The Chicago Syndicate: Family Secrets

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Showing posts with label Family Secrets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Secrets. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

John Ambrose, Former U.S. Marshal, Sentenced to Prison

A deputy U.S. marshal who was convicted of leaking secret information about a mob witness was sentenced today to four years in prison — a punishment a judge said is designed to deter others in law enforcement from ever contemplating similar crimes.

The marshal, John Ambrose, sat motionless as U.S. District Court Judge John F. Grady handed down the sentence to a courtroom filled with his family, friends and onetime colleagues.

Ambrose, who was convicted in April, had sought probation. His lawyer said his client lived for his job and his conviction has likely stripped him of any future in law enforcement.

Prosecutors had recommended he spend more than six years in prison.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for Ambrose, a 41-year-old father of four, to spend between 12 and 18 months behind bars, but Grady said that wasn’t nearly enough time. “There is really no mitigating circumstance in this case as far as the evidence is concerned,” Grady said. “What we’re dealing with here is a very serious crime . . . that has virtually no likelihood of detection.”

Ambrose in 2002 and 2003 worked stints in the federal witness protection program guarding mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, whose testimony in 2007 helped convict several mobsters in the landmark Family Secrets trial.

Ambrose was convicted of leaking information about Calabrese to a family friend, William Guide, who had done prison time with Ambrose’s late father after their convictions in the “Marquette 10” police corruption trial in 1983. In a twist, Grady was the judge in that case.

Prosecutors have said that Guide, who was never charged with any crimes regarding the younger Ambrose’s case, had known mob ties.

Authorities linked the leaks to Ambrose based on video surveillance of two mobsters talking at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., and overhearing the words “Marquette 10.”

They also say Ambrose’s is the only security violation in the history of witness protection program.

Ambrose’s lawyer, Frank Lipuma, told Grady that his client did have talks with Guide and even “shot his mouth off,” but that “there was never any intent” to harm the program.

After court, Lipuma said he will ask that Ambrose stay out of prison pending appeal. If Grady rejects that, Ambrose is to report to prison Jan. 26.

“I think he relied a little too heavily on the deterrence factor,” Lipuma said of Grady’s sentence. “Mr. Ambrose is not sorry for what he did because what is claimed that he did has been, from day one, overstated.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk said prosecutor took no joy in sending a law enforcement officer to prison. “It’s obviously a sad day,” Funk said. “However, we want to emphasize from our perspective the judge’s sentence was fair and just.”

Thanks to Chris Fusco and Natasha Korecki

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where Were the Spilotro Brothers Killed?

For 23 years, it's been a mystery just where Chicago mob boss Tony Spilotro and his younger brother, Michael, were killed.

CBS 2's John "Bulldog" Drummond got the very first look at a home in unincorporated Bensenville where neighbors and others believe the Spilotros may have met their violent end.

No, the killing of the infamous Spilotro brothers didn't happen the way it was depicted in the movie "Casino." They were not beaten in an Indiana cornfield and buried alive.

Instead, the Spilotros met their demise in the basement of a home in unincorporated Bensenville, where they had been lured to their deaths with a promise of career advancement.

The brothers had worn out their welcome within the Chicago Outfit.

On June 14, 1986, Tony and Michael Spilotro met mob lieutenant Jimmy "The Little Guy" Marcello at a motel parking lot in Schiller Park.

The brothers got into Marcello's car in what amounted to a death ride. The Spilotros, however, were concerned about treachery. Michael told his wife, "If we aren't back by nine o'clock, something very wrong has happened."

The federal government's key witness, Nick Calabrese, testified in the "Family Secrets" trial that he was waiting as Marcello drove the car into an attached garage.

Ed Muniz, who bought the home in question in 2000, gave Drummond a tour of the house, where neighbors and friends say the Spilotros were slain.

"You could just see the layout of the house was perfect" and secluded for the Spilotro killings, said one acquaintance of organized crime figures, who asked that his identity be concealed.

It's not certain if Muniz's home is the location where the Spilotros were killed. But it's understood the fatal beatings occurred in a basement in the same area.

Marcello led the two brothers down to the basement. By the time they got into the cellar fists were flying; so were the knees. The Spilotros were met by a host of their former colleagues. They were beaten unmercifully. Tony Spilotro asked if he had a chance to say a prayer. The killers said no.

Although Muniz has his doubts about whether his home was the scene of the slayings, friends and family are concerned that something terrible happened in the basement.

"I had a friend who went down there, and he got a really weird aura," the owner said. "To my daughters, it kind of creeps them out a little bit."

Even his next-door neighbor -- now deceased -- was haunted by goings-on at the house.

Was this the house or not? Calabrese, the federal witness, couldn't find it for the feds.

CBS 2 shared its information with the FBI. Agents indicated they'll be looking into it.

Thanks to John Drummond

Friday, October 16, 2009

Guilty Plea to Tax Evasion by Reputed Mobster, Rudy Fratto

Reputed suburban Chicago mobster Rudy Fratto pleaded guilty Tuesday to evading thousands of dollars in federal income taxes.

Fratto, 65, of suburban Darien, pleaded guilty to a single charge of evading $30,052 in taxes on income of $199,595 for 2005. But he admitted in a signed plea agreement that he actually evaded $141,192 in taxes on $835,641 in income over seven years starting in 2001.

The maximum sentence on the charge is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The plea agreement, however, said the sentence could be more like 12 to 18 months under federal sentencing guidelines.

Fratto remained free on $4,500 bond pending sentencing, which U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly set for Jan. 12.

Fratto admitted in his plea agreement that he had arranged to have income funneled into the bank account of a defunct company in an effort to evade the scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service. He received income in 2005 from jobs ranging from handyman to pasta salesman, according to the document.

Fratto's name has come up at least twice in connection with organized crime in recent federal cases.

Prosecutors introduced evidence that he was an associate of the Chicago police department's former chief of detectives, William Hanhardt, who is now serving a federal prison sentence as the leader of a mob-related jewel theft ring.

Fratto's name also came up in connection with the landmark 2007 Operation Family Secrets case -- the biggest Chicago mob trial in decades. He was listed on papers prepared by the FBI as a serious threat to the safety of the government's star witness in the case, admitted mobster and hit man Nicholas Calabrese.

