged sermon in Agrigento, Sicily, the home turf of Cosa Nostra. "I say to those responsible: Convert!" he intoned, shaking his clenched fist and index finger. "One day, the judgment of God will arrive!" Two months after the dramatic papal appeal, the Mafia bombed two historic churches in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI was certainly aware of that confrontation as he prepared this past weekend to visit Pompeii. The southern Italian city, near the ruins of an ancient site buried by a Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption, lies in the heart of the region controlled by the Camorra. The Naples-based organized crime syndicate has lately tightened its grip on the impoverished region, with more killing sprees and a high-profile death threat against a young writer. But unlike John Paul, Benedict said nothing at all about the Mob in his Sunday homily. Did the Pope back down in the face of one of Italy's most entrenched and destructive evils?

Many were counting on another papal mention about the Mob as violence in the region reaches new heights. Last month, a Camorra death squad unleashed a fury of submachine-gun fire, killing seven immigrants in a single attack. A week ago, reports surfaced of a pointed death threat against Naples writer Roberto Saviano, 28, whose best-selling book Gomorrah, and the movie based on it, reveal the extent of the Camorra's influence and dirty dealings. While the Pope remained silent, more than 100,000 people signed a petition this week in support of Saviano, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, Orhan Pamuk, G√ľnter Grass, Jose Saramago and Jonathan Franzen. "It is intolerable that all this can happen in Europe, and in 2008," reads the petition. "The state must make every effort possible to protect (Saviano) and defeat the Camorra." The movie version of Saviano's book, directed by Matteo Garrone, won second prize at the Cannes film festival this year and is Italy's entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

When reporters asked why the Pope had said nothing on such a burning topic in Pompeii, Vatican spokesman Reverand Ciro Benedettini said Benedict had intentionally avoided referring to the Camorra as a "show of respect for decent people" of the region, who "are the vast majority." The Pope, the spokesman added, had also talked about organized crime in a visit last year to Naples, though admittedly not with the same confrontational tone as John Paul did in Sicily.

Benedict's silence has generated a small rumbling of dissent from both inside and outside the church. "It could seem that there is fear now to confront the Mob, and call it by its name," Don Vitaliano Della Sala, a leftist priest from nearby Avellino, said in a Monday radio interview. He drew a parallel between Benedict's decision not to speak out Sunday and the controversy stirring over Pope Pius XII's alleged silence about the Holocaust during World War II.

That analogy seems a stretch: the Italian authorities' decades-long battle to uproot the Mob bears little comparison to the Nazis' state-run policy of genocide. But the comparison between Benedict and his immediate predecessor is illuminating. John Paul not only possessed a pastoral charisma that made him beloved among his flock, but also he could call on a reserve of public passion in order to confront a problem facing his church or the world at large. That kind of fire is simply not in this Pontiff's arsenal.

Thanks to Jeff Israely

U.S. Seeks Nearly $4 Million in Restitution from Family Secret Mobsters

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA )
) No. 02 CR 1050
v. ))
Judge James B. Zagel
FRANK CALABRESE SR., et al. )

MOTION FOR IMPOSITION OF RESTITUTION

This cause comes before the Court on motion of the United States for imposition of
restitution, pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (“MVRA”), in the above-captioned matter against defendants Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle.1 For the reasons discussed below, these defendants are jointly and severally liable for a total restitution amount of $3,909,166.30.2

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendants Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo, Paul “The Indian” Schiro, and Anthony “Twan” Doyle were convicted as a result of their criminal participation in a racketeering enterprise known as the Chicago Outfit. The charged conspiracy involved, among other categories of criminal conduct, the murders of 18 individuals. See Doc. #397 at 9-10. There is little dispute that these murders were part of the conspiracy, and were committed to advance the criminal objectives of the Chicago Outfit.

The jury in its Special Verdict forms, moreover, concluded that James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, and Frank Calabrese Sr. personally participated in Outfit murders;3 the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Paul Schiro’s involvement in the Vaci homicide. In addition, Doyle, a long-time Chicago Police Officer and member of the conspiracy since the 1960's, knew full well that the Outfit committed homicides. Doyle in fact was taped discussing that the Outfit killed people with Calabrese Sr.,4 and indeed personally attempted to obstruct the investigation of the Outfit homicide of John Fecarotta. It would therefore be frivolous to argue that it was not foreseeable to defendants that the racketeering conspiracy they joined in the 1950's and 60's, and never withdrew from, involved homicides. Because defendants were convicted for their involvement in a the Outfit’s racketeering conspiracy, because the charged murders advanced the Outfit’s illegal objectives, and because such murders were known and/or foreseeable to the defendants, defendants Calabrese Sr., Marcello, Lombardo, Schiro, and Doyle must be held jointly and severally responsible for restitution to the estates of the murder victims.

II. ARGUMENT

The MVRA defines a “victim” as:

[A] person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of an offense for which restitution may be ordered including, in the case of an offense that involves as an element a scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity, any person directly harmed by the defendant's criminal conduct in the course of the scheme, conspiracy, or pattern.

