Saturday, June 30, 2007

Widow Testifies that Mobster Killed Her Husband

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo
Friends of mine: Irwin Weiner

Emma Seifert had just gotten her sick 4-year-old son settled in the office she shared with her husband and was preparing to make her morning coffee when two gunmen burst through the door.

"I believe they said, 'This is a robbery and where is ...' I don't know if they called him my husband or 'that SOB,' " Seifert told jurors Thursday as she described how mobsters gunned down her husband, Daniel, on the morning of Sept. 27, 1974. "I screamed but obviously not loud enough, because Daniel didn't hear me," Seifert said.

She gave perhaps the most powerful testimony yet in the federal trial in Chicago of five alleged organized crime figures, including two prominent mob bosses.

Daniel Seifert was to be a key government witness against Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, who had been charged with ripping off a Teamsters Union pension fund. When Seifert was killed, the case against Lombardo evaporated. Lombardo is one of the five men on trial as federal prosecutors seek to pin 18 murders, including Seifert's, on the mob.

Emma Seifert testified that she couldn't be definite but believed one of the three gunmen she saw that day was Lombardo -- based on his height, build and lightness on his feet. "Joey was a boxer and very light on his feet," she said.

She acknowledged under questioning by one of Lombardo's defense attorneys that she did not initially tell police about her suspicion. She said she feared for her family's safety but did tell her brother-in-law that day of her belief, according to court testimony.

Her son, Joseph, was there the day his father was killed and also was in court Thursday to hear her testimony, as was his half-brother, Nick. "We felt that she was very courageous," Joseph said of his mom's testimony, speaking for himself and Nick.

He praised the prosecution, saying, "for us, it was an incredibly enlightening day of testimony, of hearing different details and different sides."

Testimony on Thursday revealed that Daniel Seifert became a business associate of mobsters after he did some carpentry work with a mobbed-up businessman, Irwin Weiner.

Weiner helped bankroll the fiberglass factory that Seifert operated. Weiner was friends with Lombardo, and soon Lombardo was hired at the factory, but Emma Seifert testified she never saw him do any work.

Lombardo and Seifert were close, so close that Seifert named his son, Joseph, after him. But relations soured, and Seifert left to start his own business, his widow testified. When the mob later learned that Seifert was cooperating with the feds, the threats began, culminating in his slaying, she told jurors.

Emma Seifert testified that her son had gone into the fiberglass factory first that morning, with her husband trailing behind. Two gunmen burst through a back door, pushed her to the floor and jumped Daniel Seifert in the entryway, hitting him in the head with a gun.

With her husband down, Emma tried to get into her office desk where there was a gun, but the drawer was locked and one of the gunmen herded her and her son into a bathroom, she told the jury.

She heard a gunshot and then heard nothing for a few seconds, told her son to stay put and went back to her desk, Emma said. She saw her husband running for his life across the factory parking lot -- the last time she would see him alive, she testified. Emma said she locked the office door and called police. Emma told jurors that her husband ran through another building, and one of the gunmen shot him. As he lay on the grass, a gunman came up to him and delivered a point-blank shot to his head, according to her testimony.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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