Fratto's name also appears on a chart published by the Chicago Crime Commission in 1997, showing the structure of the so-called Chicago Outfit.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) Extended Against Frank Calabrese

"When Enough is Enough"

I have been informed that the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois has requested that the Attorney General of the United States extend the SAMS (special administrative measures) to Frank Calabrese for an additional year. Frank has been kept in almost complete isolation from his family and friends since November of 2008. He is allowed very limited contact with the outside world. He cannot talk to any prisoners or staff. The SAMS program is supposed to be reserved for terrorists both Foreign and Domestic. Matt Hale the white supremacist has been under SAMS along with Mid-Eastern Terrorists. This is sad news for Frank and his family. Otherwise it is my understanding that he is a model prisoner.

Unfortunately we do not have access to the request to determine why Frank should be subject to SAMS but many speculate it is the way he moved his lips during closing argument. Two anonymous jurors who apparently are expert lip readers claimed that they saw Frank move his lips in such a manner that they flapped in the wind "you are a fucking dead man". This was reported 2 weeks after the trial ended. There may be other reasons why Frank is subject to SAMS but its not because Frank Jr wants to visit his father. Frank Jr. the "gutless wonder" inflicted pain on a lot of families for his own agenda mostly to become famous since he was a nobody in a world full of somebodies. Now he can go down in the history books as the most famous traitor in Chicago without a red dress! Frank no doubt will want to challenge the SAMS but its probably a losing battle. Stay tuned for more as this story develops.

Thanks to Joseph "The Shark" Lopez

Sunday, September 20, 2009

John DiFronzo, Reputed Chicago Mob Boss, Connected to Two Constuction Companies That Receive Substantial Government Payments

It’s called Omerta – the code of silence. It’s an old world Mob term that still applies here in modern-day Chicago. And when we started asking about two companies tied to the Mob, we saw it in action.

“Will you get the hell out of here?” one woman yelled when we asked. “Jesus Christ!”

“We just want to know who runs the business,” FOX Chicago investigator Dane Placko replied.

“None of your damned business!”

“D & P Construction” and “JKS Ventures” in Melrose Park are family-run businesses. The family is headed by John DiFronzo, the 81-year-old reputed boss of bosses of the Chicago Outfit.

Former FBI agent Jim Wagner spent his career busting the mob. Now, the head of the Chicago Crime Commission says the businesses are being run by convicted felons. When Dane Placko showed Wagner our video of the business owner, Wagner said he looked like the John DiFronzo he remembered: “He’s actually remained in very good shape for a man his age.”

Back in the day, John DiFronzo earned his nickname “No Nose” when a shard of glass clipped his nose during a gun battle with police. In the historic “Family Secrets” mob trial, a government turncoat testified that DiFronzo took part in the murders of mobsters Michael and Anthony Spilotro, who were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield. He was named in open court, but DiFronzo has never been charged with the crime.

FOX Chicago investigator Dane Placko spent several days over the summer watching John DiFronzo going in and out of D & P Construction – sometimes spending hours inside. When we finally talked to him, he appeared to be right at home.

"What do you do for D & P Construction and JKS?" Placko asked.

"Me? Nothing. Nothing," DiFronzo replied.

"Well we see you here quite often,” Placko continued.

"It's just my brother. It's my brother."

"Peter?" Placko asked.

"Yes, that's my family,” said DiFronzo.

"Who owns D & P?"

"His wife I think."

Josephine DiFronzo signs her name as the owner of the business. When Placko asked whether Mrs. DiFranzo was in, people at the business did not seem happy.

"Go away. Don't worry about who's here,” said one woman.

"They're not here. Go away," said a man.

Ultimately, FOX Chicago News never saw Josephine Spilotro at the company’s headquarters on the Northwest side. She stayed at their multi-million dollar home in Barrington, while her husband Peter went to work.

Peter DiFronzo also is reputedly a made member of the Chicago Outfit. And we saw Joseph DiFronzo, the youngest brother, who just got out of federal prison after he was caught running a massive indoor marijuana farm. When he arrived at D & P headquarters driving his brother’s car, we approached him to ask some questions.

That’s when a woman on the property told DiFronzo to leave the property rather than talk to us. “Go, go, go,” she yelled at him through the closed windows of DiFronzo’s Chrysler 300.

No one wants to talk about it, but the DiFronzo family clearly has a keen sense of business. Trucks hauling gravel, Dumpsters and fancy Cadillacs pass through the gates all day long. And millions of your tax dollars help keep it going.

"A basic rule of government and politics in the United States of America is you do business with reputable companies,” says Andy Shaw of Chicago’s Better Government Association. “You don't do business with gangsters, you don't do business with mobsters. You don't do business with people with a long record of felony convictions. You don't do that.”

Well, it turns out they do that in Bellwood, Stone Park, Norridge, Harwood Heights, Schiller Park and River Grove.

Suburbs and government agencies which have made payments to D&P Construction and JKSS Ventures since 2001 from the Freedom Of Information Act:

Bellwood: $1,013,295
Stone Park: $61,052
Schiller Park: $79,670
Franklin Park: $1,586,722
Elmwood Park: $787,462
Leyden Township: $59,218
River Grove: $384,416
Cook Co. Forest Preserve: $32,212
Melrose Park: $1,088,041
Stone Park: 61,021
Harwood Heights: $300
Norridge: $1,300
Oak Park: $7,497
Elmhurst: $8,640
Northlake: $75,556

Thanks to Dane Placko

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Family Secrets Jury Deliberations Were Systematic, Often Contentious

The anonymous jury that decided the Family Secrets case was exhausted.

After methodically working through stacks of evidence to convict four mob figures and a former Chicago police officer of racketeering conspiracy, jurors had become bogged down during a second round of deliberations.

For the first time in three months, personality conflicts flared and jurors snapped at one another as they tried to decide if the four mobsters could be blamed for 18 gangland slayings stretching back decades.

"There were times when we all looked out the window for a while and no one talked to each other," one juror recalled.

Two years after the landmark Family Secrets mob trial gripped Chicago with its lurid details of mob mayhem, jurors who sat in judgment have finally broken their silence.

Two of the jurors -- a man and a woman -- spoke last week to a Tribune reporter at a Loop restaurant, insisting their identities remain secret out of continued concern for their safety.

