Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Last Sit-Down

The Last Sit-Down is a limited edition mixed media canvas painting that is a stunning work of art romanticizing the Italian-American mafia's most glorious years in history. Thirteen of La Cosa Nostra's most notorious members transcend the different eras in which they lived and together feast in a setting fit for a Don. From left to right, Joe Bonanno, Sal Maranzano, Vito Genovese, Joe Masseria, Frank Costello, Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, John Gotti, Paul Castellano, Joseph Colombo, Carlo Gambino, Albert Anastasia, and Gaetano Lucchese await your arrival to "The Last Sit-Down".

The Last Sit Down

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cue the Godfather's Theme Music, Horse's Head Left for Italian Politician

A horse’s head Cue the Godfather's Theme Music, Horse's Head Left for Italian Politicianhas been found outside the office of an Italian politician, in a scene reminiscent of The Godfather.

An anonymous call alerted police to the macabre discovery which outside deputy mayor Vincenzo Pomes’ office in Osturni, near Bari.

Mr Pomes, a centre left politician, said: “There is no explanation for such a stupid act.

“I have no idea why anyone would make such a horrific gesture.

“I don’t think it’s a warning with regard to my political life or private life.

“It’s obviously the gesture of a madman to embarrass me and the town of Ostuni.

“I am not afraid but obviously my wife and family have been left upset.”

Police said they were keeping an open mind and were also examining two shotgun cartridges found at the scene.

They were also trying to trace the slaughterhouse where the horse was killed - horse meat is a delicacy in Italy.

The discovery echoes the Mafia film, The Godfather, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

A Hollywood director who crosses Brando’s Don Corleone Mafia boss wakes up to find the severed head of his prize $600,000 stud horse in his bed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Organized Crime to Face New Crime Fighting Strategy from the Department of Justice

Today, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced a new strategy in the fight against international organized crime that will address this growing threat to U.S. security and stability. The Law Enforcement Strategy to Combat International Organized Crime (the strategy) was developed following an October 2007 International Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOC Threat Assessment) and will address the demand for a strategic, targeted, and concerted U.S. response to combat the identified threats. This strategy builds on the broad foundation the Administration has developed in recent years to enhance information sharing, and to secure U.S. borders and financial systems from a variety of transnational threats.

Today's announcement by the Attorney General was made during a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies with Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Alice S. Fisher, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Deputy Director John S. Pistole and Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Julie Myers.

International organized crime is defined as those self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate internationally for the purpose of obtaining power, influence, monetary, and commercial gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of corruption and violence. International organized criminals operate in hierarchies, clans, networks, and cells. The crimes they commit vary as widely as the organizational structures they employ.

The strategy establishes an investigation and prosecution framework as committed and connected as the international organized crime structure it must combat. U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, in an unprecedented cooperative effort on this issue, will share international organized crime information and intelligence, collectively identify and prioritize the most significant threats, and then put the full force of U.S. law enforcement’s expertise and resources toward mitigating those threats. In addition, U.S. law enforcement will increase cooperation with international partners to bring international criminals to justice, in the United States and abroad.

The strategy specifically reacts to the globalization of legal and illegal business; advances in technology, particularly the Internet; and the evolution of symbiotic relationships between criminals, public officials, and business leaders that have combined to create a new, less restrictive environment within which international organized criminals can operate. Without the necessity of a physical presence, U.S. law enforcement must combat international organized criminals that target the relative wealth of the people and institutions in the United States while remaining outside the country.

“As international organized criminals have adapted their tactics over time and embraced emerging technology, we too must adapt,” said Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. “With this strategy, we're building a new, 21st century program that we believe will be nimble enough to fight the threat of international organized crime for years to come.”

“International organized criminals have broadened the scope and depth of their illegal activities, reaching into a variety of sectors to sustain their inherent quest for money and power. These modern-day criminals threaten our physical, economic and national security, indeed, in many circumstances without even setting foot inside U.S. borders,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher. “With this strategy, international organized criminals will be targeted and prosecuted in the same determined and concerted manner in which they pursue their illegal activities.”

Laid out in the strategy is a comprehensive and detailed plan that will enable the Department of Justice and nine federal law enforcement agencies to gather their collective resources to most effectively combat the threat of international organized crime. Ultimately, the strategy aims to create consensus among domestic law enforcement in identifying the most significant priority targets and then unified and concerted action among domestic and international law enforcement in significantly disrupting and dismantling those targets. This unprecedented coordination will include utilizing all available U.S. government programs and capabilities, including existing economic, consular, and other non-law enforcement means.

In addition, as a response to international organized criminals’ ability to operate unconstrained by national borders and geographic law enforcement jurisdictions, the strategy aims to ensure criminal laws and operating procedures reflect the modern realities and needs of international crime fighting. Similarly vital is the need to work in collaboration with public and private institutions that also face victimization by international organized criminals and therefore have been forced to act to minimize the impact on their businesses.

Prior to the strategy’s development, the Department of Justice and law enforcement partners conducted a comprehensive assessment of international organized crime.The IOC Threat Assessment lays out the threat international organized crime poses to U.S. national security, the stability of the U.S. economy, and the integrity of government institutions, infrastructure and systems in the United States. The assessment is based on the best available information known to the U.S. government through the combined efforts of the law enforcement, intelligence, and interagency communities.

Specifically, the IOC Threat Assessment identifies and defines eight strategic threats:

* International organized criminals have penetrated the energy market and other strategic sectors of the U.S. and world economy. As U.S. energy needs continue to grow, so too could the power of those who control energy resources.

* International organized criminals provide logistical and other support to terrorists, foreign intelligence services, and foreign governments, all with interests acutely adverse to those of U.S. national security.

* International organized criminals traffic in people and contraband goods, bringing people and products through U.S. borders to the detriment of border security, the U.S. economy, and the health and lives of those human beings exploited by human trafficking.

* International organized criminals exploit the U.S. and international financial system to move illegal profits and funds, including sending billions of dollars in illicit funds through the U.S. financial system annually. To continue this practice, they seek to corrupt financial service providers globally.

* International organized criminals use cyberspace to target U.S. victims and infrastructure, jeopardizing the security of personal information, the stability of business and government infrastructures, and the security and solvency of financial investment markets.

* International organized criminals are manipulating securities exchanges and engaging in sophisticated fraud schemes that rob U.S. investors, consumers, and government agencies of billions of dollars.

* International organized criminals have successfully corrupted public officials around the world, including in countries of vital strategic importance to the United States, and continue to seek ways to influence—legally or illegally—U.S. officials.

* International organized criminals use violence and the threat of violence as a basis of power.

