Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are the Chicago Outfit and the Outlaws Motorcycle Club Connected to a Pipe Bombing?

The west suburban home of a reputed mobster was among the locations raided by federal agents investigating a 2003 pipe-bombing outside a Berwyn video and vending machine business.

Authorities confirmed searching a home in the 3000 block of Kensington Avenue in Westchester that is registered to Michael Sarno, 50, who was convicted in the early 1990s of being part of a crime family led by mobster Ernest Rocco Infelice. Sources said Sarno, who was released from federal prison in 1999, was the target of the search and that a large amount of cash was recovered.

Sarno has not been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the bombing. He could not be reached Thursday for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment.

On Thursday authorities unsealed an indictment against Samuel Volpendesto, 84, of Oak Brook and Mark Polchan, 41, of Justice, following a series of raids across the Chicago area Wednesday by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In addition to the search at Sarno's home, raids were conducted on Polchan's Cicero pawn shop, Goldberg Jewelers, and three clubhouses of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club in Chicago, Elgin and Kankakee.

During an initial appearance Thursday in federal court, Volpendesto was all smiles. "Looks like I'm having fun, huh?" he said as he held up his handcuffs for reporters.

Both Volpendesto and Polchan were charged in connection with a nighttime explosion outside C&S Coin Operated Amusements in Berwyn. No one was injured, but the blast blew out windows and caused extensive interior damage.

A lawyer for Volpendesto and Polchan denied either has connections to the Chicago Outfit or the Outlaws. "Sam couldn't get his leg over a motorcycle," attorney Alexander Salerno said of Volpendesto, who he said has bladder cancer and needs to be on oxygen.

Volpendesto was charged in 1990 in the baseball-bat beating of a government witness who was cooperating against Infelice. Salerno said the charge was later dismissed.

The FBI SWAT team on Thursday brought in its military-style armored vehicle to pop off heavily fortified steel doors at the Outlaw's North Side chapter in the 3700 block of West Division Street. Agents later used a torch to remove a padlock from a door. The assault vehicle's presence in the Humboldt Park neighborhood brought curious onlookers with their cameras to the scene.

Kyle Knight of Merrillville was charged last year with supplying materials for the Berwyn pipe-bomb as well as conspiring to rob a series of jewelry stores. Court records show he is scheduled to plead guilty later this month. Prosecutors have said Knight and at least five other undisclosed individuals robbed the jewelry stories of a combined $1.27 million and shot a New York salesman during one holdup.

Volpendesto and Polchan pleaded not guilty Thursday in the bombing case and were ordered held by U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox until a detention hearing next week. Neither was charged in the jewelry heists.

According to court records, Polchan has a record of arrests for felony aggravated battery and burglary charges as well as numerous misdemeanor charges from the 1980s and 1990s.

Last year, a patron at a downtown nightclub where Polchan worked as a bouncer sued Polchan after an altercation at the club. Polchan ordered the patron, Adam Cavitch, to leave the club because the flip-flops he wore on the dance floor violated the club's dress code, said Cavitch's lawyer, Kevin McNamara.

As Polchan was escorting Cavitch from the club, the two exchanged words. Polchan allegedly punched Cavitch, shattering his cheek bone, McNamara said. Attorney Al Ambutas, who represents Polchan in the lawsuit, said his client denies the allegations.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the scope of the investigation that snared Polchan and Volpendesto. Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk, who is assigned to the organized crime section, told the judge he expects to play audio and video tapes from the investigation in court at the detention hearing Wednesday.

Both face up to life in prison if convicted, authorities said.

Thanks to Jeff Coen and Todd Lighty

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who Took Mob Killer Frank Schweihs' Body from Funeral Home?

The family members of reputed mob enforcer Frank "The German" Schweihs who gathered Monday morning for his funeral learned there would be no body to bury.

Authorities called the funeral home as an estimated 10 to 15 people gathered for a private graveside service and ordered that the body be turned over to the Cook County medical examiner's office. The service was held without the body.

"All of a sudden as they were about to start the service on Monday, the funeral home gets notified," Paul Brayman, one of Schweihs' attorneys, said Tuesday.

The medical examiner's office said it was not notified of Schweihs' death July 23 at Thorek Medical Center in Chicago while awaiting trial, even though it was widely reported Friday. The law requires that anyone dying in custody be examined by the medical examiner's office.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Frank 'The German' Schweihs - "A Killer, That's All, A Killer of a Girl"

Diane Pappas learned that Chicago isn't Camelot a lifetime ago when a tugboat captain found her sister's murdered body in the Chicago River. Eugenia "Becca" Pappas was only 18.

So last week, 46 years after Becca's death, when Diane heard the German was dead, she knew what to do: Drive out to the cemetery, to Becca's grave in the shade of a giant Norwegian pine, and talk to her little sister. "I'm going to the cemetery right now," Diane said. "I've got to be there. Now I want to tell Becca. The big, tough man. The big killer. The murderer of my sister. The German. The murderer of a girl."

If Frank "The German" Schweihs ever wondered about hell, he's not wondering now. He died last week, at 78, of cancer, waiting to stand federal trial in the Family Secrets case.

The FBI considers him the Babe Ruth of Outfit hit men, with dozens of Outfit victims, mobsters from New York to Los Angeles, murderous bosses and their turncoat business associates. Other hit men were terrified to be near him, even when he was sleeping. A glimpse of the German in Los Angeles, a chance sighting in a car window, frightened Jimmy "The Weasel" Frattiano so much that the mobster ran shrieking into the federal witness protection program.

Schweihs the enforcer was the reason those frail, old men could run things without worrying about ambitious underlings. He's the reason they made fortunes, and a president and mayors and judges.

The list of the German's dead is a history of organized crime in America. Except for Becca Pappas, a beauty, tall, slim, black eyes, black hair. "I know he killed her. I just know. She was in his car. She was driving his car the last time anyone saw her. His car disappeared. Then it was auctioned a month later, totally stripped clean, washed down," Diane said.

Becca's murder was investigated by corrupt Chicago lawman Richard CainThe Tangled Web: The Life and Death of Richard Cain - Chicago Cop and Mafia Hitman. This being Chicago, Schweihs was released without charges. Still, I agree with Diane that Schweihs killed her sister.

Why? Because, as explained to me by mob-watchers and former FBI agents, no man in Chicago, or anywhere else, would have dared approach the German's girlfriend. Not even to say hello. They wouldn't have allowed their brains to think of it. Not one. Schweihs would have skinned them alive with a paring knife.

The German is said to have later shotgunned Cain at Rose's Sandwich Shop. And killed Jimmy "the Bomber" Catuara. Teamsters lawyer Allan Dorfman died in a parking lot, shot in the head with a .22. Joe Testa was blown up in his car. Sam DeStefano's arms were shotgunned off in his garage. Patsy Riccardi, Chucky Nicoletti, the list continues.

The Chicago Outfit's flamboyant Hollywood connection, Johnny Rosselli, was found stuffed into an oil drum, floating at sea. Angelo Boscarino was shotgunned, though his son was later given a piece of the failed Rosemont casino deal.

If I've missed a few names, Schweihs didn't miss.

In the late 1980s, he was held in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center at the same time as Outfit member-turned-federal informant Gerald Scarpelli. The official story is Scarpelli committed suicide. He must have seen the German in the day room and then decided to tie his own feet and hands and choke himself to death with a plastic bag in the shower. The German is also credited with torturing and killing several burglars who dared rob the home of Anthony Accardo.

"He never informed. He killed who they told him to kill. And if he was involved in the killing of that young woman—it sheds an entirely new light on his personality," said FBI Special Agent John Mallul, a supervisor of the Organized Crime Unit. "No criminal ever wanted to see this guy around. Even if they knew that Frank was coming around and knew why, they were still terrified."

Law enforcement says that just about his only friend was Chicago political figure Peter Schivarelli, currently the manager of the rock group Chicago and the former 43rd Ward supervisor of Streets and San. Schivarelli is reputed to have been around Outfit types all his life and is the nephew of late mobster Johnny "The Bug" Varelli.

One night, Schweihs was arrested after fighting with police. "Schivarelli came down to the station trying to get him out, throwing his political clout around, and all hell broke loose," former FBI agent Jack O'Rourke recalled a while back. "It was a madhouse."

"That's not my recollection," Schivarelli said when I tracked him down. He talked on the phone as if I held a subpoena. "But I'd rather not debate it. I'll respectfully decline to comment."

Too bad. I was waiting to hear that the German was kind to tiny children and animals and helped old women cross the street. None of it matters to Becca Pappas' sister. "Schweihs still lived 46 years when he shouldn't have. And people glorify him, and they glorify the mob with their movies and TV shows. But all he was, was a killer. That's all. A killer of a girl."

Thanks to John Kass

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kingman Wong, Former Supervisor within the FBI's Organized Crime Section, Named SAC of Special Operations of New York Division

Kingman Wong has been named Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of Special Operations for the FBI’s New York Division. Director Robert S. Mueller, III appointed him to this position to replace former SAC Todd P. Letcher, who recently retired from FBI service. In this position, Mr. Wong will direct the special agent, support, and task force personnel who provide strategic operational, investigative, and infrastructure support for the New York Division.