Even two years after the summerlong trial in 2007, few of the jurors know the names of one another, they said. Their identities had been publicly concealed to protect them from possible retaliation by the Chicago syndicate and to shield them from the news media.

Instead, jurors addressed one another by nicknames. Some took on names of characters in the trial, while others won monikers that might have been passed on by the mob itself. A tall juror became "Shorty" and another was called "Puzzles" because he often sat solving them during trial breaks.

As they began their deliberations, jurors pored over their notes -- one juror filled 16 pads of paper -- and sorted through carts of prosecution evidence -- documents, photos and even ski masks worn by hit men.They wrote questions on large "post-it" notes and stuck them to the wall. When they ran out of space, jurors took down decorative pictures to make more room for their notes.

The two jurors said the panel began the initial deliberations by deciding whether a criminal enterprise known as the Chicago Outfit existed. Then they considered the alleged role of each of the defendants they had spent months staring at from the jury box.

"I found them all to look mild-mannered and pleasant and grandfatherly," the female juror said of defendants James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese Sr., Paul "the Indian" Schiro, and Anthony "Twan" Doyle, the ex-Chicago cop.

The man said most of the jurors began to figure out the importance of the trial after hearing about the infamous murders of mobster Anthony Spilotro and his brother, Michael, whose bodies were found in an Indiana cornfield in 1986.

The jurors said the first round of deliberations went smoothly. If anyone was uncertain, others would calmly go back over the testimony, according to the two. The evidence was strong, they said, and jurors took four days to convict all five defendants on a host of counts, voting by a show of hands.

The jury was surprised, though, to find out that their work was not over after three months, the two said.

They again placed notes on the wall, building a chart with the 18 murder victims on one side and the four mobsters on trial across the top. They placed check marks by the defendant's name if they felt he could be held responsible for a particular murder.

"There was a lot more talking and a lot more disagreement," the female juror said. "People were passionate about Round 2."

The jurors said the panel delved more deeply into the centerpiece of the prosecution case -- the testimony of mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese. The former hit man admitted committing 14 murders himself and linked the four mobsters -- including his own brother -- to many of the gangland killings.

To some jurors, Calabrese was a tortured man who calmly named names as he recounted murders he was forced to commit with other Chicago Outfit members, but others on the jury wouldn't rely on his word alone to find blame in a killing. "Fundamentally, Nick was himself just like one of those guys in the room," the female juror said. "Some people just weren't able to get past it."

The result, the jurors said, were strained arguments and frazzled tempers.

The male juror was among the leaders who thought Calabrese was believable because other evidence corroborated his testimony. He recalled one instance when Calabrese fought tears on the witness stand as he recounted how an attempt to blow up the car of a businessman targeted by the mob almost resulted in killing the man's wife and child. "That was either the best acting job ever or somebody who's facing some serious demons," the juror said.

The jury wound up finding Lombardo, Marcello and Frank Calabrese Sr. responsible for 10 of the murders, but deadlocked on the other eight slayings. The two jurors said the jury deadlocked on murders that relied only on the word of Nicholas Calabrese.

The jury found Marcello responsible for the Spilotro killings, but it was close, they said. Calabrese testified Marcello drove him to a house where the brothers had been lured by the promise of mob promotions and helped beat them to death in the basement.

Calabrese had alone put Marcello at the murder scene, but the jurors said there was just enough evidence to buttress his account. Relatives of the Spilotros had testified that Marcello called their home the day the brothers were killed and that Michael Spilotro worried enough about the meeting to have left his jewelry at home. But there were discrepancies in the government evidence, the jurors noted. Calabrese had put a mobster at the murder scene who was actually under FBI surveillance at the time, making his presence there impossible. But the jurors said they chalked it up to a memory lapse and moved on, confident they had made the right decision.

The jurors said they weren't surprised to see Marcello, Lombardo and Frank Calabrese Sr. each sentenced to life in prison this year. Both said they supported the controversial 12-year prison sentence that U.S. District Judge James Zagel imposed on Nicholas Calabrese.

The male juror said he thought the judge had done a good job explaining his decision, even though some family members of victims found the sentence unfair. No one would dispute that Calabrese was a killer, he said. "You have to look at what he was able to bring forward on all of this -- he gave people answers," the juror said. "But I'm glad I didn't have to make that call."

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Chicago's Mayor Daley Campaigns with Reputed Mobster - Flashback

Flashback March 28, 1989. Richard M. Daley is leaving his stint at Cook County States Attorney to run for Mayor of Chicago. Chicago Sun-Times reporters Alf Siewers and Leon Pitt report in their article DALEY WARNS BACKERS AGAINST COMPLACENCY on March 28, 1989 (sorry no link):

While mayoral hopeful Timothy C. Evans called out "the movement," front-runner Richard M. Daley raked in the bucks, warning against complacency at what was billed as the last major fund-raiser of Daley's campaign.

"Regardless of what the polls say, regardless of what the editorials say, I need your help for the next seven days. . . . This election cannot be taken for granted," Daley told a crowd jamming the Hyatt Regency's Grand Ballroom.

Campaign staff estimated that more than 2,500 showed up for the $100-or-more-a-head buffet reception.

Across town at the University of Illinois Pavilion, thousands of Evans supporters joined in a rally reminiscent of the days when former Mayor Harold Washington exhorted members of his movement.

While the rally was in progress, Daley was being ushered around Chinatown by Ald. Fred Roti (1st) and a dancing dragon. He dismissed as "a lot of political statements" renewed charges by Evans that Daley is tied to special interests.

Could Richard Daley possibly not know that Alderman Roti was a Chicago Mob figure? U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas warned Daley that the FBI had a major Chicago Mob investigation going on in the late 1980's with Alderman Roti as a key subject, see page 220 of the book When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down. That fact that Richard Daley would be seen campaigning in public with a " high ranking made member" of the Chicago Mob says volumes. Is the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission concerned that people like Richard Daley associate with Chicago Mob members? As far back as 1983, Alderman Roti's name came up in a U.S. Senate hearing on organized crime. Here's a quote from a July 15, 1989 Washington Post column written by Bill Peterson entitled SURVEILLANCE AT LUNCH LEAVES ALDERMAN UNFAZED (sorry no link):

In 1983, William Roemer, a former FBI agent, told the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations that "informants continue to advise through the years {that} D'Arco and Roti were the front men for Marcy and for the mob."