“The activities of transnational and national organized criminal enterprises are increasing in scope and magnitude as these groups continue to strengthen their networking with each other to expand their operations,” said FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole. “By increasing international cooperation and information sharing, together we can disrupt and dismantle these global, sophisticated organizations that have exploited geopolitical, economic, social, and technological changes over the last two decades to become increasingly active worldwide.”

“Partnerships among law enforcement agencies are our most effective weapon in combating international criminal networks,” said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. “These criminal organizations pursue profit, without regard for national boundaries, international laws or human life.”

On April 7, 2008, the Organized Crime Council, chaired by Deputy Attorney General Mark R. Filip, recommended, and the Attorney General signed The Law Enforcement Strategy to Combat International Organized Crime. The Attorney General has been in charge of coordinating all federal law enforcement activity against organized crime since a 1968 executive order by President Lyndon Johnson established that authority.

Similarly, the Organized Crime Council has existed in various forms since 1970 and has always been charged with establishing priorities and formulating a national unified strategy to combat organized crime. This is the first time the Organized Crime Council has ever convened to focus on the threat from international organized crime and to develop a responsive strategy to that threat. The Organized Crime Council consists of the Deputy Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, the Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and the leaders of nine participating federal law enforcement agencies, which include: Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Secret Service; Internal Revenue Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Diplomatic Security; and U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A History of Co-Existence Between The Government and Organized Crime

A government is the organization which is the governing authority of a political unit, also the ruling power in a political society, and the apparatus through which a governing body functions and exercises authority. Government have the authority to make laws, to arbitrate disputes, to issue administrative decisions, and a monopoly in authorizing force.

A State, depending on size can have local, regional and national government. There are many types of governments, such as: Monarchy, Despotism, Dictatorship, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Democracy, Theocracy, and Anarchy. A Government depending on type can by headed by politicians, monarchs, dictators, group of people (families), wealthy class, and religious elite. History does not have the exact date of the formation of the first governments, though; it holds some records of formation of very first governments 3000 years ago.

Organized crime or criminal organizations are groups or operations run by controversial individuals most commonly for the purpose of generating a financial profit and social power (influence). Organized crime, however defined, is characterized by a few basic qualities including durability over time, diversified interests, hierarchical structure, capital accumulation, reinvestment, access to political protection and the use of violence to protect interests. The best known criminal organizations are: Cosa Nostra - commonly known as Mafia (the Italian or the Sicilian), the Russian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triads, the Colombian and the Mexican drug cartel, the Chechen Mafia, and young Mara Salvatrucha, among others. History has it, that the first sign of organized crime was seen 3000 years ago.

It is important to make a distinction between organized crime (criminal organizations) and terrorist organizations, military organizations, resistance organizations, political and paramilitary organizations, such as: Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, IRA, and Irgun. In relation, we should not forget the Nuremberg Trials in Germany, famous for prosecution of leadership of Nazi Germany. The best known was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in 1945. On this trial followed were indicted as criminal organizations:

the Nationalsozialismus Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDP), the Nazi party - National Socialist German Workers Party.

the Schutzstaffel (SS), Protective Squadron – military organization.

the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), Security Service – intelligence service of SS and NSDP.

the Gestapo - secret state police.

the Sturmabteilung (SA), Storm Division – paramilitary organization.

the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) - Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

This concept of criminal organizations was, and still continues to be controversial, and it was not used in International Human Rights Law since then.

Throughout history there has been constant struggle, but also connection between governments and organized crime. In addition, many world famous political and military leaders have been accused of running their countries like criminal organizations, for instance: Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union), Adolf Hitler (Germany), Mao Zedong (the Peoples Republic of China), Nicolae Ceausescu (Romania), Idi Amin Dada (Uganda), Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno (Panama), Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (Chile), among others. For many top government politicians is believed to grow enormous wealth by running a kleptrocracy, a government that extends the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class at the expense of the population.

Few years ago an unofficial list has been released of the people for who is believed to be the most self-enriching political leaders, top of which are: Suharto (former President of Indonesia/$15-$35 billion USD), Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralín Marcos (former President of the Philippines/$5-$10 billion USD), Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga (former President of Zaire/$5 billion USD), among many others.

What makes governments and organized crime to be so connected?

Governments have Head of States, Leaders, military, laws, taxes, customs, punishments; governments control States and go into wars, among others. On the other side criminal organizations (organized crime) has bosses, dons, families, soldiers, gangs, codes and outs, a protection racket and extortion, punishments, they also control territories and small cities, and they also go into wars with other criminal organizations, among others.

Looking at these examples we can see that there is many similarities in structure of government and organized crime. Many governments have been involved in criminal activities trough politicians, such as: weapons sales, narcotics, international loans, confiscation of private property, and corruption. A socio-political phenomenon called "Political corruption" is visible in all forms of governments, and includes extortion, nepotism, bribery, cronyism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. Global corruption is estimated at one trillion US Dollars, which is equal to what organized crime makes per year around the world.

According to history, ancient civilizations like Summer, Indus Valley Civilization, Babylon, Maya Civilization, Yellow River, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome had governments, military, Laws, and crimes. The Summer Civilization had the first ever written code of Law, and it was written by the ruler Urukagina who was best known for his reforms to combat corruption. Later King Ur-Nammu wrote "the Code of Ur-Nammu", which is oldest surviving code of Law in the world. His code of Law is considered remarkably advanced, and the capital crimes of murder, robbery, adultery and rape were punished with death.

Many people, some of them historians believe that organized crime emerged from piracy and banditry in 17th century or from some famous warriors and conquers earlier, however, if we look at this ancient Laws, we can see that organized crime and crime generally existed long before piracy and banditry period, even Julius Cesar was kidnapped and held prisoner in 75BC by Cilician pirates, he was later released when requested ransom was paid. Afterwards, Cesar raised fleet and captured the pirates, pirates was first imprisoned and later crucified on his authority.

Pertinent historical question: so, what was formed first and what did set up the model for other; a government or organized crime?

It is evident that crime and organized crime existed long before the formation of the first government. Governments implemented Laws because of the crime activities that were visible in their society, in relation to that; we can say that crime is older than the first Law and government. If tree of more individuals organize them self´s to commit a crime, that crime is characterized as organized crime.

It was very hard, for example, in Twenty-fourth Century BC to distinguish between what was right and what was wrong, however, people held something deep inside of themselves for centuries of human evolution, and that is the sense for righteousness on which civilisations were able to build their respective society.

Did governments learned from organized crime or did organized crime learned from governments?

They learned from each other, government´s establishers applied some of the main principles of criminal organizations structure for the greater cause. In fact, many Laws and Government bodies were made because of crime activities. Criminal organizations followed the evolution of governments and learned to be more effective in criminal activities.