18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2) (2000) (emphasis added); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3663(a)(1)(A) (authorizing restitution for defendants “convicted of an offense under [Title 18]”). If, as here, the victims of the violent crimes are deceased, the Court must order restitution payable to the victims’ estates. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(1). Moreover, according to 18 U.S.C. § 3664(h):

If the court finds that more than 1 defendant has contributed to the loss of a victim, the court may make each defendant liable for payment of the full amount of restitution or may apportion liability among the defendants to reflect the level of contribution to the victim's loss and economic circumstances of each defendant. There is substantial case law dealing situations where, as here, murder victims’ estates, the victims’ families, or the victims’ dependents, including widows and children, are entitled to receive restitution payments:

• United States v. Douglas, 525 F.3d 225, 253-54 (2d Cir. 2008) (affirming restitution award
for funeral expenses and lost income under 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(3), (4));
• United States v. Serawop, 505 F.3d 1112, 1125, 1128 (10th Cir. 2007) (defendant convicted
of voluntary manslaughter ordered to pay restitution for lost income to estate of three-month
old victim);
• United States v. Cienfuegos, 462 F.3d 1160, 1164 (9th Cir. 2006) (finding the victim’s estate
was entitled to restitution);
• United States v. Oslund, 453 F.3d 1048, 1063 (8th Cir. 2006) (affirming restitution order
awarding lost future income under the MVRA and stating that “[w]hen the crime causes the
death of a victim, the representative of that victim’s estate or a family member may assume
the victim’s rights”) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2));
• United States v. Pizzichiello, 272 F.3d 1232, 1240-41 (9th Cir. 2001) (victim’s surviving
family members properly awarded lost income, funeral, and travel expenses under the
MVRA);
• United States v. Checora, 175 F.3d 782, 795 (10th Cir. 1999) (defendants convicted of voluntary manslaughter ordered to pay restitution for the support of the victim’s minor children that were directly and proximately harmed as a result of the victim’s death);
• United States v. Razo-Leora, 961 F.2d 1140, 1146 (5th Cir. 1992) (defendants convicted of charges related to a murder-for-hire conspiracy ordered to pay restitution for lost income to the murder victim’s widow);
• United States v. Jackson, 978 F.2d 903, 915 (5th Cir. 1992 )(“[T]he district court has the authority to order the defendants to pay the victims’ estates an amount equal to the victims’ lost income . . . .”);
• United States v. Roach, 2008 WL 163569, at *3-5, 9 (W.D.N.C. Jan. 16, 2008) (restitution awarded for lost income based on reasonable assumptions that murder victim would work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year until age 65 at state minimum wage and receive two percent increase per year);
• United States v. Visinaiz, 344 F. Supp.2d 1310, 1312-13 (D. Utah 2004) (MVRA requires restitution for lost income in homicide cases; no ex post facto implication); and
• United States v. Bedonie, 317 F. Supp.2d 1285, 1288-90 (D. Utah 2004), rev’d on other grounds, 413 F.3d 1126 (10th Cir. 2005) (court appointed an expert to calculate lost income who made reasonable and reliable race- and sex-neutral projections of future lost income without any discount for possible “consumption” of income by the victims).

In a conspiracy such as this, co-conspirators must be held jointly and severally liable for the total foreseeable restitution amount. See generally United States v. Rand, 403 F.3d 489, 495 (7th Cir. 2005) (“[Defendant] may be held responsible for losses caused by the foreseeable acts of his co-conspirators. Co-conspirators generally are jointly and severally liable for injuries caused by the conspiracy . . . .”), citing United States v. Martin, 195 F.3d 961, 968-69 (7th Cir. 1999); United States v. Amato, 540 F.3d 153, 163 (2nd Cir. 2008) (holding that it was “within the district court's discretion to make [defendant] jointly and severally liable for entire loss that [victim] suffered as a result of conspiracy even while apportioning liability of some of [defendant's] co-conspirators.”). The evidence at trial established the proposition, understood well by the co-conspirators, that an “authorized”/”okayed” murder was a powerful weapon in the Outfit’s punishment and control arsenal. In addition, the recorded February 11 and 12, 1962, discussions attached hereto as Government Exhibit A graphically highlight the Outfit’s long-standing use of murder to achieve its criminal objectives. During the two surreptitiously recorded Miami, Florida, meetings between Jack Cerone, Dave Yarras, Pete LNU, James Vincent “Turk” Torello, and others, the men discuss various Outfit murders (indeed, the men were assembled in Florida to kill union boss Frank Esposito). The foreseeability prong of the analysis therefore strongly favors a full restitution award.



Turning to what evidence the Court can consider in its effort to determine the total loss, the MVRA specifically provides for restitution to “the victim for income lost by such victim as a result of the offense,” and states that the restitution amount shall represent “the full amount” of the victim’s loss. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(2)(C); § 3664(f)(1)(A); see also Roach, 2008 WL 163569, at *8-9 (restitution awarded for lost income based on reasonable assumptions that murder victim would work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year until age 65 at state minimum wage and receive two percent increase per year). Applied to the present case, the inquiry thus centers on approximating the future income of the above-described murder victims. Cienfuegos, 462 F.3d at 1164 (“Any victim suffering bodily injury or death necessarily incurs the income lost only after the injury, i.e. in the future, as a consequence of the defendant’s violent act.”).5 This income figure must include prejudgment interest through the date of sentencing “to make up for the loss of the funds’ capacity to grow.” United States v. Shepard, 269 F.3d 884, 886 (7th Cir. 2001) (relying on 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(1)(B)(i)(II) and In re Oil Spill by the Amoco Cadiz, 954 F.2d 1279, 1311-35 (7th Cir.1992)).

