The Chicago Syndicate: James Marcello
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label James Marcello. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Marcello. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Nick Calabrese, Chicago Mob Hitman who Turned Government Witness has Died #FamilySecrets

Nick Calabrese

Former Chicago mob hitman Nicholas Calabrese has died, a source said Monday.

A source confirmed to CBS 2's John Drummond that Calabrese had died. Calabrese was 80.

Calabrese was infamous as a top assassin for the Mafia in Chicago. Among the 14 murders in which Calabrese told federal prosecutors he took part were those of brothers Tony "the Ant" and Mike Spilotro. Tony Spilotro was the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the 1995 movie "Casino."

Calabrese later became known for turning on his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., in the Operation Family Secrets probe that took down several prominent organized crime figures.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was known as a brutal loan shark. During the Operation Family Secrets mob trial in 2008, he was charged with 13 murders.

During that trial, Nick Calabrese gave graphic details about how his brother strangled his victims and then slit their throats.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was convicted of seven murders and, two years later, was sentenced to life in prison. Frank Calabrese Sr. died in prison in 2012.

In addition to Frank Calabrese Sr., fellow Outfit figures James Marcello, Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo, Paul "The Indian" Schiro, and Anthony "Twan" Doyle were the main defendants at the trial, and were convicted on conspiracy and racketeering charges. A jury also found Frank Calabrese Sr., Marcello, and Lombardo responsible for 18 murders in all.

Meanwhile, Nick Calabrese was sentenced to 12 years and four months in prison in 2009 for the 14 murders to which he admitted.

Nick Calabrese was most recently said to be in the federal witness protection program.

Thanks to CBS Chicago.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Jimmy "The Man" Marcello, Imprisoned Chicago Mob Boss, Claims Sentence is Unconstitutional Based on #SCOTUS Decision

The highest ranking Chicago mob boss now in prison, Jimmy "The Man" Marcello, filed a petition in federal court to have his sentence tossed out.

Marcello, 76, is now challenging his sentence based on the U.S. Supreme Court Davis ruling one year ago today. In that Davis decision, the court narrowly held that enhancements for crimes of violence committed with guns are unconstitutionally vague.

Marcello was one of five top hoodlums convicted in the 2007 Family Secrets racketeering case. Authorities said Marcello delivered Tony "Ant" Spilotro to his death -- found with his brother Michael Spilotro in an Indiana cornfield in June 1986.

James Marcello was sentenced to life in 2009 and is imprisoned at the fed's Supermax facility in Colorado.

"It's one of the least appealing cases and sets of facts for a court to consider in giving somebody a break but the analysis is going to be a legal one. Was he convicted under the statute that Davis was talking about, the Supreme Court was talking about, and can it be applied retroactively, and would it make any difference to him anyway because the crimes were so serious they could have easily have yielded a life in prison sentence even without this," said former federal prosecutor and ABC 7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie, Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Union Leader with Reputed Mob Ties “The only reason I’m standing here today is because my name is John Matassa.” Federal Judge “You pled guilty to a felony...That’s why you’re here"

Five months after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement, a onetime union leader with reputed mob ties told a federal judge, “The only reason I’m standing here today is because my name is John Matassa.”

Matassa faced sentencing Monday, more than two years after being hit with a 10-count federal indictment. He explained that he’d been targeted by the U.S. Department of Labor. But U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly saw things differently.

“You pled guilty to a felony to avoid going to trial,” Kennelly said. “That’s why you’re here right now. Not because your name is John Matassa.”

Then, the judge handed Matassa a six-month prison sentence and added six months of home confinement. The case stemmed from Matassa’s job as the secretary-treasurer of the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711.

During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Kennelly described that organization as “the weirdest union that I’ve ever seen.” He repeatedly mentioned that it collected barely enough dues to pay Matassa’s salary and expenses.

Matassa admitted last February to an embezzlement scheme in which he began in 2013 to split his weekly paycheck from the union with his wife. Prosecutors said she became the union’s highest-paid employee — despite not actually working for it. Matassa’s attorneys said she helped him do his job.

In 2014 and 2015, Matassa raised his wife’s salary without the approval of the union’s president or its executive board. Meanwhile, Matassa had applied for old-age insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration in 2013.

Those benefits would have been reduced if he made too much money. However, as a result of the arrangement with his wife, Matassa collected $75,108 in insurance benefits to which he was not entitled, according to his plea agreement.

The charges against Matassa followed a long career in which his name notably surfaced during the 2009 trial of John Ambrose, a deputy U.S. marshal who leaked details about mob hitman Nicholas Calabrese.

Calabrese became a key cooperator with federal investigators and was under the protection of the marshals. Matassa allegedly functioned as a go-between for the information that eventually made its way to then-imprisoned Chicago mob boss, James “Little Jimmy” Marcello.

