The Chicago Syndicate: James LaPietra
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Showing posts with label James LaPietra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James LaPietra. Show all posts

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Son of Mob Hit Man Takes Witness Stand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fear of Death Penalty Made Mobster "A Rat"

Friends of ours: Nicholas Calabrese, John Fecarotta, Jimmy LaPietra, John "Johnny Apes" Monteleone

A government witness said Thursday he sees himself as "a rat" for spilling mob secrets but added that he agreed to testify against his own brother to avoid getting capital punishment for murder.

"Did you think that you might be exposed to the death penalty in Illinois?" federal prosecutor Mitchell A. Mars asked Nicholas Calabrese, the star witness at the trial of his brother Frank and four other men. "Yes," Calabrese said.

He said a bloody glove he carelessly left in front of a North Side bingo parlor after the Sept. 14, 1986, murder of mobster John Fecarotta was used by the FBI to trace him to the crime.

He was serving a loan-sharking sentence at the federal prison in downstate Pekin 14 years after the killing when he was called to the medical unit and a DNA swab was taken from his mouth. The sample matched the DNA found on the glove that he dropped as he fled the Fecarotta shooting, Calabrese told the federal court jury.

The story capped a week of testimony in which Calabrese has described a parade of mob murders carried out by himself, his brother Frank and other members of the Chicago Outfit -- as the city's mob family is known.

Frank Calabrese, 69, is on trial along with James Marcello, 65, Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, 78, Paul Schiro, 70, and 62-year-old Anthony Doyle, a former police officer.

Frank Calabrese previously has been convicted of loan sharking, Lombardo of conspiring to bribe a U.S. senator, and Schiro of taking part in a gang of jewel thieves headed by the Chicago Police Department's former chief of detectives who is now in federal prison.

They are charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included loan sharking, gambling, extortion and 18 long-unsolved organized crime murders including that of Fecarotta.

The defendants deny that they were part of such a conspiracy. Frank Calabrese's attorney, Joseph Lopez, argues that Nick Calabrese is lying.

Nick Calabrese testified that while he was in Pekin, he spent time with Marcello who arranged for his wife to receive $4,000 a month, partly to keep him from "flipping" and becoming a federal witness.

"So I wouldn't turn out to be a rat like I am," Calabrese said. But eventually he made an agreement with prosecutors to testify in exchange for assurances that he wouldn't be subject to the death penalty in the Fecarotta case, he said.

He said that he and his brother -- along with alleged mob capo Jimmy LaPietra and John (Johnny Apes) Monteleone -- decided to kill Fecarotta, a member of their own 26th Street of Chinatown street crew. The decision stemmed from a dispute arising from one of Frank Calabrese's loan-sharking customers.

The man complained he was being forced to pay off the high-interest "juice loan" owed by a former business partner to Frank Calabrese while at the same time paying off the mortgage on Fecarotta's house.

He complained to Frank Calabrese that the arrangement was unfair.

The witness testified his brother told the man to keep paying the loan -- emphasizing the point by pulling a knife -- and then got permission to murder Fecarotta who already had been on thin ice with the Calabreses.

Nicholas Calabrese testified that the mobsters told Fecarotta that on the night of the murder they were going to plant a bomb outside a dentist's office. The idea was for Nicholas Calabrese to reach into a bag containing a fake bomb, pull out a gun and shoot Fecarotta.

Thanks to Mike Robinson

Monday, May 21, 2007

Will Mob Family Secrets be Revealed?

Friends of ours: Tony Spilotro, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, Nick Calabrese, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Louie "The Mooch" Eboli, James LaPietra, John Fecarotta
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael were heading to a meeting with top mobsters, and they were worried.

Tony Spilotro, already a made member of the mob and the Outfit's man in Las Vegas, was told he was going to be promoted. Michael was to become a "made" member. But they weren't acting like men in line for promotions, recently released court records show.

Michael gave his daughter his rings, a phone book and a cross to give to his wife. Tony gave the girl a briefcase containing money, rings and a phone book to pass on to his family in case he didn't return. The men never came back from the June 1986 meeting. It was a setup for them to be killed.

Fresh details about the murders could come to light this week when a federal judge will hold a hearing on evidence from the Spilotro murders that could become part of the Family Secrets trial.

It's one of 18 murders charged in the case, which involves some of the top mobsters in the Chicago area.

Top mob boss James "Little Jimmy" Marcello doesn't want jurors to hear from a member of the Spilotro family, who would testify he called Michael Spilotro at home regarding the meeting where the brothers were killed. The family member has not been named in court records but apparently can recognize Marcello's voice.

Marcello also didn't want jurors to hear from one of the Spilotro brothers' widows, who can testify about statements the men made before they left for the meeting.

The brothers' brutal murders are easily the best known among the murders charged in the case. In the mob movie "Casino," the Spilotro brothers -- with Joe Pesci playing the character based on Tony Spilotro -- were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield.

In real life, they were slain in a basement in a Bensenville-area home and later buried in a cornfield.

Several top mobsters were waiting in the basement and attacked the Spilotro brothers as they entered. Among the attackers waiting downstairs were several mobsters, now dead, including top mob boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Louie "The Mooch" Eboli, James LaPietra and John Fecarotta.

The FBI learned the details of the murder from one of the men who was there, reputed mob hitman Nick Calabrese, who now is cooperating with the feds and is expected to testify at trial.

Marcello is charged in the murders and allegedly drove the Spilotro brothers to the Bensenville-area home and their deaths.

Tony Spilotro asked his killers if he could say a novena before he died. His request was denied, and the killers strangled the brothers.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Friday, May 18, 2007

Calabrese, Government Star Mob Witness, Pleads Guilty

Friends of ours: Nick Calabrese, John Fecarotta, James LaPietra, Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank "the German" Schweihs

The government's star witness in its prosecution of top organized-crime bosses in 18 mob murders today admitted his role in a conspiracy to conduct the affairs of a criminal enterprise – namely, the Chicago mob.

Nicholas W. Calabrese, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and navy sweatpants, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel. Calabrese has long cooperated with the government, and pleaded guilty in advance of the trial of his co-defendants, expected to get under way this summer.

Zagel noted that Calabrese could face at least 24 years in prison according to federal guidelines, but federal prosecutors are expected to recommend a lesser sentence.

After the hearing, Calabrese's attorney, John Theis, said he could not say whether the 64-year-old Calabrese believes he eventually will be released from prison because of his willingness to aid federal investigators. But Theis said he expects his client to fully cooperate, including testifying in the upcoming trial of his former cohorts. "He will testify truthfully," Theis said.

According to today's plea agreement, Calabrese contributed to 14 of the murders previously charged in the case and was directly involved in the Sept. 14, 1986, killing of John Fecarotta.

The document states that Calabrese, on the orders of James LaPietra and under the direction of his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., lured Fecarotta to his death under the ruse of participating in a crime. "The defendant and the victim struggled over a gun in the car they were in, and the victim fled on foot," the document states. "The defendant admits that he chased Fecarotta and shot and killed him after the victim fled the vehicle."

The Tribune previously cited law-enforcement sources as saying Calabrese agreed to cooperate after he was confronted with DNA evidence linking him to at least one murder. He implicated an alleged Who's Who of the mob—James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank "the German" Schweihs, brother Frank Calabrese Sr. and others—in connection with 18 long-unsolved mob murders, including the 1986 beating deaths of Anthony and Michael Spilotro.

The four reputed mob figures and nine others were indicted with Nicholas Calabrese on gambling, loan sharking and murder charges.

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