“The determination of appropriate restitution is by nature an inexact science.” United States v. Williams, 292 F.3d 681, 688 (10th Cir. 2002). Though not required to do so, the government has engaged Financial Forensic Expert and Certified Public Accountant Michael D. Pakter to prepare a report calculating the lost estimated earning capacity of the identified murder victims. See generally Cienfuegos, 462 F.3d at 1169 (requiring non-speculative basis for calculations). Michael D. Pakter’s twenty-two page report is attached hereto as Government Exhibit B.

III. CONCLUSION

The calculations set forth in the attached report are based on conservative assumptions,6 see Government Exhibit B at 16-18, and constitute the best available evidence of the proper restitution amount under the MVRA. The government has therefore sustained its burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence the losses sustained by the victims, and has established that Outfit murders were at a minimum reasonably foreseeable to Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Lombardo, Schiro, and Doyle. See generally 18 U.S.C. § 3664(e) (Court resolves restitution disputes by preponderance of the evidence standard); Razo-Leora, 961 F.2d at 1146 (“The prosecution has the burden of demonstrating the amount of loss sustained by the victim and proving this loss by a preponderance of the evidence.”); see also Doc. #839 (government’s summary of trial evidence presented against each defendant). The government therefore asks this Court to hold defendants Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle jointly and severally liable for restitution in the amount of $3,909,166.30. See Government Exhibit B at 7.

Respectfully submitted,
PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney
By: s/ T. Markus Funk
T. MARKUS FUNK
Assistant U.S. Attorney
219 South Dearborn, Room 500
Chicago, Illinois 60604
(312) 886-7635

1 Defendant Nicholas Calabrese at trial admitted his involvement in a number of Outfit murders. That testimony, however, was given pursuant to the Court’s grant of immunity. Tr. 2299-2300. Moreover, with the exception of the murder of John Fecarotta, the information provided by Nicholas Calabrese to law enforcement was at all times proffer-protected. See Tr. 2870. The government is restricting the instant restitution request to victims who were not lifelong associates/members of the Chicago Outfit; the Fecarotta homicide is therefore not part of the government’s calculations, and accordingly no restitution is sought as to Nicholas Calabrese.

2 This restitution amount is separate and distinct from defendants’ forfeiture liability. See United States v. Webber, 536 F.3d 584, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2008) (“Forfeiture and restitution are distinct remedies.”).

3 Frank Calabrese Sr. was found to have participated in the murder of Michael Albergo, William Dauber, Charlotte Dauber, Michael Cagnoni, Richard Ortiz, Arthur Morwawki, and John Fecarotta; James Marcello was found to have participated in the murders of Anthony Spilotro and Michael Spilotro; and Joseph Lombardo was found to have participated in the murder Daniel Seifert.

4 See 2-19-2000 Transcript (Doyle telling Calabrese Sr. how James LaPietra and John “Apes” Monteleone without authorization beat another mob associate and as a result were almost ordered killed by Outfit Boss “Skid” Caruso; Doyle: “Had it been where the Old Man was still alive, they’d of went.”)

5 Indirect loss or consequential damages should not be included in any restitution order; only direct, actual losses may be awarded. United States v. Frith, 461 F.3d 914, 921 (7th Cir. 2006), citing 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2); United States v. George, 403 F.3d 470, 474 (7th Cir. 2005) (“‘Loss’ means direct injury, not consequential damages.”). On the other hand, no expenses for consumption should be deducted from any potential claim for lost future wages; such deductions are not permissible under the MVRA, which provides only for an award of “income lost,” not net income lost. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(2)(C). Additionally, restitution must be ordered for necessary funeral and related services. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(3).

6 The government reserves the right to submit an adjusted report if and when the government receives additional/revised income or other information for the victims.

Tough Guy Mobster Claims Jail is Torture, Begs Judge for Mercy

Federal authorities say Boris Stratievsky was a tough-talking Russian mobster whose father once boasted that his son had attempted murders.

"It's the same for Boris, whether to stab someone with a knife or shoot them," Lev Stratievsky told a wired-up government informant. But Boris Stratievsky wasn't so tough while he was in the Kankakee County Jail for 30 months while awaiting trial on federal money-laundering charges, according to his latest court filing.

"This was not the serving of time, but a form of torture to which no human being should be subjected," he wrote, begging a judge to give him a break at sentencing, which is scheduled for today.

Prosecutors will argue against such a break, saying the U.S. Marshals Service inspects county jails to make sure they meet standards for the care of inmates awaiting trial in federal court. Stratievsky's conditions weren't "truly egregious," prosecutors said.

The feds have contracts with local governments to house some of their pretrial detainees like Stratievsky in county jails.

Stratievsky said he was placed in the general population with gang members who were awaiting trial for murder, arson and other violent crimes. Because he wasn't a gang member, he says he was struck, pushed around and lived in constant fear.

He complained there was no "yard" to exercise in and that a basketball court with a broken backboard was a haven for gang-bangers and an "open invitation to be attacked."

"After one particular attack, which resulted in a terrible fight, I was finally transferred to the Metropolitan Correctional Center," Stratievsky said of the federal lockup in downtown Chicago.

Stratievsky, who lived in a Highland Park mansion on Lake Michigan and co-owned a Boeing 707, was arrested with his father in an FBI sting in 2005.

In May, he pleaded guilty, admitting he illegally transferred $80,000 in what he thought were drug proceeds from Moscow to a New Jersey bank. In return, he was to get a 20 percent fee.

Stratievsky believed he was working with an associate of Ukrainian drug traffickers, but the man really was an FBI informant, officials say.

