The Chicago Syndicate: Juror Rap Sheets, Tax Audits Requested by Lawyers in Mob Case

Magee 1866 Heritage Month

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Juror Rap Sheets, Tax Audits Requested by Lawyers in Mob Case

Friends of ours: James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro

Attorneys for a reputed mob boss asked a federal judge Monday to require the government to produce the rap sheets and tax audit information of prospective jurors as part of the jury selection process.

James Marcello's attorneys made no mention of the nasty legal bickering that erupted over the arrest records of several jurors at the close of former Gov. George Ryan's racketeering and fraud trial in April.

The attorneys merely said in a motion filed with U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel that a juror's failure to disclose his criminal record during the selection process could "give rise to an inference of bias."

"Such a juror could be motivated not to reveal his or her past because of a hidden agenda," the attorneys said. "In fairness, the parties ought to know it before or during jury selection."

Marcello is one of 14 defendants charged in a racketeering conspiracy indictment involving at least 18 long unsolved murders, including that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, once known as the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas.

Marcello, 63, of suburban Lombard has been described by FBI officials as the leader of organized crime in the Chicago area. The case, stemming from a long-running FBI investigation dubbed Operation Family Secrets, is due to go to trial next May.

The request for a criminal background check of prospective jurors and information concerning tax audits of them is unusual. But the turmoil surrounding the Ryan trial has led to considerable discussion of the issue among defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges.

In the Ryan case, two jurors were dismissed by U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer after the jury already had deliberated eight days. The Chicago Tribune disclosed that they had failed to indicate on a required court questionnaire that they had arrest records.

Later, Pallmeyer declined to dismiss four other jurors who were found to have failed to indicate that they had experiences with the court system ranging from a divorce to a 23-year-old theft charge for purchasing a stolen bicycle. She said their omissions were not as serious. Intense legal infighting over the issue dragged on for weeks.

The attorney who filed the motion on behalf of Marcello, Marc W. Martin, represented Ryan's co-defendant, businessman Larry Warner, at the seven-month trial that ended with the former governor's conviction.

Martin did not immediately return a phone call Monday afternoon. His office said he was in a meeting. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Randall Samborn, declined to comment but said prosecutors most likely would file a written answer with the court.

In the wake of the Ryan turmoil, federal prosecutors urged criminal background checks for prospective jurors at the next major political corruption trial to take place in Chicago - that of Mayor Richard M. Daley's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, and three other men. But U.S. District Judge David H. Coar, who presided over the Sorich trial, ruled out criminal background checks for jurors.

The four defendants were convicted July 6 in what prosecutors described as a scheme under which political campaign workers were illegally put on the city payroll. There were no noticeable jury problems.

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