Mr. Wong joined the FBI as a special agent in March 1988. He was assigned to the Violent Crime and Major Offenders Program in the San Francisco Division, where he investigated kidnapping, extortion, and other violent criminal offenses. In 1989, he was assigned to the Organized Crime Program to investigate transnational and domestic criminal syndicates. He was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent of the San Francisco Division’s Asian Organized Crime and Drug Squad in 1995.

Mr. Wong was transferred to the Organized Crime Section at FBI Headquarters in 1998, where he served as a supervisor and program manager for Asian organized crime and drug investigations. He was promoted to Unit Chief of the Asian/African Criminal Enterprise Unit at FBI Headquarters in 1999. In 2000, he was promoted to serve as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Division. He was responsible for the Organized Crime, Drug, Violent Crime and Major Offenders, Undercover, Special Operations, Crisis Management, U.S./Mexico Border Liaison, Special Weapons and Tactics Team, and Asset Forfeiture Programs. He served as the On-Scene Commander for all San Diego Division tactical operations, and supervised the San Diego Command Center and crisis management personnel following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Wong served as the Field Staff Inspector/On-Scene Commander during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002. In 2003, he became the Legal Attaché for the FBI in Hong Kong. While there, he managed and coordinated investigations, arrests, extraditions, and training related to all FBI investigative programs. In March 2007, he was promoted to FBI Headquarters as Section Chief of the International Operations Section, Office of International Operations.

Mr. Wong was the recipient of the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement; and a California State Assembly Resolution recognizing him for a narcoterrorism investigation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and a Master of Public Administration degree.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Whitey Bulger is 2nd Most-Wanted Man on FBI Top 10 List

James "Whitey" Bulger has been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list since 1999. According to the FBI, Bulger is their second most-wanted man, second only to Usama bin Laden. They say Bulger is wanted for 19 murders, as well as for money laundering, extortion, and drug dealing. The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information that leads to his arrest.

Now a septuagenarian, cops say Bulger ruled Boston's Irish mafia with an iron fist from the early 1970s to the mid 1990s. In 1995, shortly after he was indicted on federal racketeering charges, cops say Bulger went into hiding with his long-time girlfriend, Teresa Stanley. After a month on the run, Teresa asked Bulger to bring her back home to Boston. Bulger did, then hit the road again -- this time with another girlfriend, Catherine Greig, and this time for good.

There have been several confirmed sightings of Bulger and Greig; the last was in 2002, near London's Piccadilly Circus. In April 2007, a tourist on vacation in Sicily shot 18 seconds of video of a couple who bore a striking resemblance to Bulger and Greig. The FBI, thinking the video could very well have been of Bulger and Greig, launched an immediate investigation to identify the couple.

According to Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI, the couple was questioned and fingerprinted, but they are not Bulger and Greig.

In June 1956, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for robbing banks. He ended up serving nine years in Atlanta, Alcatraz, and Leavenworth.

Whitey's Life Of Crime Begins

One of his brothers, Billy Bulger, was the president of the Massachusetts State Senate for nearly 20 years, then served as the president of the University of Massachusetts.

James Bulger, however, took a different path. He joined the Air Force when he was about 20 years old; despite spending time in the brig for several assaults, he received an honorable discharge in 1952.

Soon after returning to Boston, police say he embarked on a life of crime. In June 1956, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for robbing banks. He ended up serving nine years in Atlanta, Alcatraz, and Leavenworth.

The Rise Of A Mafia Star

After his time behind bars, Bulger returned to Boston and resumed his criminal activities. In 1979, when Howie Winter -- the head of the infamous Winter Hill Gang -- was sent to prison for fixing horse races, Bulger assumed the gang's leadership.

Over the next 16 years, using both his formidable mind and his considerable muscle, cops say Bulger consolidated his power, and came to control a significant portion of Boston's drug dealing, bookmaking, and loan sharking operations.

He was also, unbeknownst to even his closest associates, an FBI informant. In fact, federal sources say it was his FBI handler, Special Agent John Connelly, who tipped Bulger off to the 1995 indictment, allowing Bulger to get away before he was arrested.

The FBI says Bulger should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. He uses cash for everything, and enjoys visiting libraries and historic sites. He also loves dogs, and often goes to animal shelters.

Bulger got his nickname, Whitey, from the platinum blonde hair he had as a child, but he's now almost completely bald, and it's believed he's taking a heart medication called Atenolol.

If you think you've spotted James J. "Whitey" Bulger or his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, call the America's Most Wanted hotline right now at 1-800-CRIME-TV.

Reward for bin Laden Raised to $50 MILLION!

America's Most Wanted: Usama bin Laden
The reward for information that will lead to Usama bin Laden has risen to $50 million. After more than a decade of directing terror around the globe, the search for bin Laden continues. He's the world's most-wanted man, and authorities say there's nothing that they won't do to find him. Let's catch this son-of-bitch and bring him to justice!

FBI's Chicago Field Office to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Saturday, July 26th, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). FBI 100th AnniversaryEstablished in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) with just 34 Special Agents, it was officially renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. Since then, the FBI has grown to over 30,000 employees, including more than 12,000 Special Agents and nearly 18,000 professional support employees in 56 field offices and 70 legal attache' offices worldwide.

The Chicago Office, along with New York City, is one of the two oldest in the FBI, having opened shortly after the establishment of the BOI. Today, the Chicago office is the fourth largest with over 800 employees occupying a new stand-alone building in the Illinois Medical District and satellite offices in Lisle, Orland Park, Rockford, Rolling Meadows, and at both O’Hare and Midway airports.

Given the notable record of accomplishments and the storied past associated with the Chicago office, this milestone will be recognized on Friday, July 25th, with an anniversary celebration at Navy Pier. The event will be held on the Lakeview Rooftop Terrace and will feature remarks by FBI Executive Director Stephen Tidwell; U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald; David Grange, President of the McCormick Foundation; Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Documentary Host and Producer Bill Kurtis. WLS Radio talk show host Roe Conn will serve as Master of Ceremonies, with live entertainment provided by the Ides of March, often referred to as “ Chicago’s Band”.

The event will be open to local media outlets. Doors open at 5:00 PM and the official ceremony and remarks are scheduled to begin at 6:45 PM. The Lakeview Rooftop Terrace is located on the third level of Navy Pier adjacent to the Grand Ballroom. Entrance to the venue can be gained through the “Lobby 3 – Festival Hall” entrance. Proper media accreditation will be required.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Did Mobster Gregory Scarpa Beat and Threaten a Witness for the FBI to win a KKK Murder Conviction?

Edgar Ray Killen, 84, was convicted in 2005 of ordering the Klan killings of the trio 41 years earlier, a crime that was dramatised in the film Mississippi Burning.

His lawyers have appealed against his life sentence for triple manslaughterMississippi Burning, citing new evidence that the FBI used Gregory Scarpa - known as The Grim Reaper - to put pressure on Klan members to reveal where the bodies had been hidden.

The lawyers also say that his conviction was tainted by the fact that a defence lawyer in a previous trial over the killings in 1967 was an FBI informant who had been providing prosecutors with information about the defence case. The court transcript from 1967 - in which Killen was acquitted on civil rights charges - was allowed to be used in the later trial because many of the witnesses had since died.

Rob Ratliff, Killen's lawyer, said the evidence included crucial information from a Klan member who revealed where the bodies had been buried. It was now clear that the informant had been kidnapped by Scarpa and an FBI helper, and subjected to "typical Mafia-type behaviour", he said. The "behaviour" may have included a severe beating but certainly included death threats to his family and having a gun barrel inserted into his mouth, he added.

Killen's lawyers argue that his rights to a full and fair trial, and the right to confront witnesses against him, have been violated.

If the 1967 trial had known that the location of the bodies had been discovered unlawfully, it would not have been allowed as evidence, said Mr Ratliff.

The FBI has always declined to comment on whether Scarpa was involved in the case. Scarpa was a senior member of the Colombo crime family and an FBI informant for three decades.

Killen's lawyers officially requested on Thursday that the FBI hand over its files relating to Scarpa and to the defence lawyer, who was named as Clayton Lewis. Lewis, the former mayor of Philadelphia, is also now dead. "If it's OK to torture witnesses to get a conviction against Killen, then it's OK to torture witnesses to get a conviction against anybody," said Mr Ratliff.

Scarpa's involvement in the investigation had long been rumoured but was confirmed last year by a New York judge who had seen his FBI file while trying an unrelated murder case involving the mobster's former FBI handler.

The judge said: "That a thug like Scarpa would be employed by the federal government to beat witnesses and threaten them at gunpoint to obtain information regarding the deaths of civil rights workers in the south in the early 1960s is a shocking demonstration of the government's unacceptable willingness to employ criminality to fight crime."

Linda Schiro, Scarpa's former girlfriend, said a few months ago that she had accompanied him to Mississippi in 1964. She said she believed he had been brought in because J Edgar Hoover, the FBI chief, was under heavy pressure to get results in the case.

She told ABC's Eyewitness News: "When we we walked into the hotel, I saw a bunch of guys and I saw Greg wink, and he says, 'Those are FBI agents'."

"We went up to the room, knock on the door, an agent came in and handed him a gun."

Mississippi Burning alluded to the FBI's use of nefarious tactics, introducing a black FBI agent who is brought in to rough up witnesses when conventional methods fail.

Thanks to Tom Leonard

Growing Up as A Gambino

When it comes to the Mafia, there are five infamous surnames: Lucchese, Colombo, Genovese, Bonanno and the best known—my own—Gambino. And that name inevitably provokes two words that I've heard more times than I can count, so I might as well just spare you the breath: Any relation?