Lev and Boris Stratievsky both were held in the Kankakee County Jail. Boris Stratievsky said he saw his father become gravely ill there and believes a lack of medical attention at the jail hastened his father's death.

Boris Stratievsky wrote that he was only allowed a 15-minute visit with his father at the hospital - and a short visit with his father's body after his death.

Thanks to Frank Main

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is "Joe the Plumber" Connected?

Last Wednesday night, Joe the Plumber became an instant household word as he was mentioned numerous times by both presidential candidates, especially John McCain. Initial research identified the man as Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo, Ohio, who spoke briefly with Senator Barack Obama at a political rally.

However, the Post Times Sun Dispatch has learned for a reliable source that John McCain’s Joe the Plumber is in really Joseph “the plumber” Balducci, a 42-year-old wanted for questioning by Cleveland police in connection with the bombing of a voting machine warehouse on Euclid Avenue, the wiping off of thousands of names from the voting roles in heavily Democratic counties in Ohio, and for intimidation of minority voters. Balducci along with Anthony “Tony the fixer” LaMonica are suspected of carrying out the orders of Mafia boss Leonardo Cardi to fix the election in Ohio in favor of Republican candidates.

“No wonder McCain’s tax plan works for Joe the Plumber and Obama’s doesn’t,” said Senator Joe Biden, “it’s payback for Balducci and gang for unclogging the political pipes for the Republicans, if you know what I mean.”

McCain denied the charge saying Joe “was just an ordinary plumber making $2.8 million a year, or was I supposed to say that Joe?”

Mr. Balducci refused to talk with the Post Times Sun Dispatch but informed the paper by an anonymous call that if the owners of the publication wanted to keep their kneecaps operating properly, they should "forgetaboutit.”

Satire Courtesy of R.J. Shulman

Mobsters Support Federal Economic Stimulus Plan

The federal economic stimulus plan might have unintended benefits for organized crime.

At least that's the assessment of experts who monitor groups like the Russian Mafia in Los Angeles County.

"They take advantage," said Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Larry Hastings. "The more money that's out there; if there's some type of scam they can get into, they'll go after it. If there's an angle they'll work it."

Hastings heads a squad specifically tasked with taking on organized crime. In recent years the men and women who work for him report a surge in Russian gangsters throughout the region.

"It used to be they were just on the Westside," Hastings said. "Now pretty much we are getting stuff all over. It's spread everywhere."

There's nothing new about gangsters profiting in an economic downturn. During the Great Depression, Al Capone ran rackets in Chicago, while Lucky Luciano ran them in New York and Mickey Cohen took care of business here in Los Angeles.

Those crime families, primarily Italian, are known in law enforcement as La Cosa Nostra or LCN. Their profits derived primarily from vice - bootlegging, prostitution, drugs, gambling and extortion. And, as they gained notoriety, made LCN members were glamorized in Hollywood, lived like celebrities and became huge targets for law enforcement, Hastings said.

A Godfather called the shots and his capos and lieutenants carried out the orders.
Advertisement But the new organized crime groups, while expert in all the old-school tricks, present a problem for law enforcement. Their structure is not well defined. They fly under the radar. There is no Godfather.

"It's really difficult to explain," Hastings said. "They are loosely organized and spread all over. They are not like street gangs or LCN."

Instead of cozying up to Hollywood types, Russian mobsters get close to politicians and successful businessmen, Hastings said. The new rackets are complicated fraud scams that target credit cards, ATM machines, and the fountains of government money intended for health care, welfare and a variety of other social needs.

As more and more money pours out of Washington, experts believe crime groups formed in Soviet prisons under Stalin are ready to put on a full-court press.

There's little doubt the Russian mob will use all the tricks at its disposal, according to Gerald Caiden, a USC professor of public policy, who is an expert in organized crime.

"These guys know how to diddle the system," Caiden said. "They'll figure out a way to get swing loans from (the government) using fake addresses and any other means they can."

Caiden believes Russian scam artists are primarily responsible for the collapse of our Social Security system. "It's awful what these guys have done," Caiden said.

Bottom line: a sagging economy, billions of new government dollars pouring into the system and a ruthless group intent on profiteering can only mean more trouble for already overburdened law enforcement agencies tracking these thugs.

"They are about making money," Hastings said. "What's happening now is not going to hurt them."

Thanks to Frank Giradot

Halloween Midnight Madness at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment

The NMCP invites you, your friends, and family to trick or treat at the museum during Halloween Midnight Madness, on Friday, October 31st from 5:00 p.m. until midnight. Wear a costume and receive $5.00 off the price of admission. Tickets will be available at the door.

Full-price admission guarantees a ticket in advance. Purchase online or by calling (202) 393-1099. Full-price admission is $17.95 for adults (plus tax) and $14.95 for children (plus tax).

Mob Strike Force Will Remain Intact to Confront Gangsters Returning from Prison

Recently there's been more intrigue about the fate of the U.S. Organized Crime Strike Force than about mob plots in Philadelphia.

Well, the strike force has dodged a bullet, sort of.

Officials of the U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday that strike-force prosecutors would be devoted to organized crime - La Cosa Nostra and emerging ethnic groups from Russia, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. They will not be interchangeable with drug prosecutors, officials said.

The deal was worked out between the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Justice Department in recent days. And it comes not a moment too soon, as dozens of mobsters are returning home from prison.

Last Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fritchey underwent a proper moblike introduction to the cappi di tutti in Washington, D.C.