Richard Daley knew all about that hearing.Here's a quote from FBI agent William Roemer in his book, Accardo: The Genuine Godfather, on page 323:

Jeffrey Kent, chief of the Cook County State's Attorney's office( headed then by Richard M. Daley, who became Mayor of Chicago) was the prime witness before the committee in its investigation of mobbed-up unions.

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Alderman Fred Roti : Chicago Democrats working together. Mayor Richard M. Daley is also "friends" with Alderman Roti's nephew Fred Bruno Barbara, who's name came up at the infamous Family Secrets trial.

Thanks to Steve Bartin

Friday, June 26, 2009

Convicted Family Secrets Cop to Petition Police Pension Board to Keep Pension

Chumbolone (pronounced chum-buh-LOAN), my favorite Chicago political word that explains exactly what politicians think of us taxpayers, has finally made it to the big time, with its own listing on urbandictionary.com. And as a bonus, today there's even more chumbolonian news.

The corrupt cop Anthony "Twan" Doyle -- who first uttered the word from a federal witness stand and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for being a messenger boy for bosses of the Chicago Outfit -- will petition the police pension board on Thursday in the hopes of keeping his pension.

"I'm not going to diminish his conviction and say it's insignificant, because it's not," said Twan's lawyer, the criminal defense whiz Ralph Meczyk. "But one event erased the career of a hardworking copper, and as far as his pension goes, it shouldn't be a complete loss.

"It's not going to be easy, I know."

Meczyk is scheduled to appear before the police pension board, one of the groups that mysteriously gave Mayor Richard Daley's nephew $68 million of city pension cash to invest, and the mayor says he knew absolutely nothing about it. The mayor thinks we're chumbolones.

Twan's gambit, that he was a good cop despite the Outfit messenger boy stuff, probably won't work. But given precedent, it's worth a try.

Just last February, convicted serial arsonist and former Chicago Fire Department Lt. Jeffrey "Matches" Boyle sought to recover his $50,000-a-year city pension despite the arson convictions.

Boyle's legal theory? When he set the fires, he was off duty, not on city time. The city fire pension board asked Boyle what his years as a firefighter taught him about being a good arsonist. "The hotter it got, the more it would burn," Boyle said. A clean answer without ambiguity. But he didn't receive his pension.

The reason I called Meczyk was to inform him that "chumbolone" had made it to urbandictionary.com, and to ask Meczyk to get all his friends and clients to go online and vote a jolly "thumbs up" for the word.

"I like chumbolone," Meczyk said. "You popularized it. And it's such a Chicago thing, it's part of Chicagoese now. I haven't met anyone, almost, who doesn't like the word, except for one person."

Who?

"Twan."

Oh.

Twan was known as the big silent guy with the big biceps who hung around with reputed mob street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso in Chinatown.

Twan had been picked up on federal recordings, visiting convicted Outfit boss Frank Calabrese Sr. in prison and talking about murder evidence while joking about using a cattle prod on mafioso cooperating with the FBI. But Twan testified he had no idea what Calabrese had been saying. He said he only kept nodding and agreeing out of good manners.

"I gave him lip service," Twan said from the witness stand, shrugging. "I didn't know what he was talking about. I don't wanna look like a chumbolone, an idiot, stupid."

Search for the word on urbandictionary.com, and you'll see it right next to the condom ad and the photo of a curvy young woman selling T-shirts that say: "Make Awkward Sexual Advances, Not War."

Here's the Web site's definition:

Chumbolone -- idiot, stupid -- Popularized by Chicago newspaper columnist John Kass after first hearing the word spoken in testimony by mob messenger boy Anthony "Twan" Doyle during a 2007 federal trial. While working for the mob, Doyle got himself hired into the Chicago Police Department evidence department in order to remove or destroy DNA and other evidence of mob homicides.

Some readers insist that chumbolone is not a proper word. Others say it refers to a tasty Italian cake. One reader in particular really doesn't want me to use it.

"Twan doesn't like you using the word," Meczyk said. "He really doesn't like it."

Really? Why?

"He never said. He's quite stoic in this regard," Meczyk said. "He's in prison, but he's no chumbolone."

Thanks to John Kass

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ex-Governor of Illinois Accuses Democrats of Ties to The Chicago Outfit

The adjourned session of the General Assembly failed abysmally to come to grips with Illinois’ pervasive state of corruption. Leading the failure were two Chicagoans — Mike Madigan, speaker of the House and John Cullerton, president of the Senate. The Chicago bloc fell in line behind them, demonstrating once again the baleful grip that Chicago’s Democratic machine, now 85 years old, has on this state.

It’s time to state the obvious. The primary cause of endemic corruption in Illinois is the Chicago political machine.

The machine began with “Push Cart” Tony, Anton J. Cermak. He and his successor, Edward J. Kelly, welded the Democratic Party’s 50 ward committeemen and 3,000 precinct captains into a tight, powerful and well-disciplined political machine that on election day regularly delivered the votes needed to elect its candidates — the ultimate goal of the Chicago machine, then and now.

Demanding unswerving loyalty, the machine absorbed many thousands of new arrivals — first, the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles and Germans, and then the blacks from the South. With few changes in its disciplined methodology, it has now endured for more than 80 years as the available patronage jobs have grown to exceed 40,000.

From the beginning, self-preservation and a lack of ethical standards have characterized the machine’s method of operations. And the machine MO has always included its cardinal credo — “look the other way.” If thy brother is lining his pockets, it’s none of thine’s business.

The credo of toleration and its accompanying lack of ethical standards was hardened when the machine encountered Al Capone’s criminal organization. Sometimes close, sometimes at arms’ length, the political organization with its “look the other way” credo has ever since tolerated what has been called variously the criminal organization, crime syndicate, the Mob, the Chicago Outfit.

The blindness to crime existed in the 11th Ward organization, home for all the Daleys. The precinct captains of that ward organization worked the same streets as the Outfit’s soldiers.

Yet, Daley constantly denied that organized crime existed in Chicago. Significantly, Richard M. Daley looked the other way as state’s attorney, Cook County’s chief law enforcement officer from 1980 to 1989. Ignored during those years were the criminal activities of the Outfit disclosed recently by the Family Secrets trial.

