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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

After Two Plus Months of Testimony, Jury Begins Deliberations Today

Deliberations are set to get under way Tuesday morning in the Family Secrets trial, as jurors begin to sift through more than two months of testimony on whether the five defendants played roles in a conspiracy to further the goals of the Chicago Outfit.

Before leaving the courtroom in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse last week for the Labor Day weekend, jurors determined they would work from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily as they try to reach a verdict.

Federal prosecutors contend that reputed Outfit figures James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Paul "the Indian" Schiro as well as former Chicago Police Officer Anthony "Twan" Doyle should be convicted in a racketeering conspiracy spanning four decades.

All are charged in Count 1, the racketeering conspiracy charge, which takes up 18 pages of the indictment and alleges that an enterprise known as the Outfit collected street tax, operated illegal gambling businesses, made juice loans, obstructed justice and protected itself with violence and murder.

During the trial, Marcello and Lombardo were accused of being mob bosses, while Calabrese, accused in 13 of the 18 slayings in the case, was alleged to have been a leader of the mob's 26th Street, or Chinatown, crew.

Much of the case could depend on how jurors view the testimony of the government's key witness, Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, whose accusations implicated each defendant. Prosecutors urged jurors to believe the account of a man they described as an Outfit soldier who admitted to taking part in 14 murders.

Defense lawyers urged the panel to reject Nicholas Calabrese's testimony, calling him a liar and a killer who invented information against their clients in a bid to one day win his freedom. Much of his testimony detailed murders he allegedly committed with his brother.

Jurors also heard hours of secretly made recordings of four of the five defendants allegedly discussing Outfit business.

A pool of 17 jurors -- nine women and eight men -- heard the closing arguments last week.. But two of them are expected to be dismissed after having given the court a note indicating they had made up their minds already about the case, a no-no for jurors.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel ordered that the identities of the jurors be kept secret even from the lawyers and prosecutors, who know them only by number. Court officials have not yet disclosed which 12 jurors will be involved in the deliberations and which are alternates.

If jurors convict the men of racketeering conspiracy, their deliberations would not be over. At that point, lawyers would make another round of arguments, and the jury would then decide which defendant can be held accountable for which murder in the case.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

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