Throughout history crime walked along governments, it was present in every known society, including dynasties, imperialism, colonialism, monarchism, communism, socialism, and modern democracy. In the contemporary world criminal organizations are still successful in their business. Some governments, on the other hand, cannot be distinguished from organized crime because of their inherent corruption and lawlessness in their activities.

Today, many world governments, the United Nations and various law enforcement agencies are fighting criminal organizations and corruption, but as long as we have politicians and government official behaving like criminals and taking bribes, criminal organizations will continue to grow.

Thanks to Ivan Simic. Ivan Simic was born in Belgrade, Serbia and an Economics graduate. For the past decade, he has worked in various fields: business, diplomacy, and government. He has written many articles and critiques or supported theories concerning global issues and international relations. Currently, he is pursuing a diplomatic career on international level.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Fifth Mafia

A mafia crime drama will be filmed in west Michigan in and around Grand Rapids to take advantage of the state’s new financial incentives for TV and movie production, its director said Wednesday.

"The Fifth Mafia" will start filming in May and spend most of the summer on location in Michigan, said Director Vito J. Giambalvo.

Giambalvo said the project had been slated for production in Los Angeles but was moved to take advantage of the incentive package, which provides subsidies of up to 42% of production costs for TV, movie and video game development. Giambalvo said Fifth Mafia is a $6 million project.

It is unlikely, however, to be the first approved under the incentives legislation. Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said Wednesday afternoon that state officials expect the project to go forward but have not approved its application.

"Fifth Mafia" also may lose one of its top actors, Joe Mantegna. Giambalvo said Mantegna, star of TV’s "Criminal Minds," is signed to appear in the movie but may have to be replaced because of scheduling conflicts.

Other cast members include Armand Assante, Ray Liotta and James Van Der Beek.

Thanks to Dawson Bell

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Four Chicago Defense Lawyers in A League of Their Own

In a city infamous for crime and corruption, the top criminal defense lawyers are as colorful and cunning as their clients.

They are routinely faced with insurmountable government evidence – wiretaps, surveillance tapes, fingerprints and informants. And they also claim the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are weighted in favor of the government.

On top of this, their cold-blooded clients can make a lawyer's life hell – especially when they lose.

"I think it's very difficult to do what they do," said Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who has covered many corruption and mob trials in Chicago. "Their clients demand perfection. They're the kind of clients you don't want to anger."

This is a surprisingly small club, with only about 15 lawyers doing criminal defense work in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on a regular basis.

Lawyers USA interviewed four prominent Chicago criminal defense lawyers: Joseph "The Shark" Lopez; Rick Halprin, Edward Genson and Steven R. Hunter. All have recently handled high-profile federal trials.

Whether grilling government witnesses on the stand or trying to convince jurors to spare cold-blooded killers, these lawyers are in a legal league of their own.

Joseph "The Shark" Lopez

Lopez is the only one of the four who actually looks the part of a "wise-guy" lawyer.

Joseph 'The Shark' Lopez has been called a mob layer and a gang lawyer, but he could care less.Wearing a black suit, black shirt, a black tie with bright slashes of color and a diamond ring with enough bling to make a rapper blush, Lopez, 52, could care less if people call him a "mob lawyer."

"I've been called a mob lawyer, gang lawyer. I've represented a lot of mobsters," he said.

He's also been called "Shark" since he was a youth; it's on his license plate and his e-mail address.

Lopez, who represented Frank Calabrese Sr., in last year's "Family Secrets" trial in Chicago, is not exactly media shy. He wrote his own blog (The Chicago Syndicate) about the trial while it was under way – until the judge ordered him to shut it down.

"He's promoted himself in every way possible," said fellow criminal lawyer Halprin, who represented another defendant in the Family Secrets trial. "That blog was outrageous."

Lopez is unrepentant: "The government was mad because I was criticizing them and their witnesses."

He plans to re-launch his blog this summer during the trial of client Gary Kimmel, a Chicago dentist charged with laundering money for a nationwide prostitution ring.

A native Chicagoan of Mexican/Italian heritage, Lopez graduated from the University of Illinois law school. He planned to specialize in divorce law, but was asked to help out in a drug case. "My friends were Colombian/Mexican drug [defendants]," he said. "They sent me over there because I was squeaky clean."

A large swordfish hangs on the wall of his cluttered office. "I tell my clients, 'See how that fish's mouth is open? That's how it got caught,'" he said, laughing loudly.

Sketches on the wall depict Lopez in several of his biggest cases. He represented Rev. Jesse Jackson's brother, Noah, in a money laundering case; and one of the teenage defendants in the infamous Lenard Clark case. Clark, a young black teenager, was savagely beaten by a group of white teenagers in 1997 as he rode his bike home through a predominantly white neighborhood.

Lopez has a trial scheduled for the end of March involving Fernando King, the head of the Latin Kings gang in Chicago, on drug and weapons charges.

Lopez said he's always confident going into the courtroom. "Most lawyers are afraid they're gong to lose, so they talk their clients into pleading guilty," he said. "I always think I'm going to win. Even if there are 300 witnesses, I convince myself I'm going to win."

Rick Halprin

In stark contrast to Lopez, Halprin, 68, looks more like a securities lawyer than a criminal defense attorney. Dressed conservatively in a blue shirt with white collar, red checked tie, suit pants and vest, he said he is careful not to call attention to himself. "The most important thing is never lose your credibility with the jury," he said. "When the trial is about the lawyer, you're dead. When it's an endless cross examination that goes nowhere, you're dead. And when you dress flashy instead of conservative, you're dead."

Thomas A. Durkin, a veteran criminal defense lawyer and partner in Durkin & Roberts in Chicago, described Halprin as "absolutely one of the very best courtroom lawyers in Chicago."

"He's extremely persuasive with juries; he's very smooth," Durkin said. "He can be very low-key when the situation calls for it, and he can be aggressive when that's appropriate."

Halprin bristles at the term "mob lawyer," even though he defended Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, 78, in the Family Secrets trial – the biggest mob trial in Chicago in years.

"I'm not a mob lawyer," he said. "I think it's absurd."

Lombardo, along with Calabrese and mob boss James Marcello, were convicted of a total of 10 murders.

Although Halprin and Lombardo had their "moments" of disagreement in the courtroom, Halprin said Lombardo didn't blame him for the verdict. "I know to the whole world he's a scary guy, but if you explain something to him enough times he gets it," Halprin said. "The trial is about the evidence. You've got to be a good cross-examiner, and I'm very good at it," said Halprin. "You [attack] the lifestyle of the main witness – but if you can't take out the corroborative evidence, in the end, jurors are collectively just too smart to be swayed by that."