The machine’s political power has extended over the years far beyond Chicago. The machine has also controlled the state’s Democratic Party organization and the selection of candidates for both county and state office. In the state legislature, the machine has constantly controlled a large bloc.

With wheeling and dealing and masterful power brokering raised to an art form, the machine bloc has enabled Chicago machine politics to control both leaders and the flow of legislation in both houses. To get anything accomplished, downstate legislators must bow to the Chicago leadership.

In recent years, money has replaced patronage as the critical fuel for the machine’s operations. So-called “pay to play” has become endemic. Governmental rewards go to those making large contributions. In practical effect, it’s legalized bribery.

Often, the money flows through lawyers — a business desiring governmental results pays high fees to particular attorneys who, in turn, make campaign contributions to the official having the power to grant the favors.

Today, Mayor Richard M. Daley denies that he heads a political machine. He should read the felony indictments of more than 130 officials in his administration. They spell out an MO that is basically no different from that of old-time bosses Tony Cermak and Edward Kelly. And basically, it’s the same MO spelled out in the 75-page indictment of impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the 18-count indictment of former secretary of state and Gov. George Ryan, one a Democrat and the other a Republican.

The columnist Mike Royko once wrote that the City of Chicago’s official motto, “Urbs in Horto” (city in a garden), should be changed to, “Ubi est Mea” (what’s in it for me). That has a strange similarity to Blagojevich’s infamous statement about the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama that he tried to auction off to the highest bidder: “I’ve got this thing and it’s ---- golden and I’m not going to give it away for ---- nothing.”

As the trial lawyers say, I rest my case. The record is clear that it is the Chicago political machine that has brought Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, to its present intolerable state of corruption.

Thanks to Dan Walker, Governor of Illinois from 1973-77.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Illnois General Assembly Scholarships Have Mob Association Now

If the Tribune's series on political clout influencing University of Illinois admissions hasn't made you angry enough, try this one:

Kurt Berger is a corrupt former Chicago Buildings Department supervisor now in federal prison for taking bribes. A couple of years ago, he had a problem. It wasn't just the FBI.

In 2007, Berger's son was a student at a state school, as Berger was facing time in the federal pen. The feds shut down his bribe operation, and he needed some extra cash for the tuition. But he didn't have enough. So he gladly accepted the gift of your cash. That's right, yours. And who helped him to your cash?

Why, none other than state Sen. James DeLeo (D-How You Doin?), the eminent philanthropist.

Under a little publicized program called the Illinois General Assembly Scholarships, DeLeo provided a year's free tuition for the son of the bribe-taker at Northern Illinois University.

The program is available to all Illinois legislators. Each lawmaker receives the equivalent of two four-year scholarships (actually tuition waivers) for state schools every year. Legislators may parcel these out in any way they wish.

State records show that in 2008, DeLeo handed out eight one-year scholarships, including the one to the Bergers.

Other recipients were the son of Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief Edward Doherty, whose son attends the University of Illinois at Chicago. Chief Doherty is the brother of Far Northwest Side Ald. Brian Doherty (41st).

Another DeLeo waiver went to the son of James McKay, the chief of death penalty prosecutions at the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Berger doesn't have much of an income in prison. But Chief Doherty makes $120,000 a year, city records show. The county lists McKay's salary at $150,000 a year.

McKay said that he hardly knew DeLeo and that his position had nothing to do with it. He said his son, whom he described as an A student, applied on his own. "I don't have any clout," McKay said. "He's not the son of some politically connected person."

Doherty said his son has received the tuition waiver from DeLeo for the last two years. The chief has known DeLeo for years, and Doherty's wife, Gina, is an aide to state Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago). "My son's achievements got him the scholarship. He excels," Doherty said. "It's open to anybody who lives in the district and it's up to DeLeo. Were we happy? Absolutely."

The political tuition program has been around for decades, dispensing millions of dollars each year. Those who receive the tuition waivers are eager young people who want to go to college. But some are also clout kids.

The Tribune investigative series "Clout Goes to College" -- by reporters Jodi Cohen, Tara Malone, Stacy St. Clair and Robert Becker -- has been detailing a different aspect of political influence in higher education. Politicians, lobbyists and university trustees frequently use clout to win admission to the U. of I. for students who wouldn't otherwise qualify. But what of high school seniors with top grades and exceptional ACT scores who aren't accepted at U. of I. because somebody's somebody who doesn't belong got their spot? DeLeo and his obedient sidekick, state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Jimmy), are big players in the admissions game. Sunday's "Clout Goes to College" installment shows that in the last five years alone, the two have backed at least 50 students who ended up on the admissions clout list.

That list is called "Category I." But the one I'm writing about today -- the money part -- also needs a cool name. How about we call it the "We Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent Scholarship Fund?"

I figure that, for some clout kids, the two lists intersect.

It's nothing new for DeLeo. A few years ago, he helped the daughter of one of the Chicago Outfit's favorite law enforcement officers, corrupt former Cook County Undersheriff James "The Bohemian" Dvorak. With Dvorak in prison, DeLeo waived tuition for Dvorak's daughter at Eastern Illinois University, though she didn't live in Jimmy's district.

Records show that in the past, DeLeo has accepted campaign donations from mob-controlled businesses. In 2001, the Sun-Times asked him if this meant he was connected.

"What does that mean, mob-associated?" he said. "In the year 2001 is there really a mob in Chicago?"

That was years before DeLeo was mentioned in the recent Family Secrets trial of Outfit chiefs, when mob widow Annie Spilotro testified that DeLeo and zoning lawyer James Banks purchased her husband Michael's restaurant, in a building owned by mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo.

On Friday, we called DeLeo. But not at the casino in Aruba. Instead, we called his Springfield office to ask about both of the clout lists. But no word from Jimmy. And Kurt Berger? He'll spend the summer in Duluth, Minn., as inmate No. 19350-424, and is scheduled for release in September.

That's an exciting time, when students are eager to buy new school supplies, the crisp notebooks, pencil sharpeners, snazzy book bags. And school begins anew, the Chicago Way.

Thanks to John Kass

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Chicago Mob Order

Last week's death of an old-line Chicago Outfit boss reveals some changes in the way the crime syndicate does business.

