The Chicago Syndicate: Meet the New Boss(es)?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Meet the New Boss(es)?

Robberies are "scores," criminal charges "beefs" and getting sent to prison "going away" in the language of witnesses testifying at Chicago's biggest mob trial in years.

Scheduled to begin deliberations today, jurors in the "Family Secrets" mob trial have heard testimony about a kiss like the one Michael gave his brother Fredo in "The Godfather;" about mob wannabes initiated as full-fledged "made guys" by cutting their fingers and burning holy pictures in their bare hands in secret basement ceremonies.

Testimony also has attempted to link alleged mobsters with a host of unsolved gangland murders in and around Chicago, including those of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, long known as the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas, and Spilotro's brother, Michael.

Both were found in June 1986 buried in a cornfield in Newton County, Ind.

Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78, is one of five men on trial accused in a racketeering conspiracy that allegedly includes 18 long-unsolved murders, illegal gambling, loan sharking and extortion tied to the Outfit, as Chicago's organized crime family is known.

The others are reputed mob boss James Marcello, 65; convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70; retired Chicago policeman Anthony Doyle, 62; and convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr., 70, the brother of prosecution witness and admitted hitman Nicholas Calabrese.

Yet with five men in their 60s and 70s as prosecutors' targets -- one of whom alternates between a cane and a wheelchair -- the testimony seems more a throwback to the days of Al Capone than it does any representation of the mob today.

Experts insist that isn't the case. Even if the Outfit isn't what it was in decades past, it isn't 6 feet under either, they say. "People say, 'Look at how old these guys are on trial, it's a geriatric organization,"' said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit."

"What you're seeing is just part of the organization," he said. "They're still doing gambling, they've still got some labor racketeering, they've got their hooks into some unions (and) they're still doing juice lending."

While the allegations date mostly to the 1970s and 1980s, Binder said the mob's influence still lingers.

In fact, the trial itself has served as a reminder that it's not necessary to watch "The Untouchables" for examples of the mob's reach. "What the trial has made clear is even when they are in prison they continue to exert influence and control," said James Wagner, the leader of the Chicago Crime Commission who investigated the mob for years when he was an FBI agent.

Some say it's naive to suggest that because so many of the reputed mobsters, including those on trial, are old, that the Outfit doesn't have people ready to step in and take over.

Binder compared the mob to a major company. "It's important in management to groom people," he said. "The Outfit is good at it; they've shown the ability to bring people up."

In addition to the murders of the Spilotro brothers, the "Family Secrets" mob trial included details about three other unsolved murders -- those of William and Charlotte Dauber and Nicholas D'Andrea.

Forty-five-year-old William "Billy" Dauber, 45, and his wife, Charlotte, were shot to death on the rural Monee-Manhattan Road in Will County as they were driving from a court hearing in Joliet to their home in Monee. Dauber, leader of the mob's stolen auto ring in the southern suburbs and Northwest Indiana, was himself a mob assassin.
The Daubers' 1980 Oldsmobile was riddled with bullets on the morning of July 2, 1980, by killers who used a high-powered rifle and shotgun while riding in a stolen van found abandoned and burned two miles from the murder site.

The body of the then-49-year-old D'Andrea, of Chicago Heights, was discovered Sept. 13, 1981, in the trunk of his burned out Mercedes-Benz two miles east of Crete.
His son Richard was arrested and his brother Mario, 42, of Chicago Heights, was killed by federal agents during an undercover drug buy in October 1981 after Mario D'Andrea pulled a gun when an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration officer identified himself.

Speculation at the time was that Nicholas D'Andrea was killed in connection with the attempted assassination of south suburban mob boss Alfred Pilotto, who was shot while playing golf with his brother, Henry, in July 1981. Henry Pilotto was at the time the police chief in Chicago Heights. Both Pilottos survived the shooting attempt.

Thanks to Don Babwin

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