According to columnist Kass, "It's difficult to represent the Chicago Outfit – especially when they insist, as Lombardo did, on putting themselves on the stand."

Rick Halprin's client, Joseph Lombardo could not resist a few cracks from the witness stand as 'Joey is JoeyWhile Lombardo "tried hard" to curb his wise-guy comments on the stand, Halprin said, he couldn't resist a few cracks that elicited laughter from the audience, and a rebuke from the judge.

"Joey is Joey," said Halprin. "There's no way you can get someone to change their contentious nature or stop making inappropriate jokes. He is a very funny guy, but there's a time and a place – and this was neither. But he tried hard."

Halprin, who described himself as a wild youth, never graduated from high school. He joined the Marines at 17, and eventually got enough hours of college credit so he could get into law school. He graduated from John Marshall Law School and has been practicing since 1970.

He learned the local legal ropes from Frank Oliver, a renowned Chicago criminal lawyer.

Sitting in his office a block and a half away from the federal courthouse, Halprin – who has a deep voice reminiscent of TV talk show host Larry King – said he has no plans to retire.

"I'm having too much fun. There's nothing like a federal courtroom. Federal trials are so challenging and so difficult to win," he said. "I'm going to die in the courtroom."

Edward Genson

At 66, Genson is the dean of Chicago's criminal lawyers. Just don't call him a "mob lawyer."

Genson detests the term so much that he stopped talking to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin after her description of Genson as a mob lawyer was picked up by Vanity Fair magazine.

"I was angry about it," he said. "At some point in my career I had a number of Italian politicians as clients. That was about 20 years ago, and it was never more than 10 percent of my practice."

In 43 years of practice, Genson has represented scores of well-known clients, including former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's aide Scott Fawell and lobbyist Larry Warner. Even young Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf called on Genson when he was arrested in Chicago last year for refusing to leave a Chicago drugstore. "A lovely young man," Genson said, noting that the charges against LaBeouf were dropped.

In a case that has dragged on for six years, Genson is currently defending rapper R. Kelly on charges of having sex with an underage girl. Kelly's trial will finally take place May 9, according to Genson, who quipped: "It has to take place sometime."

Genson was co-counsel in last year's trial of Canadian newspaper publisher Conrad Black, who was accused of mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

Although Genson was supposed to be second chair on the defense team, he wound up questioning 24 of the 28 witnesses and handling almost the entire closing argument.

On the day in early March that Black was scheduled to be sent to a federal prison in Florida on a six-year sentence, Genson was still critical of Canadian lead lawyer Eddie Greenspan's courtroom performance. "He was a very bright man and an extraordinarily good lawyer in Canada, but they can't work at this speed," he said.

The son of a Chicago bail bondsman, Genson remembers driving his father to police stations at night and sitting in courtrooms, listening to trial lawyers.

After graduating from Northwestern University Law School, he scrambled for clients, handling up to 100 trials a year. He still keeps a grueling pace, despite having suffered for years from dystonia, a neurological disorder that makes walking difficult, especially when he is tired or under stress.

Genson wears an arm sling while recuperating from recent shoulder surgery – the latest in a string of orthopedic surgeries related to his neurological condition. An electric wheelchair sits next to his desk in his office on the 14th floor of the 19th century Monadnock Building, across from the Federal Center.

Still, he has no thought of retiring. "Trial law is an all-encompassing kind of profession," he said. "It's your whole life when you're at trial. There's no such thing as sleeping with any regularity because you're always waking up with ideas. There's no such thing as weekends. When you occasionally go to a movie, you're thinking about what you should be doing the next day.

"A good trial lawyer just doesn't develop a whole lot of interests," he added. "So, what would I do if I retired?"

Despite his protestations, Genson has an obvious interest in art and antiques. The eclectic decorations in his office include: cowboy paintings by an art forger who testified as a government witness in one of his trials; a 19th Century desk he bought in London; a 16th Century Spanish credenza; and a portrait of Clarence Darrow, his idol.

Genson has a murder trial coming up in April, a money laundering trial set for June and a Medicaid fraud trial later this summer.

"I'll retire when they start laughing at me," he said. "So far, that hasn't happened."

Steven R. Hunter

Hunter, 45, knew from a young age he wanted to be a criminal lawyer. He remembers being inspired by the story of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

"Something about defending the underdog just appealed to me," Hunter said.

Originally from Grosse Isle, Mich., Hunter graduated from University of Michigan Law School in 1997 and headed for Chicago. "I knew I wanted to be in Chicago," Hunter said. "To me, Chicago is the greatest city in the world."

But without any connections, it wasn't easy. Hunter worked as an immigration lawyer for Catholic Charities, and then landed a job with the public defenders' office.

He spent eight and a half years defending child abusers, juveniles and street gang members. "I was dealing with people who were whipping their children with extension rods and coat hangers," he recalled.

Overloaded with cases and long hours, Hunter left in 1986 to start his own practice. He qualified for the federal trial bar and was appointed to the federal defenders' panel.

He recently defended Anthony Calabrese (no relation to Frank Calabrese), an alleged mob hit man who was convicted of armed robbery. He also represented Eural Black, a Chicago police officer convicted in January of robbing drug dealers while on duty.

Although many of his cases still come through the panel, Hunter is getting an increasing number of calls from private clients. "It's really a slow, grinding process where you start out small," said Hunter. "If you work hard enough for your clients, if you fight cases, as opposed to pleading everybody out, that snowballs, and eventually you wind up having a pretty good practice."

Thanks to Nora Tooher

Friday, April 11, 2008

Judge Takes No Action for Now on Alleged Threat by Mobster to US Attorney

The federal judge who presided over Chicago's biggest mob trial in years ruled Thursday that a threat allegedly uttered by one of the defendants during closing arguments calls for no immediate action.

It should be obvious that a defendant is not entitled to a new trial or any other relief merely because a juror observed his behavior in court, U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said in a 12-page opinion.

"A defendant seeking relief in this instance is somewhat like the apocryphal child who murders his parents and then asks the court to have mercy on an orphan," Zagel said.

The jury convicted five defendants of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that involved illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 murders that went unsolved for decades.

Among the victims was Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the mob's longtime man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the movie "Casino." He and brother Michael Spilotro were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield in June 1986.

Other victims were strangled, beaten and shot to keep them from leaking secrets to the FBI, according to witnesses at the 10-week trial.

Several of those convicted at the trial argued that the alleged threat may have prejudiced the jury and one of them, mob boss James Marcello, asked for a new trial.

The alleged threat took place while Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk delivered a closing argument for the government.

