Omaha Steaks Mother's Day Special Offer!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chicago for Dummies

Years ago, when Frank Sinatra sang the praises of "my kind of town," he was saluting Chicago. Chicago is still a truly vibrant and eclectic city that constantly reinvents itself. Cosmopolitan yet not elitist, sophisticated in some ways yet refreshingly brash in others, Chicago is wonderfully entertaining and welcoming. There’s plenty to do and this guide clues you in with the latest info on:

  • Four options for exploring the city
  • Five day trips to nearby attractions
  • Accommodations, ranging from three of the world’s best luxury hotels to wonderful historic getaways with modern amenities
  • A shopping guide that covers power shopping along the Magnificent Mile and bargain hunting in unique shops
  • The action and attractions, ranging from Soldier Field or Wrigley Field to the Hancock Observatory to Navy Pier
  • Restaurants, including everything from elegant to family-style, and from Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza to all kinds of ethnic cuisine
  • Intriguing architecture and incredible museums, including the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Fantastic outdoor attractions, including Millenium Park, Grant Park, North Avenue Beach, two great zoos, and more
  • What to do when the sun goes down, whether you like the blues, ska, or hip-hop… the hot night spots or great theater
  • Culture, ranging from Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to The Second City and Improv Olympics
  • Sports—baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and more—in a city of notoriously passionate fans

Like every For Dummies travel guide, Chicago For Dummies, 4th Edition, includes:

  • Down-to-earth trip-planning advice
  • What you shouldn’t miss — and what you can skip
  • The best hotels and restaurants for every budget
  • Handy Post-it Flags to mark your favorite pages

With this friendly guide to help you choose from the best sites and attractions, Chicago will surely be your kind of town.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Talarico Brothers Choose Sides at Mob Trial

Friends of ours: Michael Talarico, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nicholas Calabrese, Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra
Friends of mine: Al Talarico

In the Family Secrets mob trial in Chicago, a brother has testified against a brother, and a son has testified against a father. But in recent days, the trial has revealed another family twist.

Bookmaker Michael Talarico took the stand against Frank Calabrese Sr., who ran the street crew that made Talarico pay a "street tax."

Days later, another Talarico family member -- civil attorney Al Talarico, Michael's brother -- entered the courtroom and promptly sat a few feet away from Calabrese Sr. He sat on a courtroom bench and started taking notes, whispering comments to Calabrese Sr.

Al Talarico even wanted to enter the case officially on Calabrese Sr.'s behalf, but Judge James Zagel denied his request. Calabrese Sr. already has one lawyer, defense attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez.

Lopez, normally a font of quotes for inquiring reporters, declined to comment on Al Talarico's appearance. Lopez cited a gag order the judge has imposed. Lopez, though, appears to have grown increasingly irritated by Talarico's presence. Lopez now has his client and Talarico whispering advice to him at trial.

Calabrese Sr. may need all the help he can get. He is accused of murdering 13 people for the mob. His brother, alleged Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, and his eldest son have testified against him.

Michael and Al Talarico are nephews of the late mob boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, a brutal killer who ran the 26th Street/Chinatown crew to which Calabrese Sr. belonged.

Al Talarico could not be reached for comment Friday. He has done civil work for the Calabrese family involving real estate, records show. One deal involved a home that the feds contended Calabrese Sr. stole from a man who owed him thousands of dollars in juice loans.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Gangster Graveyard

Friends of ours: Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto, Joseph Ferriola, Gerald Scarpelli, James Peter Basile, Harry Aleman

After learning his mobster brothers planned to kill him, the stocky bank robber figured his only way out alive was to turn FBI informant.

So, for 16 months, the self-professed soldier secretly recorded 186 conversations with his Chicago Outfit associates. He also detailed about 40 unsolved mob murders.

It was during one of those chats that FBI agent Jack O'Rourke said his informant nonchalantly mentioned a mob graveyard in southeast DuPage County near the former home of syndicate enforcer Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, imprisoned at the time for a London jewelry heist. "What are you talking about?" O'Rourke, now a private consultant, recalls asking. "He said it was common knowledge."

For five months, an elite FBI-led task force excavated many acres near Route 83 and Bluff Road, near Darien. They found bodies of two low-level wise guys before calling it quits in October 1988.

Nearly 20 years later, the group's early intelligence work remains significant. It laid part of the foundation for the Family Secrets trial under way in Chicago in which five defendants are accused of racketeering conspiracy in an indictment that outlines 18 murders, gambling and extortion.

A construction crew also resurrected the field's ominous past in March 2007 after unearthing a third body just north of the site.

It's unknown if more vanquished mobsters remain there undiscovered. A fabled 45-carat gem known as the Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole also was never found. Some theorize he hid it on his property. And, finally, just who is the turncoat who led FBI agents long ago to the burial site?

For decades, Chicago gambling kingpin Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto was a loyal soldier. That changed in February 1983 when he survived three gunshots in a botched hit. Eto played possum, and later turned informant. His would-be killers were later found dead in a trunk in Naperville - the price for not getting the job done right.

Eto proved to be a valued government witness before his Jan. 23, 2004 death, but he was not the one who led authorities to the graveyard. His attempted assassination, though, in part sparked the formation of the organized crime task force of FBI, Chicago, state and local officials in the mid-1980s to curb such mob violence.

An early goal was to bring down the crime family or "crew" of mob boss Joseph Ferriola of Oak Brook, who operated lucrative gambling rackets from Cicero to Lake County until his 1989 death.

Members of the task force said they focused on Gerald Scarpelli, who along with Scalise, known as Whiterhand because he was born minus four fingers, were Ferriola's busiest hitmen.

About this time, another mob guy started getting cold feet. O'Rourke identified him as James Peter Basile, a convicted Chicago bank robber best known as "Duke." Basile already had the FBI zeroing in on him for a 1983 race track robbery in Crete. So, after he also learned Scarpelli, his longtime associate, was planning to kill him, Basile realized he had no other choice but to break the mob's code of silence.

For 16 months, he helped the FBI listen in on his chats with Scarpelli and other associates before serving a few years in prison for the race track robbery and slipping into a witness protection program in the early 1990s.

Basile re-emerged briefly in June 1996 at a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing. "I finally decided to do something because it seemed there was no way out," he testified. "I began informing on the mob."

It was during one of his recordings of Scarpelli that the FBI first learned of the DuPage County graveyard. Basile later took them to the site, near Scalise's former home. The FBI heard there could be as many as seven bodies buried in the field.

It was painstaking work. For five months, task force members traded in suits, badges and guns for jeans, chain saws and shovels. They dug up acres of soil, trees and drained a pond. Members hand sifted truckloads of dirt through mesh screens for trace evidence. "We were meticulous," said Jerry Buten, a retired 30-year FBI supervisor. "This was way before CSI, but we knew the way you solve most major crimes was through physical evidence."

Authorities speculated the field held victims of the infamous chop shop wars of the 1970s, when the mob seized control of the stolen auto-parts trade and wiped out uncooperative dealers.

State police stood guard 24 hours a day. Large canopies were erected to block circling media helicopters. But they weren't the only pests. "I gave an order that anyone who came in was given a pair of work gloves because I got tired of all the suits showing up just to look at us," former DuPage Coroner Richard Ballinger said. "We'd spend 12 hours out there, come back to the office to do more work and sleep, then go back out the next morning."

On May 16, 1988, members unearthed the first skeletal remains. On June 9, a second shallow grave was found. Both men were shot to death.

Authorities brought in experts from across the country, from archaeologists to soil scientists, including top forensic anthropologist Dr. Clyde Snow of Oklahoma. Snow had identified the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele in Brazil and some victims of John Wayne Gacy and the 1979 American Airlines crash near O'Hare.

Using dental records and facial reconstruction, Snow relied mostly on computerized skull-face superimposition to identify the corpses. The second body, buried in a ski mask and with a cache of pornographic materials, was that of Michael S. Oliver, 29, a Chicago machinist who vanished November 1979.

In the FBI recordings, Scarpelli is heard saying that Oliver was a minor hoodlum shot during a syndicate raid on an independent porn shop near Elk Grove Village.

Not sure how to dump the body, in a scene similar to that in Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas," his underworld pals talked over a bite to eat as the corpse sat in the trunk.

It took more than one year to identify remains in the first grave as Robert "Bobbie" Hatridge, a 56-year-old Cincinnati man with a distinctive Dick Tracy square jaw, flat feet and a flair for fashion. The FBI said his girlfriend later told agents that Hatridge came to Chicago in April 1979 to meet with Scalise and Scarpelli about a big robbery. He never made it home.

Basile's graveyard tip was considered one of the task force's first big scoops. Nearly 20 years later, its intelligence work reverberates still.

The secret tapes Basile made led to Scarpelli's arrest in July 1988. He killed himself a year later, but not before making a 500-page confession that exposed many mob secrets. He also admitted to 10 murders, including some in the Family Secrets trial.

The task force also made history with another big bust. It brought down Ferriola's nephew, Harry Aleman, for killing a union steward in 1977. He was acquitted, then retried and convicted. Aleman, 68, and still in prison, is the only person tried twice for the same crime. Double jeopardy was discarded after it was learned his first judge took a bribe. "The entire (Ferriola) crew was prosecuted as a result of the task force," Buten said. "It marked the beginning of the Chicago Outfit's end."

The mob graveyard made news again in March when crews building townhouses unearthed a third body several blocks north of the field near 91st Street.

The remains were identified as Robert Charles Cruz of Kildeer, who vanished Dec. 4, 1997. Cruz, who was Aleman's cousin, had been on Arizona's death row just two years earlier until his conviction for a 1980 double murder was overturned.