Thanks to Jon Seidel.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Reports that John "No Nose" DiFronzo, AKA Johnny Bananas, Chicago's Top Mobster has Died

Days earlier a “message” had been sent by Chicago mobsters, federal agents believed, when a small bomb exploded outside the home of the daughter of Outfit turncoat Lenny Patrick.

John DiFronzo was just one of a group of alleged mobsters for whom the Feds wanted to send a message back, immediately.

There was no hurry in DiFronzo that day as he breezed north on Dearborn as if it was a noon-time walk, declining to answer any questions.

DiFronzo climbed the ladder of the Outfit ranks from burglar to boss. Reporters nicknamed him “No-Nose” after he was cut jumping through a window in a Michigan Avenue burglary in the 1940s. But to his fellow organized crime brothers he was known as “Bananas” due to his complexion.

In January 1992, DiFronzo was indicted in California in a scheme to run a casino at the Rincon Indian Preservation near San Diego. He and fellow Chicagoan Donald Angelini, were convicted of fraud and conspiracy, though the conviction was over turned and he was released from prison.

By day DiFronzo worked as a car salesman at an Irving Park dealership and often by 4:00 he could be seen entering an Elmwood Park restaurant for his afternoon vodka.

DiFronzo’s name surfaced in the Operation Family Secrets trial in which mob heavy weights Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, Frank Calabrese, Sr. and James Marcello were convicted of taking part in a series of mob hits, including the murders of Tony Spilotro and Michael Spilotro.

During the trial, federal prosecutors named DiFronzo as part of the crew that killed “Tony the Ant” and his brother and buried them in an Indiana farm field. When asked during the course of the trial how prosecutors could name—and not charge—DiFronzo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Mars’ only response was “good question.”

The Elmwood Park mobster had reportedly been ill for some time. Within hours of the announcement of his death at the age of 89 his Wikipedia page was updated to list his birth as December 13, 1928 and his death as May 27, 2018.

Thanks to Carol Marin and Don Moseley.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Examining the Crimes of the Calabrese Family #FamilySecrets

Why are we so fascinated by the mob? Well, there's violence: garroting, shooting, stabbing; the thrill of men hunting men. Money: While most of us sweat for our daily bread, gangsters take what they want. The unknown: Gangster stories give us special knowledge of dark, hidden places in the city and in the human heart.

That last point is important, because half the fun is pulling back the veil. The author strips away the pretenses and pleasantries of daily life and reveals how the world really is. Which is to say that force reigns supreme, not intelligence or character or merit. But part of the popularity of gangster lit is the assumption that the veil is only ever half-raised. Mob stories feed our most paranoid fears by implying that so much more remains to be told. Because we really can't see the subject whole, never know the limits of the mob's influence, we can imagine it as all-powerful, with cops, politicians and businessmen bought and paid for. Authors let us in on the secrets, but the thrilling question always remains, just how big is this menace?

That is one of the reasons that Chicago Tribune reporter Jeff Coen's "Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" is so refreshing. He never reaches beyond his story, sticks close to his evidence, lets the carefully gathered wiretaps and eyewitness testimony and reporter's notes do the talking. Like Nicholas Pileggi's classic "Wiseguy," on which the film "GoodFellas" was based, Coen keeps it at street level, focusing on his distinct cast of characters, the gangsters and their victims, the federal agents, local cops and attorneys who played out the drama.

During the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Frank Calabrese Sr. operated a lucrative loan-sharking business on Chicago's South Side. He had ties to higher-ups in the "Outfit," as the Chicago mob is known, men like Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, and James "Jimmy Light" Marcello. Calabrese was not a nice man. In the late '90s, his son, Frank Jr., musing on his father's abusiveness, decided to turn state's evidence against the old man. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, young Frank's uncle Nick (Frank Sr.'s brother) also decided to cooperate with the feds.

With that the Outfit's cover unraveled, and the case finally came to trial in 2007. Coen gives us fine-grained pictures of the loan-sharking and extortion, and, above all, at least 18 killings.

Nick Calabrese, a reluctant hit man, committed multiple murders at brother Frank's behest. Nick told the feds that his sibling would willingly kill him had he failed to carry out a hit. Frank Calabrese himself specialized in garroting his victims, then cutting their throats to make sure they were dead. Coen gives us gruesome accounts of the murders and burials in corn fields and at construction sites.

"Family Secrets" isn't for everyone. It is a complex narrative of a long case that resulted in several convictions. The devil is in the details, there are a lot of them, and they thoroughly de-romanticize the mob.

This is a well-written and researched book, but its subject might disappoint some readers. Unlike the East Coast mob, Coen tells us, "Chicago had been unified for much of the century, since the days of the infamous boss Al Capone. ..." That statement is true but a bit deceptive. This late 20th Century crew seems a little pathetic. They're not exactly the gang that couldn't shoot straight, but they're certainly not Capone's Outfit either. When we pull back the veil, we get a strange blend of Don Corleone and the Three Stooges.