Truth is, I don't entirely know. Some details lend themselves to speculation. My father was born in Ozone Park, Queens, which was the stamping ground of John J. Gotti, who seized control of the Gambino Family in the 1980s. And when my dad and the rest of the family (that's "family," not "Family") moved to Long Island in 1960, it was James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, the true-life Robert De Niro character in GoodFellas, who bought our house. Then too, my uncle goes by the name "Choppy" and is in the construction business. But despite the circumstantial evidence, this branch of the family tree is clean. (Choppy is "Choppy" because his sister couldn't pronounce Charles, his given name, when she was young.) If we're related to the crime family, it's distant.

Blood relative or not, Gambino is a hefty weight to carry. I'm actually a mutt when it comes to ethnic background—more Irish than Italian—but the Italian in me trumps all. As a toddler, I had a T-shirt blazoned with "Bambino Gambino."

I wasn't aware that my last name connected me with a surly underworld until I was old enough for people to ask me about it. In high school, my history teacher warned boys they might find themselves wearing concrete shoes at the bottom of a lake if they messed with me. But I took everything in stride. In fact, I soon learned the name has its benefits.

A couple of years ago, I drove from Vermont to Boston with a few friends from college. While navigating my way through the Big Dig, I mistakenly drove down a street restricted to government vehicles and got pulled over. The officer took my driver's license, stepped away from the car to write up the ticket—then hastily returned. He said he didn't want any trouble; I could barely suppress a smile, as my slack-jawed friends looked on. My boyfriend, who happened to be in the car that day, hadn't met any I-talians before me. But now even he gets comments by association. When Gambinos made headlines this past February with the largest Mafia takedown in memory, his Swedish-American godfather asked him just what he had gotten himself into.

The power of the name grows stronger the closer I get to the Big Apple. (I've found the speed with which I can get a pizza delivered to be a good gauge of its clout.) Not long ago, my family made a reservation at Gallagher's Steak House in Midtown Manhattan. When we got there, the entryway was lined with the entire kitchen and wait staff; as we walked the gantlet to our table (far from any windows), I heard one waiter ask another, "Which one is Mr. Gambino?" But regardless of where I am, whenever a hostess, bouncer, retail worker, librarian or whoever else asks about my family ties, I tend to say "Nah" with a half-smile, to leave some room for doubt. And if any readers have any smart ideas about sending me less-than-complimentary letters about this piece, you might want to reconsider. Hey, you never know.

Thanks to Megan Gambino of the Smithsonian Magazine

Mobster's Bones Found at Haunted Mansion?

An FBI search team descended on a famous "haunted" Staten Island mansion, locating possible remains of 2005 mob hit victim and Bonanno associate Robert McKelvey, sources said.

Bonanno capo Gino Galestro is awaiting trial on charges of ordering the hit; mob underling Joseph "Joe Black" Young is accused of carrying out the murder.

It was the second search for the feds at the mansion, once owned by brick baron Balthazar Kreischer.

The feds arrived with a dozen vehicles, including a truck from a septic-tank repair company.

The bone fragments must now be tested to confirm they belonged to McKelvey.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Frank "The German" Schweihs, Chicago Outfit Mob Enforcer, Dies Awaiting Trial

Frank "the German" Schweihs, a reputed Chicago Outfit enforcer once described as one of the most feared men in the city, died Wednesday in a North Side hospital after being transferred from the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he was awaiting trial.

Frank 'The German' SchweihsSchweihs, 78, was cancer-stricken and too ill to face charges in last year's landmark Family Secrets case, one of the biggest mob trials in Chicago's history. The frail Schweihs was scheduled to go to trial Oct. 28. He appeared at recent hearings in federal court in a wheelchair.

On Wednesday, Schweihs died in Thorek Memorial Hospital, said jail spokesman Vincent Shaw.

Schweihs initially went on the lam after the sweeping indictment came down in 2005, but authorities were able to track him down in an apartment complex in a small town in Kentucky late that year.

His upcoming trial had been threatened when Schweihs signed a do-not-resuscitate order that might have forced officials to move him from the downtown jail, which has no medical facility. But Schweihs rescinded the order.

During the Family Secrets trial, in which five of Schweihs' co-defendants were found guilty, witnesses testified that Schweihs was a henchman for capo Joey "the Clown" Lombardo. Schweihs was identified during the trial as being involved in the 1974 hit in Bensenville on Lombardo business partner and federal witness Daniel Seifert.

Schweihs' last court appearance June 10 was memorable, as he complained loudly and barked at federal prosecutors. One of them, Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk, who was part of the trial team on Family Secrets, had looked in his direction as he spoke with his attorney Ellen Domph.

"You makin' eyes at me?" Schweihs snarled. "Do I look like a [expletive] to you or something?"

In a recent court filing, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel to seat an anonymous jury to hear the Schweihs case, noting that he used violence to rise in the Outfit starting in the 1960s.

"Throughout this phase of his life, Schweihs continued to use seemingly irrational brutality for 'effect,' portraying himself as the consummate 'tough guy' at every opportunity," the government's brief stated.

Trial testimony during last year's Family Secrets case made it clear that Schweihs was someone who others linked to the mob feared most.

Michael Spilotro, who was killed in a mob hit along with his brother, once told his daughter that if she ever saw Schweihs around their home, she was to call 911 immediately. Brothers James and Mickey Marcello, defendants in the case, had another nickname for him: "Hitler."

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Minimum $20,000,000.00+ Profit Earned by the Chicago Mob

It took a calculator for the government to figure out this Family Secret. Since the 1960's, a Chicago Mob street crew turned a tidy profit of more than $20 million, according to documents filed today by prosecutors in federal court. And that is a "very conservative figure," according to T. Marcus Funk, the case prosecuting attorney.

The government forfeiture motion obtained by the ABC7 I-Team says that the Operation Family Secrets defendants are responsible for repaying $20,258,556.00 in ill-gotten gains from various organized crime rackets including gambling, extortion and shake-down schemes. In some cases, authorities say, the crime business relied on murder as a final solution to organizational disputes.

Today's filing is a pre-sentence motion in the case of former Chicago police officer Anthony "Twan" Doyle, who was convicted last summer and is due to be sentenced by Judge James Zagel on October 1. Doyle was a "juice loan collector for the South Side/26th" according to prosecutors. His sentencing date will be the first of the major defendants.

"The evidence at trial established that, as charged in the Indictment, DOYLE joined the charged conspiracy in the 1960's as a juice loan collector who was supervised by Outfit street crew boss and enforcer/hit man Frank Calabrese Sr." states today's motion. Calabrese Sr. was convicted in the dramatic mob trial, along with top Outfit boss Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo and James "Little Jimmy" Marcello. All are awaiting sentencing and expected to be hit with similar, $20 million forfeiture orders.

"Before or at the time of sentencing, the United States requests that this Court enter a preliminary order of forfeiture against the defendant [Doyle]," states the government motion. "He is jointly and severally liable with his co-defendants, representing the $20,258,556.00 in proceeds."

"The figure is based on all the evidence we introduced," Funk told the I-Team. "Notably, it excludes the juice loan money that they earned. That was too difficult to calculate" he said.

"It only includes those unlawfully obtained proceeds that the government has been able to trace in the context of the 'Family Secrets' investigation" states the forfeiture motion. "Additional gambling, extortion, and street tax activities have not been included in this figure. Moreover, the figure entirely excludes any of the Outfit's lucrative juice property subject to forfeiture pursuant to the provisions of [federal law]."

As the I-Team reported last September, Click Here to Read the Past Report Anthony "Twan" Doyle was a Chicago cop for 21 years. Sixty-two-year old Doyle is a hulking figure, whose rigid jaw line helps carve an imposing presence. Doyle is a longtime friend and associate of Chicago Outfit boss Frank Calabrese, who was responsible for at least 13 gangland murders, according to federal prosecutors.

Numerous times in 1999, Calabrese paid for Doyle to come to a federal prison in southeastern Michigan. Doyle discussed Chicago mob business with Calabrese, who is known as Frank "the Breeze." Neither man knew the FBI was secretly taping the meetings.

The visits alone violated Chicago police rules that prohibit associating with felons. And when Doyle gave Calabrese information he'd requested about a police murder investigation, straight from a department evidence computer, that was also criminal.

Investigators believe that Doyle sensed Chicago police were on to his relationship with Calabrese and that Doyle tendered his resignation from the police department in 2001 before a federal grand jury could indict him. That way, Doyle was able to receive his Chicago police pension of $2,800 a month, or $34,000 a year.

Since retiring, Doyle has collected nearly $200,000 in pension payments from the city. The director of the police pension board wrote in a letter to ABC7 that they are aware of Doyle's conviction and plan to address the forfeiture of his pension once he is sentenced.

Doyle began his defense last June with a trash bin, his lawyers demonstrating for the jury that he started as a city sanitation worker and made it to the police force.

His birth name is actually Passafume, which is Italian. But when he decided to join the Chicago police force, which is historically Irish, he became Anthony Doyle. His police records list him as "Irish/Italian." But through the ethnic transformation, his nickname stayed the same: Twan.

A twan is a popular Chinese doughnut. Literally translated, it means "rice glog."Of course, police are known to be fond of their doughnuts, and Officer Doyle grew up in a section of Chinatown where twans are sold.