The discovery of his body begs the question - Could more graves be found there?

Members searched far and wide, with one exception. At the time, a large drug rehab facility was being built there. Many wonder if beneath its foundation lie the bodies of more hoodlums. It's possible, task force members say, but unlikely. The bodies were unearthed in shallow graves less than 5 feet deep. They argue crews dug deeper when laying the foundation and probably would have found more graves if they existed.

Also still missing is the fabled $960,000 Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole during a 1980 London jewelry store heist. It was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill's cousin, the duchess of Marlborough.

Years ago, O'Rourke visited Scalise in his cell on England's Isle of Wight - the British version of Alcatraz - where he was imprisoned for the jewelry heist. "Scalise would do a lot of talking but never say anything," O'Rourke said. "Informants told us he shipped it to Chicago, where it was broken up and sold."

Scalise, 69, has kept a low profile since returning to the Chicago area after finishing an Arizona prison stint on drug charges. But, long ago, he was rumored to be working on his memoirs.

So far, though, he has upheld the mob's code of silence.

Thanks to Christy Gutowski

Top Ten Signs You're Watching A Bad Organized Crime Show

10. It chronicles the life and times of the Jackson family

Top Ten Signs You're Watching A Bad Organized Crime Show9. Mob bosses settle conflicts with spirited game of Trivial Pursuit

8. Only illegal activity is double parking

7. Mobsters whack an informant by driving up his cholesterol with rich desserts

6. Boss makes guy an offer he has the option of refusing

5. All nine mobsters played by Eddie Murphy -- remember "Norbit" is now available on DVD

4. They sit around eating sausage and pepperoni Hot Pockets

3. Everyone dies after catching tuberculosis from guy on airplane

2. Crime syndicate is run from behind bars by Paris Hilton

1. It's less violent than a typical episode of "The View"

Tipster Helps Put Mob Turncoat Behind Bars

Friends of ours: Peter "Petey Cap" Caporino, Genovese Crime Family, Michael Crincoli, Louis "Bobby" Manna, Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico, Joseph Scarbrough

Peter Caporino stood in a Jersey City courtroom last week in a green prison jumpsuit and blue slippers, with his hands cuffed behind his back. He held his head high but looked tired.

"Mr. Caporino, are you thinking clearly today?" Superior Court Judge Peter Vazquez asked him. "Yes," Caporino replied, nodding.

The exchange began the final ironic twist in the strange, sorry tale of "Petey Cap," one of the better-known and well-liked mobsters to grace or -- depending on your view -- plague North Jersey.

Caporino was the Hasbrouck Heights wiseguy who traded four decades of service in the mob for an FBI wire and the chance to spare himself and his wife from prison. He secretly recorded hundreds of conversations, and later helped federal prosecutors win convictions against 16 Jersey-based members and associates of the Genovese crime family. But as most of them marched off to prison last summer, a whisper campaign was in the works: Caporino, the rumors went, was not only back on the streets, but still brazenly running the lucrative six-figure gambling racket the feds had ordered him -- twice -- to shut down.

A new nickname was in the air. Greedy Petey, they called him.

Anonymous letters found their way to the Jersey City police, the county prosecutors, even The Star-Ledger, identifying locations where Caporino and underlings were said to still be operating. Someone was ratting out the rat.

Last month, police raided his home, seized betting records and cash and charged Caporino and his wife. The end came Thursday, when the 70-year-old mobster admitted his crimes in a plea deal with Hudson County prosecutors, and agreed to a seven-year prison term, most of which will probably be spent in isolation.

Caporino's punishment could ultimately be longer and lonelier than any given to most of the men he helped put away. "It's poetic justice, that's what it is," said Joseph Ferrante, a defense attorney who grilled Caporino on the witness stand during a federal racketeering trial last year. "You can't go and be a rat and put it in everybody's face."

Caporino wasn't a boss or even a ranking member in New Jersey's most dominant crime family. But he was a fixture -- a slight, chatty fellow, known and liked by cops, criminals and politicians alike, fond of fine wines and quick to pick up the tab. With his white hair and silver-rimmed glasses, he was more lottery agent than bruiser.

He was also the proprietor of a Hoboken members-only social hall, the Character Club, that occupied a faded brick building in the shadow of gleaming new condos. Like the building, its owner represented the new realities of the modern mob in New Jersey. A lifelong Genovese associate, Caporino turned informant to save the family that mattered most to him, but couldn't abandon the job. "It's all he knows," said his defense attorney, Sam DeLuca.

Caporino isn't the first wiseguy cooperator to return to his criminal ways. It happens so often that some in Garden State law enforcement circles have a saying about their witness protection participants: You can take the wiseguy out of Jersey, but you can't take Jersey out of the wiseguy.

Caporino refused to enter the program, even after he was forced to testify at the May 2006 trial of reputed Genovese soldier Michael Crincoli. On the stand, Caporino calmly admitted peddling information to the FBI for more than 15 years, including intelligence that helped in the prosecution of Louis "Bobby" Manna, a reputed Genovese underboss who ran operations in New Jersey.

He also acknowledged under oath that agents had repeatedly ordered him to end his numbers racket. But at the hearing Thursday, Caporino admitted he was running it again last June, weeks after the Crincoli trial, raising the prospect that he never really shut it down. "It certainly looked that way," said Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Thomas Carroll.

Caporino was first arrested and released last summer on minor gambling promotion charges. At the time, Jersey City Police Lt. Gary Lallo credited "community complaints in various sectors of the city" for jump-starting the investigation, but declined to say more. But there was no shortage of suspects behind the campaign to topple him, according to attorneys, investigators and others who know him.

Near the top would be the wiseguys he helped convict, or their friends, looking to exact some revenge, even if it's not a traditional form. "They like to see a guy suffer," said Assistant U.S. Attorney V. Grady O'Malley, a veteran organized crime prosecutor who oversees that office's Strike Force. "He's going to suffer with this. You're talking about spending the remaining good years of his life in jail."

There are other theories. One blames competitors coveting his lucrative turf. Or federal authorities angry at Caporino or looking for a way to force him into the protective custody he had repeatedly refused. Or local law enforcement, relishing the chance to embarrass the FBI by nailing one of its informants.

Another grapevine theory said Caporino's arrest was police payback after one of his right-hand men, Steve French, became a federal witness against a Jersey City detective, Frank D'Agosta, who was convicted of extorting the ring operators.

French became a cooperator after his arrest in a gambling raid by Hudson County investigators in 2002, the same one that snared Caporino, his wife, Ann, and more than a dozen others. By that point, Caporino had secretly been an FBI informant for more than a decade. But the prospect of he and his wife being sent to jail turned him into a full-fledged cooperating witness. In the two and a half years that followed, he recorded more than 300 conversations, most often with a microphone embedded on the pager he wore on his belt.

The racketeering indictment that ensued outlined loan-sharking operations, extortion attempts, and shakedowns against bettors by associates, soldiers, and Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico, believed to be one of the ranking captains in the crime family.

One of Caporino's recordings captured Joseph Scarbrough, the reputed Jersey crew boss who presided at his own Hoboken social club, musing about whether to execute one gambler before his debts got too big. On another, Scarbrough waxed nostalgic about a particularly ruthless killer from Chicago. "Good man. Good (bleeping) man," said Scarbrough, who later pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to five years in federal prison. "I loved the guy."

Caporino's role was more benign. He was the bank, the financier of an illegal daily lottery across North Jersey. He and his wife owned a house in middle-class Hasbrouck Heights, where they cared for their adult disabled daughter. Petey Cap's "office" -- the headquarters for the betting operation -- was a rented apartment in Staten Island, he admitted Thursday.

The take was sometimes as high as $40,000 a day, he testified last year, and he passed the proceeds both up and down the organizational ladder. Assistants and the legions of runners got paid for taking daily bets in office buildings, housing projects and storefronts. Scarbrough took as much as $5,000 a month, his "tribute" payment.

Caporino's cooperation won him a five-year suspended sentence in connection with the 2002 arrest and persuaded prosecutors to drop the charges against his wife.

The plea deal announced Thursday calls for Vazquez to reinstate the five-year term when he formally sentences Caporino in September. The judge is also expected to add a concurrent seven-year term for being the leader of an organized crime network. Again, prosecutors will drop their charges against Ann Caporino.

Thursday's plea hearing lasted just 15 minutes. Caporino stood at the defense table, guarded by two sheriff's officers and flanked on his left by DeLuca, his lawyer for more than 20 years. "Are you satisfied with the services of your attorney?" the judge asked. "Totally," Caporino said.

DeLuca then asked him a brief series of pre-arranged questions about the gambling ring and his role. Caporino limited his answers to one- or two-word replies. He wasn't asked to explain why he committed the crimes, though he'll get the chance to do so at sentencing. By that time, about half of the defendants he cooperated against will be free.

DeLuca said he hopes that Caporino will be eligible for parole in less than two years, although prosecutors said that was unlikely. Meanwhile, DeLuca said he will ask that Caporino serve his time somewhere outside of North Jersey.

He also can't expect any 11th hour assistance from the federal government. "We're not going to step in now and rescue him," said O'Malley, the federal prosecutor. "He takes the entire weight -- and he deserves it."

Thanks to John P. Martin

Mob Candy

Friends of ours: John Gotti, Carlo Gambino
Friends of mine: Soprano Crime Family

Tony Avella, a City Council member and founder of the Council’s Italian-American caucus, was home in Whitestone, Queens, watching the local news when a segment about a new magazine caught his attention. Inaugural Issue of Mob CandyThe magazine was called Mob Candy, its publisher, Frank DiMatteo, told the camera in what he calls broken Brooklynese, and its focus was the gangster lifestyle.

