The Chicago Syndicate: Did the Clown Leave a Fingerprint Behind?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Did the Clown Leave a Fingerprint Behind?

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank "The German" Schweihs

Jurors in the coming Family Secrets mob trial might hear newly revealed government evidence that a fingerprint of Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo links him to the slaying of suburban businessman Daniel Seifert in 1974.

Seifert was set to be a key witness against Lombardo in a Teamster pension fund embezzlement case when masked gunmen shot him down in front of his wife and young son.

In 2005, more than 30 years after the slaying, prosecutors charged Lombardo and another reputed mob hit man, Frank "the German" Schweihs, with killing Seifert. It's one of 18 Outfit rubouts the feds have charged in an indictment against some of the top alleged mobsters of Chicago -- all part of the Family Secrets trial set for May.

The fingerprint was referred to publicly, for the first time, in a court motion that Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin, filed Friday. Halprin wants information on the methodology the government's expert used in linking the print to Lombardo so he can plan a possible challenge. Halprin said Friday he's interested in finding out whether any testing used on the fingerprint destroyed part or all of it. Still, Halprin dismissed the importance of the fingerprint Friday, arguing Lombardo has a strong alibi. Lombardo was at a Chicago police station making a report on another matter at the time of the Seifert slaying.

The print was on the title application for a Ford linked to the Seifert murder but purchased several months earlier, Halprin said. The masked gunmen drove the Ford to the Bensenville plastic factory that Seifert ran, police said.

Seifert's wife and 4-year-old son had accompanied Seifert to the factory that morning. The mother and son went into the factory first, where the gunmen accosted them, telling them it was a robbery and no one would get hurt. Moments later, Seifert came into the factory and was shot in the face.

Seifert ran for his life, blood streaming from his face. He was gunned down outside the factory in front of his family as his wife begged for mercy for him, press accounts say.

The gunmen fled in the Ford, which they soon abandoned for a 1973 Dodge. Police pursued the gunmen in a high-speed chase but eventually lost them.

The Ford was bought in the name of a fictitious security company with an address on Grand Avenue in Chicago. Notarizing the application was the secretary of Irwin Weiner, a mob-connected bail bondsman also charged with Lombardo in the pension embezzlement case.

Lombardo was convicted in 1982 in a conspiracy to bribe U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon, and the Seifert slaying came up as part of his sentencing.

A hoodlum associate of Lombardo's, Alva Johnson Rodgers, testified for prosecutors and told jurors of Lombardo's reaction the day after Seifert's murder. "That S.O.B. won't testify against anybody now, will he?" Lombardo allegedly boasted, according to Rodgers' testimony.

When given his chance to address the judge, Lombardo pleaded innocence. "I never ordered a killing, I never OK'd a killing, and I never killed a man in my life," he said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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