"This is Dave from Philly. He's a friend of ours," joked Fritchey, about his own introduction as the newly appointed chief of the strike force here.

The Boss of all Bosses, Matthew W. Friedrich, the acting assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, blessed Fritchey as chief and preserved the nine-prosecutor unit as part of his special-strike-force duties.

Fritchey, a longtime mob prosecutor, takes over the prestigious strike force, which put scores of mobsters behind bars during the reigns of several mob bosses, from Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo in the '80s to Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino in '01. "I expect to do long-term projects and quick-hitting ones in real time," said Fritchey.

Robert Reed, deputy chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney's Office, said that he hopes for "cross-pollination" between the drug unit and strike force, now located next to each other after a move over the weekend.

"I think highly of Fritchey as a prosecutor. He's a very independent guy," said Louis Pichini, retired strike-force attorney and former chief of the Criminal Division. "But how much independence will he have?"

If strike-force attorneys had to try a tsunami of drug prosecutions as earlier suggested, retired prosecutors and investigators said, they would not have time to attack the most complicated organized-crime cases.

Nor could they monitor nearly 30 mobsters released from prison since the early 1980s, or others who pose threats to society, they said.

Recently, an intelligence analyst who studied organized-crime activities to find links among them was transferred to the terrorism unit.

"I strongly disagree with the dilution of the program," said Joel M. Friedman, strike-force chief for 22 years, now working with retired FBI director Louis J. Freeh's consulting firm, Freeh Group International.

"This is one of the most violent LCN [La Cosa Nostra] families in America," Friedman said. "They swear an oath to protect the family. They are getting out [of prison] and will reconstitute the family."

James T. Maher, retired FBI supervisor of the organized-crime unit, is so concerned that he still keeps track of mobsters coming home.

Last March, Vincent "Big Vince" Filipelli, 54, a bodyguard and enforcer for mob boss John Stanfa in the 1990s, was sent back to prison to serve a 66-month sentence for extortion. The "made" member earlier served a 54-month sentence for racketeering extortion in the Stanfa era.

In 2001, mobster Martin Angelina, 45, was convicted of racketeering with Merlino and served a 54-month prison sentence. Last year, Angelina was caught associating with mobsters and returned to prison for four months. And he may be in trouble again - he has a hearing tomorrow on a related matter.

Tomorrow, Thomas R. Perricone will be named deputy chief of the Criminal Division in charge of drugs and organized crime, and Faith Taylor will be named chief of the narcotics unit.

Thanks to Kitty Caparella

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Donnie Brasco" Says Fughetaboutit to Testifying in Court

The FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Mafia as "Donnie Brasco" refused Wednesday to testify in a fellow former agent's murder trial because he could be photographed and filmed on the witness stand.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake refused a request by Joseph Pistone to prohibit news media from taking pictures or videotaping his testimony.

The ex-agent on trial, John Connolly, said he didn't want Blake to enforce a subpoena that could require Pistone to take the stand because of fears for his safety. "He's a friend of mine. His wife is a friend of mine. I know his children. If something happened to him, I can't live with myself," Connolly told the judge.

Pistone posed as a jewel thief in 1976 to infiltrate New York's Bonanno family, eventually spending six years with the mob and ultimately putting more than 100 gangsters in jail. His book about the experience was made into a 1997 film starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.

Connolly's attorneys say a Mafia contract for Pistone's killing remains in effect even though he has frequently given lectures and appeared on television. Media organizations covering Connolly's trial said they would not object if Pistone testified in sunglasses and a hat -- a disguise he has previously worn in public -- but Pistone wouldn't go along.

"There's got to be some exceptional reason" to ban cameras, Blake said. "I just don't see it in this case."

Connolly, 68, faces life in prison if convicted of conspiracy and murder in the 1982 killing of gambling executive John Callahan. Prosecutors say Connolly provided information to Boston mobsters who were his FBI informants that led to Callahan's slaying by a hit man.

Pistone's testimony was intended to show the difficulty of investigating organized crime and handling informants who are often violent criminals themselves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal - Las Vegas Casino Czar for the Chicago Outfit - Dies in Miami Beach

Bookmaker and former casino boss Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal died in Florida on Monday at age 79, according to family members and a source at his high-rise condominium complex in Miami Beach, Fla.

Rosenthal was a minor celebrity confined to the world of gambling, organized crime and Las Vegas society until the 1995 movie "Casino," which was based on his life story, propelled him to a much higher level of fame — and notoriety.

Rosenthal's passing marks the close of yet another chapter in the transformation of Las Vegas from a gambling destination of ill-repute to a global destination celebrated by everyday tourists, politicians and corporate leaders who invest billions of dollars in resorts.

"He was the innovator and creator of what we know today as the race and sports book in Las Vegas with all the modern accoutrements," said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former attorney who represented Rosenthal in high-profile scrapes with Nevada regulators, including now-Sen. Harry Reid. "He was an uncanny bettor and won a lot more than he lost."

Goodman painted Rosenthal as the type of boss who represented the best of Las Vegas, in terms of how to run a good casino. "He was the kind of guy who, when working in the casino industry, would see a cigarette butt on the floor, pick it up himself and dispose of it," Goodman said. "And then he'd fire the employee whose job was to have picked it up in the first place."

Rosenthal was also a controversial figure whose life story was entwined with the emergence of Las Vegas as a destination for money mobsters sought to launder through legal casinos.