As Chicago organized crime figures die off or go to prison, authorities tell the I-Team they are being replaced by far less flamboyant Outfit bosses, men who conduct mob rackets quietly and collect the proceeds with skilled efficiency.

The new mob order has never been more apparent than at last Wednesday's wake for high-ranking outfit boss Alphonso Tornabene, who died on Sunday at age 86.

It looked just like any other wake for any other man who'd lived a long life. The friends and relatives of Alphonso Tornabene streamed into pay their last respects all day on the northwest side.

A few mourners apparently didn't want to be seen at the wake for a man who recently headed the Chicago Outfit, according to testimony from a top underworld informant.

Mob hitman Nick Calabrese told the FBI that Tornabene administered the sacred oath of the Outfit to new members, a position reserved for only top capos. It's a ceremony that Calabrese described just as Hollywood has depicted over the years with a blood oath and a flaming holy card.

On Wednesday night, at Chicago's Montclair Funeral Home, the ceremony was less fiery. The holy card had Tornabene's name on it.

The attendees included Tracy Klimes, who says Tornabene was a great man who once cared for her family after her own father died, and knew little of his Outfit ties. "People always judge a book by its cover and I know there's things that people say about people but he had a wonderful heart," said Klimes.

The scene on Wednesday was far different than the crowds that turned out at Montclair more than thirty years ago after flashy Outfit boss Sam Giancana was assassinated and where attendance by Giancana's underlings was considered mandatory.

In 1986, mob bosses from other cities and a Hollywood actor showed up for the wake and funeral of Anthony and Michael Spilotro who had also been murdered by their Outfit brethren. But by 1992 at the Montclair wake for godfather Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo, only a few top hoodlums dared to attend such a public event.

The Accardo funeral and Tornabene's wake on Wednesday are evidence that the new mob order calls for discretion in business and in life.

There was one notable mourner on Wednesday night: suburban nursing home owner Nicholas Vangel.

During the Family Secrets mob trial, Mr. Vangel was shown to be a confidante of one time mob boss Jimmy Marcello. Although Vangel wasn't charged, the government showed undercover video of Vangel visiting with Marcello in prison and discussing the FBI investigation.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" Mafia Book Signing

Jeff Coen, the author of Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob, will be at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 2:00 PM to sign copies of his first rate book on the historic Operation Family Secrets Mafia Trial.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weekend Break for U.S. Marshal Trial Jury

Jurors will resume deliberations next week in the trial of a deputy U.S. marshal accused of leaking information about a witness to the mob.

The jury in John Ambrose's trial deliberated nearly seven hours before adjourning Friday afternoon. Deliberations will begin again Monday.

Ambrose, a veteran fugitive hunter, is accused of leaking confidential information about Nicholas Calabrese, whom he had been assigned to guard while the mobster was in Chicago talking to federal prosecutors in the "Family Secrets" mob trial. Ambrose denies he ever broke the law in handling secret information.

Ambrose is the only person in the 39-year history of the government's Witness Security Program to be accused of deliberately violating its security safeguards.

Thanks to AP

US Marshal's Office and FBI's Relationship is Icy at Mob Leak Trial

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose sat in federal court on Thursday to hear lawyers portray him two ways:

An honorable screw-up hoping to impress an Outfit-friendly father figure, or a criminal conduit to reputed Chicago mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Either way the jury decides, the relationship between the U.S. marshal's office and the FBI is at best icy these days, though they won't formally admit it. But you could see the two tribes in the gallery in U.S. District Judge John Grady's courtroom, sitting stiffly as if in church at a wedding, the in-laws glaring, already at war.

The marshals in their street clothes, shoulders hunched, not happy, sitting behind their man Ambrose. The FBI agents and prosecutors impassive, across the aisle, sitting behind their team.

The cause of the deep freeze? Ambrose himself.

Ambrose has been charged with leaking extremely sensitive information to the mob about the most important federal witness in Chicago's history -- turncoat Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese. And with lying about it to federal agents until he later confessed to the FBI about what he'd done. But according to his lawyer Frank Lipuma, all Ambrose really confessed to was screwing up, bragging to a family friend that he was protecting a major Outfit witness.

Ambrose's friend was William Guide, a former crooked cop with Outfit connections, who spent time in prison, convicted with Ambrose's father, Thomas, in the Marquette 10 police drug dealer shakedown scandal.

What Ambrose said about Calabrese ended up in recorded prison conversations beginning in January 2003 between Mickey Marcello and his Outfit boss brother Jimmy.

What also came out during the trial is that Ambrose apparently thought that by leaking a little information, he could win favor from the Outfit and use their street network as a source of information to find fugitives.

At least, that was his story as told to senior FBI agents Anita Stamat and Ted McNamara when they finally caught him in 2006.

The International Olympic Committee might not know this, so don't tell them, but Chicago has a history of law enforcement conduits to the mob. The job has been held by many -- a patrol officer in the evidence section, hit men in the Cook County Sheriff's office, even the chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department.

Since the time of Paul Ricca, the Outfit has had puppets, in politics, on the bench, in business and law enforcement. That's how it survives, while politically unsophisticated street gangs suffer legal troubles. And what was so unique about Ambrose is that he was a federal law enforcement officer guarding a federal witness.

"He screwed up ... shot his mouth off," said Lipuma, a former federal prosecutor himself, in a riveting closing argument, full of passion, trying to poke holes in the case. "John Ambrose admitted he broke policy. He broke procedure. It may have been a violation of policy. ... But he's an honest man."

Prosecutor Markus Funk was once the new guy on the federal organized crime team. But now he's the veteran, with the most significant convictions in Chicago history under his belt: Jimmy Marcello, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and others from the Family Secrets trial.

"This is straightforward theft," Funk told the jury. "The defense is throwing up these vast smoke screens to confuse you. He confessed. Not once, not twice, but three times. He shot his mouth off? There was no criminal intent? He admitted it. That's not a legal defense. That's a crime."

The defense also brought my column up again, the one of Feb. 21, 2003, that broke the story that Nick Calabrese had disappeared from prison and speculated (correctly) that he was in the witness protection program.

Lipuma said the column was the "linchpin" of the defense because after it ran, Calabrese's cooperation was common knowledge. But a month before the column was published, Jimmy and Mickey Marcello were already talking about Calabrese's federal "baby-sitter" funneling information to them.