Doyle asked to be freed on bond until sentencing, offering to post his home in Arizona; his daughter's home and the homes of two retired Chicago policemen as bond. Judge James Zagel denied that motion and he has been in custody since the Family Secrets conviction.

Doyle was the only mob defendant not accused of murder.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna, Convicted Outfit Gangster, Dies at 81

Carl Angelo “Tuffy” DeLuna — whose legacy is that of both a notorious Kansas City mob leader and a gentleman — has died.

DeLuna passed away Monday at the home of his daughter, Carla Allen. He was 81.

To his family, he was “a caring, giving man. He touched a great many lives and he will be deeply missed,” they wrote in his obituary.

To most people, DeLuna was one of the top guys in “The Outfit,” an organized crime unit in Kansas City in the 1970s and ’80s.

DeLuna served 12 years in federal prison on multiple racketeering and other convictions related to skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos during those decades.

He was being investigated for murder in 1978 when the FBI picked up leads that he had been manipulating Teamsters union pension funds and stealing from the casinos, according to Gary Hart, who was the supervisor in charge of the FBI’s investigation into organized crime in Kansas City in the late 70s.

After being released from prison in 1998, DeLuna gambled at Kansas City area casinos until the Missouri Gaming Commission banned him in 2005. But even the man who headed the investigation that eventually put DeLuna in federal prison called him a “perfect gentleman.”

“He was a very respectful guy,” Hart said. “He went down one pathway, and we went down another. We agreed to disagree agreeably.”

DeLuna’s family was hospitable when FBI agents searched his house on Valentine’s Day 1979, according to Hart. “Carl and his family were perfect hosts for all the agents,” he said. “It was not a hostile environment.”

He treated everyone with the same respect, Hart said, “other than the usual things that mob guys are accused of.”

Thanks to Meredith Rodriquez

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Last Steps of John Dillinger

One of the most famous cases in the FBI's 100-year history celebrates an anniversary today: On July 22, 1934, the gangster John Dillinger was killed in Chicago, moments after leaving the Biograph Theater, where, ironically, he had watched a gangster film starring Clark Gable. In the Depression years of the early 1930s, Dillinger’s bank robberies, shootouts, and jailbreaks earned him nationwide notoriety, but to the Bureau, he was just Public Enemy #1. And after months of pursuing him, a tip led Melvin Purvis, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Chicago office, to the Biograph on a hot Sunday night.

The day before, Purvis and Special Agent Samuel A. Cowley, who had been appointed by Director J. Edgar Hoover to head the Dillinger investigation, had met with a woman calling herself Anna Sage, a friend of Dillinger’s girlfriend, Polly Hamilton. She was hoping that her cooperation with the authorities would earn her reward money and keep her from being deported to her native Romania. She told Purvis that Dillinger planned to take both her and Hamilton to a Sunday evening movie at the Biograph or the Marbro.

Stakeouts were arranged for both theaters. A hand-written document from the FBI Dillinger file, a diagram of the Biograph, illustrates the placement of some 20 men around the theater and across the street. The diagram shows the letters “A,” “B,” and “C” outside the theater box office, with an “X” next to each letter. A legend identifies the significance of the letters: “Dillinger companion,” “Dillinger,” “informant.”

The informant—Anna Sage—called Purvis at 8:30 p.m. that Sunday to say they were going to the Biograph. Two hours later, Dillinger emerged from the theater with his two companions. Purvis, standing nearby, lit a cigar. It was the signal for his men to move in. As they did, Dillinger realized what was happening and reached for his pistol. Agents fired, and Dillinger was hit. He staggered, then fell.

Dillinger’s death signaled the beginning of the end of the Gangster Era, but the nation’s fascination with those times lives on. A new movie about Dillinger, directed by Michael Mann, is scheduled for release next July. The film, Public Enemies, stars Johnny Depp as Dillinger and Christian Bale as Purvis. Mann, a Chicago native, spared no expense to re-create the Biograph Theater and the look and feel of 1930s-era Chicago for the film. “Getting it visually right requires a lot of dedication,” he explains, thanking us for our “spectacular cooperation” in helping to make the film authentic.Ross Rice, spokesman in the FBI's Chicago field office, says that when he compared the movie sets with archival photos from those days, “you couldn’t tell the difference. I felt like I was stepping back in time.” On Lincoln Avenue, where the Biograph still stands, the film crew “essentially rented out the entire block,” Rice says. The façade of every building was redone to look exactly as it did on that steamy night when Dillinger went to see Manhattan Melodrama. Attention was paid to every detail, from the streetlights to the trolley tracks right down to replacing the bricks on the street. Mann says the film also strives for “period-accurate psychology,” to help illuminate inner thoughts and motivations of Purvis and Dillinger. That process included talking with agents while doing research for the film. Their “zeal and passion,” Mann says, helped him understand just how badly Purvis wanted to catch Public Enemy #1.

Carlos Marcello, New Orleans Mafia Don, Played Roll in JFK Assassination According to Lawsuit by Forensic Intelligence Analyst

A New Jersey paralegal with a longstanding interest in government corruption filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department and the F.B.I. on Monday, seeking the release of the full case file on a murderous Brooklyn Mafia informant — papers she believes may shed light on the possible involvement of a dead New Orleans crime boss in the killing of President John F. Kennedy.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington by the paralegal, Angela Clemente, asks the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make public any documents it may still hold related to the mobster, Gregory Scarpa Sr., who for nearly 30 years led a stunning double life as a hit man for the Colombo crime family and, in the words of the F.B.I, a “top echelon” informant for the bureau.

In her suit, Ms. Clemente asked the bureau to release all papers connected to Mr. Scarpa (who died of AIDS in 1994 after receiving a blood transfusion), especially those related to Carlos Marcello, a New Orleans don suspected by some of having played a role in the Kennedy assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

Ms. Clemente filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Mr. Scarpa’s file in April, and the F.B.I. acknowledged her request in a letter on June 9, saying that bureau officials would search their records for relevant papers. Ms. Clemente’s lawyer, James Lesar, said that the F.B.I. had not yet told her if it would release the file or not, but that under federal law, a lawsuit can be filed compelling the release of records 20 working days after such a letter is received.

John Miller, a spokesman for the F.B.I., did not return phone calls on Monday seeking comment on Ms. Clemente’s suit. Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said officials would review the suit and respond if needed in court.

In pursuing the Scarpa file and its potential to flesh out Mr. Marcello’s possible role in the Kennedy killing, Ms. Clemente is following a trail blazed in part by G. Robert Blakey, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame who also served as the chief counsel and staff director to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which from 1977 to 1979 investigated the killings of President Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While the Warren Commission said there was no link between Mr. Marcello and the president’s death, Mr. Blakey’s report to the House was considerably more circumspect, saying the F.B.I.’s “handling of the allegations and information about Marcello was characterized by a less than vigorous effort to investigate its reliability.”

Ms. Clemente is in possession of several heavily redacted papers from the Scarpa file, which suggest, however vaguely, she said, that Mr. Scarpa, who spied on numerous gangsters for the F.B.I., may also have spied on Mr. Marcello.

Professor Blakey, reached by phone at his office at Notre Dame on Monday, said he had seen the papers, adding that no matter what the unredacted versions might eventually reveal, he was convinced that he should have seen them 30 years ago, while conducting his Congressional investigation. “The issue here is not what’s in them,” Professor Blakey said, “so much as that they seem to have held them back from me. I thought I had the bureau file on Marcello — now it turns out I didn’t, did I? So I’m not a small, I’m a major, supporter of what Angela is trying to do.”

Ms. Clemente, 43, often refers to herself as a “forensic intelligence analyst.” She has been researching Mr. Scarpa for nearly a decade as part of a broader project on the improper use of government informants. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office has said her work on Mr. Scarpa was instrumental in helping the office file quadruple murder charges against Mr. Scarpa’s former F.B.I. handler, Roy Lindley DeVecchio.

The charges against Mr. DeVecchio were dropped midtrial in October when Tom Robbins, a reporter for The Village Voice, suddenly showed prosecutors taped interviews he made years ago with the main prosecution witness, Mr. Scarpa’s mistress, suggesting that she had changed her account and damaged her credibility.

Faced with the sudden demise of years of investigative work, Ms. Clemente went back, she said, to the redacted papers she already had. She said she was intrigued, after additional study, to discover references to Mr. Scarpa’s apparent involvement in F.B.I. projects in New Orleans in the late 1950s and early 1960s — well before his publicly acknowledged role in helping the Kennedy administration learn the whereabouts of three slain civil rights workers by traveling to Mississippi to threaten a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

She said the F.B.I. had fought her “tooth and nail” in her efforts to obtain the full Scarpa file for Mr. DeVecchio’s trial. The F.B.I. did not return phone calls seeking comment on that allegation as well. “And that,” she said, “is what really piqued my curiosity.”

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mob Tour is Another Highlight for Niagara Falls

When the mob takes you for a ride, don’t expect to be home any time soon.

When Michael Rizzo, founder of Mob Tours, takes you for a ride, it takes about 90 minutes and some of the highlights along the way include former hideouts, hangouts and homes of Niagara Falls, N.Y.'s best-known criminals.

Some of the history he talks about on the tour relates to former mafia don Stefano Magaddino and his brothers, Gaspare and Nino, who ruled Western New York with iron fists.