Thanks to Elliott Gorn, who teaches history at Brown University. He is author of "Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One," published this year by Oxford University Press.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Family Secrets Mob Book by @JeffCoen is Indispensable to Know How Chicago Truly Works

If you're interested in understanding the real Chicago—and there can be no serious understanding of this completely political city without examining the Chicago Outfit—then you'll soon have a great new book on your shelves:

"Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" (Chicago Review Press) by Chicago Tribune federal courts reporter Jeff Coen.

Yes, Coen is a colleague of mine who is well-respected in our newsroom. But the reason I recommend this book is that I've followed Coen's work chronicling this case. His careful eye and clean writing style have produced years of compelling Tribune stories and now this authoritative account of one of the most amazing Chicago Outfit cases in history.

It involves the FBI's turning of Chicago Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese into a top witness and informer. Calabrese's access and insight into unsolved murders, offered up at trial by the expert killer and brother of a Chinatown Crew boss, were more than astounding. And, in a creepy but necessary way, illuminating.

Calabrese, a deadly though perpetually terrified hit man, testified against the bosses about more than 18 gangland murders in the federal Family Secrets case. Now mob bosses including his brother Frank, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and Jimmy Marcello, and fellow hit man Paul Schiro will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Later this week an Outfit messenger boy—Anthony Doyle, a former Chicago police officer who worked in the evidence section and who visited Frank Calabrese in prison to discuss the FBI's interest in an old bloody glove—also will be sentenced.

From the witness stand, Doyle gave Chicago one of my favorite words, "chumbolone," the Chinatown Crew's slang for idiot or fool. He deserves a long sentence. Federal mob watchers consider him to be close to the Outfit's current overall reputed street boss, Frank "Toots" Caruso.

Outfit helpers like Doyle, placed in sensitive government posts, in politics, in law enforcement, in the judiciary, in city inspection and business licensing bureaucracies, have long allowed the Outfit to form the base of the iron triangle that runs things.

"Doyle was one of the most interesting aspects of the case," Coen told me this week. "Here you have a police officer as a mole telling the Outfit when evidence in a murder was being sought by the FBI. I don't think the public is aware of the effort that goes into placing people in low-key clerical positions that give them great access, people that can fly under the radar."

Doyle learned the FBI was interested in a glove worn by Nick Calabrese in the murder of John Fecarotta, who himself received an Outfit death sentence for botching the 1986 burial of brothers Tony and Michael Spilotro.

"If Nick doesn't drop that glove, the FBI doesn't have the physical evidence to tell him he'd be going away forever," Coen said. "Without the glove, they wouldn't have Nick."

Nick's testimony involved the planning and surveillance of his victims, and the final end that came to them, either by a remote-controlled car bomb on a suburban highway ramp, or shotguns from a van along a country road near Joliet, or the laying on of hands and feet and ropes in a suburban basement.

The movie "Casino" depicted Outfit brothers Tony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield. That's how many of us thought they were killed, until Family Secrets revealed that they were actually beaten and strangled in a Bensenville basement.

In the gangster movies, the hit men are usually the roughest characters. But Calabrese wasn't a movie hit man, he was a real one, so frightened that he wet himself during his first killing.

On the witness stand and in the book, he comes off like what he is, a nerd of homicide, a man plagued by a sickening fear that settled on him at the first one and became like a second skin, and he found one way to deal with that fear—meticulous planning.

"He was nothing like a movie hit man," Coen said. "During testimony, he looked like somebody you'd bump into at a store in your neighborhood. But if the bosses pointed him at somebody, they could sleep, knowing the murder would be done."

On my shelf, there are books I consider to be indispensable to truly knowing how Chicago works. There is:

And now, there is Jeff Coen's Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob.

Thanks to John Kass

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Flashback: Prison Release of Betty Loren-Maltese Awakens Organized Crime Mystique of Cicero

Prohibition was the law of the land when Al Capone took over Cicero in 1924, muscling his way in with gun-toting hoodlums on Election Day. And many residents were happy to hear his beer wagons rumbling through the streets en route to speakeasies.

More than 80 years later, this sleepy-looking suburb of blue-collar bungalows and strip malls a few miles west of Chicago still hasn't shaken its reputation for mob influence, political scandal and corruption, even as leaders insist they've put it behind them.

"The organized crime mystique _ that's the reason for our image," says town spokesman Ray Hanania, insisting President Larry Dominick has "taken politics out of town government" since taking office in 2005. The story of Cicero and the mob, he said, is "a great story and it's easy to write but it's unfair."

Critics, though, say corruption still hangs thick in the air.

About a week ago, former town President Betty Loren-Maltese returned to Chicago after 6 1/2 years in prison for fleecing taxpayers of more than $12 million in a mob-related insurance scam. The money paid for an island golf course in Wisconsin, a horse farm and a summer home for reputed mob boss Mike Spano, who went to prison along with Loren-Maltese.

Loren-Maltese was boosted into politics by her late husband, former Cicero town assessor Frank "Baldy" Maltese, who was indicted on corruption charges in the early 1990s along with Rocco Infelice, reputed one-time boss of the Cicero mob. Maltese pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 1993 but died of cancer before going to prison. Infelice died behind bars.