If Ambrose were, say, a plumber, you might excuse him for screwing up and talking about a federal witness to an Outfit messenger boy.

A plumber might be excused, because a plumber wouldn't be expected to know about witness protection. But Ambrose is no plumber, is he?

He's a deputy U.S. marshal.

For now.

Thanks to John Kass

Deliberations Begin in Mob Leak Trial

As federal jurors began deliberating Thursday in the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, one of many questions they faced was the value of a revealed secret.

In their final pitches of the nine-day trial, attorneys argued over whether Ambrose shared minimal information while bragging to a family friend or spilled sensitive details that might have crippled the Family Secrets mob investigation in its infancy.

Ambrose is charged with leaking details about the secret cooperation of hit man-turned-witness Nicholas Calabrese that ended up in the hands of the Chicago Outfit. Calabrese's crucial testimony in the 2007 Family Secrets trial resulted in murder convictions and life sentences for several Chicago mobsters.

In a series of FBI interviews in 2006, Ambrose admitted telling family friend William Guide about Calabrese's cooperation after twice working on his witness protection security detail in 2002 and 2003.

"Any release of information is critical. It puts people at risk," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Diane MacArthur. "A person doesn't know the world into which that information is being released. There's no way to judge its impact and what harm it may cause."

But Ambrose's attorney, Francis Lipuma, argued Thursday to the jury that his client had no criminal intent in telling Guide about "the big OC guy" he was guarding and had merely "shot his mouth off" to impress a man he looked up to as a father figure. "Police officers are humans like the rest of us," Lipuma said. "They make mistakes."

Criticizing the investigation as full of "major holes," Lipuma attacked the trial's highest-profile witnesses -- U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant -- for inconsistent testimony about Ambrose's initial, unrecorded FBI interview.

Thanks to Robert Mitchum

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Top FBI Agent in Chicago Testifies that U.S. Marshal Admited He "Made a Huge Mistake"

Chicago's top FBI agent testified today that a deputy U.S. marshal accused of leaking secrets to the mob admitted to federal lawmen that he "made a huge mistake."

Robert Grant is the special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office. He testified in the trial of John T. Ambrose, who's on unpaid leave.

Grant says that Ambrose made the admissions in an emotional confrontation.

He says Ambrose initially denied the allegations, then decided he wanted to cooperate and admitted he was friends with people he shouldn't have been.

The 42-year-old Ambrose is charged with leaking information about a key witness in the FBI's Operation Family Secrets investigation - the biggest Chicago mob case in years.

The trial is now going into its second week.

Thanks to WBBM 780

Monday, April 20, 2009

John "Bulldog" Drummond - It Ain't Pretty, But It's Real

Veteran Chicago newsman John Drummond was covering the trial of some mob henchman when they started giving the snap-brimmed, stogie-chewing reporter a hard time.

Drummond didn't miss a beat. "I turned around and said, 'Hey, we're trying to get your point of the story, but you guys aren't talking. I've got a camera guy down in the lobby. Let's settle it right now. We'll be glad to talk to you.'"

The ne'er-do-wells didn't take Drummond up on his offer. But during a broadcast career that spanned more than four decades, the straight-talking WBBM-Channel 2 reporter nicknamed "Bulldog" scored the inside scoop on many of the area's most notorious crimes and the thugs who often left behind their fingerprints.

In his second book, "It Ain't Pretty, but It's Real," Drummond shares more tales of murder and mayhem in a follow-up to "Thirty Years in the Trenches Covering Crooks, Characters and Capers," released in 1998, which sold about 5,000 copies.

"I felt when I finished the first one I still had a lot good stories to tell," said Drummond, 79, in his trademark baritone voice, before a book signing at the Villa Park library. "Our book has no fabricated quotations. It's all real."

It includes nearly two dozen colorful vignettes, beginning with the haunting 1972 kidnapping of a Hillside police officer who was killed in Villa Park. His murder led to technological advances in suburban police radio equipment.

Drummond shares his encounters with notorious horseman Silas Jayne, who among his long list of crimes was convicted of conspiracy in his brother's October 1970 fatal shooting in Inverness. Jayne long was rumored to be involved in the still-unsolved 1977 disappearance of candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach.

"He was a fascinating individual whether you liked him or not," Drummond said. "If you did him wrong, he believed in physical retribution, not litigation; he felt something had to be done and done ruthlessly."

Drummond also tells of other unsolved mysteries he covered, such as when 14-year-old Barbara Glueckert of Mount Prospect vanished in 1976 after attending a rock concert, never to be seen again. In a less notorious case, but just as mysterious, Arlington Heights couple Edward Andrews and his wife, Stephania, disappeared after leaving a cocktail party at the former Sheraton Chicago hotel in 1970. Their bodies still haven't been found.

Drummond, a kid from west-central Wisconsin infatuated with Chicago's big city tales and the lure of television, covered crime, politics and sports and had one-on-one's with presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

He was there when the city was rocked by the riots following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and the violence that erupted during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, as well as the federal 1985 Greylord indictment linking Chicago judges to corruption. But the former U.S. Air Force veteran and radio broadcaster is best known for his work in front of the camera sniffing out leads on the Chicago Outfit. He even came out of semiretirement for the recent Family Secrets trial.

Drummond said the terrorists and mentally ill subjects he's covered posed far more of a threat than the mobsters he's known.

"The Outfit was very well disciplined in its heyday," he said. "It would have been counterproductive to kill or assault a news reporter because it would have put too much heat on the mob. We sort of had diplomatic immunity."

Drummond not only covered colorful characters with true grit, in his checkered sport coats and on-air lexicons, such as "coppers" for police or boxing terms like "palooka," but made for an interesting story himself. He's even made cameos in movies such as, "The Fugitive," "Chain Reaction," and "Above the Law," in which he played himself.

Inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997, his artfully weathered face and delivery never changed during a period of blow-dried, cookie-cutter television personalities. He outlasted nearly two dozen news directors during his Channel 2 tenure, which began in 1969.

One of his favorite spots was the "Chicago Chronicles" series that ran three times a week on the 6 p.m. news and featured stories on everyone from a prize fighter to cabbie to bartender to mobster to stripper. His sign off was, "You won't read about them in the Chicago guidebooks or travel brochures."