His childhood was spent learning the gambling trade through illegal bookmaking operations run by organized crime figures from the Midwest. He made connections that fueled his rise and instigated his downfall later in Las Vegas.

Rosenthal was born June 12, 1929, in Chicago and spent the 1930s in Chicago. When he arrived in Nevada in 1968, he discovered that gambling could not only be profitable but a ticket to prominence in a place where his occupation was the subject of reverence, not scorn.

"When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, if you walked around with a ... card in your hand, you were subject to be arrested or harassed, at least," Rosenthal said in 1997 during an interview with the PBS program "Nightline." "On the other hand, if you want to go to Las Vegas, Nevada, you can do the same thing and be quite respectable."

The word "respectable" was a loaded phrase when it came to Rosenthal.

When he moved to Las Vegas, he had already gained some level of notoriety for an appearance in 1961 before a Senate hearing on gambling and organized crime during which he invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination 38 times.

An indictment in California in 1971 for conspiracy in interstate transportation in aid of racketeering helped prevent the bookmaker Rosenthal from getting a Nevada gaming license, a situation that angered him for years after he left Las Vegas. A 1963 conviction stemming from an attempt to bribe college basketball players later landed him on a short list of people excluded from Nevada casinos. But lack of a license didn't stop him from holding sway over operations at the Stardust, Hacienda, Fremont and Marina casinos when they were owned or controlled by the Argent Corp., and financier Allen Glick. Glick was the purported front man for Midwestern mob bosses who controlled the casinos through Argent, which was funded in part through loans from the Teamsters union.

During an interview with a magazine reporter in 1975, the unlicensed Rosenthal landed himself in hot water with regulators when he said, "Glick is the financial end, but the policy comes from my office."

Rosenthal's problems were exacerbated by personal and business connections to reputed mobster Tony Spilotro.

Spilotro wound up being indicted in a skimming scheme, along with about 14 others, which also sealed Rosenthal's fate with gaming regulators, who ended up putting both men in Nevada's Black Book of persons excluded from casinos.

Spilotro also wound up having an affair with Rosenthal's estranged wife, Geri, a situation law enforcement authorities later claimed as evidence Spilotro tried to kill Rosenthal.

"Obviously there were things going on," Rosenthal told the Fort Lauderdale (Fla) Sun-Sentinel in 1995. "There are more tricks in the trade than I can ever describe to you. But I think some of it (the federal inquiry) was exaggerated."

Later in the Sun-Sentinel story, Rosenthal acknowledged there was little chance he could escape the notorious shadow of Spilotro. "In retrospect, his reputation and the fact that we were boyhood friends — there was no way for me to overcome it," Rosenthal told the newspaper.

Others' suggested that Rosenthal was more than just boyhood friends with rough characters.

The Sun-Sentinel story included claims by Glick that Rosenthal made lethal threats when he didn't get his way.

Glick paraphrased Rosenthal's approach as, "If you interfere with any of the casino operations or try to undermine anything I want to do here ... you will never leave this corporation alive."

But in the end, it was Rosenthal who was on the wrong end of lethal threats.

On Oct. 4, 1982, in a parking lot outside a Marie Callendar's restaurant on East Sahara Avenue, Rosenthal turned the key in his Cadillac and ignited a fiery explosion that ruined the car but didn't kill him.

Rosenthal left Las Vegas after the bombing but remained in the headlines throughout the 1980s as the government sorted through the dirty laundry of the Las Vegas gambling industry in myriad court proceedings.

Rosenthal also sought to appeal his spot in the Black Book, an effort that was denied in 1990. At the time then-Gaming Control Board member Gerald Cunningham said allowing Rosenthal back into the business would represent, "a threat to Nevada's gaming industry."

The 1995 movie, "Casino," directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Robert DeNiro as a Sam "Ace" Rothstein, was essentially an idealized version of Rosenthal and boosted Rosenthal's fame later in life.

He also maintained a Web site that offered gambling "tips and tricks."

On Tuesday, Goodman said there was a side to Rosenthal that was largely unknown to moviegoers, gambling regulators and business associates. "What I saw through representing him since 1972 until I was elected a mayor was a different side, a loyal friend and a loving parent who doted over his kids," Goodman said.

Rosenthal himself told the Sun-Sentinel his Las Vegas story was poorly told, especially by those in law enforcement. "Rumors and bull(expletive)," he told the paper. "That's the No. 1 industry in Nevada."

Thanks to Benjamin Spillman

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free Lecture on the South Jersey-Philadelphia Mob

An organized-crime expert will discuss the history of the South Jersey-Philadelphia mob in a free lecture.

Thomas B. Cupples, a former FBI agent, will speak Oct. 15 at Burlington County College. His talk will begin at 5 p.m. in Room 320 of Laurel Hall.

The talk is hosted by the school's Criminal Justice Club.

For more information, contact ahart@bcc.edu.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Relive the Roarin' Twenties in Al Capone Style in Chicago Today

Massacres, trap doors and Chicago jazz. It’s the way Al Capone and his Chicago Outfit experienced Chicago in the 1920s. The rich, bloody mark that Chicago’s mob bosses left on the streets is still — sometimes begrudgingly — remembered by many. Recently, we took a trip to Chicago to discover where the old speakeasies used to be and where the St. Valentines Day Massacre occurred, grabbing a pizza along the way.

Room 21

Don’t be fooled by the ornate designs, this restaurant has a dirty history. At the peak of Capone’s business, this was his largest speakeasy and brewery in all of Chicago.

