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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Judge Imposes Gag Order at Family Secrets Mob Trial

The federal judge at the trial of five alleged members of Chicago's organized crime family on Friday imposed a gag order, saying it would "enhance my ability to conduct a fair trial."

Judge James B. Zagel's order bars attorneys "from making extrajudicial statements regarding the merits of this case that a reasonable person would believe could be publicly disseminated."

He said the order would help him to conduct a fair trial because it was likely any commentary on the merits would prejudice the jurors. Zagel said barring parties from making comments to the news media may limit coverage and "prevent these proceedings from taking on a carnival atmosphere."

The indictment in the case outlines a racketeering conspiracy by the mob that includes 18 murders, gambling, extortion and loan sharking. Charged are Frank Calabrese Sr., 69; Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, 78; James Marcello, 65; jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70, and retired Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, 62.

Zagel said his order would apply only to commentary or opinions on the merits of the case and would not block lawyers from providing reporters with information about scheduling and other such matters.

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