“Everyone likes to read about Mafia stuff; that’s why ‘The Sopranos’ did so well,” said Mr. DiMatteo, a balding man with forearms that display Popeye-like tattoos of a Marine Corps bulldog and the names of his three children.

Mr. Avella, whose father’s family came from the Naples area, was incensed by what he saw as pejorative stereotyping of Italian-Americans. In the past, he has spoken out against “Shark Tale,” the animated film in which criminal sea creatures speak with Italian-American accents, and attacked PBS for naming a series “The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance.”

On July 20, Mr. Avella took to the steps of City Hall to protest Mob Candy, accompanied by representatives of several Italian-American groups. He held a copy of the cover of the magazine’s premiere issue, which depicts a scantily clad, Glock-toting moll. “The magazine glorifies criminality,” he said. “It’s offensive to Italian-Americans and it degrades women.”

The other day, sitting at the bar of a Court Street pizzeria in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, just blocks from where he was born, Mr. DiMatteo pondered Mr. Avella’s position.

“Am I glorifying crime?” asked Mr. DiMatteo, 51, whose grandparents, like Mr. Avella’s, come from southern Italy. “Maybe I am, but I’ve had a lot of great teachers: The Post, The News, The Times, the History Channel, Hollywood.”

Mr. DiMatteo, who previously distributed the pornographic magazine Screw, said his new magazine offers “an entertaining history lesson.” And he added, “I ain’t making nothing up here.”

The 92-page first issue, which costs $4.99 and should be on newsstands by Thursday, offers an article about the legacy of Carlo Gambino and a history of a half-century of what the magazine describes as Mafia rats. There is also a pull-out poster. On one side is a collage of photographs of John Gotti; on the other, an image of the cover model, wearing a lace-up bustier and garter belt, toying suggestively with a grape Blow Pop. “That’s the candy side,” explained Tyrone Christopher, 39, the magazine’s co-founder.

Despite the publication’s glossy appearance, all the articles in the first issue were written by its two creators, and there are no advertisements. In the opinion of Mr. DiMatteo, the attention Mr. Avella called to his magazine may change that situation. “Ultimately,” he said, “it helps.”

Thanks to Emily Brady

Duke's Life of Crime

Friends of ours: James "Duke" Basile, Sam Giancana, Joe Ferriola

An edited text of James "Duke" Basile's June 1996 testimony in Washington, D.C. before a Senate judiciary committee. He hasn't been heard from publicly since.

I have lived a life of crime since 1958, two years after I was honorably discharged from the Marines.

I was 23 and in my second year of college when, by coincidence, I became connected with organized crime by signing on to work in the Owl Club in Calumet City as an operator for roulette, poker, blackjack and dice games. When the bosses moved their gambling operations to Las Vegas in 1962, I stayed in Chicago to do outfit work.

During my tenure, I worked under several bosses -- Sam Giancana and Joe Ferriola were a few. I knew them on a first-name basis.

I became a main soldier in about 1976 after I was discharged from prison after serving five years for bank robbery. My duties included taking care of loan sharking, lending and collecting, gambling, bookmakers, chop-shops, prostitutes, restaurants and other business collections -- collections which were all extortion to allow these operations to continue doing their business.

I averaged about $300,000 a month. I was allowed to keep $5,000 monthly for myself.

During this time in 1982, I was called before the federal grand jury and given immunity. I served 15 months for my refusal to testify and earned the added respect from the outfit, being that I had kept quiet.

I was told to lay low afterward because I became too popular and had bad press. I then temporarily returned to burglaries and because of my high living and constant need for more money, I continued.

Although I was a loyal member of the Chicago outfit for 38 years, in 1986, I began for the first time to have my doubts. I finally decided to do something because it seemed there was no way out. I began informing on the mob.

The rest of my story is all documented in FBI files. I have made approximately 186 taped conversations. I was told that I kept 15 agents busy for months working on all the information I provided. I was able to provide the FBI with detailed information on 40 murders together with other details of the entire mob and its activities. I also testified against other members.

I always pride myself as having never pulled the trigger on any hits, although I was part of setting up and assisting hits.

I remain relatively straight, but it's hard. I haven't been able to get any good jobs. I've been turned down, on my worst day, at McDonald's. I've been living hand-to-mouth with jobs whenever I can get one. I'm not here looking for sympathy. I don't even deserve it.

Romance of the Mob Shattered by Trial

Friends of ours: Vito Corleone, Tony Soprano, Nicholas Calabrese, Frank Calabrese, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, James Marcello, Paul Schiro, Anthony Doyle, Joey Aiuppa, Michael "Hambone" Albergo, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, Louie "The Mooch" Eboli
Friends of mine: Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel, William Hanhardt, Michael Spilotro

They have described becoming "made guys" in the mob by holding burning holy pictures in cupped hands while promising a lifetime of silence.

They've spoken of the arcane arts of "peeling" safes and selling bogus stock certificates. And they've told stories that seem straight from the movies: bombing businesses, bloody hits on FBI informants, bodies stuffed in car trunks and an oil drum stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. But Hollywood's romantic view has been mainly missing over the last month as witnesses — from a defendant's brother to old-time crooks with rap sheets as long as bed sheets — took the stand at Chicago's biggest mob trial in years.

Vito Corleone and Tony Soprano look like tame old duffers compared to what prosecution witnesses have been saying about the alleged dons of the Chicago Outfit, as the city's organized crime family has named itself. "They are not the romantic people who are often portrayed in the movies," says James Wagner, who fought the mob for decades as an FBI agent and now is president of the Chicago Crime Commission. "They are brutal."

Star witness Nicholas Calabrese told jurors he watched for decades as the bodies of his fellow mobsters piled up around him. He said he lived in dread that if he made just one misstep he would "end up in a car trunk."

His brother, Frank Calabrese, 69, is among the defendants along with Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78, James Marcello, 65, Paul Schiro, 70, and Anthony Doyle, 62. They are charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included gambling, extortion, loan sharking and murders.

Lombardo was convicted in the early 1980s of conspiring to bribe then Sen. Howard Cannon, D-Nev. Calabrese and Marcello have both served time for mob-related activity. Schiro is a convicted jewel thief and Doyle — the only one not alleged to have killed anyone — is a retired police officer. All but Doyle could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

As prosecutors Mitchell A. Mars, John J. Scully and Markus Funk dredge up evidence going back to the 1970s, Chicago's police are not faring well.

Last week, old-time burglar Robert G. "Bobby the Beak" Siegel emerged from the witness protection program to accuse Chicago's former chief of detectives, William Hanhardt, of collecting $1,000 a week and a new car every two years in return for seeing to it that mobsters weren't caught. "Most of the police were on the payroll" in the old days, he recalled.

Hanhardt is now serving 16 years after pleading guilty to leading a band of thieves that stole some $5 million in jewelry and fine watches. Schiro pleaded guilty to serving as a member of Hanhardt's gang.

Nicholas Calabrese testified that onetime mob boss Joey Aiuppa personally presided over the ceremony at which he became a "made guy" in the Outfit, his finger cut in the ancient ceremonial manner and a burning holy picture placed in his hand while he recited the oath of silence. "If I ever give up my brothers may I burn in hell like this holy picture," he remembered promising. But DNA found on a bloody glove left at a murder scene was matched to his and he has agreed to testimony in return for a promise that he won't have to die in the execution chamber.

His testimony has been the most graphic of the trial. He told how his brother, Frank, allegedly strangled victims like loan shark Michael "Hambone" Albergo with a rope and then cut their throats to make sure that they were dead. Albergo had threatened to talk to the FBI.

Frank Calabrese's attorney, Joseph Lopez, who loves a good wisecrack and sometimes wears pink socks to court, said before the trial that Nicholas Calabrese was lying about his brother. Since then U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel has clamped a gag order on the attorneys.

Best known on the list of 18 murder victims in the indictment is Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Outfit's onetime man in Las Vegas who was found in a shallow grave in an Indiana cornfield along with his brother Michael. Tony Spilotro inspired the Joe Pesci character in the movie Casino.

Nicholas Calabrese testified that mobsters were mad at Spilotro because he was "bringing too much heat" on them and having a romance with the wife of a casino executive. "That's a no-no," he quoted brother Frank as saying.

He testified that in June 1986 the Spilotros were lured to the basement of a Bensenville home where they were told Tony would be dubbed a "capo," or mob captain, and Michael a "made guy."

Instead, they were beaten and strangled.

Calabrese said he pulled one end of a rope around Michael Spilotro's neck while a mobster known as Louie the Mooche tugged away on the other.

With Nicholas in tow, FBI agents drove up and down Bensenville's streets searching for the house where the Spilotros died — to no avail. Such missing elements have been fodder for defense attorneys.

Marcello attorney Thomas M. Breen pounced on a claim that the Spilotro killers all wore gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, claiming that the story simply didn't sound realistic. "Did Mike Spilotro, say, 'Hey, guys, how come everybody's wearing gloves? This looks like a hit,"' Breen asked during Nicholas Calabrese's days on the witness stand.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

A Prison "Cap" to Petey's Life of Gambling

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family
Friends of mine: Peter "Petey Cap" Caporino

"Petey Cap" could have cashed in his chips and gone home, but he just couldn't give up his illegal gambling racket in Hudson County . And now it's going to land the 70-year-old back in prison for up to seven years.

"He just doesn't know how to do anything else," attorney Sam DeLuca said of his client, Peter Caporino, who pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Peter Vazquez yesterday.