“There are about a dozen locations that we go past, and we tell some stories about bookmaking and the history of Stefano Magaddino,” said Rizzo. “Everything is from the 1920s to the 1970s. We talk about prohibition, bootlegging, and we see some sites where there were some bombings, murders, bookmaking operations and where people lived.”

Rizzo, 43, a businessman, author and historian, came up with the idea about five years ago. He started research because there is so much history shared between the city of Niagara Falls, N.Y., criminal activity and the mob. He put it aside for awhile, then last year decided to look into running a tour.

Mob Tours opened in mid-June and will run weekends and holidays. Reservations can be made through the website, Tickets cost $29.95.

Rizzo said while the Magaddinos were alive, the city was known as a sin centre. “We just try to capture some of that former drama and entertain our visitors for a short time, so that they have another reason to remember their visit to the Falls.”

Rizzo said historical accuracy is an important aspect of the tour. While there is very little information available about Magaddino in general circulation, as a researcher he knew where to find it and is now making it available with his tour. He hopes the tour appeals to fans of organized crime, "The Sopranos," or mafia movies.

Included is a stop at the Magaddino Museum, which features one-of-a-kind memorabilia from the Magaddinos era and the Niagara Falls mob.

Magaddino, known to be involved in the bookmaking and bootlegging trades, was a respected – and feared – head of the mafia in the 1930s and early 1940s. He controlled a considerable amount of territory in the Buffalo and Niagara area and had influence in southern Ontario, especially in the Toronto-Hamilton area.

“People in the circle obviously knew him. He had a large territory, but he was not well documented over the years. He didn’t make a lot of press noise, so up until Apalachin in 1957 he was pretty much unknown,” said Rizzo.

The infamous Apalachin crime 'conference' – a meeting of the most powerful mafia heads of the day, coming from The U.S., Italy and Canada – was held Nov. 14, 1957 at the home of mobster Joseph 'Joe the Barber' Barbara in Apalachin, N.Y. Police became suspicious after they noticed expensive cars with licence plates from around the country starting to arrive. Officers raided the meeting, causing mafiosi to flee into the woods and the surrounding area. The get-together proved disastrous for the mob, and many underworld bosses were detained and indicted. That meeting confirmed for the first time the existence of a national crime syndicate.

Until then, the Federal Bureau of Investigations refused to acknowledge such a thing even existed.

That meeting was planned as an opportunity for some of the most powerful mafiosi to socialize and resolve problems within their organization relating to gambling, casinos and narcotics operations.

Appalachin has been referred to in a number of movies, including the 1990 film "Goodfellas," 1999's "Analyze This," and in the novel "The Godfather Returns."

Don Stefano Magaddino was known as “the undertaker,” because the family owned a funeral parlour in Niagara Falls, N.Y. “The funeral home is about half a mile from the casino and it was open until the 1990s. It’s now sitting vacant,” said Rizzo.

At one time, there was talk of turning that property into a mob museum, but nothing has materialized.

Asked if he had concerns about his own safety for starting a business that tells mob stories, Rizzo said it crossed his mind. But he’s basically talking about “ancient history,” he said, because Magaddino has been dead more than 30 years.

“Most of the family is out of the area, but there are a few people still around,” said Rizzo. “After Stefano died, the (mob) family changed hands so his family is not in it any longer.”

He noted the tour is more about the history of Stefano Magaddino and his relationship with the city, and not necessarily about the Niagara Falls or Buffalo mafia.

“I’m actually surprised that there aren't any books about him yet, considering how long it has been since he died. And that he had such a big area, you would think someone would want to put a book out about him,” said Rizzo.

Magaddino has been mentioned in books, but nothing has been written specifically on him.

While his name was often associated with the city of Buffalo – and one book on the mafia even referred to him as the old don of Buffalo – he lived in Niagara Falls, N.Y. and later in Lewiston, N.Y.

In November 1968, the FBI raided Stefano’s home in Lewiston, along with several others that belonged to members of his family including his son, Peter Magaddino. The father and son were arrested and charged with interstate bookmaking. One source says when the FBI searched Peter Magaddino’s home, they uncovered close to $500,000 in cash inside a bedroom wall. Another source claims the money was found in a suitcase under a bed.

The street where the family lived in Lewiston was referred to as Mafia Row.

Stefano Magaddino, who had a number of heart ailments over the years, died of a heart attack in hospital July 19, 1974. He was 82. He is remembered for being a crime boss for more than 50 years – possibly the longest reign in history.

Thanks to Tony Ricciuto

Sopranos' Duke and Duchess of Urbino Inspired Painting Sells for $175,000

Sopranos' Duke and Duchess of Urbino Painting Sells for $175,000A painting of "The Sopranos" lead actors replicating the 15th century pose of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino has sold for $175,000, said to be the highest price paid for memorabilia from the hit TV series.

James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, who played mob boss Tony Soprano and his wife, Carmela, in the HBO series that ran from 1999 to 2007, stare at each other in profile just as the Duke and Duchess of Urbino do in Piero della Francesca's original, which was painted around 1465 to 1470.

Sopranos supporting actor Federico Castelluccio, who played the Italian hit man Furio Giunta who fell in love with Carmela, painted the work after coming up with the idea during a trip to Florence when he saw della Francesca's piece at the Uffizi.

"I saw that particular painting in person and it kind of gave me a fleeting thought of, wow, it would be interesting to do a painting of James Gandolfini and Edie Falco as the Duke and Duchess of Urbino but call it the Duke and Duchess of North Caldwell," Castelluccio said, referring to the New Jersey town where the Sopranos lived.

"They're actually looking at each other but kind of have that 1,000-yard stare, looking past each other. The idea came in the fourth season, when they separate," Castelluccio said.

He said he recently sold it to Toronto oil executive Robert Salna for $175,000. The broker of the deal, the collector Keya Morgan, told Reuters that was the highest price ever for a piece of Sopranos memorabilia.

Salna was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

In June, Gandolfini sold his personal costume wardrobe from "The Sopranos" in 25 lots, fetching $187,750 for charity, four times the forecast by auction house Christie's.

Gandolfini and Falco sat for a photo shoot off which Castelluccio made drawings and then the portraits.

Painted in oil on poplar wood, the piece is mounted in a replica Renaissance Tabernacle frame custom-made by specialists. It has the same blue sky and rolling hills in the background that give della Francesca's work tremendous depth.

"I never even thought of it as a Sopranos thing," Castelluccio said. "Painting is my life. I love acting and creating characters, but if acting left tomorrow, it would be OK because I still have my painting."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Anthony Calabrese, Mob Connected Leader of Robbery Gang, Sentenced to 62 Years in Federal Prison

A 47-year-old man convicted of leading a gang of robbers who beat and hog-tied victims was sentenced Friday to more than 62 years in federal prison, much of the time mandatory because he used a gun.

"It isn't over until God says it's over," Anthony Calabrese said as friends and family waved, some wiping away tears, and marshals led him off to begin what could easily turn out to be the rest of his life behind bars.

Calabrese was convicted by a jury in February as masterminding the robbery of a leather store, a tattoo parlor and a meat market.

On orders from Calabrese, a gang member tried to break the tattoo parlor owner's hands with a hammer because he had tattooed the underage daughter of a Chicago mob boss, prosecutors said in court papers.

A railroad engineer testified that he was having Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" tattooed on his back when three men burst into the parlor, tied him up and hog-tied his girlfriend. Witnesses said hog-tying victims was standard operating procedure when the gang pulled robberies.

Prosecutors said in court papers Calabrese had held himself out to various people as being connected to the Chicago mob. Calabrese is not believed to be related to the Calabrese family that was at the center of one of the biggest mob trials in the city's history last year.

Jurors also heard a tape on which an alleged gang member yelped and pleaded for mercy as Calabrese and another man beat him. Frank had to be taken to a hospital and blood was splattered on the wall when it was over. Calabrese was said to have feared the gang member would squeal.

"He was cold and he was uncaring," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel M. Hammerman told U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve.

St. Eve said federal law required her to sentence Calabrese to a minimum of 57 years for using a gun in multiple offenses and more time for pulling the robberies. She sentenced him to 62 years and seven months.

Calabrese and his attorney pleaded for an even lesser sentence, saying that he has already served six years in prison for an unrelated conviction, rehabilitated himself and started a new life. Calabrese said he wanted to have at least some time at home with his family. "I want to show them the real Tony Calabrese," he said. He waved and blew a kiss to his relatives as marshals led him out and some of them called out: "We love you."

Thanks to Mike Robinson

Organized Crime Evolves with Economy and Pressure from The Feds

The Teflon Don is dead and gone. The Mustache Petes of the Mafia's old guard are mostly behind bars. And the crime rackets have gone global.

Think La Cosa Nostra is just a quaint throwback, the stuff of gangster movies? Fuggedaboudit.

Although the Mafia may not be as strong as it once was, FBI agents say organized crime is far from dead. Not only is the traditional mob still at it, but new organized crime groups also are vying for a piece of the action.

Weakened by two decades of prosecutions, the traditional Italian crime organizations plug away at what they know best: labor racketeering, infiltrating unions and construction industries, gambling and loan sharking.

"What you see in the movies about honor and code is a fallacy. That doesn't exist. It's completely about the money," said Mike Gaeta, a veteran agent who heads the FBI squad in charge of investigating the Genovese family. "As the economy evolves, they evolve."

