Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reduced time for Loren-Maltese?

Friends of ours: Michael Spano Sr., Al Capone
Friends of mine: Betty Loren-Maltese

Betty Loren-MalteseDefense attorneys are asking a judge to reduce the eight-year prison term he imposed on the former town president of suburban Cicero so she can be reunited with her young daughter. The request comes two months after an appeals court ruled that Betty Loren-Maltese and five others convicted in 2002 should be resentenced. Prosecutors want her sentence extended to more than 11 years. Keep in mind that Loren-Maltese only adopted her daughter at the urging of "Fast Eddie" Vrydolyak after she come under heavy scrutiny by the Feds. She specifically did this so that she could play this card and appear more sympathetic.

Loren-Maltese and her co-defendants were convicted of racketeering for using an insurance scam to bilk $10 million from the town. Prosecutors had spent years investigating the small, blue-collar suburb just outside the Chicago city limits that has been known as a haven for corruption since the 1920s, when Al Capone made it the hub of his bootlegging empire.

A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the trial judge, U.S. District Judge John F. Grady, made an error in imposing the sentences. The appeals court ruled that after Grady calculated the amount of the loss at $10.6 million he wrongly rounded the number down to below $10 million. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the greater the loss the harsher the sentence. Grady's decision cut 10 months or more off the sentences. Grady said he rounded the number down because it was merely an estimate and an estimate could be unreliable.

Court papers filed last week by Loren-Maltese's lawyers included a letter from her mother, Kitty Loren, who cares for her daughter, Ashleigh, 8, in Las Vegas. Kitty Loren, who turns 85 on Tuesday, wrote: "I do the best I can; however, no one can replace a mother's nurturing." The defense lawyers want Loren-Maltese's sentence reduced to four or five years, which could get her out of prison as early as 2006. They said that after nearly three years in prison, she's a changed woman.

Prosecutors, however, want to extend her sentence by three years. In court papers filed last week, they noted that Grady said at the original sentencing he considered putting Loren-Maltese away for longer. During that sentencing, prosecutors questioned Loren-Maltese's desire to be a parent by noting how often she gambled in Las Vegas and in the Chicago area. Apparently, this figure approached $18,000,000 over the years 2000 and 2001. Prosecutors said they also will seek to extend the sentences for her co-defendants.

Grady could set a resentencing date as early as this week. Among the others convicted with Loren-Maltese were alleged Cicero mob boss Michael Spano Sr. and Emil Schullo, one-time head of the Cicero police department.

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