Caporino ran illegal gambling for more 40 years and was an FBI informant for two decades. He operated out of his social club, the Character Club, on Monroe Street in Hoboken . A portion of his take was passed up the chain of Genovese crime family bosses.

In 2002, Caporino pleaded guilty to money laundering involving illegal gambling proceeds and was sentenced to five years in prison, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said. That sentence was suspended when he agreed to wear a wire for the FBI and help prosecute 15 reputed Genovese crime family associates. During that federal prosecution last year he testified that he continued to run his illegal gambling business even though the feds told him to stop.

After those prosecutions Caporino could have walked away and never looked back. Instead, things quickly fell apart.

Last month, he was arrested at his Hasbrouck Heights home and charged with leading an organized crime network, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records, officials said.

On Aug. 16 last year, he was arrested in Hoboken by Jersey City police and charged with promoting gambling and possession of gambling records, officials said.

The plea deal struck yesterday includes reinstatement of the five-year suspended sentence. Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to leading an organized crime network and prosecutors are asking that he be sentenced to seven years for that crime. He also pleaded guilty to promoting gambling, and prosecutors are seeking a five-year term for that. The prison terms are to run concurrently.

The sweep that netted Caporino in June also resulted in the arrest of his wife, Ann Caporino, 68, on the charge of possession of gambling records; and Andy Rush, 70, of Liberty Avenue in North Bergen , on the charge of conspiracy to promote gambling, officials said. The charge against Ann Caporino was dropped as part of her husband's plea deal. The charge against Rush stands.

Caporino was in prison from June 21, 1996 to April 21, 1997, corrections officials said. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 7.

Thanks to Michaelangelo Conte

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bulldog Talks to Widow about Mob Hit on Her Husband

Friends of ours: Joey "The Clown" Lombardo

Danny Seifert was 29 years old when he was slain at his Bensenville plastics company 34 years ago. His widow, who testified at the Family Secrets mob trial, spoke only to CBS 2’s John “Bulldog” Drummond about his murder before he could testify against the mob.

Evidence indicates defendant Joey "The Clown" Lombardo was a hidden partner in the firm and frequently dropped in. Seifert, who confided that he would testify against Lombardo and others in a fraud trial, was murdered as his wife Emma and 4-year-old son looked on in horror.

Emma Seifert had been married to her husband for six years that September morning when her nightmare unfolded. Friday she shared her ordeal with CBS 2, although she remained reluctant to have her face shown on camera.

“Two men with masks and gloves and guns came through the factory door into the office, they asked I don’t remember where my husband was or where that S.O.B. is,” Emma Seifert said. "I felt that one of the two men was Mr. Lombardo,” she said.

When asked why, she responded, “By the way he was built. By the way he moved. He was very agile, he had a boxer's build and I was familiar enough with him."

Seifert said prior to the shooting Lombardo and another man cruised ominously past the Seifert residence. "That was Mr. Lombardo,” Seifert said. “I saw him in the driver's seat. And there was another person in the car I couldn't identify."

Wounded, Danny Seifert fled for his life, leaving his wife and son behind. "One of them came back and pushed me down. The other was struggling with my husband,” Seifert said. “He took Joseph and I to the bathroom, put a gun to my head and said 'be quiet.'"

She said she did not mention those details to the authorities back in 1974 out of fear for her children’s safety. “That if anything would happen to me I was afraid they didn't have anyone to raise them,” she said.

Lombardo's attorney Rick Halprin says his client has a solid alibi and was not at the Bensenville factory when the murder occurred.

The Family Secrets trial will resume Monday at the Dirksen Federal Building.

Thanks to John "Bulldog" Drummund

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Co-op Exec Said to Have Paid Mob to Avoid Union Trouble

Friends of ours: Tony Accardo, Frank Calabrese Sr., Nick Calabrese, Michael Spano, Rocky Infelice
Friends of mine: Michael Cagnoni

The head of a cooperative association specializing in shipping fruits and vegetables was also delivering a briefcase stuffed with cash to mob figures before his murder, a witness testified Thursday.

"Yes, I believe that was one of the gentlemen," security expert Fred Pavlich told the trial of five alleged mob members after studying an FBI surveillance photo of the late Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo.

Pavlich said he resigned as head of security for the shipping cooperative that Michael Cagnoni headed only weeks before a powerful bomb erupted under the driver's seat of Cagnoni's Mercedes on June 24, 1981. Pavlich said the night before he resigned, he got a threatening phone call that didn't mention Cagnoni by name but still persuaded him that it would be prudent to give up his post as the association's security director.

Federal prosecutors say convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr. was responsible for the Cagnoni murder. Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, the government's star witness, described how a bomb was planted and detonated by an automatic radio-controlled device. An eyewitness, who was at one time a U.S. Marines explosives expert, testified Wednesday that the blast sent huge hunks of metal flying through the air, produced a giant cloud of smoke and tore Cagnoni's body in half.

Calabrese, 69, is among five men charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included extortion of "street tax" from businesses as well as illegal gambling, loan sharking and 18 murders.

Pavlich testified Cagnoni was a brilliant shipping executive who figured out a way of setting up a cooperative association consisting of Chicago and New York grocers and California produce growers. He said thousands of trucks were going back and forth between Chicago and the West Coast every week aboard railroad cars with the association's shipments.

On arriving in the Chicago area, some trucks went to local grocers while others went on to New York to supply produce to supermarkets there. But every week Cagnoni also carried a briefcase stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash to Flash Trucking, a suburban Cicero company that made most of his Chicago-area deliveries, Pavlich testified.

Flash was owned by brothers, Michael and Paul Spano. Michael Spano is serving a 12-year prison sentence for his 2002 conviction for helping former Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese swindle the suburb -- long plagued by mob influence -- out of millions of dollars in insurance money.

Prosecutors say that when longtime Cicero mob boss Rocky Infelice was sent to prison in the early 1990s he dubbed Michael Spano his successor.

Pavlich said sometimes money was delivered to a meeting in a Rosemont hotel that Cagnoni and a number of other men attended.

"I of course kept my distance and went downstairs as I was told to do," Pavlich said. But he identified an FBI surveillance photograph of Accardo, who for decades was one of the most powerful mob bosses in the country, as that of one of the men on hand for at least one meeting. "I believe Rocky was there every time I was there," the former security director said, speaking of Infelice.

Calabrese attorney Joseph Lopez asked Pavlich whether he made the payments to avoid union problems. Pavlich said that as he understood it, that was one of the reasons.

Undertaker Testifies at Mob Trial

Friends of ours: William "Butchie" Petrocelli

As both a gun dealer and an undertaker, Ernie Severino was able to serve the Chicago mob in many ways. Now he's helping the feds.

The 60-year-old Severino testified in the Family Secrets trial of five alleged mobsters. They're accused of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 murders. One of the murder victims was Butchie Petrocelli, the leader of the so-called "Wild Bunch."

Severino testified yesterday that back in 1980, he supplied Petrocelli with 100 guns. When other mobsters pressed Severino to hand over some items he'd been keeping for Petrocelli, Severino balked, fearing Petrocelli would come back and get him. On the stand yesterday, Severino said they answered: "He's not coming back." Petrocelli turned up dead.

Friday, July 27, 2007

America's Most Wanted on The Chicago Syndicate

America's Most Wanted on The Chicago Syndicate
Rebekah Johnson: In 2006, John Walsh named Rebekah Johnson one of the year’s most wanted fugitives. And last month, police finally picked her up. But despite cops finding an AK-47 and nearly 1000 rounds of ammo in her apartment, Johnson entered a not guilty plea to a New York judge a few weeks ago.

Jean-Marie Jean-Francois: To many of those who knew him, Jean-Marie Jean-Francois was a friendly, church going man. But cops say he had a dark side. According to them, Jean-Francois practiced voodoo and abused his long-time girlfriend, Fritz-Anna. Finally, a restraining order was filed against him, and that’s when police say he exploded—killing Fritz-Anna, and hitting the road.

Cornell & Story Killers: 17 years ago, Robin Cornell and Lisa Story were killed in Cape Coral , Fla. Now, police say all their leads have dried up and they need your help this week in re-opening this cold case.

Guillermo Ramirez: When Amber Fish wrote a letter to America ’s Most Wanted about the rape she suffered at the hands of Guillermo Ramirez, we were touched. In 1992, Ramirez was arrested, but cops say he got out on bond and made a break for it. Now, 15 years later, Amber is still looking for justice. Police say if Ramirez has left the U.S. east coast, then he’s probably in the Philippines . This week, you can help us finally put an end to his run.

Igor Koumlikov: Cops say rumors were swirling around Detroit that somebody killed Jan Jasinski and buried her in her own backyard. Now that police have found the body, they’ve narrowed their list of suspects down to one man—a man by the name of Igor Koumlikov. Koumlikov has been on the run for seven years, and by now could’ve made it out of the U.S. On AMW.COM, we not only have photos of Koumlikov but also of the hole where cops say Jan’s body was found.

Adamson Killer: The Colombia River Gorge that divides Oregon and Washington is a picturesque destination for many sightseers. But last September, the area became a grisly crime scene. Dismembered body, including the victim’s hand, began washing ashore. Police were able to identify the John Doe as Douglas Adamson. Now it’s our job to figure out who killed him, and why.

Goodfella, Henry Hill, Says NBA Ref Donaghy Just the Tip of Scandal

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Family, Jimmy "The Gent" Burke, Paul Vario
Friends of mine: Henry Hill

Tim Donaghy was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He was an All-American kid who played baseball and basketball in high school and then attended Villanova University. Following college Donaghy eventually would reach the pinnacle of his chosen profession -- a referee in the National Basketball Association.