The scams are growing in sophistication, focusing more than ever on the big money. Everyone pays the price, according to Gaeta. "There is a mob tax placed on everything from your garbage collection, food delivery, the rent that you pay," he said. "I don't know what the percentage is, but there is a premium that you pay because of the control that organized crime has on labor unions and on the contractors who are engaged in those job sites."

There are more than 3,000 Mafia members and associates in the U.S., the FBI estimates on its Web site. The presence is most pronounced around New York, southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The FBI has about 100 agents and 11 squads investigating mob activities at the New York hub.

The FBI touts its success against New York's five major Mafia families -- Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Colombo and Lucchese -- as one of the bureau's biggest accomplishments in its 100-year history. Major arrests and convictions in the 1980s and 1990s crippled the mob. If they didn't get whacked first, the top dogs of the five families faced multiple prosecutions and long prison terms. Among the big names to take the perp walk as a result: John Gotti, Vincent Gigante and Joseph Massino.

The federal racketeering law passed in 1970 known as the Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO, allowed agents to build stronger cases and secure stiffer sentences. It was added to the bureau's traditional crime-fighting arsenal of wiretaps, physical surveillance of targets and undercover agents.

As the years rolled by, the FBI benefited from "flipping" mob insiders like Massino, who, facing life sentences for RICO convictions, decided to violate the Mafia's code of silence -- omerta. Massino talked to avoid the death penalty for murder, becoming the Mafia's highest-ranking turncoat, and is now serving a life sentence.

Seamus McElearney, who spearheads FBI investigations against the Colombo crime family, has persuaded several mobsters to turn informant, and one case sticks out in his mind. "This individual was able to realize that he'd be going away for the rest of his life, and like anything in life, you build a rapport with someone, and you have to get over that trust factor. And he started to trust me and realize this was his best option," McElearney said, describing what it takes to persuade a witness to switch sides.

The FBI also uses forensic accounting and other sophisticated tools to penetrate the mob. "Looking at these guys from a financial point of view, because that's one of the best ways to hurt them is in the pocketbook ... ultimately led to the devastation of the family," said Supervisory Special Agent Nora Conley, who investigates the Bonanno family.

The mob adapted to investigations and convictions as layer upon layer of wiseguys-in-waiting stepped up. The Italians may still control the lion's share of illegal organized crime activity, but competitors are vying for a piece of the action.

Law enforcement officials say Asians, Russians and Albanians have established their own crime organizations in the United States. These groups are smaller and more disorganized than their Italian counterparts but pose their own danger.

Kevin Hallinan, an FBI supervisor who has worked organized crime for 18 years, said that groups of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese nationals, for example, are heavily involved in immigrant-smuggling, gambling, prostitution, counterfeiting and extortion of legitimate businesses as well as other crimes.

"Drugs are a serious problem," Hallinan said. "It's quick money. They have known transportation routes. A lot of the folks have international connections and know people at the ports, at the airports, and can get the drugs here."

He continued, "the big challenge for Asian organized crime and Albanian organized crime is having the finances to pay for a load of heroin, to pay for a load of cocaine, and then have the facilitator get it into the country, and then have the means of distribution, which the Italians have had in the past."

Russian and Albanian groups "are more like criminal enterprises than organized crime," observes agent Dennis Bolles, who heads the squad investigating them.

"Whether it is insurance fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, Medicaid fraud, securities fraud, mortgage fraud [or] multimillion-dollar scams, the Russians are very sophisticated," Bolles said. "They are very educated people. Some are former KGB. Some are former government officials -- masters degrees, PhDs -- and now they find themselves in the U.S., and they are using those brains to commit scams."

The FBI learned the hard way that foot-dragging on organized crime investigations can be costly.

In the 1930s, as Genovese family leader Lucky Luciano rose to power and brought the five families into a unified commission, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover resisted going after the mob. His inaction allowed the Mafia to become fully entrenched into American society and business.

It wasn't until the 1950s that the Mafia became a law enforcement priority. Sen. Estes Kefauver led congressional hearings on organized crime in May 1950, and the 1963 congressional testimony of Mafia turncoat Joseph Valachi brought attention to a problem that long had been ignored. "From there, the program skyrocketed and became a very material priority for the FBI as criminal programs," Assistant FBI Director Mark Mershon said.

FBI officials credit that effort and the intelligence-gathering skills learned in mob investigations for giving today's agents a foundation for future investigations, including of terrorists. "You have to understand who are the players, who are the leaders, how are they financed, how do they recruit, how do they handle their memberships," FBI Director Robert Mueller recently said as the bureau approached the 100-year mark.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mistrial in Alphonse 'Allie Boy' Persico Crime Boss Murder Trial?

Convicted Colombo crime boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico may get a new murder trial because of allegations a key witness lied when she said the feds let her keep $1.6 million in mob money.

The widow of the murder victim, gangster William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, testified the feds let her keep - tax-free - stacks of cash the slain mob underboss left stashed in their Staten Island mansion.

The testimony from Marguerite (Peggy) Cutolo not only shocked defense lawyers, but caught the current prosecutors off guard, too.

Peggy Cutolo claimed she told a prosecutor in 2001 about the money and an NYPD detective even saw the money in a suitcase in her home. But notes from her debriefing contain no mention of the $1.6 million and, while a former prosecutor in the case said she was allowed to keep the money, the feds have not produced a document backing up the claim.

If prosecutors fail to correct false testimony from their witness, a mistrial could be declared.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do Gun Laws Stop True Gangsters?

The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that an individual has a constitutional right to possess and carry a firearm for self-defense. Mayor Daley was quick to denounce the finding. Others have since weighed in on the issue locally. To make sense of what it means for Chicago, John Maki of the Windy Citizen spoke with a uniquely qualified expert on violent crime in the city, David Carter. Carter grew up in Chicago's housing projects. He was on his way into a life of drugs and violence by the time he reached his teens. He served a five-year sentence for armed robbery before he hit 20. Shortly after his release from prison, Carter killed a man with a knife. He was sent back to prison and served 15 years of a 30-year sentence for homicide.

Carter is now 52 and has been out of prison for almost 15 years. He has a hard time finding stable employment and constantly struggles with homelessness, but he has made himself into a model citizen. When Maki ask Carter what changed him, he becomes philosophical as he discusses his past longings to be a true gangster.

"Gomorra" and "Il Divo" Win at Cannes, Draw Mob Crowds in Italy

This is the year of the mafia—at least at the box office.

Two films on organized crime in Italy, each fact-based melodramas, took top prizes at the Cannes Film Festival in May and are drawing packed audiences here. The Italian movie industry was giddy over the double win.

"Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System," the film adaptation of a diary-like book by journalist Roberto Saviano that focuses on the Naples-based mob known as Camorra, took home Cannes' grand prize. "Il Divo," a film directed by Paolo Sorrentino, won the jury honor for its original portrayal and analysis of former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.

Sorrentino, a 38-year-old native of Naples, said he spent years contemplating how to explore Andreotti, a towering figure in Italian politics whose career was shadowed by suspicions of connections to the Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra. "It's such a provocative subject," he said during an interview in the Rome office of his film distributor.

The longtime prime minister faced criminal charges over the killing of a journalist who wrote that Andreotti had mafia ties and was implicated in the notorious kidnap-murder of politician Aldo Moro. Andreotti denied all charges. Over time, he was acquitted then convicted on appeal. Then that conviction was annulled. He remains a senator for life.

Andreotti's story has tantalized the Italian public—and perhaps any society ready to examine how a power class maintains itself, Sorrentino said. The film also opened the same month as the 30th anniversary of Moro's death, a time when dozens of new books are looking back on the scandalous killing.

"It's not something of the past," Sorrentino said of "Il Divo." "It's of today and tomorrow. Within power, criminal organizations have a place. ... The Italian state fights it, but on different tracks."

Both "Il Divo" and "Gomorra," directed by Matteo Garrone, have triggered discussions about the relentless criminality of Italian society.

"Italians are tired of not knowing," Sorrentino said of the films' popularity. "They want to know the mechanisms of power in Italy. In America, scandals and secrets at the top powers? In time, the truth comes out.

"In Italy, the truth never comes out."

Thanks to Christine Spolar

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Cadillac Frank" Salemme Gets Five Years in Prison

Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was sentenced today in federal court to five years in prison on charges of lying and obstructing justice. With credit for time served, the sentence handed down by US District Judge Richard G. Stearns means that Salemme will be free by Christmas. Salemme, 74, pleaded guilty in April to a two-count indictment in US District Court in Boston.

Salemme has admitted that after he began cooperating with the government in 1999 -- in an investigation into the FBI's corrupt handling of long-time informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi -- he lied about the 1993 disappearance of South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

Prosecutors alleged that Salemme watched his son, Frank, strangle DiSarro at a Sharon home, then helped his son dispose of the body. The younger Salemme has since died of lymphoma. But in his plea agreement, Salemme denied any responsibility for the "disappearance and presumed murder" of DiSarro.

Asked by the judge at today's hearing if he had anything to say, Salemme said he wanted to "categorically deny" any involvement in DiSarro's murder. Salemme said he believed he had cooperated fully with law enforcement. "I've done what I thought was right all along," he said.

On his way out of the courtroom, a handcuffed Salemme in a black suit with a crisp shirt looked at his brother, Jack, and said, "Give my love to the kids."

Outside the courtroom, Jack said, "He's just going to fade off into the sunset and he doesn't want to come around here."