Four jurors told prosecutors after the trial that while Funk spoke, convicted loan shark and hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. said: "You are a (expletive) dead man," according to a letter from the government to Calabrese's lawyer last October.

The juror who made the initial report was "extremely credible" in saying he heard part of the sentence and saw Calabrese mouth the rest of it, Zagel said in his opinion Thursday. Prosecutors didn't hear it.

Zagel said he held a hearing at the request of the defendants but found no reason for further action now. The judge did say, however, that he would address the issue further when he rules on the defendants' post-trial motions.

The Mafiosi's Management Handbook

They're violent, they're ruthless, they have caused misery to many, but you can't fault their business sense: mafia bosses know how to make a profit. Its practices may be largely illegal, but Cosa Nostra is not as retrograde, or conservative, as it has often been portrayed. Its raison d'etre is profit. Like any business, it is pragmatic and constantly changing to exploit new opportunities.

Big business has learned how to sell itself to the public, with television shows such as The Apprentice and Dragons' Den granting us a view of harsh but compellingly competitive environments. Businessmen such as Sir Alan Sugar, Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones have become unlikely media personalities. But the mafia has been using these methods for years.

When Bernardo Provenzano took over the organisation in the mid-90s, he inherited a depleted and demoralised workforce, who had scuppered their own access to politics and industry. The bombs that killed anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino had created a PR disaster and a law enforcement backlash. Hundreds of mafiosi were in prison, and many of them were so disillusioned with the organisation that they were telling the authorities everything they knew.

Magistrates and mafiosi agree: Provenzano was the charismatic force who revived the fortunes of Cosa Nostra. It has been said of Provenzano, as of so many mafia entrepreneurs, that had he turned his talents and resources to legitimate business, he would have been extremely successful. Fortunately, the mafia's particular modus operandi - the use or threat of violence to create monopolies and price-fixing cartels - is not part of general business practice. But his "System" turned around a failing organisation with far-sighted tactics worthy of any business impresario. The fact that he wrote his reforms by letter means that we have what amounts to seven rules for running a successful business.

Rule 1: Submersion

When a company is failing, the first step is to take it below the radar. You want to lose that cursed epithet "troubled" as quickly as possible, even if it means disappearing from the business pages."It's the sensible thing to do - you bury your mistakes and get on with it," says Peter Wallis (known as Peter York in his other guise, as a social commentator), management consultant at SRU Ltd. You also want to buy shareholders' patience and convince them to hold their nerve and trust you.

"Our aim was to make Cosa Nostra invisible, giving us time to regroup," recalled Provenzano's lieutenant, Nino Giuffrè, who collaborated shortly after his arrest in 2002. After a series of power struggles that had left many dead, businessmen were understandably reluctant to return calls. Mafiosi were instructed to avoid any activity that would attract publicity. If a factory owner refused to pay protection, no one was to set fire to the machinery or blow up the trucks. Peaceful persuasion was the only way.

By contrast with the old-style system of shoot first and ask questions later, any hostile action would have to be thoroughly assessed for potential PR damage. "It was essential to weigh up whether a person could do more damage dead or alive," revealed Giuffrè.

Announcing his system, Provenzano warned that recovery would take time: members might have to wait between five and seven years before they were making profits again. Rebuilding links with business and politicians could only be done out of the glare of publicity. In relative obscurity, Cosa Nostra would be repositioned to shake off its parasitic image and become part of the industrial and political institutions.

Rule 2: Mediation

"Be calm, clear, correct and consistent, turn any negative experiences to account, don't dismiss everything people tell you, or believe everything you're told. Always try to discover the truth before you speak, and remember that, to make your judgment, it's never enough to have just one source of information."

This letter has been described as "a manifesto of Cosa Nostra under Bernardo Provenzano". After a decade of unspeakable violence under the previous leader, Totò Riina, Provenzano changed the culture of Cosa Nostra by instructing his men in the art of negotiation and the importance of dialogue.

Provenzano was decisive, and on occasion demanded swift and direct answers to his questions, but he could be a ditherer when it suited him. Playing for time, he encouraged his men to negotiate agreements between them. If that failed, Provenzano was at his typewriter night and day, offering his wisdom and experience (and just occasionally, a little double-dealing) to resolve disputes.

Like any company director, who carefully crafts his or her media persona, Provenzano didn't want to come across as a tyrant, he wanted to be a "kindly dictator". He coordinated the activities of different and competing groups, without imposing his will. He was the uncontested boss, but he gave the impression that his decisions were reached after long consultation.

Rule 3: Consensus

Provenzano answered letters from every level of society about job vacancies, exam results, local health and hospital administration. Like the charity work carried out by major corporations today, Provenzano was clear: the mafia must present itself as a positive element of society. The boss had to appear as a beneficent figure, an uncle whose advice and consent was sought on all matters - business and personal. He understood that persuading the people they need you is a far more effective way of promoting your business than imposition and violence.

"Let me know whatever [the people] need," he wrote to his adviser, "they must expect nothing but good from us."

One key step in the organisation's recovery was recapturing the popular consensus. The mafia has always relied on the obedience (goodwill might be putting it too strongly) of the community. In the business of selling protection, social control is essential: if your "clients" unite and rebel, you're in trouble.

Rule 4: Keep God on your side

Part of Provenzano's bid to reclaim the people's trust and rehabilitate Cosa Nostra with its traditional followers was to assume a mantle of piety. He presented himself in pastoral role - trustworthy and authoritative. His letters read like the parish priest's homily, and he would send his men tracts copied from the Bible.

Investigators tried hard to discover a hidden code beneath all the underlined passages in his Bible. In fact, it seems, he found them genuinely useful as leadership tools.

Provenzano's choice of tracts revealed, according to investigators, "a certain attention to rules, to punishments, guilt and vengeance, as though he were searching for some inspiration and authority to support him in his responsibilities and the decisions that were a necessary part of being the head of an organisation".

In an approach adopted by politicians including Tony Blair, Provenzano's letters contain the strong implication that God is exercising his will through him ("May the Lord bless you and keep you ... know that where I can be of use to you, with the will of God, I am completely at your disposal ... ").

The status as homespun churchgoer also worked for George Bush in his pursuit of popular consensus. "Bush's religion is very variable," comments Wallis. "He courts rightwing evangelicals but he doesn't buy the whole package; he merely wants to relate to them."

Rule 5: Be politically flexible

Businessmen from all walks of life and political persuasion usually find themselves co-opted on to a government advisory board eventually. The East End boy made good is not your traditional Labour supporter, but Sir Alan Sugar has reportedly been advising Gordon Brown on enterprise. "This government's not Labour, it's old-fashioned Tory," he says. "I prefer Gordon to Tony. Blair was refreshing but Brown is more like me. He has a strong work ethic."