Henry Hill grew up in the hardscrabble streets of East New York in Brooklyn. He was hardly a student, spending most of his days hanging out with the gangsters who held court across the street from his parents' home. Hill and his colleagues would would go on to commit some of the most notable crimes of the past 30 years.
Tim Donaghy

Once you cross the line like Tim Donaghy, you're just another criminal.

You can't avoid the name Tim Donaghy these days.

If you don't know who Henry Hill is, then stop what you're doing and go and rent "Goodfellas." It's the 1990 Martin Scorsese film based on Hill's life as a soldier in the Lucchese crime family in New York City.

If you've seen the movie, you know about the Lufthansa heist (where Hill's crew stole $5.8 million from a vault at JFK Airport), the cocaine dealing (this was the genesis of Hill's downfall, courtesy of the Nassau County narcotics task force), the violence, the murders … all of it. Sure, that all led to Hill's ending up in the FBI's witness protection program, but there's one story "Goodfellas" didn't tell you and it's this story that brings Hill together with Donaghy more than David Stern would ever like to think about.

Henry Hill was the mastermind behind the the Boston College point shaving scandal in the 1978-79 season. And Hill believes this latest scandal could be a lot bigger than just Donaghy.

"There's still a million ways to do it today," says Hill. "That's why [Donaghy] didn't get caught for so long." Plus, Hill adds, "the government works in strange ways. They'll let you go and go and go until they have a huge case against you, right when you think you won't get caught the feds reel you in and you're hanging from their fishing poles. Now, with this whole NBA thing? Forget it. Now that everyone is talking they have computer records, they have everything. It's going to get a whole lot bigger than this … you wait for the trial. This is going to be the tip of the iceberg. This guy Donaghy is in a lot of freakin' trouble."

Hill always was looking to make his next score. He was a good earner for Jimmy "The Gent" Burke (Jimmy Conway in the movie, played by Robert De Niro) and Paul Vario (Paul Cicero in the movie, played by Paul Sorvino) and when he had an idea about a scam or a robbery, it usually worked out. So when Hill approached them with his latest idea, everyone jumped at the chance to make a few bucks. The idea: Get a couple guys on the Boston College basketball team to shave points off the spread so Hill and his friends could lay bets all over town and clean up.

Why Boston College? For one reason -- Hill had an "in."

Back in 1978 one of Hill's associates was Paul Mazzei, a former inmate with Hill from Pittsburgh who helped set up a lucrative cocaine business after the two got out of prison. With this new powerful connection to one of the major organized crime families, Mazzei always was bragging to his friends back home.

"Paul would talk a big game to his friends about his organized crime connections, and how they could make the [B.C.] thing happen," says Ed McDonald, who at the time was the attorney in charge of the Organized Crime Strike Force in NYC. "One of Mazzei's friends from Pittsburgh was a guy named Tony Perla, who was a librarian at a junior high school. I know, you can't make this stuff up. His brother, Rocco, grew up with a guy named Rick Kuhn who at the time was on the B.C. basketball team."

One summer when Kuhn was back in Pittsburgh, Rocco asked his friend if he was interested, it went up the chain to Mazzei and then to Hill and his crew in New York and the fix was on.

Kuhn wasn't some 18-year-old babe in the woods who just got caught up with the wrong people. He had been a pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization before he blew his arm out, so he arrived on the B.C. campus as a 23-year-old with a few years of pro ball under his belt.

"I'll tell you, because Kuhn was older, he knew what was going on, he was definitely calling the shots," says Hill. "He brought in the captain of the team and the leading scorer because he had to -- he tried to shave points and he messed up a couple games. We are all losing money until those other guys came on board."

Today Henry Hill has turned in his titles of point shaver, witness and gangster for more benevolent ones. Hill sells his art on eBay, he's opening a restaurant in New Haven, Ct., called Henry Hill's Goodfellas and his tomato sauce, Henry Hill's Sunday Gravy, will be for sale at stores and on the Internet in August. "I'm surviving. I'm doing better than surviving, I'm existing," says Hill. "I have a bunch of irons in the fire and I shouldn't even be here."

Out of the nine games they attempted to fix, Hill and his associates won bets on only six. "That's right," adds McDonald. "I used to call them 'The Gang That Could Shoot Straight.' If it were left to Kuhn, they wouldn't have made a dime."

Kuhn, the team's starting center, soon recruited two other starters. Payment to the players was set at $2,500 to $3,500 per player, per game. At times, cocaine was used as payment for Kuhn, and he wasn't even good at that. "We found out that one time, when B.C. was on their way to a tournament in Hawaii, Kuhn lost a whole thing of coke in the airplane bathroom," says McDonald. All three players were on board and everyone was "winning." Hill adds, "It was great, there was a lot of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll … and missed shots."

Goodfella, Henry Hill, doesn't think NBA Ref Tim Donaghy is the only one out there, just the only one to get caught.The questions swirling around Donaghy now include whether he made certain calls that affected games or point spreads and whether anyone should have noticed. "It's harder than you think if you're not looking for it," says Hill. "At B.C. we had three guys cooperating with us and even the coach didn't notice. Well, there was a little suspicion, but we made it through the season OK. We didn't think anything of it. I know I didn't."

As far as money, even though it's 2007, the Gambino crime family isn't making Donaghy fill out a W-2 -- organized crime is still a cash business.

"Here's how he probably did it," says Hill. "You get a nephew or a cousin or someone you trust. You meet them in a restaurant somewhere and you have them hand you the envelope. And it's cash. Always cash. Nothing on the Internet or with a bank. That stuff is too traceable. If it's more than that we get word to you to leave your keys on your tire, when you come back there's a bag of money in your trunk. Like I said, there's a million ways to do it."

But how did Henry Hill get caught? He didn't. He gave himself up.

After the Lufthansa heist in 1978, Jimmy Burke started eliminating everyone involved to avoid any possibility that someone would turn an informant -- and send him to jail for the rest of his life.

"Everyone in town knew who did it, they just couldn't prove it," says Hill. "First the feds would come to my house with B.S. warrants, then they started coming with pictures of the bodies. Everyone got whacked here. Eleven guys including two guys' wives got it. I started to see the writing on the wall, but wasn't sure until I heard the tape."

It was the tape that would end Hill's career in the mafia and begin a series of trials as a government witness. A record Hill is proud of: "Hey, we went 11 for 11. All convictions."

On that tape Hill heard Jimmy Burke talking to Paul Vario. "I hear Jimmy talking about me," says Hill. "Jimmy says 'we gotta whack him.' I couldn't believe it. That floored me. I thought I was immune to all that because of how tight I was with those two guys. In the end it didn't matter."

Almost immediately, Hill entered the witness protection program.

Hill explains that one part of the program includes signing a contract that basically states "you get caught in one lie, the whole deal was off. But I could confess to anything. I didn't commit any murders, but I was present many times when murder was committed. So when you sign that, you have to change your whole way of thinking. My life was on the line, my family's life was on the line.… They had everything I had done, even my terrible record as a kid. So, you have one choice: Be absolutely truthful."

During his debriefing, the FBI would ask Hill all sorts of questions based on the information they had -- phone records, surveillance, airplane receipts.

"They start coming at me with all these records. 'Henry, why were you talking to Jimmy right here? Why did you keep flying to Boston?' Compared to the other stuff I was doing, I didn't even think it was a crime. What was I doing in Boston? I was shaving points!"

Listening to this was McDonald, Hill's sponsor in the witness protection program.

"Man, when I told him about B.C., Ed McDonald went postal, he went ballistic," says Hill. "He couldn't believe what I was telling him."

McDonald admits they had no clue about the point shaving. "No, we wouldn't have even known about it," says McDonald. "That was totally out of the blue." Adding to McDonald's reaction was that he was a graduate of Boston College and even played on the freshman basketball team. Hill's testimony regarding the B.C. point shaving scandal resulted in multiple convictions, including Kuhn, Mazzei and Perla.

That closed the book on one of the biggest scandals sports has ever known. But what about Tim Donaghy and his partners?

Hearing reports that it wasn't until after a few days that Donaghy's name was made public that he requested police protection, Hills says, "That's a joke he doesn't have protection. He's probably under wraps with the feds. I bet he's going into the witness protection program."

Hill thinks Donaghy will "probably get 10 years and they'll make him go to Gamblers Anonymous. Then they'll suspend the sentence probably. Hey, the guy has a disease, he's a degenerate gambler and he's a fool for what he did. Still, he'll try to cut the right deal and get immunity if he can for everything." But there's still the question of how Donaghy and his partners got caught.

Hill thinks it's because everyone got greedy. It would make sense not to go overboard and fix too many games … and of course never talk. You don't know who's listening.

"Sense isn't part of it, once [organized crime] got their hands on him, they were never going to let him go," says Hill. "They owned him and they were calling the shots, no question. They're too greedy because they're betting money everywhere now: the Internet, Vegas, every bookie they can find, and everyone wanted a piece. It can get out of hand real fast."

According to Hill, everyone from himself to Donaghy is subject to the failings of the human condition -- that's why you'll never see him bet on sports again.

"Maybe I'll make a pinky bet for 10 bucks with a guy if we're watching a game, but that's it," says Hill. "All these people are humans -- they're greedy, they use steroids, maybe they have a coke habit. Who knows? Look at the bike guys in the Tour. It's everywhere. There's too much money involved. And the guys that are helping them? Players, officials, whatever -- they know they're only in the game for a few years and that's if they stay healthy. They all want to put something in the cookie jar. They buy all sorts of stuff with cash only. Cars and art, all that B.S. Hey, art goes up in value. I know. That's my main source of income, my art. You can find it on eBay, by the way."

