U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald testified today that the carotid artery in Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose’s neck was pulsating with stress when he was told in 2006 that he was suspected of leaking sensitive information to the mob.
Fitzgerald and Robert Grant, director of the FBI’s Chicago office, confronted Ambrose after getting him to come to the FBI’s office on a ruse.
They told Ambrose they were trying to catch a fugitive terrorist and needed his help. But their actual plan was to let him know he was a suspected leaker, show how seriously they took the security breach in the Witness Security Program and then have Ambrose speak to FBI agents.
"I understood this was the first compromise of the witness protection program," Fitzgerald testified in Ambrose’s trial on charges of leaking information from mob informant Nicholas Calabrese’s secret files.
The files were kept in a safe location where Calabrese was being held in 2002 and 2003 to provide information about mob murders. Ambrose guarded Calabrese on those occasions.
Fitzgerald said he and Grant asked Ambrose to meet them at the FBI headquarters near Roosevelt and Damen to get him away from the federal building downtown. They knew the FBI would ask him to surrender his gun and cell phone when he entered the building. They were concerned what his reaction might be to the investigation — since his own father was convicted in federal court in the 1980s in the Marquette 10 police corruption scandal, Fitzgerald said.
Sitting in a large conference room, Fitzgerald recalled Grant telling Ambrose that his fingerprints were on a secret Calabrese witness file.
"I remember he was very stressed," Fitzgerald said. "The carotid artery on his neck was throbbing."
Initially, Ambrose told Fitzgerald and Grant that he did not know what they were talking about.
Later, he said he would never sell out his badge — and did not take any money. But he did tell them he spoke about his witness security details with a family friend, William Guide, who also went to prison in the Marquette 10 scandal with Ambrose’s late father, according to Fitzgerald.
After Calabrese had visited the Chicago area in 2002 while under witness protection, Ambrose called Guide and told him, "I was working with a witness who was in the Outfit at a very interesting time," Fitzgerald testified.
Ambrose recalled that Guide answered, "Is there anything I need to know?" Fitzgerald testified.
Fitzgerald said Ambrose thought Guide wanted to know if Calabrese was giving up any information on reputed mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.
Ambrose recalled telling Guide he did not know, Fitzgerald testified.
Ambrose then told Fitzgerald and Grant that he had spoken to Guide again after Calabrese’s second visit to Chicago in 2003 when he was taken around the Chicago area to point out crime scenes. Among those places was a parking lot near Sox Park where Calabrese said bodies were buried by the mob.
Ambrose allegedly admitted that he told Guide he took Calabrese to Sox Park — even though Ambrose did not handle that part of Calabrese’s security detail, Fitzgerald said.
Afterward, Ambrose said: "I broke all the rules... but I had no criminal intent," Fitzgerald said.
He also said, "I f----- up I shot my mouth off, but not like you think," Fitzgerald testified.
After the confrontation with Fitzgerald and Grant, Ambrose asked to meet with an uncle who works security for the federal courthouse downtown, as well as two top marshals officials.
He was allowed to speak to those three men. Then Fitzgerald left Ambrose at the FBI building and went back to the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago.
Fitzgerald said he sat in the spectators’ section of a courtroom where Gov. George Ryan was being sentenced in his corruption case. As he watched the sentencing, Fitzgerald took down the notes from his interview with Ambrose, he said.
Thanks to Frank Main
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