No sooner had the once-jovial Loren-Maltese _ sporting her trademark flamboyant hairdo but grim and silent behind large dark glasses _ arrived Monday to start a four-month term in a halfway house, than news surfaced that she and her elderly mother were receiving health insurance benefits from the very town fund that Loren-Maltese was convicted of looting.

Hanania said Loren-Maltese received the benefits under a law she "rammed through" while still in office that provides coverage to all Cicero elected officials for life, and her mother got insurance for serving on the police and fire commission for 10 years.

By Tuesday, officials in the town of about 85,000 decided her mother wasn't entitled to the coverage because she never held elective office, and terminated it. But that wasn't the only problem, critics say. Dominick, a hefty ex-cop who served on the Cicero force for years, also has found jobs for a number of his relatives on the town payroll, including a son who works as the human resources director.

"I think they haven't really changed since the Al Capone era in their approach to government and politics and civic decency," says Andy Shaw, head of Chicago's Better Government Association. "This is the town that time forgot."

Not that some things haven't changed.

Scantily clad prostitutes no longer saunter in the neon haze outside the mob-connected strip joints that flourished along Cicero Avenue in the 1950s and 1960s. Gone are the no-name prize fighters who once slugged it out in a little arena in a cloud of colored smoke and flickering strobe lights.

"The place was crawling with vice and gambling," said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit," a history of the city's organized crime family. "It was the same story in some other little suburbs where the mob could get its hooks in, but Cicero was sort of the crown jewel, maybe because of its location close to Chicago and because Capone pushed his way in there."

Now it all seems comparatively tame. Almost.

In February 2003, a massive pipe bomb erupted on a quiet street in Berwyn, a neighboring suburb. The explosion blew away the front of a company that distributed the video poker machines that federal prosecutors say were used for illegal gambling throughout Chicago and its suburbs.

Prosecutors said it was organized crime's way of delivering the message that horning in on its monopoly on video poker machines was dangerous _ and at the time, the biggest distributor of the machines in the western suburbs was based in Cicero.

It was owned by Michael Marcello, whose brother, James Marcello, went to prison for life following the 2007 Operation Family Secrets trial, the biggest mob case in Chicago in decades. Michael Marcello also went to prison after pleading guilty to racketeering and other offenses for running a gambling business and paying the government's star witness in the Family Secrets case, Nicholas Calabrese, to keep mum.

Then in 2008, Cicero jewelry store owner Mark Polchan and Samuel Volpendesto, a tiny, white-bearded, 86-year-old former manager of a Cicero strip joint, were indicted on charges of blowing up the Berwyn video poker company.

Last year, the charges against the two men became part of a larger, racketeering indictment that added five other defendants, including a Cicero police officer. All have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in September.

Originally reported by Mike Robinson on 2/21/10.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Did Reputed Mob Associate Sammy Galioto Hide $3 Million to Avoid Paying Taxes?

How do you hide $3 million? Federal authorities say a ranking member of a Chicago mob family siphoned that much through an intricate scheme to avoid paying taxes.

Federal prosecutors are going after Salvatore "Sammy" Galioto the old fashioned way; the maneuver they used 80 years ago to take down Al Capone - tax evasion charges.

Authorities say Galioto tried to hide a $3 million consulting fee from a downtown condo deal. Galioto is part of a family that for 20 years has been into all sorts of deals - real estate, strip clubs, labor unions, health care and gambling.

"Where's the exit?" Galioto shouted to a courthouse deputy Thursday as he walked with urgency out of the Dirksen Federal Building.

The 54-year-old Kenilworth resident had just given up DNA and posted bail on these federal charges that he evaded U.S. income taxes by concealing $3 million in personal income.

Investigators say the scheme involved a Loop high-rise known as the Pittsfield Building; in 2007 Galioto received the handsome consulting for the sale of just nine floors. Instead of reporting the income, they say he filed false paperwork to cover it up and paid no taxes.

The beefy Galioto hails from a family with deep outfit connections.

He and his father - a one-time Chicago policeman - were first listed as mob associates on a Chicago crime commission list nearly 20 years ago.

Mobologists say the Galiotos were aligned with the late Tackets boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi, and that imprisoned mob boss Little Jimmy Marcello is related by marriage to the family.

Galioto and his father William were in the middle of a West Side movie studio groundbreaking in 1995 that was torpedoed once the family's history surfaced. After initially backing the deal, once the family's mob ties were made known, the administration of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley stumbled through damage control.

A few years later in Missouri, Galioto was indicted for Medicare fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

On Thursday after court, neither Galioto nor his attorney would discuss the latest criminal charges.

While it may seem unusual that Galioto was made to give up DNA in tax evasion case, federal prosecutors and Galioto's attorney say it is normal even in white collar cases.

His lawyer Cindy Giacchetti says nothing should be read into that as significant.