"As far as Frank is concerned, he stuck by his end of the bargain and it's over now," said Jack, "I don't think he's ever coming back to the Boston area."

Salemme became the head of the New England mob in the early 1990s. He ruled during a bloody power struggle until his indictment on federal racketeering charges in January 1995, along with Bulger and Flemmi.

He pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion and admitted participating in eight gangland killings in the 1960s. A judge reduced his sentence in 2003 because his cooperation had helped convict former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. of racketeering. Salemme testified that Connolly had warned him, Bulger, and Flemmi to flee just before they were indicted in 1995. Bulger remains a fugitive.

Salemme was released into the federal witness protection program in 2003. He was indicted on the most recent charges a year later.

Thanks to Shelly Murphy

Monday, July 14, 2008

Advice on Organized Street Gangs

If anyone knows gangs, it’s Linda Schmidt, an FBI Community Outreach Specialist in Ohio. She has spent the last two decades immersed in gang issues—first, leading a gang prevention program for a non-profit agency for nine years, then spearheading gang awareness initiatives as a community outreach specialist in our Cleveland and Cincinnati offices for the next 11 years. During that time Linda has ridden in patrol cars with police officers through gang-infested neighborhoods; worked with gang members in courts, schools, and prisons; and provided all kinds of training for law enforcement officers, educators, and community groups. Sadly for us, Linda is retiring at the end of this month. Before she goes, we asked her to share some of the knowledge she has gained over the years on gangs.

Q: How did you learn so much about gangs?
A: Many ways, but mostly by going into the schools and meeting with the teachers and kids. I listened to what the gang members, teachers, and other young people had to say and then watched closely to determine what was true. I learned how to talk to these kids, to read their graffiti, and to understand their mentality. You really have to make an effort to get inside their world.

Q: What signs can help warn parents that their kids are involved in gangs?
A: Watch for changes in your child’s personality, grades, clothing, and friends. Has your son or daughter been tattooed? Or injured—because boys are often beaten and girls raped as part of their initiation into a gang. You also have the right to go into your child’s room and check for contraband. Discuss this with them. It’s always good to let them know you’re doing your job as a parent. If you suspect that your child has joined or is thinking of joining a gang, talk to them. Stay calm and respond without shock and fear no matter what they say. This will let them know that they can keep talking to you.

Q: Any words of advice on how to steer young people away from gangs?
A: Yes, two things. First, one of the attractions of a gang is its strict discipline. With that discipline comes structure and limits and a sense of security and belonging. That’s what we need to offer to our young people as well—just in a positive way. We can’t be afraid, as parents and teachers, to provide structure and discipline to our children and students. I think the government can help by delivering funded programs that our young people can turn to—especially when there are problems at home—to feel safe and to belong. These programs should be 24/7, just like the gangs are. Second, on a more general level, all of us—parents, educators, community leaders, elected officials, law enforcement—need constant education about gangs and gang trends. Gangs are forever changing—we need to keep up.

Q: Any memorable experiences during your career?
A: There are many, but a recent one stands out. I got a phone call from a former gang member I had met in one of my programs who wanted to let me know how she was doing. Turns out, she became a mom and a paralegal and is going back to school to get her degree in criminal justice. To hear that really makes it all worthwhile.

Sentencing Handed Down in Chicago Mob Video Gambling Ring

A bit player snared in a government crackdown on the Chicago mob was sentenced last week to six months in federal prison for converting video games into gambling devices.

Dennis Johnson, 38, of Plainfield was also given three years' probation following his release for his part in the video gambling racket run out of suburban Cicero by suspected mobster Michael "Mickey" Marcello.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said that although Johnson was not the mob leader that some of his co-defendants were, he was instrumental in a multimillion-dollar scheme.

Zagel sentenced Johnson to the minimum under the federal guideline range, saying he deserved credit for pulling himself together and changing his lifestyle since pleading guilty in June 2007.

Prosecutors did not press for a stiff sentence. "He was a small cog in the large wheel of the Outfit," said Markus Funk, one of three prosecutors who secured convictions against suspected top-echelon Chicago mobsters at the trial.

The case is one of the biggest targeting organized crime in Chicago. Defendants are accused of operating the Chicago Outfit - another name for the city's organized crime family - as a racketeering enterprise.

Johnson and his brother, Thomas Johnson of Willow Springs, both worked for Marcello's Cicero-based M&M Entertainment.

The two acknowledged they altered video games so they could be used as gambling devices, placed them in taverns and clubs, and collected the proceeds. Bogus records hid the profits, they said.

Thomas Johnson and Marcello have also pleaded guilty. Thomas Johnson is awaiting sentencing. Marcello got eight years after admitting he tried to buy the silence of jailed mobster Nicholas Calabrese - the government's star witness - by paying his wife $4,000 a month in hush money.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sex and The Sopranos

HBO, giddy over the success of its "Sex and the City: The Movie," may be going back for another dose of Carrie and company. But, wait, that's not all! There are also rumors "The Sopranos" might be getting "made" for the big screen. Bada bing, indeed!

We'd love to tell you HBO is planning a cross-over flick where characters from the two iconic shows meet up ("Samantha, meet Paulie Walnuts..."), but the alleged plans actually involve two separate movies. And, please note, we said "alleged." These are just rumors, albeit juicy ones that have launched a slew of blog postings and articles in the Buzz.

Access Hollywood reports that HBO execs have expressed public interest in doing another “Sex and The City” movie as well as a “Sopranos” flick. Meanwhile, Huffington Post notes that the fate of a Sopranos film would ultimately rest with the show's creator, David Chase. And, according to this video from Fox News, Mr. Chase ain't that interested. On a brighter note, the New York Post writes that there is currently "a lot of energy" about another "Sex" movie. A return to glittery Manhattan appears far more likely than another ticket to seedy Jersey.

For what it's worth, searches on both shows are still high, despite their being off the air. And, remember its called "show business" for a reason. If producers throw enough money on the table, we wouldn't be surprised if Tony came out of retirement for one more hit.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

British Union Votes to Merge with New York Mob Family

A NEW chapter has been written in the 86-year history of the Transport and General Workers Union after it agreed a merger with the New York Mafia.

Members of the T&G voted unanimously to join forces with the largest of the so-called 'Five Families' after 800,000 horses' heads were found at the bottom of working class beds across the UK.

The new super-union will have more than three million members and be controlled from the back of a delicatessen in Queens.

The merged union's new general secretary, Peter 'Fair Day's Pay' Clemenza, said: "I would like to pay tribute to my great friends from across the water who have come to a most sensible decision. "But remember what we agreed: play it cool and you don't wind up in the back of no refrigerated truck with a hook in a place you don't want it. Capice?"

Clemenza said British trade unionists would benefit from a stronger bargaining position as well as a share of the proceeds from gambling, prostitution and 'those big, fat trucks coming out of La Guardia, just ripe for the picking'.

He added: "We are keen to sit down with your chancellor of the exchequer and tell him how things are gonna be from now on."

In the UK the merged union will be known as Workers Uniting, while in the US it will continue to be known as 'the thing' or by its more formal name 'this thing of ours'.

Thanks to The Daily Mash

"Mafia Cop" Gets Prison for Filing False Tax Return

A former New York police detective accused of moonlighting as a hit man for the mob has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for filing a false income tax return.

A U.S. District Court in Nevada also ordered Louis Eppolito to pay $102,000 in restitution.

Eppolito and another former New York detective were accused of participating in at least eight mob-related killings while working for the Luchese crime family.

A New York jury found them guilty of a racketeering conspiracy responsible for multiple murders and other crimes. A federal judge later ruled the statute of limitations had expired for the charges.

The decision is under appeal.

Eppolito has been in federal custody since he was arrested in Las Vegas in 2005.

Prosecutors say he received credit for time served in Tuesday's sentencing, but will be transferred to New York authorities under a detention order in the racketeering case.

Was Over $2 Billion in City Contracts Awarded to Alleged Mob Connected Construction Company

An affidavit filed in federal court in Brooklyn suggests that officials with the Schiavone Construction Company, a contracting giant working on some of the largest public works projects in New York City, were involved in variety of schemes involving organized crime in recent years.

The affidavit, filed in 2005 as part of an organized crime investigation that has led to scores of arrests, says that Schiavone executives plotted to evade a requirement that they seek to hire businesses owned by women on a city project by using a front that was actually meant to funnel money to a mob-connected trucking executive.

In the affidavit, a federal agent, citing secretly recorded tapes of Schiavone officials and statements by the trucking executive, details the steps Schiavone officials said they would take to help carry out the scheme.

They included an offer by senior Schiavone executives to hire a secretary and install a telephone line at the front company’s offices just for Schiavone projects. Another Schiavone employee was recorded saying that he would provide signs bearing the front company’s name to mask the ownership of the mob-connected trucks, and heard coaching the trucking executive on how to file job paperwork. Another employee was recorded telling the trucking executive that a woman should answer the phone at the front company’s job-site trailer, and directing how she should greet callers.

Schiavone, which was formed in the 1950s and grew into one of the largest heavy-construction companies in the New York area, has been awarded more than $2 billion in public works projects in recent years, including New York City’s massive Croton water filtration plant in the Bronx, said to be the subject of the fraud scheme. Work on the construction of the Second Avenue subway is another of its projects.

