Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pizza King Phone Call Highlights Testimony in U.S. Marshal Mob Witness Protection Program Trial

A 14-minute phone call by Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose to a pizza restaurant owned by a family friend with reputed organized-crime ties highlighted the final day of prosecution testimony at Ambrose's trial Tuesday.

FBI Special Agent Edward McNamara testified that phone records showed Ambrose placed a call to The Pizza King, a South Side restaurant owned by his friend William Guide, hours after his second secret detail protecting mob witness Nicholas Calabrese ended. But Ambrose told agents in two 2006 interviews that he didn't speak to Guide until he happened to bump into him weeks after that detail ended, McNamara said.

Ambrose is accused of leaking Calabrese's secret cooperation early in the Family Secrets investigation to Guide, knowing organized crime would learn the details.

McNamara testified that Ambrose admitted telling Guide about Calabrese's visits to Chicago in the hope that Guide would help him track organized-crime fugitives in the future.

At a 2002 wrestling meet, Ambrose told agents, he "boasted" to Guide about protecting a prominent organized-crime witness, McNamara testified. On the second occasion, he told Guide that investigators had driven Calabrese to sites of several decades-old mob slayings.

The first two defense witnesses, Ambrose's colleagues in the Marshals Service, said they had used The Pizza King as a "staging area" for operations while Ambrose served on the fugitive warrant unit. Both praised Ambrose's honesty. "I would trust my life with him," said Supervisory Deputy Marshal Matt Block.

Thanks to Robert Mitchum

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