If convicted of all counts, Galioto faces 12 years in jail and a $1million fine.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sale of James Marcelle's Reputed Ranch Could Get Expensive for Former Owners

Being married to the mob can get expensive. For one senior citizen couple, William and Ann Galioto, it could wind up costing them $473,485.62. Plus interest.

The potentially big bill marks the end of a fascinating tale involving a horse ranch in Big Rock, just west of Aurora, a chatty mistress, and the head of the Chicago mob.

It begins as many sad stories do, as a love story — or at least as a story of mutual attraction in the flattering lighting of a Cicero strip club more than 25 years ago. That 's where a young woman, tending bar, met an up-and-coming Chicago mobster named James “Little Jimmy” Marcello. Marcello fell hard for the bartender, so hard he began a relationship with her lasting for decades.

In 1986, Marcello signed a contract to buy a ranch in Big Rock for him and his mistress. They used assumed names, Connie and James Donofrio, and even gave the property a cute name — the C&J Ranch, records show.

Marcello paid his mistress thousands of dollars a month for living expenses. He figured she would never rat on him, even though Marcello learned early on that his mistress had once been a snitch for the federal government. Little Jimmy was wrong.

Just how wrong he would learn in 2007, as he sat in a federal courtroom in Chicago, as a defendant in the historic Family Secrets mob trial, watching his former mistress testify against him.

By then, Marcello ran organized crime in Chicago. His conviction in the Family Secrets case would send him to prison for life. Marcello helped murder several people for the Chicago mob, including setting up Anthony and Michael Spilotro. In 1986, Marcello drove the brothers to the Bensenville area home where they thought they were receiving promotions within the mob. Instead, they were beaten to death.

As part of Marcello’s sentence, a federal judge ordered him to pay more than $4.4 million in restitution. The court order would create complications for the Galiotos.

Ann Galioto is James Marcello’s sister and an entrepreneur in her own right. She is listed as the president of a company that ran a strip joint, Allstars Gentlemen’s Club, for years in west suburban Northlake, before the club burned down in 2010. At the time, the fire attracted the attention of federal investigators, as did the financially creative way some of the club’s strippers were allegedly being paid, according to a law enforcement source.

Ann’s husband, William, is a former Chicago cop, who made headlines in 1995 when Mayor Daley killed a multimillion-dollar low-interest city loan to him and his partners to build a movie studio on the West Side, over concerns about Galioto’s past.

More recently, William Galioto had his name on another real estate deal — Marcello’s horse ranch in Big Rock, the feds say.

While the feds allege Marcello bought the property, it was put in William Galioto’s name. At one point, while Marcello was in prison, he was secretly taped by the feds discussing whether the property should be transferred out of his brother-in-law’s name to one of Marcello’s flunkies. Marcello was worried he couldn’t trust the Galiotos, according to the feds.

That never happened, and in 2008, after Marcello was convicted in the Family Secrets case, Galioto sold the ranch for about $500,000. The feds contend that William Galioto was merely acting as a front for his brother-in-law, Little Jimmy. Prosecutors call William Galioto nothing more than Marcello’s “alter ego” in the ranch sale. The feds want those sale proceeds, however they can get it.

A federal judge will decide if the Galiotos will be on the hook for the money. An attorney for the Galiotos declined to comment Monday.

So for now, the federal tab goes to the couple — $473,485.62. Plus interest.

Thanks to CST.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Family Secrets Mob Trial Convictions Upheld

An appeals court has upheld the convictions of several reputed mobsters in a landmark trial credited with delivering a body blow to Chicago's mob. But Tuesday's opinion cited at least one trial error. And a dissenting judge argued two defendants' convictions should have been reversed.

The defense asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for a do-over of the 2007 Family Secrets trial. Their grounds included that Judge James Zagel talked to a panelist privately who told him she felt threatened. He later dismissed her.

The court said Zagel should have told attorneys about the comment but found the error was harmless.

Dissenting in part, Judge Diane Wood said she would have overturned Frank Calabresse, Sr., and James Marcello's convictions on grounds they'd been tried previously for the same crimes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Little Jimmy Marcello Returns to Chicago After Unauthorized Trip To West Coast

After a whirlwind swing to the West Coast and back, courtesy of the American taxpayers and a monumental goof up by federal authorities, Outfit boss Jimmy Marcello is back home.

On Sunday, Marcello was once again listed on the register of the friendly confines of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, after a federal judge angrily ordered his return last Friday.

The 68-year-old Outfit boss, serving a life term for murders and mayhem following conviction in the Operation Family Secrets trial, had been abruptly moved from the MCC two weeks ago to a prison in California. The transfer had apparently not been ordered or authorized.

When Marcello's attorney filed a motion suggesting the transfer was a result of government foul play, government attorneys last Friday said there had been a "miscommunication."

An irked U.S. District Judge James Zagel told prosecutors that, "this is something that should not have been done. I don't know how you are going to get him back here, but you're going to get him back here."