Hill doesn't think Donaghy is the only one out there, just the only one to get caught. "I'm pretty sure there are guys all over on the take," says Hill. "They're going to get these guys good, because like always, they're after the Gambinos. And I'll tell you, I wouldn't be surprised to see some players involved."

Of course, like Hill said, this is nothing new. "Back in the '70s I had a joint on Queens Boulevard right between Aquaduct and Belmont. Every jockey in town came in and bet there." Other athletes had places as well. "There were athletes and bookies everywhere back then."

Hill would run into a few of them -- they were hard to miss. "Joe Namath used to fool around with my girlfriend's roommate back then," says Hill. "I used to see Joe over at the apartment every couple days. Before he left for Super Bowl III though, he told me to 'bet the f------ farm' on the Jets. I went down there and took the money line. Man, did I clean up."

Hill didn't just run into athletes in his line of work. "I used to have a guy that reffed games in the Garden in the '70s," says Hill. "I don't want to use his name, but he was a degenerate gambler. He'd come to Belmont or Saratoga and tell one of us 'I want $4,000 on the seven horse' or whatever. And we'd send someone in front of him to make his bet. That guy would leave the tickets on the table and the ref comes up and bets a couple bucks on something else, then, when he walks away, he palms the ticket for the $4K bet. I mean, what the hell is a ref doing betting $4,000 on a race?"

As Hill learned, it all comes to an end. Money, friends, easy living … it all disappears.

"My father was strict as they come," says Hill. "He realized who I was involved with when I was a kid and he would say 'stay away from those bums across the street.' Well, I didn't listen. As my mom used to say, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, I got blinded by that life. I thought it was the good life. Good living, Cadillacs and diamond rings. In reality, it's just jails, institutions or death."

Welcome to the rest of your life, Mr. Donaghy.

Thanks to Mike Philbrick

News Reporters on Mob Payroll?

I am always amazed at how the media covers mob trials.

There are so many expert commentators. They all report on the mob like they have been covering them for years.

Actually, some reporters have been covering for them for years. One reporter was on the payroll of a mobster for years. Every reporter knew but no one said his name, because the mobster was an alderman and committeeman.

No. I’m not talking about Fred Roti, the kindly alderman of the First Ward who was the City Hall representative for the Mob’s political enforcer, John D’Arco Sr.

When I first arrived at City Hall in 1976, as a freelance writer doing my first interview with the first Mayor Daley, “da Boss,” to the time I left in 1992, it was obvious that many reporters knew a lot more about the Chicago mob than they let on.

The only time we write about them is when one of them decides to squeal, or is brought before a court. And then the reporters, hypocritically, pontificate about the ills of the Chicago Outfit, the Mafia, la Cosa Nostra.

Hypocrites because all of the reporters, including me, knew which ones were the mobsters and which ones weren’t. We knew which powerful aldermen and committeemen were the lackeys of the Chicago mob, and who were their attorneys, too. Yet, we never exposed them. These mobsters walked into the Chicago City Hall Press Room all the time. They attended meetings of the Chicago Democratic Organization, all the time.

They buddied up to even the Republicans out in DuPage County and stood next to Cook County State’s Attorneys.

When I left newspapering for a brief sabbatical into the dark and seamy world of Chicago politics as a consultant, some of my clients were, in fact, mobsters. The most notorious were those in the Town of Cicero.

I was always amazed at how reporters called Betty Loren-Maltese asking for favors on one hand, and, maybe not getting them, sat back while their newspapers pummeled her in their coverage on the other.

I’m not defending the incarcerated mob heiress and vicious Town President who relished in destroying lives and careers and lying. She deserves her prison sentence and far more. But let’s not pretend that the news media in Chicago isn’t cozy with the mob or that just Mayor Richard M. Daley is afraid to talk about the topic.

The mobsters have been crawling around Chicago City Hall, and Democratic and Republican politics in Illinois, for generations and we only address it when it becomes the headline and can’t avoid writing about it.

I won’t spill any beans. Why should I be any different? The Chicago news media doesn’t care and I doubt that most Chicagoans really care either.

We know they are there. We voters elect them to office. And we elect their political pals, cronies, lackeys and funders to government office, too.

So, as we listen to the sordid and grisly tales offered by Nicholas Calabrese in the highly touted “Family Secrets” mob trial now taking place and filling our front page headlines and columns and the TV reports of overly tanned and hyped up TV reporters, remember, the mob is there because we all allow them to be there.

I wonder if Chicago politics depends on them being there.

Thanks to Ray Hanania

Mafia Barber Avoids Jail

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family

It was a close shave yesterday for an East Harlem barber who nearly went to prison for lying to the FBI about his Mafia clientele.

Instead, a federal judge sentenced Claudio Caponigro to a year's probation for playing dumb when FBI agents asked him to identify photos of some of his mobster pals

"Your honor, I'm sorry to hurt anybody," Caponigro, 76, told Manhattan Judge Lewis Kaplan.

The Italian immigrant will go back to doing what he has done for more than 56 years - cutting hair in his tiny shop on E. 116th St.

Caponigro's lawyer, Michael Washor, said his client is "embarrassed and shamed" but has no plans to retire. "This is a man who has devoted his life to his family, to his neighborhood and, believe it or not, to his profession," Washor added.

Caponigro was indicted last year along with 45 others in a vast racketeering conspiracy that included charges that the acting boss of the Genovese crime family signed off on a hit from prison.

FBI agents visited Caponigro's shop in November 2004 and asked him if he could identify several Genovese crime family members. Later, he was caught on tape telling mob-lawyer-turned-informant Peter Peluso, "They ask me a couple of questions. I don't answer not one question. I says, 'I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just a barber.'"

Caponigro was sentenced with several other septuagenarian mobsters accused in the same case.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

The Mob Will Extort Street Taxes from Anyone

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, Frank Calabrese Sr., Fred Roti, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Jackie "The Lacky" Cerone

I could just kick myself for missing Monday's installment of the Family Secrets mob trial playing out at the federal building here in Chicago. There's so much that doesn't make the headlines that is every bit as spellbinding as the stuff that does.

No, I'm not talking about who got whacked in 18 old, cold, brutal unsolved mob hits. Or even referring to the riveting testimony of Nicholas Calabrese, the mob hit man and betraying brother of defendant Frank Calabrese Sr., whose deadpan delivery and downcast eyes mesmerized the jury for five days.

What I'm talking about are those little snippets and small moments when the intersection of the Chicago Outfit and this city's powerbrokers and businessmen comes into startling focus.

The high drama of the day dealt with the cross-examination of Calabrese by defense attorneys who sought to undercut his credibility and shore up the fortunes of the five defendants whose prospects of dying outside prison are looking rather dim. But what happened at the end of the day wasn't even mentioned in the Tribune account and only briefly in the Sun-Times, the last paragraphs of which read:


Victor Cacciatore? The Chicago attorney and real estate developer? Chairman of Lakeside Bank? Member of convicted ex-Gov. George Ryan's transition team? One of the partners of now-indicted Antoin "Tony" Rezko's defunct 62-acre riverfront parcel in the South Loop? Holder of loads of government contracts and political contributor of at least $385,000 since 1995?

Yes, that Victor Cacciatore.

When he took the stand this week at the request of federal prosecutors, it was to buttress what Nick Calabrese had been saying about the Chicago mob. That they will muscle, extort, threaten or kill anybody if they think they can get away with it.

Thank goodness for Sun-Times reporter Steve Warmbir's blog that delved into this small but fascinating aspect of the trial.

Warmbir reports that Cacciatore testified he was being extorted by the mob in the 1980s, though "his memory was fuzzy."

In the 1980s, Cacciatore told the court, somebody put the head of a dog on his son's car and shot out his back windshield. Cacciatore called the cops. Oddly, he refused to tell police at the time who exactly it was who was extorting him to the tune of $5 million. Instead, Cacciatore went to 1st Ward Ald. Fred Roti, someone who had sent a lot of business Cacciatore's way. The extortion demand dropped to a mere $200,000.

Roti, you may recall, went to federal prison in the 1990s on corruption charges. It was revealed that he was a made member of the Chicago mob.

Cacciatore told the court this week that he had some familiarity with mob figures and had lived next door in River Forest to Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, the onetime head of the Outfit. When shown the so-called Last Supper photo of Accardo, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Jackie "The Lacky" Cerone and others, Cacciatore was able identify a number of them. But on the stand, he still could not identify those extorting him nor did he recall telling investigators years ago that by naming names he'd be signing his own death warrant.

Cacciatore, a civic-minded philanthropist not accused of anything, didn't return my calls Tuesday. But, like the trial itself, he leaves us wanting to know much more.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Son of Mob Hit Man Takes Witness Stand

Ronald Jarrett looked at the video screen on the witness stand in the Family Secrets trial on Tuesday and saw the image of a mustachioed face staring back.

Chicago Outfit, Mob Hit Man and Bookie, Ronnie Jarret"That was my father," he said of Ronnie Jarrett, a noted Outfit hit man and bookie who was gunned down in 1999.

The younger Jarrett, 35, was one of a series of prosecution witnesses called Tuesday to corroborate some of prosecution witness Nicholas Calabrese's key testimony over the last week about mob murders, how the Chicago Outfit made its money and what role Frank Calabrese Sr. and other defendants played.

Jarrett, in a white dress shirt and buzz-cut hair, testified that his father was a member of Frank Calabrese's Outfit crew and ran a gambling operation. When his dad was sentenced to prison in 1980, both Calabrese brothers dropped by to visit him, he said.