Until the company was sold to a Spanish conglomerate late last year, 50 percent of it was owned by Raymond J. Donovan, the labor secretary in the Reagan administration. He was tried and acquitted in 1987 on state fraud charges that accused him of stealing $7.4 million from a subway contract through a scheme involving a Genovese crime family associate and a minority-owned subcontractor.

The 2005 affidavit quotes Nicholas Calvo, a carting company executive identified by prosecutors as a Genovese crime family associate, telling a union official that Schiavone Construction had ties to the Genovese family.

Mr. Calvo told the union official that he had obtained work for another trucking company at the New York City Water Tunnel No. 3, another massive project where Schiavone holds a city contract, through his influence over Schiavone, according to the affidavit. Mr. Calvo, who was arrested earlier this year in the broader organized crime investigation, pleaded guilty this month to extortion conspiracy charges in United States District Court in Brooklyn.

No charges have been brought against Schiavone Construction or the officials implicated in the scheme detailed in the affidavit, although its head of tunneling operations, Anthony Delvescovo, and a lower-level worker, Michael King, were among 62 people indicted in the broader investigation.

The affidavit, which was originally filed under seal, was disclosed last week by Dominic F. Amorosa, a lawyer for one of the defendants in the broader case, who attached it to another document he filed seeking to have wiretap evidence against his client suppressed.

Schiavone’s general counsel, Mary Libassi, said in a written statement on Monday that some of the affidavit’s allegations against Schiavone were untrue, and that the company was cooperating with the investigation, which is being overseen by the United States attorney in Brooklyn.

“Schiavone has operated and continues to operate within the law,” she said. “In its projects, Schiavone has used appropriately certified minority, women’s and disadvantaged business enterprises.”

Of the 62 people charged in the broader case, just Mr. Delvescovo and Mr. King were indicted on charges related to Schiavone. Fifty-three of the defendants have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to, and nine — including the two men — are expected to go to trial in the coming months.

Mr. Devescovo’s lawyer, Avraham C. Moskowitz, said his client was not recorded once on the hundreds of hours of tapes made by the trucking executive. “And that, in and of itself, should cast doubt on the government’s case,” he said. “There is no evidence that my client got a penny from anybody.”

Mr. King’s lawyer, Marc A. Agnifilo, defended his client and played down his role in the case, saying he operated a jackhammer and had “almost no decision-making authority whatsoever.”

It is unclear from the affidavit whether the scheme was ever carried out. But city records show that T & M Maintenance, the company listed in the affidavit as the front in the supposed scheme, was a subcontractor to Schiavone on the Croton water filtration plant project, doing $1.2 million in work.

The company is listed in city records as a certified Women’s Business Enterprise and a Minority Business Enterprise.

The affidavit said that the mob-connected trucking executive who was part of the scheme, Joseph Vollaro, had met with Schiavone executives about the plan while he was cooperating in the investigation with federal and local authorities.

“Certain of the executives have instructed the CI that the CI is to perform the work at the Croton Project under the guises of a company portraying itself as a legitimate women’s business enterprise,” the affidavit said, referring to Mr. Vollaro by the abbreviation for his role as a confidential informant. “In fact, the executives understand that the CI’s company will be doing the work.”

Under a state program, Schiavone was required to make a “good-faith effort” to subcontract at least 17 percent of the work to minority companies and 5 percent to companies owned by women.

The affidavit said that Mr. Vollaro had agreed with the president of T & M, Marina Poetsma, to pay her a fee of 7 percent of the contract payments to use her company’s name. Mr. Vollaro’s company was to keep the remaining 93 percent, according to the affidavit, which did not include the total dollar amount of the payments.

A man who answered the phone at T & M’s offices on Staten Island said that the company and Ms. Poetsma had done nothing wrong. “Whatever she did, it was all legal,” said the man, who would not give his name. “You wouldn’t be awarded a contract otherwise. Don’t believe everything you read,” he added, referring to the affidavit. “The City of New York is not stupid.”

The affidavit was sworn to by Jonathan Mellone, a special agent with the federal Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, which is investigating the case along with the F.B.I., the state Organized Crime Task Force, the city Department of Investigation and federal prosecutors. It also described several other schemes involving Schiavone.

Among them were instances of bribes and kickbacks, and a scheme in which Mr. Vollaro was to pay $40 a truck load — including all the loads from the Schiavone jobs — for unlimited access to a landfill project in New Jersey known as Endcap.

Mr. Vollaro’s criminal record dates to a 1989 drug conviction in New Jersey. He also served a federal prison sentence for loansharking. He began cooperating with investigators in early 2005 when they caught him with a kilogram of cocaine.

The Croton project, at the center of the alleged scheme involving Schiavone and T & M, is a massive, controversial undertaking by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which has been plagued by delays and by costs that have soared to nearly $3 billion from $660 million.

One of the biggest water filtration plants in the world, it is being built in a 10-story hole that Schiavone helped excavate out of bedrock in the Bronx. Once entombed in the man-made cavern below Van Cortlandt Park, it will be able to filter 300 million gallons of water a day.

Thanks to William K. Rashbaum

11 Things to Know When Arrested

I had reader suggest a link called 11 Things to Know When Arrested. Now, we have several readers here who are members of the legal community on the the defense side, as well as on the prosecution side. We also have several members of the law enforcement community who are readers from the local, state and federal levels. I thought we might get some comments on the advice in the above post. There already appears to be some spirited discussion reading the comments concerning #10, which states Do Not Refuse an Alcohol Test.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Mitchell A. Mars Foundation to Honor a Mob-Busting True Public Servant

Powerful politicians often refer to themselves as "public servants," even as they warn young people against cynicism.

They stand proudly and brag loudly of their life's passion for the public good, even while filling the pockets of friends and family with public money.

A few even have a chorus of silky voices to sing their praises so we don't notice how closely they're attached to the belly of the beast. But there are true public servants, still. They don't get the benefit of the silky chorus, because silk costs money, and if public servants are doing their job properly, they're not using your government's purse to make somebody's somebody rich.

I'm thinking of a true public servant, the late Assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars. He led the prosecution of the historic Family Secrets trial last year as he was dying of cancer. Young Americans seeking a role model for public service might consider using Mars as a compass so they don't get lost.

Though ill, Mars prosecuted the bosses of Chicago's organized crime—the Chicago Outfit underworld that reaches through politics into our lives on a daily basis.

"Few people tooted their own horn less," U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said at a memorial service for Mars in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse last week.

The event was held in the large ceremonial courtroom on the 25th floor, the same courtroom in which Mars faced down and convicted the Outfit bosses: the brutal Frank Calabrese Sr., Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and Jimmy "Shamrock" Marcello; the quiet enforcer Paulie "the Indian" Schiro; and corrupt Chicago cop Anthony "Twan" Passafiume Doyle.

It was Doyle, the police messenger boy for the Outfit's Chinatown crew, who perhaps gave Mars his greatest praise on a government tape, a recording taken when members of the Outfit were panicking about the growing case against them. "I said, I'll bet you it's that [expletive] Mitch Mars, that's what I think," Doyle said.

It wasn't the first or the last time the Outfit used a sleeper cop—or even a chief of detectives—to carry messages. "That was the Outfit's view of Mitch Mars, and there is no finer compliment," said First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro.

As the muscled-up Twan—who according to testimony is the servant of reputed Outfit street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso—made that remark just a few years ago, consider what was happening.

The federal investigation had sprung an internal leak that would lead to charges against a deputy federal marshal and would almost compromise the case. Chicago machine politicians were shrieking that the FBI should spend less time on corruption and more on chasing two-bit gun cases. A few critics ridiculed the idea that there even was an Outfit. But Mitch Mars and his team didn't give in.

"He was a public servant of the highest order," said Mars' closest friend, Thomas Moriarty, a special investigator in the U.S. attorney's office. Mars and Moriarty were born on the South Side and were raised Sox fans.

When he said the phrase "public servant," Moriarty felt the need to qualify the statement, acknowledging that roiling political corruption has smeared the phrase.

"That Mitch Mars," Moriarty said. "He was a patriot's patriot. . . . Chicago, a world-class city, had a malignant tumor: organized crime. Nothing bothered Mitch Mars more. . . . It became Mitch's quest to destroy this tumor, and he did."

FBI Special Agent Mike Maseth, who worked the Family Secrets case, noted that Mars was a Chick Evans scholar at Marquette, and that his love of golf helped provide the full scholarship that shaped Mars' life.

"If you watched the U.S. Open tournament, you would have noticed that there was something not right about Tiger [Woods]. That was what Mitch did last summer in this very courtroom.

"All of us knew there was something not quite right about Mitch, but he came here every day and worked on that case. On Aug. 30, he delivered one of the best closing arguments this courtroom, this building had ever seen," Maseth said.

I was privileged to be one of the lucky few to see Mars deliver that closing in the courtroom. A quote from the closing is now on a plaque in a third-floor conference room honoring Mars.

"Criminal cases are about accountability and justice, not only for the defendants, but also justice for our system, justice for our society, and justice for the victims," Mars told the jury. "Our system works. It is the greatest system in the world. But it only works when those who should be held accountable are held accountable."

The Mitchell A. Mars Foundation—created by his law-enforcement colleagues to establish an Evans scholarship in his name—is scheduled to hold a fundraiser on Sept. 22 at Cog Hill in Lemont.

Those of us who keep saying we need good public servants—not cynical politicians—should also be held accountable.

So save the date. Sept. 22. Cog Hill.

Thanks to John Kass

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