At first glance, Room 21 is simply an upscale American restaurant with a large bar and a wide-open patio. In one corner, however, lies one of Capone’s best-kept secrets. “There was the original foundation here,” Manager John Nowowiejski said, motioning to the corner at the end of the bar. “But when we were doing some work putting the plumbing in for the cappuccino maker, we found something. So Jerry Kleiner, the owner said ‘tear it all down’ and we found this passageway.”

The passageway, now lit with an incandescent red glow, narrowly follows the edge of the building. You can see the original brick on either side, claustrophobically coercing you up the stairs. And under the newly added stairs, the top corner of a door peeks out. Leading to the street, the door was probably one of Capone’s exits.

Another door existed at the top of the stairs. “At the end of the passageway, we found a door with the number 21 hanging on it,” Nowowiejski said. “And that’s how we got the name of the restaurant.”

“We actually don’t know much of what happened here,” Nowowiejski said, opening the door at the end of the hall. The inside has been radically changed to a room with classical artwork and a table overlooking the kitchen. “The unknown about it adds to the mystique.”

Not only did Room 21 house Capone’s largest brewery, it was one of his largest busts. Eliot Ness of the Untouchables, the Chicago police group designed to deal with the mafia, led his team into the speakeasy with a 10-ton truck and seized two hundred thousand gallons of alcohol.

Getting there: Take the red line to Cermak/Chinatown and turn left until you get to South Wabash. 2110 S. Wabash St.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

To see one of Al Capone’s favorite clubs, head over to the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. His booth is the first one you see walking past the old jazz posters and decorative walls. And don’t expect a menu; everything served here comes in a glass, not on a plate.

“Al Capone was also a regular here,” owner Dave Jemilo said. “He would sit in a booth by the wall so he could see both doors. That’s what you do. There was a way people could come from behind and get him, but he had guards to check his back.”

And if Capone ever needed a quick escape route, he had his own way out. “There was a trap door for him behind the bar where he could escape if need be,” Jemilo said. “There was a series of tunnels and passageways that would lead outside. I’m the only one with the key, and I wouldn’t let you down there anyway.”

Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, one of the men responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, was a part owner of the club at one point. And when the headlining singer left for a rival club, McGurn took action himself.

“His favorite singer at the club was Joe E. Lewis, but Lewis was offered a better deal at Rendezvous Club,” Jemilo said. “McGurn told Lewis that he signed a deal for life at Green Mill, but Lewis quit anyways. So a week later, McGurn went to Lewis’s hotel and cut off his tongue and slit his vocal cords so he could never sing again. He almost died, but he eventually came back as a comedian and became a famous comic.”

Frank Sinatra later immortalized Joe E. Lewis in The Joker Is Wild, a movie detailing the whole fiasco.

Getting there: Located off the Lawrence stop on the Red Line in Uptown, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is the perfect place for a drink before or after a show at the Aragon. 4802 N. Broadway Ave.

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 was the turning point for the infamous Chicago Outfit. While Capone was enjoying a vacation in Florida, part of his south-side gang, two dressed up as police officers, allegedly lined up four of Bugs Moran’s north-side gang inside a garage. With Moran’s gang against the wall, Capone’s henchmen opened fire. Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, part owner of the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, was the purported leader of the shooting.

Across the street on the second floor of what was a boarding house, two other members of Capone’s gang kept watch. And today, on the first floor, is Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., a unique and original restaurant located in the middle of Lincoln Park.

You can still see where the massacre took place, but there is no garage left. “Mayor Daley tore down the garage and now it’s an empty lot,” Manager Cathy Gallanis said. “No plaque or anything about it. He didn’t want a reminder of what happened.”

As for the pizza here, it isn’t what you would normally expect, Gallanis said. It’s called pizza pot pie. “We take a ceramic bowl layered with our homemade dough and then add a layer of cheese. Then we ladle in our homemade sauce, with or without sausage, and throw in whole, fresh mushrooms. We put some white or wheat dough on top and cook it. Then at the table, we flip it over and that’s it.”

Recently featured on Rachael Ray, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. will continue to serve its unusual cooking. “In a world of franchises, we try to be unique and original,” Gallanis said. “We’ve had the same menu since we opened in 1978.”

Getting there: Get off at the Armitage stop on the brown line and head east on Armitage Street then north on Clark Street to pay homage to one of the most violent events of the 1920s, and one of the most forgotten places too. 2121 N. Clark St.

Tommy Gun’s Garage

To literally relive the Prohibition era (the drinking side of it, not the dry), head south to Tommy Gun’s Garage. Owners Kris Adams and Sandy Mangen emulate the original speakeasies to a tee, not leaving out any details.

“We’re running an illegal speakeasy here,” Adams said. “There are no signs out front, and we have a doorman to check everyone who comes in. He wears gloves so he won’t leave any fingerprints and he will only let you in if you say the password.”

The servers are not just servers, but gangsters with holsters or flappers with dresses. After dinner, the entertainment begins. “The show is basically a musical comedy review, “ Adams said. “We have the sing and dance numbers in the beginning and after that we have vaudeville skits with an Abbott and Costello type act. The show has a lot of audience involvement. At one point, the cops show up and bust everybody there.”

Getting there: Get off the El at Cermak/Chinatown on the Red line and turn left. Reservations are required, so call (312) 225-0273, and don’t forget the password. 2114 S. Wabash Rd.