On his father's release from prison, Jarrett said, the two of them began working together in a gambling ring that took bets on football, basketball and horse racing, among other sports. Some of the money went to Frank Calabrese's family. Ronnie Jarrett bankrolled the operation, his son said, keeping cash in a bedroom drawer or a coat pocket in his closet.

The operation expanded to two offices, one in Burbank and another in Chicago, Jarrett said. Gambling slips were hidden in the ceiling of the front porch of the Chicago office, he said. Times were good, he said, until his father's fatal shooting just before Christmas in 1999.

Jarrett said he once asked reputed mob figure Nicholas Ferriola who was responsible for his father's death. Ferriola, who has pleaded guilty as part of the Family Secrets prosecution, brought players to the gambling operation, he said.

According to Jarrett, Ferriola told him that Johnny "Apes" Monteleone ordered his father's hit. Nicholas Calabrese had testified that Monteleone took over as boss of the Outfit's 26th Street crew after the deaths of brothers Angelo LaPietra and Jimmy LaPietra in the 1990s. "He told me that my dad had a problem with Johnny 'Apes,'" Jarrett testified.

On cross-examination by Joseph Lopez, the attorney for Frank Calabrese Sr., Jarrett acknowledged that Calabrese had tried to push him away from bookmaking. Through his questioning, Lopez also suggested that Jarrett's father could have been killed for refusing to let his gambling operation be controlled by Monteleone. To his knowledge, the younger Jarrett said, his father didn't pay "street taxes" to Outfit bosses.

In the afternoon, prosecutors called witnesses in an attempt to bolster Nicholas Calabrese's account of the murder of Nicholas D'Andrea, who had been suspected in an attempt on the life of reputed mob capo Al Pilotto on a golf course in Crete.

The heart of the government case involves 18 long-unsolved gangland slayings. Calabrese's brother and four other defendants are on trial in the landmark case.

Calabrese had described the killing in detail last week, saying D'Andrea had been lured to a garage in Chicago Heights. Calabrese testified he had been told that a tall man and a short man would walk into the garage and that he was to club the short man with a bat.

On entering the garage, the tall man took off running, possibly tipping off the shorter D'Andrea, Calabrese had said. It then took several members of the hit squad, including Family Secrets defendant James Marcello, to overpower and subdue D'Andrea, Calabrese testified. D'Andrea's body was later found in the trunk of his car, according to testimony.

The surprise of the day came when Terri Nevis, D'Andrea's former wife, said a photo that prosecutors have shown to jurors was, in fact, not her husband. "Absolutely not," she said in a whispery voice when Thomas Breen, Marcello's lawyer, showed her the photo. It remains to be seen how much the apparent error will aid the defense because Calabrese, in his testimony, said he didn't recognize the photo as that of D'Andrea.

Calabrese had said that within days of the hit on D'Andrea, Outfit bosses showed him a newspaper story about another murder. He said he had been told that the victim was the taller man who had spooked D'Andrea in the garage. Prosecutors have told the judge they will show jurors that a mobster named Sam Guzzino was killed soon after the D'Andrea hit. The government contends he was the taller man in question.

Nevis, who had begun living with D'Andrea when she was 15 and he was in his late 40s, testified that on the day he died, it was Guzzino who called D'Andrea to set up a meeting. "He said to get Nick on the phone," said Nevis, now a 45-year-old mortgage banker living on the West Coast. Another witness, Karen Brill, testified that Sam Guzzino would come by his brother's cab company in Chicago Heights where she worked. The company had a garage that shared space with a bar and brothel called "The Vagabond Lounge," Nevis said.

Brill was shown a photo of an old brown garage she said was the one she was talking about -- the same photo Calabrese told jurors appeared to look like the garage where D'Andrea was killed.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bribes to A Top Chicago Cop Detailed

Friends of ours: Angelo Volpe, Frank "The Calico Kid" Teutonico, Turk Torello
Friends of mine: William Hanhardt, Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal

A master thief and killer for the Outfit testified today that his mob boss gave a top Chicago cop, William Hanhardt, $1,000 to $1,200 a month in bribes and a new car every two years.

Robert "Bobby the Beak" Siegel took the witness stand Wednesday morning in the Family Secrets case and recounted to jurors in a gravelly baritone how he came up through organized crime in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s.

Siegel told jurors how his one-time boss, Angelo Volpe, who oversaw the numbers racket on the South Side, paid off Chicago Police, including Hanhardt in the 1960s. Volpe also allegedly paid off Hanhardt's long-time partner, the late Jack Hinchy. Siegel said Volpe told Hanhardt and Hinchy to leave Siegel alone because Siegel was working for him.

Hanhardt, 78, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in 2002 for running a nationwide jewelry theft ring that stole millions of dollars in diamonds and other fine gems.

Siegel, who is 71 and in witness protection, told jurors he grew up on the West Side and began stealing when he was 13 or 14, "anything we could make a buck with."

He graduated to armed robberies and worked for Frank "The Calico Kid" Teutonico as a juice loan collector. Under Teutonico, Siegel learned who was who in the Outfit. After Teutonico went to prison, Siegel went to work for Volpe, Siegel testified.

Siegel also said he was sent by mobster Turk Torello in the late 1960s to Las Vegas to help collect $87,000 from an associate of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, a subject of the book and movie "Casino."

Siegel said he got the job done. "You know, we threatened him and told him he would get hurt if he didn't pay it, and we straightened it out," Siegel said.

Siegel also said he killed three people for the mob, including one person believed to be an informant, but offered no details early on during his testimony Wednesday.

Siegel began working with investigators in the mid-1990s after he was arrested for a series of jewelry store robberies and five of his codefendants in the case cooperated against him.

"I felt I didn't owe loyalty to anybody after that," Siegel said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Mobster's Widow Testifies at Trial

Friends of ours: Nicholas D'Andrea, James Marcello

Chicago mobster Nicholas D’Andrea drove off in his silver Mercedes with his gun tucked into his belt and within hours was murdered and stuffed into the car’s trunk, his widow testified Tuesday.

Terri L. Nevis, 45, told a federal court jury that as he pulled away from their house on Sept. 13, 1981, D’Andrea was immediately sandwiched between a car in front of him and a car that seemed to be trailing him.

“Was that the last time you saw your husband alive?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk asked. “That was the last time I saw him period,” she testified.

Prosecutors blame mob boss James Marcello for the D’Andrea killing in one of the seemingly endless feuds that marked the Chicago Outfit, as the city’s organized crime family calls itself, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cybercrime Is Funding Organized Crime

For months now, the feds have said organized crime was moving into the realm of cybercrime, using hackers to run scams and break into systems.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Erez Liebermann, chief of the computer hacking and intellectual property section in New Jersey's U.S. Attorney's Office, says cybercrime has been so profitable for organized crime that they're now using it to fund the rest of their underground operations.

"In terms of the risks and rewards, there's a higher chance of getting more, financially, using the world of computer crime. Organized crime is realizing this," he said. "We have suspicions of organized crime being behind some cybercrime that we're investigating here. The attorney general has issued reports about organized crime and terrorist links using computer crime, hacking and intellectual property crimes as a way of raising revenue. It's being used to fund organized crime."

Analysts at Websense, a Web security company, reported late last year that the mob was expected to band together more closely with hackers in 2007 to form a more organized cybercrime community.

The beefed-up online crime cooperative has begun buying, selling, and trading ready-made cyberattack toolkits and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities. Dan Hubbard, VP of security research at Websense, noted that organized criminals have realized that the Internet has been an untapped resource for earning them profit. Tools and exploits to steal personal, business, and financial information are the hottest commodities for cybercriminals.

Liebermann said federal law enforcement is in a good position to tackle this burgeoning crime.

"The laws that we have ... target a lot of this activity," said Liebermann. "I do not feel handcuffed, no. There is the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act out there, and if it passes, it would enhance penalties and add computer crime to the list of predicate crimes that would give rise to a RICO [Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] charge."

The prosecutor added that when they charge someone under RICO, the sentencing guidelines provide enhanced penalties because "organized crime is an enhanced problem to be dealt with." If the law passes and computer crimes are added to the list of RICO crimes, it would enhance the penalties for organized crime with computer acts.

And Liebermann says the United States is becoming more and more able to chase down and prosecute cybercriminals, organized or not, even if they're out of the country. Until recently, launching hacking or denial-of-service attacks from outside U.S. borders was enough to keep criminals beyond the long arm of the U.S. law.

Liebermann says their reach, though, is lengthening.

"It presents a special problem, not just for the U.S. but ... other countries have recognized that this is a problem," he added. "Previously, getting information was a problem. It was a more laborious process to get that information without skipping any steps or taking any roundabouts. Other governments are able to work faster, using the same tools we previously had to get the information back on a more efficient basis. We can pick up a phone with a list of countries, like the United Kingdom or Israel, and have a live body. It's a good list of countries."

And even the countries that aren't participating in a particular process are more willing to help in some way now. That's a huge help, according to Liebermann, because of the fleeting nature of digital evidence.

"Botnet herders shift to new servers again and again and again," he said. "If you identify a server but it takes months to get information from another country, the chance of getting any information on this is very slim. If the cooperation is immediate, the chance of getting information is much better. It's a recognition that computer crime has no boundaries."

15% Off at J&R Computer/Music World

Thanks to Sharon Gaudin

Mobster Presidential Campaign Contributions

Rudy Giuliani's campaign revealed that the actor in The Sopranos who played Paulie Walnuts donated to them, even though Rudy is a Mafia-buster. It's pure self-interest. The more real mobsters who are off the street, the more jobs there are for the actors who play them. Thanks to Argus.

