The Chicago Syndicate: Former Mob Lawyer to Skip Family Secrets Trial

Montana West World

Montana West World

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Former Mob Lawyer to Skip Family Secrets Trial

Friends of ours: James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo
Friends of mine: Robert Cooley

Over the years, the court testimony of former Chicago mob lawyer Robert Cooley has put away mobsters, lawyers and judges. But the prized federal informant won’t be testifying at what could be the biggest mob trial in Chicago history — the Operation Family Secrets trial.

A host of informants, “stool pigeons” and ex-mobsters will be taking the stand starting in mid-May to tell jurors about the Outfit’s structure and deadly doings.

Some of Chicago’s top mobsters are standing trial, including reputed mob leader James “Little Jimmy” Marcello and Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo.

Cooley has testified in several previous mob trials, and his ability on the stand has met with praise. But this time, he won’t be part of the trial.

In an interview late last week, Cooley, who these days lives out of state under a different name, said he clashed with federal prosecutors when he was debriefed more than a year ago.

Cooley said he disagrees with the prosecution’s theory over how the Chicago mob was structured since the 1970s, and he is disappointed that another top mobster wasn’t charged in the case for two murders that Cooley said he has told the feds about.

Cooley calls Marcello — who the feds says is the top mob leader — “a flunky.”

“He was never more of a mob boss than I was,” Cooley scoffs. (MANY Chicago Syndicate readers have emailed me to say the same thing.)

In his years as an informant, Cooley was never known to be reluctant to tell federal agents and prosecutors where he believed they were falling short or screwing up.

While Cooley says he won’t be helping the feds this time around, he won’t be helping the defense team, either. “I would not do anything to hurt the case,” Cooley said. “I would never do anything to help the bad guys.”

Cooley is best known for his seminal work in taking apart the Outfit’s political power structure in the 1st Ward, which he saw as marking the true end of the Chicago mob. “They’re just cleaning up our scraps,” Cooley said of the current case.

Federal prosecutors had no comment on Cooley’s statements.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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