Provenzano took this further, changing his political allegiance whenever it suited him. He looked for politicians who were prepared to pursue his self-serving demands for lighter sentences against convicted mafiosi, as well as the end of protection for collaborators. "Links were to be forged behind the scenes with politicians who had no trace of connection to scandal or sleaze," recalled Giuffrè. "If a politician was seen to be supported by men of honour of a certain rank, within 24 hours he'd be destroyed by the opposition."

Rule 6: Reinvention

In case of a political scandal, or a business failure, it is vital for the new boss to be able to distance himself from the whole affair. Indeed, he may find it useful to take on a new persona altogether. When Stuart Rose returned to Arcadia after three years to rescue it, he said: "What is interesting is that people here think I haven't changed, but I have been gone three years. I am not the same Stuart Rose, I have changed a lot."

With Provenzano's new directives, not only did the negative headlines cease, but he managed to dissociate himself from the scandals that had gone before. Like everyone else, he had emerged from Cosa Nostra's most violent decade with his reputation in tatters; his advisers helped him to "get his virginity back", in Giuffrè's interesting phrase. With the help of his PR-savvy advisers, he made sure no one associated him with the violent years, and created his image as the peacemaker.

"When I got out of prison," Giuffrè recalled, "I found Provenzano a changed man; from the hitman he once was, now he showed signs of saintliness."

Rule 7: Modesty

During his career, Provenzano transformed himself from a hired thug, to business investor, political mastermind and, ultimately, strategist and leader. Part of his mystique was that no one really knew whether he was a genius or an illiterate chancer. To emphasise his humble character and present himself as a simple man of the people he would write letters full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, and always signed off with the same humble apology: "I beg your forgiveness for the errors in my writing ..."

Every letter ends with the same saintly and affectionate benediction and an apology for grammatical errors. The bad spelling and schoolboy mistakes detracted nothing from the authority of its writer. For a man who moved easily in the worlds of business and politics, it was apparently part of a carefully constructed image. Investigators maintain his semi-literacy was a deliberate ruse.

It's a strategy that political and business leaders have used to good effect. "George Bush's family is as upper-class as you're going to get in the United States," says Wallis. "He is not a real Texan. To what extent he talks like that out of incompetence, to what extent it is crowd- pleasing, we don't know - but we know it works."

Similarly, Justin King, multimillionaire saviour of Sainsbury's, says: "I'm not a book reader ... I'm just a normal bloke." Sugar has never disavowed his East End roots, his upbringing in a Hackney council house. He doesn't give himself airs, but the point is still made: he grew up with no privileges, but he is the one with the power.

Provenzano took false modesty a step further, suggesting (almost entirely untruthfully) that he would rather have someone else in charge. "They want me to tell them what to do," he wrote, "but who am I to tell them how to conduct themselves? I can't give orders to anyone, indeed I look for someone who can give orders to me."

Unfortunately for him, since his arrest in 2006, his wishes have been fulfilled.

Courtesy of Clare Longrigg

Town Debates Merits of Serving as Location for Latest Mob Movie

An old saying in the media holds that there is no such thing as bad advertisement. But news that Saginaw will provide the backdrop for a Mafia movie doesn't exactly tout the region's best features.

"Street Boss" is set to begin filming Tuesday, April 29. Philip R. Kerby, a retired FBI agent and former chief of its Saginaw bureau, says the movie is based on the FBI's real-life takedown of Detroit's most notorious mobsters.

The plot doesn't involve Saginaw but the community's role as a filming location makes it a supporting character of sorts, not to mention an important anecdote in the film's production.

Kerby promises the feature will star "names you'll know" despite an independent film-sized budget. The Hollywood casting director on board has placed actors in such shows as "Without a Trace," "ER," "The Sopranos" and "The Longest Yard." So "Street Boss" has the potential to make some noise at box offices nationally.

If that's the case, Saginaw will get face time with plenty of moviegoers. That's a ticket Flint rode to success during last year's filming and this year's premiere of the Will Ferrell basketball comedy, "Semi Pro."

The difference: "Street Boss" is no funny business.

We aren't discouraging the filming of the movie in Saginaw. Bringing Hollywood to this area is an economic opportunity and a chance for Saginawians to participate in the wonders of cinema-making.

However, community leaders should practice caution and consider the subject matter before embracing the movie as a homegrown product in the way Flint has adopted "Semi Pro."

In short, feel happy that a production team has chosen Saginaw but don't shine a light bright enough that it could highlight the unfortunate parallels between the movie and the filming location.

Flint seemed to roll out the red carpet when moviemakers came to town, welcoming the retro vibe of the film's 1970s-era plot. Every day on the set seemed to produce a news event. The opening screening resembled something out of Hollywood.

Saginaw shouldn't do the same for "Street Boss." Violence and shady characters make for sexy cinema, but Saginaw doesn't need to celebrate the macabre nature of organized crime. Not when the community has struggled for decades with its own real-life violence and shady characters.

Coincidentally, Kerby is familiar with Saginaw's criminal back story. During his tenure at the FBI bureau, he played a role in the Saginaw Gang Crime Task Force -- a coalition of city, county, state and federal law enforcement agents -- that began tackling the youth gang problem in 1994.

Organized crime began in Saginaw long before then and remains a problem today. A modern-day equivalent of that policing conglomerate arrested 15 Saginaw gang members in February and prosecutors have put them up on federal charges.

Police say the gang problem is subsiding but still present. The stereotype of Saginaw as a violent gangland certainly remains, deserved or not.

Promoting the region as the home of a Mafia movie's filming probably isn't the best way to escape that typecast.

Maybe there is such a thing as bad advertisement.

The Saginaw News

FBI Secret Files on Mobster Ken Eto

Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto died four years ago, but the secret files that were kept on him are being revealed for the first time.

The secret files on Tokyo Joe prove that Ken Eto was different than your normal, everyday Chicago mobster.

He ran an Outfit gambling racket in cahoots with black street gang leaders. But most memorable: 25 years ago he became the only Outfit boss to survive a mob hit. In 1983, Ken Eto became the first hoodlum ever to experience a gangland hangover when a half dozen bullets squeezed from a silencer-equipped pistol, somehow ricocheted off his skull. At the time of the botched assassination, FBI agents had been following Eto and typing reports on him since the early 1950s.

What grew into a foot-tall stack of files was just obtained for the first time by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act. The records reveal that hundreds of agents in dozens of cities had tried for decades to pin something on Eto, but failed. The FBI list of Eto's numerous aliases may be politically incorrect by today's standards, but tokyo joe's craftiness helped turn an illegal numbers racket into an illicit empire.