Chicago Crime Commission Briefs U.S. Paratroopers on Mob Tactics

Some U.S. paratroopers headed for Iraq will have a working knowledge of organized crime provided by Chicago mob fighters.

The head of the Chicago Crime Commission this month provided intelligence personnel from the 101st Airborne Division with a primer on the investigation of organized-crime rings that will assist them in their upcoming deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gangsters and other career criminals are an extra wrinkle in the security situation in the theater. Kidnappings and smuggling are pinned on organized rings in Iraq while Afghanistan is a hot bed of heroin.

Although the Crime Commission is primarily geared to monitoring the activities of the Windy City's "Outfit," its expertise can also be applied to other rings that are organized in similar fashion and engaged in venerable rackets such as extortion, murder and drug trafficking.

Commission President James Wagner said in a statement Monday that the troops received extensive background on gangs operating in the region as well as training in ways to investigate and break up such organizations.

Wagner will be revisiting Fort Campbell later this summer for briefings on the subject with top Army commanders.

Nick Calabrese Blasted by Attorney on Cross Examination

Friends of ours: Nick Calabrese, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Frank Calabrese Sr., Anthony Spilotro
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

An attorney for James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, today blasted a star witness' account that Marcello was made into the mob in a 1983 ceremony.

Marcello is half Irish, and according to the testimony of Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, only men who are fully Italian can be made members of the Chicago Outfit.

Marcello's attorney, Thomas Breen, asked Calabrese on the witness stand if he had met Marcello's "lovely mother Mrs. Flynn," referring to her maiden name.

"And Mrs. Flynn is as Irish as Paddy's pig, isn't she?" Breen said.

"Then Jimmy Marcello lied," Calabrese shot back, apparently a little rattled. "[Marcello's sponsor] Sam Carlisi lied, they lied to the boss."

Nicholas Calabrese gave a detailed account of how he, Marcello and Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., were made with several other men in a ceremony in a closed Chicago area restaurant in 1983.

Breen suggested through his questioning that Calabrese was lying about many details he gave to FBI agents and told jurors from the stand.

Breen asked Calabrese about the making ceremony.

"They serve food?" Breen asked.

"No," Calabrese said.

"No corn beef for Mr. Marcello?" Breen jabbed.

Calabrese has admitted to taking part in at least 14 murders for the mob. As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, he is avoiding the death penalty and hoping to get something less than life in prison. He's testifying against his brother Frank Calabrese Sr., Marcello and three other men on trial.

Earlier in the trial, Breen scored a point when he was able to get Nicholas Calabrese to say he did not recognize the photo of one of the men that he took part in killing, Nicholas D'Andrea, in Chicago Heights in 1981.

Calabrese said he had only seen the man briefly. The mob was interested in grilling D'Andrea about the attempted murder of a south suburban mob boss but beat D'Andrea so badly that he died before questioning.

The attorney for Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., revealed during his questioning earlier in the day that a family member of one of Nicholas Calabrese's murder victims secretly recorded Nicholas Calabrese during a prison visit.

Nicholas Calabrese took part in the murders of the mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother, Michael Spilotro. Their brother, Dr. Pat Spilotro, a dentist, was a friend of Nick Calabrese and also did his dental work, Nicholas Calabrese testified. The dentist visited Nicholas Calabrese in prison once and recorded him, but Calabrese told him nothing about the murders.

In 2001, Nicholas Calabrese sent Pat Spilotro a Christmas card from prison, telling him that he had made a decision he never believed he would have made. Nicholas Calabrese was referring to cooperating with the FBI, according to court testimony.

"God willing, I'll be home next Christmas," Calabrese wrote.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Police Sergeant Recalls Battles with Mobsters

Friends of ours: Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frankie "The German" Schweihs, Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli, Jimmy Hoffa
Friends of mine: Richard Hauff

Among the observers paying close attention to the “Family Secrets” mob trial in Chicago is retired police officer John J. Flood who boasts about having one of the first law enforcement run-ins with two of the key defendants in the case.

“Joey Lombardo and Frankie Schweihs: in my lifetime and career as a police officer I have been fighting those guys in different matters of law enforcement over those years,” Flood told WBBM’s Steve Grzanich during a recent interview from his home in Las Vegas.

It is the first meeting with Lombardo and Schweihs that Flood remembers best back in 1964 when Sgt. Flood, with the Cook County Sheriff's Police, interrupted Schweihs and Lombardo and thwarted an attempted hit on mob associate Richard Hauff. “It was happening up on Mannheim Road and Lawrence Avenue at a hotel up there. I came upon it and almost got killed making the arrest,” Flood said.

That was back in the early days for Schweihs and Lombardo, before they hit police radar, said Flood. “I called into Chicago Intelligence and asked who is Frankie Schweihs and they didn’t know. I had to call a knowledgeable Chicago detective who told that’s Phil Alderisio’s bodyguard. He’s a bad guy. Find out who was in the car and who they were going to kill,” said Flood.

While the Family Secrets trial may close the books on 18 mob murders, Flood expects that other mysteries may go unsolved.

“The significant murders that Lombardo would know about would be the murders of Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli. They were supposed to testify before the Church Commission on the assassination plot against Fidel Castro but they turned up dead. If Lombardo was talking, which I doubt he ever would because he lives by his code, he could tell you who killed (Jimmy) Hoffa and what happened.”

Will guilty verdicts mean the end of the Chicago outfit? "Someone will replace Lombardo. All you have to do is look at the fabric of the American system – corporate crime, white collar crime, organized crime. There is no way in the world organized crime people are going to be leaving gambling, going to be leaving pornography, the lending of money, prostitution – it is not going to happen,” Flood said.

According to Flood, the “Family Secrets” trial will likely be the final chapter for the likes of Lombardo and Schweihs. The retired police officer said the trial also brings to a close his own 40 year career as an organized crime fighter.

Flood is the founder of the Combined Counties Police Association, one of the most well-known and respected independent law enforcement unions ever formed in the United States. He is also one of the foremost experts on organized crime and an authority on the Chicago Outfit.

Thanks to Steve Grzanich

Monday, July 23, 2007

Daley Refuses to Answer Questions on Pal's Mob Connections

Friends of mine: Fred Barbara

'Journalists don't carry guns . . . no, they carry the ink, the ink,'' railed Daley last Thursday at a City Hall news conference.

Hizzoner has been on a tear, ripping the local news media with the fury of a hurricane hitting the coast.

The mayor can be a bully at times.

Nobody wants to say it in so many words, but every department head at City Hall, certainly his 10 previous chiefs of staff who have been put through the mayoral wringer and spun out City Hall's revolving door, know what it's like to be in the woodshed. When they leave, their tongues have been torn out. Not one has ever publicly spoken of what it's like to work for Daley, understanding that it is best never to talk of he-who-shall-not-be-named.

The mayor's wrath was on full display last week. Part Jack Nicholson, part Richard Nixon, Daley roared like a blast furnace, lashed out like a wounded lion, fulminating when reporters dared to inquire about his relationship to Fred Barbara.

''I think it's ridiculous,'' fumed the mayor, refusing to answer, barking back at reporters, ''Any other questions?''

Barbara is a millionaire many times over thanks to lucrative connections to city waste hauling contracts, his wife's now-defunct trucking firm tied to the city's scandal-scarred Hired Truck program, and his ongoing banking business in partnership with well-connected politicians. But many years ago, long before he ever golfed or dined with the mayor or contributed thousands of dollars to Daley-backed candidates, Barbara had caught the eye of the feds. They believed he was mobbed up and indicted him in 1982 in a gambling and juice operation. Barbara was acquitted, never convicted of that or any other crime.

Suddenly, last Tuesday, Barbara's name was vaulted back into public view thanks to the massive Family Secrets mob trial playing out at the federal building. Nick Calabrese, aging hit man-turned-government-witness, told a spellbound courtroom about all manner of mob horrors, including how the Chicago Outfit blew up or burned down certain unlucky suburban restaurants. Fred Barbara, according to Calabrese, was a member of one of the mob's bombing crews back in the 1980s. Barbara didn't respond to my phone calls.

The front page Sun-Times headline the next day read, "Hit man: Daley pal in on mob bombing.''

For Daley, the ink hit the fan. The mayor was apoplectic. For two days, he lashed out at reporters.

''You have the power of the pen, you have a lot of power,'' he declared. ''We don't even know who you are.''

And yet he seems to know where we grew up.

''Most of you never grew up in Chicago,'' said the Baron of Bridgeport.

The problem is the mayor thinks everything is unfair these days. Just about any question, let alone criticism, rankles him. City Hall reporters take the brunt of the mayoral battering as the mayor castigates some of them for living in the suburbs, suggesting they don't really know or care about the city he loves.

He wags his finger, reminding the press of its own dirty laundry, like recently convicted Sun-Times press boss Conrad Black and his creepy, crooked right-hand man, David Radler.

''Look at all the scandals you have received as journalists, every day there is another article, I mean, c'mon, every day there's an article,'' said Daley. ''Every day there's someone, you know, doing some misconduct."

And then he lectures us on our cold hearts and callousness.

''You report a gun killing on Page 25," the mayor jabs triumphantly. ''How about that one? Because it's not your son or daughter. They're not poor. You have a lot of power, don't you realize that?''

We do.

Then again, so does the 19-year occupant of the City Hall's fifth floor.

Mayor Daley has a difficult job that he performs with passion and skill. And we in the press are no shrinking violets. We can take the bullying and the bluster. But at the end of the day, it wouldn't hurt, along with the journalism lecture, to just answer the question.

Thanks to Carol Marin

Crime Family Index