Thursday, February 15, 2007

Reputed Chicago Mob Boss 'Joey the Clown' Could Face Fresh Charges

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

Reputed mob boss Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo and another man could face new charges for going on the lam after a major indictment against them was unsealed, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

"We may seek to add charges to the indictment based on their fugitive status," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell A. Mars told federal Judge James B. Zagel at a hearing in a racketeering case known as Operation Family Secrets.

Fourteen alleged mobsters and mob associates were charged in the indictment alleging that leaders of the Chicago Outfit were involved in 18 murders, including that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the mob's onetime top man in Las Vegas who was killed and buried in an Indiana corn field.

Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film "Casino."

Lombardo, 77, was captured by FBI agents in a suburban Elmwood Park alley in January 2006 after nine months on the run.

The other runaway defendant, alleged mob enforcer Frank "The German" Schweihs, 76, was captured by FBI agents in December 2005, hiding in the hills of Kentucky south of Lexington.

Lombardo attorney Rick Halprin said that an unlawful flight to escape prosecution charge would add little to the case compared to the racketeering count his client is charged with. "Given the breadth and scope of the case, I don't believe I'm going to lose any sleep over it," he said. Schweihs attorney Ellen R. Domph had no comment.

Zagel told attorneys Tuesday that he likely would order a hearing to determine exactly what jurors might hear from prospective government witness James Wagner, a former FBI mob investigator who now is president of the Chicago Crime Commission.

Prosecutors want Wagner to tell the jury the story of the Chicago Outfit based on his decades of experience investigating the mob.

Halprin has asked Zagel to limit what Wagner would be allowed to say. Zagel told Mars to provide the court with a written explanation of what the former agent would tell the jury.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

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