"We analyzed it. It was $150,000 to $200,000 a week he was managing," said Elaine Smith, former FBI agent.

We interviewed Smith as she retired from the FBI - her work as case agent on Ken Eto the highlight of her career. According to the secret files of Tokyo Joe, his gambling business known as Bolito thrived on payoffs to Chicago policemen totaling $3,000 a week.

Eto's criminal rap sheet in the file begins in 1942 in Tacoma, Washington, where he was among four Japanese Americans sentenced for violating a wartime curfew. After coming to Chicago in 1949, Eto grew into a mob sleeper boss believed the FBI on a par with the famous New York mafioso Meyer Lansky.

Shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, federal agents suspicious of a Chicago mob role in the JFK murder questioned Eto about Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. FBI reports say Eto claimed to know nothing.

In 1983 Outfit bosses tried to rub him out for one reason, according to the secret files. Mob bosses feared that since the FBI had caught Eto red-handed running Bolito wagers and he'd pleaded guilty, that he might be tempted to talk. So they gave Eto an invitation he couldn't refuse.

"He knew he had to go to this dinner meeting. He really was 90 percent sure he was going to be shot, so he took a bath and he put on his best clothes, and he told his wife where the insurance policy was," Smith said.

Files reveal Vincent Solano ordered the murder. He was an Outfit capo at the time and head of the corrupt laborers union Local One. After surviving the attack, Eto was hooded when he told a U.S. Senate panel what happened.

Solano died of natural causes, never charged in the Eto attack. The two gunman who tried to kill Tokyo Joe had used bad ammo and soon after were themselves disposed of in a car trunk. Eto then became the government's highest ranking hoodlum ever to turn government witness.

The FBI began a secret investigation that we now know from the files was code-named "Operation Sun-Up" a clever turn on the symbol of Eto's native Japan. And because of his testimony, dozens of top Chicago mob figures were convicted and put away.

Whether or not Eto got his outfit nickname from an old Bogart movie, there will soon be a new movie also called Tokyo Joe. The life story of Ken Eto is being made by Japanese filmmakers and due to be finished next month.

Eto died in 2004 at the age of 84. And even though he survived a gangland hit, he didn't live as long as he thought he would. When he was still in the mob, a smart-aleck Eto told federal agents that he'd be happy to discuss his Outfit business when he was 90 years old and living on a beach somewhere.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Italian Eatery is Home of The Godfather - A Sangwich You Can't Refuse

It's safe to say that few area eateries have their kitchens located in a place that formerly housed a hydraulic hoist for automobiles. Then again, most also aren't named for fictional organized crime business fronts.

The menu at Genco Italian Eatery Genco Italian Eatery - The Home of the Godfather Sangwichprominently features a signature creation known as The Godfather: "a sangwich you can't refuse!" The acclaimed series of books and movies sets the tone for the establishment, which operates out of a renovated filling station north of Lockport's downtown shopping district. Its name is a nod to Genco Abbandando and the Genco Olive Oil Company, a business venture of Mafia don Vito Corleone in the sweeping "Godfather" mafia epics.

Of course, the restaurant's food-preparation area bears little resemblance to its previous incarnation. The oversized car jack is long gone, leaving plenty of room for intensive cooking.

"We make everything homemade here," said Lou Caracci, who owns the restaurant with his business partner, Mike Carter.

When Genco opened four years ago, its focus was centered on sub sandwiches. The selection was later expanded to include pasta, and now there is pizza too.

The lasagna, featuring homemade tomato sauce, is especially popular, Caracci said. Among the subs, the Underboss - a layering of ham, salami, capocollo, Swiss and provolone cheese - goes over especially well.

Pizza possibilities include the popular Tessio - sausage, peppers, onions and mushrooms - and the white versions, such as the Frank Pentangeli (alias Frankie Five Angels, alias Frankie Pants, from "The Godfather Part II"), which features olive oil, garlic, ricotta cheese and tomato. The savory pies are all available with thin crust or, for two bucks more, double dough.

Under the "specialties" heading on the food lineup are oversized sub sandwiches, made in three- and six-foot lengths, and something called Joey Zaza's calzones, named for the mob underling portrayed by Joe Mantegna in "The Godfather Part III."

An extensive catering menu also is available, offering such dishes as "famous pot roast," cooked nice and slow in Grandma's red gravy and spooned over a bed of rigatoni. Grilled tuna steak "served in our infamous wine sauce," tilapia with asparagus in wine sauce and lemon chicken are some of the other catered items available by the half or full pan. Several platters also are available, with themes that include wraps, seafood and fruit, among others. Genco also offers packages priced by the plate for groups of 20 and up.

The establishment does quite a bit of off-site business, Caracci said.

"We've done a lot of TV and movie sets. 'Prison Break' - we did all their food," he said, adding that they also supplied food at the production sites for the movies "The Breakup" and "The Return," part of which was filmed in Naperville last May.

While relocation to a larger space is possible one day, the restaurant's owners are staying put for now. They plan to apply for a beer and wine license later this year, and will be adding a deck for outdoor seating, Caracci said.

Thanks to Susan Frick Carlman

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Instead of Criminals, Should Mafiosa Be Considered Role Models?

IN 1925 the Italian prime minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando announced with suitable pomp and ceremony in the Italian senate that not only was he a mafioso, but he was proud of it too. According to the worthy PM and many others of Sicilian extraction, the term mafioso embodied the grandiose, ethical traits of honour, nobility and generosity of spirit.

“If, by the word ‘mafia’, we understand a sense of honour pitched in the highest key; a refusal to tolerate anyone’s prominence or overbearing behaviour … a generosity of spirit, which, while it meets strength head-on, is indulgent to the weak; loyalty to friends … If such feelings and such behaviour are what people mean by ‘the mafia’ … then we are actually speaking of the special characteristics of the Sicilian soul: and I declare that I am a mafioso, and proud to be one.”

In short, the prime minister seemed to be saying that the mafiosi were sadly misunderstood — they were not really criminals but rather role models.

Sounds a lot more salubrious than the waste management operation Tony Soprano was running until recently. No wonder the poor fellow was in therapy, the dissonance between the promise of his legacy and the brutal reality of the titty bar understandably got to him.

According to the 19th century Sicilian ethnographer, Giuseppe Pitre: “Mafia is the consciousness of one’s own worth, the exaggerated concept of individual force as the sole arbiter of every conflict, of every clash of interests or ideas.”