For its tame Midwestern reputation, Chicago has a rich and violent history riddled with secrets and hidden tunnels. Next time you go downtown, add interest to your usual destinations by making a night of a mafia hangout. Your historical knowledge will impress your friends, your date, or your parents alike — and chilling where Capone chilled? Badass.

Thanks to Alex Freeman

Monday, October 06, 2008

Top Mob Fighter Stepping Down from the Chicago Crime Commission

After less than three years as head of the Chicago Crime Commission, James Wagner is stepping down for unstated "personal reasons."

The surprise announcement from the nation's oldest, private crime-fighting organization was made without fanfare in a Thursday afternoon fax from CCC Chairman Robert M. Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald cited Mr. Wagner's efforts in the commissions opposition to a Chicago-owned gambling casino and to the strengthening of state gaming regulations.

Wagner is a lifetime lawman who spent most of his time on the job as an FBI agent. As a career special agent with the FBI here in Chicago, he toiled for years on Outfit cases, eventually becoming supervisor of the organized crime squad.

Wagner had trained many of the federal agents whose investigation resulted in last year's convictions of top hoodlums Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr., Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello and more than a dozen other Chicago mob figures in connection with 18 unsolved gangland murders.

Considered an expert on Chicago organized crime lore, Wagner was called as the first prosecution witness in the federal case known as Operation Family Secrets. His testimony set the stage in the landmark trial.

Wagner came to the CCC in January 2006 after a run as chief investigator for the Illinois Gaming Board. During his tenure, Wagner rejuvenated the crime commission's focus on it roots: the Chicago Mob.

Organized crime was raging when the commission was founded in 1919, the same year that Al Capone moved to Chicago.

The announcement of Wagner's departure doesn't indicate if he will be taking a new position elsewhere and he was not immediately available for comment.

Several directors of the crime commission offered praise for Wagner, noting the "many accomplishments" that occurred under his leadership. "He was the personification of the Chicago Crime Commission," said commission chairman Fitzgerald. According to the CCC statement, a successor has not been named.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Martin Scorsese to Direct Robert DeNiro as Mob Assassin Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran

Paramount Pictures is plotting a return to organized crime for Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Studio has set Steve Zaillian to adapt "I Heard You Paint Houses," the book about the mob assassin who many believe was involved in the death of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.

Scorsese is attached to direct. De Niro will play Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran, who is reputed to have carried out more than 25 mob murders. Pic will be produced by Scorsese and Tribeca partners De Niro and Jane Rosenthal. Project landed at Paramount through the overall deal that the studio has with Scorsese’s Sikelia Prods.

Pic’s title refers to mob slang for contract killings, and the resulting blood splatter on walls and floors. Book was written by Charles Brandt, who befriended Sheeran shortly before the latter’s death in 2003. Among the crimes Sheeran confessed to Brandt, according to the 2004 book, was the killing and dismemberment of Hoffa, carried out on orders from mob boss Russell Bufalino.

Zaillian most recently scripted the Frank Lucas crime saga "American Gangster" and was a co-writer of the Scorsese-directed "Gangs of New York." Scorsese also brought in Zaillian to script "Schindler’s List," before turning over the project to Steven Spielberg and instead directing De Niro in "Cape Fear." Zaillian won an Oscar for his "Schindler’s List" script.

Scorsese just completed a screen adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel "Shutter Island" for Paramount with Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s in the midst of settling on his next directing project, with "Silence," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Long Play" at the top of his list.

De Niro has wrapped the Kirk Jones-directed "Everybody’s Fine" with Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore. He’s also plotting a re-team with "Heat" director Michael Mann on "Frankie Machine," an adaptation of the Don Winslow novel that is also at Paramount.

Thanks to Michael Flemming

The (redacted) Museum: The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement

Las Vegas hopes its newest museum will be a hit.

The city is opening The (redacted) Museum: The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, which will showcase southern Nevada's colorful and storied past in organized crime.

The City Council unveiled the name Tuesday, along with logos resembling court documents with material blacked out. The first redaction obscures the word "mob."

"I don't think anybody is able to do tongue-in-cheek the way Las Vegas can do it," said Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former criminal defense lawyer who represented organized crime figures before representing residents in City Hall.

The museum is expected to open in spring 2010 in downtown Las Vegas at the site of the former federal courthouse where Goodman tried his first case.

As city officials unveiled the plans, council members tossed around T-shirts that said: "There is no such thing as a mob museum nor have I ever been there."

"Does this mean the mayor's going to be cleaning out his garage?" joked Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian.

Goodman joked of his possible contributions to the exhibits: "They've been in my backyard trying to dig up some of the old relics, but so far I've fended them off. We'll have a lot of Oscar-abilia in there."

Plans for the museum are supported by the FBI, which has pledged to locate organized crime artifacts in Washington and lend them for displays. The former head of the Las Vegas FBI office, Ellen Knowlton, is chairwoman of the museum's board.

Officials say the museum won't glorify organized crime, but instead will give a candid look at its influence on Las Vegas, how law enforcers worked to extract illegal influences from gambling, how mob operations in cities around the country were connected and famous hearings on organized crime.

The city believes the museum could draw as many as 800,000 visitors each year and is part of an attempt to revitalize downtown Las Vegas.

The mob theme was picked after a poll of 300 tourists showed more than 70 percent ranking the idea among its top three concepts. Other options included a behind-the-scenes look at gambling, a museum on magic or a museum dedicated to Las Vegas icons such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

Thanks to Oskar Garcia