Drummond left the daily grind in 1995, but "Bulldog" said he still has plenty of good stories to tell. He delayed promotion for his second book after his beloved wife, Carol, with whom he raised three children during their 48-year marriage, died in October after a 10-year cancer battle.

"I survived," he said when reflecting back on his storied career. "I think we tried to be fair, and I'm very serious about that. I always tried to get both sides."

Thanks to Christy Gutowski

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

John "No Nose" DiFronzo and Alphonse 'Pizza Al" Tornabene Named as Original Operation Family Secrets Targets

Reigning Chicago mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo was an original target of the Family Secrets investigation, according to these 2002 Justice Department records released on Tuesday, along with Alphonse 'Pizza Al" Tornabene, the Outfit's elder statesman.

"The objective in the case is to indict and convict...high ranking members of Chicago organized crime...including DiFronzo...and Tornabene," stated the government. But despite a case summary naming them as targets, neither DiFronzo nor Tornabene were among the fourteen Outfit members charged in 2005 with murders and mayhem.

As of 2007, Tornabene was still meeting with suspected Outfit figures and as of last month, the I-Team found DiFronzo still controlling Outfit rackets and meeting with mob underlings at a suburban restaurant.

The U.S. Marshal service files were made public on Tuesday night in the case of Deputy John Ambrose, now on trial for leaking information to the mob about Nick Calabrese, the highest ranking Chicago mobster ever to become a government witness.

According to the witness protection records, Calabrese said he and John DiFronzo planned and committed the most notorious mob hit in last 25 years: the gangland murders of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro, found buried in an Indiana cornfield.

Nick Calabrese's testimony was to be so spectacular, that 24 men were listed by the feds as threats, all of whom would want to kill him.

Nick Calabrese lived to testify and federal prosecutors won the Family Secrets case. But as the records show, there are still some secrets left.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chicago Mob History 101 from the FBI

An FBI agent gave jurors a lesson in the history of the Chicago mob during the trial of a former deputy U.S. Marshal accused of blabbing secrets to alleged mobsters.

Special agent Michael Maseth was the first witness in the trial of John Ambrose, 42.

Ambrose is accused of leaking information about Nicholas Calabrese, the government's star witness at the Family Secrets trial that targeted top members of the Chicago mob. He's denied the allegations.

Maseth's testimony Tuesday underscored how Calabrese put his life at risk by cooperating with the government and how significant his information was.

Maseth called Calabrese the most important organized crime figure to ever testify in the district and "perhaps the entire United States."

Thanks to CBS2Chicago

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Deputy U.S. Marshal Trial to Begin on Monday

Once known as a tireless bloodhound who tracked down fugitive gang leaders, deputy U.S. marshal John T. Ambrose now faces years behind bars if he is convicted of betraying his oath and leaking secrets to the mob.

Ambrose, 40, is due to go on trial Monday for tipping off organized crime figures seven years ago that a so-called made member of the Chicago mob had switched sides and was now providing detailed information to federal prosecutors. Ambrose denies he ever broke the law in handling secret information.

"The feds are guaranteed to see this as the worst sort of treacheryThe Chicago Outfit," says mob expert John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit." ''I don't think I'm overblowing it. They're going to see him the way the military sees a Benedict Arnold."

U.S. District Judge John F. Grady has ordered extraordinary security including screens in the courtroom to conceal the faces of key witnesses from spectators.

Inspectors in the government's supersecret Witness Security Program operated by the U.S. Marshal's Service will testify behind the screens and also use pseudonyms.

The idea is to prevent anyone from identifying the inspectors, whose job it is to guard heavily protected witnesses from mob assassins, terrorists or others who might want to silence them.

Ambrose defense attorney Francis C. Lipuma objected to the screens and testimony under false names. "This is going to sensationalize the trial," Lipuma told a recent hearing.

Ambrose is accused of leaking information to the mob about an admitted former hit man, Nicholas Calabrese, who was the government's star witness at the landmark 2007 Family Secrets trial that targeted top members of the Chicago mob.

As a trusted federal lawman, Ambrose was assigned to guard Calabrese on two occasions when witness security officials lodged him at "safe sites" in Chicago for questioning by prosecutors.

Ambrose is charged with stealing information out of the Witness Security Program file and passing it to a go-between believing it would go to reputed mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

He's accused of leaking information about the progress of the investigation -- nothing about the whereabouts of the closely guarded witness. But prosecutors say it still could have put Calabrese in jeopardy, and Grady seemed to agree when the issue came up at a hearing last week.

"Anyone who has even occasionally read a Chicago newspaper in the last 20 years knows what the potential consequences of testifying against the so-called Mafia are," the judge told attorneys.

The Family Secrets trial was Chicago's biggest mob trial in years. Three of the top names in the mob including Calabrese's brother, Frank, were sentenced to life in prison and two other men received long terms behind bars.

Nicholas Calabrese admitted he was involved in the murders of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and his brother, Michael. Tony Spilotro was the model for the Joe Pesci character in the movie "Casino."

Nicholas Calabrese also said one of the Family Secrets defendants, reputed mob boss James Marcello, was among those in a suburban basement the night the Spilotro brothers were strangled.

Calabrese agreed to cooperate in the Family Secrets investigation in 2002 after a bloody glove recovered by police yielded DNA evidence placing him at a murder scene. Rather than risk capital punishment, Calabrese agreed to become a witness. He was placed in the Witness Security Program.

Ambrose was charged with stealing and leaking the contents of Calabrese's file after federal agents bugged the visitors room at the federal prison in Milan, Mich.

James Marcello was an inmate there and was visited by his brother, Michael Marcello, the operator of a video gaming company who eventually was charged in the case and pleaded guilty to racketeering.

Authorities overheard the Marcello brothers discussing a mole they had within federal law enforcement who was providing security for Calabrese. They called him "the babysitter." They said he was also providing information on the investigation.

Agents quickly narrowed the suspects to Ambrose when one of the Marcellos said "the babysitter" was the son of a Chicago policeman who went to prison decades ago as a member of the Marquette 10 -- officers convicted of shaking down drug dealers.

Ambrose's fingerprint was later found on the file.

Thanks to AP

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