It’s a state of mind so many of our own luminaries seem to embrace with heart and soul, but I feel that they could learn a thing or two from Orlando’s rhetoric. I mean, “I am not a thief” hardly equates to the rousing battle cry of Sicily. Stake out the moral high ground, I say.

Thanks to The Times

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vinny Gorgeous Gets Life in Prison without Parole

A former beauty salon owner known by the Mafia as Vinny Gorgeous was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole for the 2001 killing of one of his gangland rivals, federal prosecutors said.

A jury convicted Vincent Basciano in 2006 of racketeering, attempted murder and gambling but deadlocked on a murder charge in the slaying of Frank Santoro. After a retrial, Basciano was convicted of murder in July 2007.
Basciano, who once owned a salon called Hello Gorgeous, used a 12-gauge shotgun to kill Santoro because he believed Santoro wanted to kidnap one of his sons, prosecutors said.

One of Basciano's lawyers, Ephraim Savitt, said he plans to appeal and challenge prosecutors' central trial witness, Dominick Cicale, a former Basciano protege who said he and Basciano gunned down Santoro. The defense lawyers have said prosecutors built the case on untruthful testimony from mob turncoats.

Basciano became the acting boss of the Bonanno organized crime family after the arrest of Joseph Massino.

Massino was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for orchestrating murders, racketeering and other crimes over a 25-year period. He avoided a possible death sentence by providing to the government evidence against Basciano and other mobsters.

While imprisoned together, Massino secretly recorded Basciano discussing a plot to kill a prosecutor, resulting in new charges against Basciano, authorities said. If convicted in that upcoming trial, Basciano could face the death penalty.

Chicago's Crooked Chief of Detectives

On a gloomy winter day in 1983, two gunmen ambushed a businessman named Allen Dorfman as he walked across a hotel parking lot in suburban Chicago.

The city's infamous Outfit mob might as well have left a calling card. The killers pumped seven shots into Dorfman's head. It was a classic gangland whacking.

Dorfman, 60, had been a lieutenant of International Brotherhood of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. He got rich as proprietor of the union's murky pension funds but had been convicted of bribery a month before his murder. Facing life in prison, he was rumored to be cutting a deal to implicate both Teamsters and gangsters.

Chicago gumshoes stifled a yawn over the rubout. It was an occupational hazard murder, like a drug deal gone bad. But one detail stopped cops cold. In Dorfman's little black book, investigators found the name of Bill Hanhardt, chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department.

Hanhardt was a Windy City legend for his devilish ability to think like a criminal. He had collared dozens of hard-to-find perps, including several cop killers.

A Chicago cop since 1953, Hanhardt was seen as a bridge between old-school, sap-carrying policing and more enlightened modern methods. By reputation, he was as brainy as Inspector Morse, as leathery as Kojak, as passionate as Detective Sipowicz.

But was he honest?

Questions about mob connections had dogged Hanhardt for much of his career, even as he was being promoted to sensitive command positions.

In 1979, Hanhardt was booted down to the traffic squad after he was accused of playing footsy with mobsters who ruled the city's corrupt downtown ward.

Yet, just months later, he was promoted to being chief of detectives by Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek after the election of Mayor Jane Byrne.

Even after his name turned up in Dorfman's black book, Hanhardt was allowed to enjoy the twilight of his police career as a district commander.

In 1986, while still on the job, he acted as a defense witness in the Nevada conspiracy trial of Anthony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas. Hanhardt's testimony helped discredit one of the mobster's key accusers.

A few months later, he was feted by Byrne and hundreds of others at an elaborate retirement banquet. Hanhardt seemed to ride off into the sunset with a wink and a snicker. He was hired as a consultant to the TV drama "Crime Story."

In 1995, author Richard Lindberg asked him to ruminate on his career as a cop. His reply dripped with cynicism.

"You knew that you're going to get screwed over eventually, so you went into the game with that thought in mind," Hanhardt said. "You got a wife. You got kids. So you got to think about the future, right? But I never liked thinking about the future. I liked to live for the moment."

Hanhardt retired to a handsome home in the suburbs, but he stayed busy in his dotage.

In October 2000, he was indicted as the leader of a band of thieves who stole $5 million in jewelry over 12 years beginning in 1984, while he was still a top cop. Hanhardt fenced the goods through friends in the outfit.

His gang "surpasses in duration and sophistication just about any other jewelry theft ring we've seen," said prosecutor Scott Lassar.

It seemed Hanhardt was able to think like a criminal because he was one.

He used techniques he learned as commander of the police burglary squad to devise diabolically clever thefts.

He tapped active cop friends and private detectives for leads on potential victims, targeting gem salesmen traveling with valises of valuable samples.
Blue Nile, Inc.
In some cases they simply tailed a salesman and broke into his vehicle: such jobs included a $300,000 gem theft in Wisconsin in 1984, $500,000 worth of Rolex watches in California in 1986, and jewelry thefts of $125,000 in Ohio in 1989, and $1 million in Michigan and $240,000 in Minnesota in 1993.

The gang sometimes used the old spy scam of swapping identical bags with a salesman - a trick that netted $1 million worth of diamonds in Dallas in 1992 from a representative of J. Schliff and Son, a W. 48th St. jeweler.

Hanhardt's biggest score came in 1994. For two months before a gem wholesalers show at a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, a gang member checked in under the name Sol Gold and asked to store valuables in the hotel's safe-deposit boxes, which were in a secure room behind the front desk.

He systematically copied the keys until Hanhardt was able to create a master passkey. One night during the gem show, a desk clerk allowed "Mrs. Sol Gold" unsupervised access to the room. The safe-deposit boxes of eight gem dealers were relieved of some $2 million in valuables.

The jig was up when the woman went from accomplice to spurned wife and informed on the gang to the FBI.

City officials stammered to explain how Hanhardt managed to prosper as a cop and crook.

"The only thing I ever heard about him was good things," ex-Mayor Byrne told reporters.

"I know that he had an illustrious career," said his ex-police boss Brzeczek. "A lot of people knew him. He knew a lot of people. But I don't have any evidence whatsoever of him being mob-connected."

But the federal government had plenty of evidence, including 1,307 incriminating phone calls collected during a yearlong wiretap on his home phone.

For two years, cops and mobsters wondered whether Hanhardt would go to trial and give a public airing to his double life. But he pleaded guilty in 2002. He was ordered to pay $5 million in restitution and packed away to a Minnesota prison for a 12-year sentence.

As they waved goodbye, Hanhardt's kin still viewed him as his good-cop mirage.

His son-in-law, Michael Kertez, called Hanhardt "probably the most wonderful detective in the history of Chicago."

Now 79, the disgraced top snoop faces a life behind bars until at least 2012

Thanks to David J. Krajicek

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