The message must have resonated with prosecutors and officials at the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service that operates the nation's prisoner transport network.

Although authorities on Friday declined to report exactly how Marcello would be transferred back to Chicago, it was accomplished with extraordinary speed and efficiency. The presumption is that Marcello was put on an aircraft operated by the Marshals Service, in it's division known as "JPATS," the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transport System.

Marcello made it from the Atwater penitentiary more than 150 miles east of San Francisco where he was still housed on Friday to the Chicago MCC on Sunday. The JPATS system shuttles 1,400 prisoners a day throughout the U.S. on a fleet of government and charter aircraft, buses, vans and cars.

Authorities told the I-Team on Friday that there was only one JPATS flight in and out of Chicago each week but it is not clear whether Marcello was on that flight or if authorities made separate arrangements.

The prisoner transport program, made famous by Hollywood in the movie Con Air, costs more than $150 million a year for the U.S. government to operate.

Marcello's mistaken, unnecessary trip to California and back cost taxpayers about $4,000. He will remain in Chicago as his appeal is heard, so that he can assist in case preparation according to Judge Zagel.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Monday, February 06, 2012

"Jimmy the Man" Marcello Accusses the Government of Dirty Tricks

It has been nearly five years since several top Chicago mob bosses were convicted in the Operation Family Secrets racketeering and murder trial. In this Intelligence Report: Why one of them, James Marcello, is now accusing the government of dirty tricks.

Lawyers for James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello claim that the hoodlum is on his way to "Siberia" courtesy of the U.S. government.

Of course Marcello isn't actually headed to the Russian hinterland, but his lawyers say he has been abruptly moved from the federal lock-up in Chicago and is currently on his way to a prison 2,000 miles across the country.

Most of Marcello's relatives still live in the Chicago suburbs, near where the I-Team paid him a visit a few years ago when he was still a free man.

Now, the outfit boss is doing a life sentence for racketeering murder. During the appeal process, he had been housed at the Metro Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

With the appeal process going nowhere, federal prosecutors filed a motion to have Marcello transferred to his permanent prison assignment. The court had recommended the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, which would have been convenient for Marcello's family to visit. But the Bureau of Prisons decided the hoodlum should do time in northern California at the Atwater facility. The hearing on his transfer is this week, but according to the latest court filing, Marcello's attorneys claim he was removed last Monday, bound for California, meaning "Marcello might as well have been sent to Siberia."

So, somewhere across America right now, Marcello's con caravan is on the move. We know from prison records that he went via Oklahoma, where Wednesday night he was checked into the prison at El Reno.

Marcello is now thought to be making a beeline for the West Coast, and eventually Atwater, a high-security prison on an abandoned Air Force base 130 miles from San Francisco. His Bureau of Prison record right now simply lists Marcello as "in transit."

The motion filed by Marcello's attorneys asks that the con caravan put on the brakes, do a u-turn and deliver Marcello back to the MCC in Chicago.

The I-Team didn't hear back from the mobster's lawyer Thursday, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney declined to comment on this allegation that the government pulled a fast one by shipping Marcello out of town before his court hearing could be held on the transfer.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Peeking Inside Chicago's Modern Day Mob

The trial of a reputed mob boss known for his wide girth and alleged penchant for violence will offer a peek into the inner workings of Chicago-area organized crime, laid low by prosecutions that sent older mobsters to prison for life.

Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno, whose racketeering trial starts Wednesday in Chicago, is considered — at the relatively young age of 52 — a different breed of mobster, someone whose talents as an enforcer normally would not have translated into a top mob job.

“I would say he is the perfect example of the new face of the mob,” said Art Bilek, a one-time mob investigator at the Cook County State’s attorney’s office. “He has street smarts — he’s not a dope. What he simply doesn’t have is the intelligence some of the earlier guys had.”

That goes to show how far the mob has fallen, he and other law enforcement experts said.

The 2007 Family Secrets trial, the biggest such trial in Chicago in decades, was a body blow to the Chicago-area mob, also known as the Chicago Outfit. It ended in life sentences for reputed bosses James Marcello, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo.

With aging kingpins behind bars and others dying, a weakened Outfit has scaled back a network that in its heyday, around 1970, encompassed operations ranging from prostitution and drugs to multimillion-dollar scams involving corrupt unions or Las Vegas casinos. But racketeering laws designed to target organized crime, aggressive federal prosecutors and competition from big-city street gangs or biker syndicates have severely cut into mob-associated operations. Not surprisingly, mobster numbers are down.

There are now fewer than 100 people formally initiated into the Chicago-area mob compared with more than 200 ‘made men’ around 1970, estimated Scott Burnstein, co-author of a book on the Family Secrets trial.

In Chicago, the mob now focuses more heavily on running illegal video gaming, with approximately 25,000 machines in bars and restaurants, generating millions of dollars in revenue, according to some estimates.

