The Chicago Syndicate: Lawyer alleges mob-tie affidavit on him is a fake

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lawyer alleges mob-tie affidavit on him is a fake

A well-known Loop attorney has alleged that an affidavit accusing him of having ties to organized crime is a forgery and was not signed by a former FBI agent as his legal opponents claimed. Michael Ficaro of Ungaretti & Harris made the allegation this week as part of a libel suit he filed in August against three Chicago lawyers and a businessman who he says used the affidavit to falsely discredit him. The affidavit--purportedly signed by former FBI agent Francis Marrocco--said a four-year FBI investigation had revealed that Ficaro had relationships with members of organized crime.

Ficaro's lawyer, Robert Clifford, said Tuesday that the affidavit was concocted to try to pressure Ficaro to settle a lawsuit in which his clients were seeking $15 million from the businessman, Nicholas Betzold. "One or more of the [libel case] defendants forged the signature of an ex-FBI agent to a fictitious, created, false and untrue affidavit," Clifford said in a statement. "The affidavit was intended to extort Ficaro and his law firm into settling."

Named as defendants in the case are attorneys Larry Levin, David Missner and William Choslovsky, all of Chicago, and Betzold. Martin O'Hara, an attorney for Missner and Choslovsky, said Wednesday that Ficaro had raised the forgery claim only after his clients filed a motion to dismiss his original complaint. "We're going to investigate these new issues," O'Hara said. "But we don't believe there's any merit" to them.

Ficaro is a former assistant Illinois attorney general and former lawyer for Emerald Casino, a gambling firm that had hoped to build a casino in Rosemont.

The dispute stemmed from an arbitration proceeding in which Betzold was battling with three partners for control of an investment company. Ficaro represented the three partners. The arbitrator ruled in favor of Ficaro's clients in April 2004, clearing the way for an award that could have approached $15 million, Ficaro said. But Betzold filed for bankruptcy. In August 2004, Betzold's attorneys filed documents in Bankruptcy Court alleging Ficaro had ties to organized crime and had improperly influenced the arbitration proceeding.

The filings were accompanied by affidavits from Marrocco and Robert Cooley, a former mob lawyer who became an undercover informant for the FBI.

In the court filing Tuesday, Ficaro alleged that Marrocco had spoken to Levin and gave a short statement about Ficaro. But Marrocco "refused to sign an affidavit [and] never did sign an affidavit," Ficaro said in filings. Marrocco could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Thanks to Michael Higgins

No comments:

Post a Comment


Crime Family Index