Federal prosecutors are preparing to throw the book at Chicago mob boss Michael Sarno, using a page from an I-Team story.
In this Intelligence Report: Why the government's argument for a maximum sentence relies on something reported on ABC7.
Heading into Friday's sentencing, we have two very different portraits of Mike Sarno. He is either a good, family man and helpful member of the community, as his lawyers would have you believe, or he is a heavyweight mob boss with a ruthless management style as the government describes him.
Monday, U.S. prosecutors submitted to the court a 2003 I-Team report to support their argument that Sarno be sentenced to the longest possible term in prison.
ABC7's broadcast in June 2003 focused on a restructuring of the Chicago mob ordered by imprisoned outfit leader James Marcello. "Little Jimmy," as he is still known, was doing time for racketeering, gambling violations and extortion, and still running the outfit's business from the barbed-wire Hilton.
Included in the June 3, 2003, I-Team report was this information about who had been tapped to oversee the Chicago outfit: "This mob heavyweight, 350-pound Michael 'Fat Boy' Sarno, whom Marcello has just installed, according to U.S. law enforcement source."
Nine days later, 250 miles away, behind the walls of a penitentiary in Michigan, James Marcello and his brother Mickey discussed the I-Team's report.
JAMES MARCELLO: "How did they get a copy of the indictment? The motion?"
In recently released undercover FBI Marcello quizzes his brother on how the I-Team got its information.
MICHAEL MARCELLO: "Yea and ah, put together a new crew with the Trucker..."
A hand sign for a sizable waistline, according to prosecutors, is meant to indicate Michael Sarno, whose girth precedes him. Authorities say the gist of the jailhouse chatter: Sarno is connected to the top guy.
Based on his organized crime stature, this Friday, the government will ask that Sarno's sentence be enhanced to 25 years.
He was convicted last December with four other men of bombing a Berwyn video poker company that was competing with the mob. They were also found guilty in a string of outfit jewel heists.
In a separate filing Monday, defense attorneys dispute the contention that Sarno is a crime boss. They have submitted 100 letters from Sarno's friends, neighbors and relatives that portray him as a good family man and a fine American. They also cite his numerous health problems that they say could be compromised by a lengthy stay in prison.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
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