It’s leaders allegedly include Sarno, who weighed as much as 300 pounds and was known for using his bulk to collect mob gambling debts as an enforcer. Bilek says he suspects Sarno may have taken over operations in the city’s western suburbs from one of the imprisoned bosses.

Sarno’s defense attorney, Michael Gillespie, said allegations his client is linked to the mob are “fanciful.”

“The associations he has are with his family — his mom and dad,” Gillespie said Tuesday.

Whatever the case, it is impossible to know just where Sarno would fit in. That’s partly because the mob’s old pyramid structure is coming undone and true leaders are eager to maintain a low profile, even endeavoring to keep violence at a minimum, Bilek said.

Burnstein said there are reasons to question what would be the extent of Sarno’s power. For one, mob bosses want to see crime organizations they built up over decades continue after their deaths, so it’s likely more savvy mobsters also are being promoted. “I don’t think it’s quite fair to say Sarno’s the new face of the mob, therefore the mob is dead because he’s an idiot,” Burnstein said. “If he is the new power, I agree it wouldn’t bode well. But I’m sure there are other competent mobsters who aren’t just thugs.”

Sarno is accused of ordering co-defendants Mark Polchan and Sam Volpendesto to set off a bomb that wrecked the offices of a gaming company in Berwyn, C&S Coin Amusements. The aim, say prosecutors, was to send a message: Stop horning in on a profitable mob business.

The indictment alleges the enterprise Sarno was a part of also was responsible for burglaries and jewel thefts. The armed robbery of the Marry Me Jewelry Store in LaGrange Park netted nearly $650,000-worth of jewelry and other valuables, according to the indictment.

Sarno, Volpendesto and Polchan all have pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other related charges.

Polchan’s attorney, Damon Cheronis, would only say Tuesday that trial observers will see “a different picture painted than the one painted by the government.” Volpendesto’s lawyer, Michael Mann, declined to comment.

Thanks to LCN

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Upper Echelon Chicago Outfit Members Informing for the Feds?

Federal authorities in Chicago have been cultivating information from two "upper echelon" members of the Outfit for decades, according to a court filing in a current Mob prosecution.

The existence of a pair of Mob moles, called "Confidential Informant One" and "Confidential Informant Two," were disclosed by the defense team in an Outfit-related bombing conspiracy.

"Confidential Informant One is an alleged upper echelon member of the 'Outfit' and has been providing information to the government for over 25 years" states the court filing.

Confidential Informant Two is "another upper echelon Outfit associate who had been providing information to the government since 1994."

Both snitches are said to have handed federal authorities information about Outfit boss Michael "Big Mike" Sarno of Westchester.

Sarno, 52, is among several men charged with a scheme to blow up a video poker company in Berwyn that was competing with a mob-controlled firm.

FBI spokesman Ross Rice declined to comment on whether the government had two high ranking Mob moles, noting that the court motion in which they were disclosed was "filed by the defense."

Rice said that "the government/prosecution has not yet responded. As such, there is nothing further I can say at this time."

The top-ranking Outfit informant told authorities that Mike Sarno was in charge of certain Mob rackets during the time Jimmy "The Man" Marcello and his brother Michael were in prison, according to the court filing.

That informant also reported that Sarno was "feuding" with west suburban Mob boss Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, an imbroglio that "came to a crescendo just before Zizzo was last seen."

The rotund Zizzo, 71, was last seen on Aug. 31, 2006 by his wife as he drove to a meeting from his Westmont home.

There were no names provided for the two informants. A third mole was also disclosed in the court filing, but no details were provided about that person's role in the Outfit.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Casey "Whole Nervous System's Shot" Szaflarski Remains Behind Bars

The new alleged king of video gambling for the Chicago mob told a federal judge Tuesday that his "whole nervous system's shot" -- but it wasn't because the feds had just arrested him.

Casey Szaflarski told the judge at his initial court hearing that he had just had spinal cord surgery.

"I take a lot of medicine, your honor," Szaflarski said. "My whole nervous system's shot."

Despite his medical conditions, Szaflarski, 52, who lives in the Bridgeport neighborhood, will be held behind bars at least until his bond hearing Friday, after federal prosecutor T. Markus Funk said he could pose a danger to the community or might flee before trial.

Szaflarski was charged as part of the criminal case against alleged Cicero mob boss Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno, reputed high-ranking Outlaw motorcycle gang member Mark Polchan and five other men.

As one possible indication of how lucrative the video gambling business can be, federal prosecutors are seeking $3.6 million in illegal gambling proceeds from Szaflarski, Sarno and Polchan as part of the criminal case against the men, according to a new forfeiture allegation added to the case.

Szaflarski also is charged with failing to report more than $255,000 in income on tax returns from 2004 to 2006.

Szaflarski apparently took over the video gambling business run by the onetime head of the Chicago mob, James Marcello, and his half-brother, Michael. Szaflarski allegedly told a government informant that he learned the video poker business from Michael Marcello.

