The end of the Operation Family Secrets trial in Chicago has also brought an end to one of the government's secret weapons against the mob.
The secret weapon has a name: John Scully.
For 25 years, Mr. Scully has been a gangbuster for the United States attorney in Chicago, a workhorse prosecutor who put away dozens of organized crime figures with piercing arguments, a devotion to justice and a gentlemanly style.
Scully timed his retirement for the end of the Family Secrets trial last week. He talked with the I-Team about the case and his career.
"The family secrets trail that just ended, was that the highlight of your career, would you say?" ABC7's Chuck Goudie asked.
"Yes," Scully answered. John Scully is a man of few words, maybe because those he does speak carry so much weight.
Just ask Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese and "Little Jimmy" Marcello, three of the Chicago Outfit bosses who Scully helped to convict last month of their roles in decades of criminal rackets and eleven long-unsolved gangland murders.
"There have been very few mob murders solved over the years," Scully said. "This is the result of the work of an awful a lot of people for an awful long period of time, resulted in basically in the solving of a number of cases."
After the Family Secrets victory last week, Scully's retirement was one of the first things they noted. "I can't think of retiring on a higher note," said Pat fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney.
Sixty-year old Scully is a South Sider who graduated from De LaSalle High School. He attended the Naval Academy and was assigned to ship duty during the Vietnam War aboard the U.S.S. Hull, a destroyer that put Captain Scully right off the coast of Vietnam for months.
When Scully received his law degree from the University of San Diego after the war, his enemies changed, from the North Vietnamese to North Side Chicago mobsters and their outfit brethren on 26th Street, from Grand Avenue, Cicero and Elmwood Park.
In 1993, Scully prosecuted the On Leong gambling ring based in Chinatown, a major case that exposed payoffs to the mob, Chicago police and even a Cook County judge.
Five years ago, he took down William Hanhardt, the once-successful chief of detectives for the Chicago police. Hanhardt was sentenced to 15 years for operating a nationwide jewelry theft ring, and he was an outfit operative with a badge.
"A perfect cop in the mind of an awful amount of people. He cleared so many cases and did police work that resulted in a number of people being prosecuted and being prosecuted legitimately," Scully said. "He just never took his skills against the Chicago Outfit."
At the time Hanhardt went to prison, Scully was already working on a cloak-and-dagger investigation targeting the upper crust of the outfit.
It began with a letter from Frank Calabrese Jr., son of mob boss "Frank the Breeze." It was a letter so secret that Scully's long-time trial partner, Mitch Mars, didn't reveal it to others in the office for months.
"What was the danger at that point?" Goudie asked.
"Frank Jr. was cooperating, and it was going to be against his father who was a killer in the Chicago mob," Scully answered.
In 2002, with Frank Jr. still undercover, his uncle Nick Calabrese stunned prosecutors by offering to cooperate as well, admitting that he had committed at least 14 mob hits. "There was not the realization on the part on our office or the FBI that he had been involved with murders," Scully said.
Scully said he is amazed that murderer Joey "the Clown" Lombardo took the witness stand and tried to talk his way out of the charges.
"As you sat there and looked at him, could you get the clown image out of your head?" Goudie asked. "No, I didn't have the image of Joey 'The Clown,' I had the image of Danny Seifert," Scully said.
Seifert was the Bensenville business owner that Lombardo murdered in 1974 to prevent him from testifying in a case that Scully had assisted.
"Did you feel threatened by these people?" Goudie asked.
" No, that has never been a part of the Chicago outfit's background, at least in recent years, over the last 30 or 40 years& going after agents, going after prosecutors, going after police officers," Scully said.
Scully's retirement became effective while the jury was deliberating. He was given special permission to remain at the government table. Then when the verdicts came in, he packed up and went home.
Scully said he has no plans for the big salaries that some of his colleagues receive after retiring to private practice. He plans to spend time with his grandchildren.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
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