Szaflarski is accused of sharing proceeds of his gambling business with Sarno, a reputed mob leader who's also been dubbed "Big Mike" and "Fat Ass," according to court documents filed in the case.

Sarno, in turn, is charged with ordering the pipe bombing of a Berwyn video and vending machine business in 2003 that was competing with Szaflarski's business.

Investigators from the FBI, IRS and ATF gathered evidence against Szaflarski when they raided more than 20 bars and restaurants in Chicago and the suburbs last year with illegal video gambling machines. They seized thousands of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds and stripped the video poker machines of their circuit boards.

State lawmakers recently legalized video gambling, but bars and restaurants can't legally operate the devices until state regulators fashion rules overseeing what will be the largest expansion of gambling in Illinois history and distribute licenses.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

James Marcello Cleared of Parole Violation

Reputed Chicago mob boss James Marcello won a court skirmish with federal prosecutors Wednesday when a judge cleared him of an old charge of parole violation, but the victory did not win him his freedom.

Marcello left court to return to federal prison where the sexagenarian must continue to serve a life sentence for his part in an almost-two-decade organized crime wave that included a series of 18 long-unsolved murders.

U.S. District Judge William Hibbler ruled that federal prosecutors had failed to show that after Marcello's release from prison in 2005 he had violated the terms of his supervised release.

Marcello was arrested and put back behind bars a year later when prosecutors unsealed their sweeping Operation Family Secrets indictment of alleged leaders of the Chicago Outfit - the name of this city's organized crime family - and their followers.

He was convicted of murder in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutors wanted Hibbler to revoke Marcello's supervised release. That way, there would still be a way to keep him behind bars if his conviction in the Family Secrets case were reversed.

Two other big-name reputed mobsters - Frank Calabrese Sr. and Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo - are serving life sentences as a result of their convictions in the Family Secrets case.

Thanks to NewsRadio 780

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is The Wife of a Former Police Officer with Mob Ties Running a Sex Club Out of a Bookstore?

From the outside, you'd think it was just another adult bookstore on a dead-end street. But a Melrose Park business is hiding a dirty little secret.

Our undercover camera revealed people showing up here -- for something other than books.

"It's shady,” a neighbor said. “Yeah, totally shady… Outrageous! Disgusting!”

The video, er, what we can show you of it makes it clear this place is operating more like a sex club than a book club. And charging admission.

An employee told our producer that multiple rooms are devoted to group sex acts.

Our producer said he observed one woman with a line of men in front of her.

Outraged neighbors are wondering why the place isn't shut down. "What are they thinking? It should be shut down, it's sick," one neighbor said. “I don't like the idea of having it around."

We wanted to ask Mayor Ronald Sirpico how it's able to stay open and show him our video.

We went to the village hall for our interview, and a staff member told us he wouldn't be able to make it. Instead they handed us a one-page statement.

The statement reads, in part, "Our police have followed up on numerous complaints and even used undercover tactics ... In an attempt to close the 15th Avenue bookstore. … Those efforts have proved fruitless thus far."

The mayor did tell FOX Chicago News on the phone that officers have gone in a dozen times to investigate and didn't find anything unusual.

FOX Chicago News went in one time and you can know what we found.

Attorney Joe Lopez represents Jeanette Urbinati, the owner of the bookstore.

“It is legal,” Lopez told FOX Chicago News.

Jeanette Urbinati is the wife of Robert "Bobby" Urbinati, a former Franklin Park police officer who did federal time for the operation of an illegal gambling business tied to the mob.

The feds said he was operating as the “cash man" between mob bosses Anthony Centracchio and James Marcello.

Lopez claimed the bookstore is doing nothing wrong. He also said there are signs posted all over warning customers not to have sex. "I think it's standard for you to remind people of that in adult entertainment places, " he said.

When was the last time you heard of an adult entertainment place with a shower for the customers?

Online chat rooms describe the activity from people who've been there: men looking for women or other men to go to the 15th Avenue bookstore to have sex.

On Craig’s List, you can find personals from people arranging to meet for all kinds of scenarios with random partners at the bookstore.

FOX Chicago News consulted with attorney Steven Greenberg.

"If Melrose Park is not taking any action, they obviously want it there," he said.

Greenberg said he was surprised when FOX revealed to him that inside the bookstore our producer was asked if he wanted to buy any alcohol.

“A business that doesn't have a liquor license shouldn't be serving liquor. That's the easiest way to shut it down,” Greenberg said. “Basically you padlock the door, pending a further hearing."

FOX Chicago News has learned the sheriff's department went inside and handed over possible violations for Melrose Park police to investigate. But the business hasn't been slapped with any violations.

FOX Chicago News called Melrose Park police but they wouldn't return our calls.

Whatever's going on inside, you can see how it looks to families from the outside, across the street from a go-kart center.

“Based on the sheriff’s investigation and your investigation, I think they need to look into it further,” Greenberg said.

He added: “It's been done in New York; they did it in Times Square. Chicago’s done it. Mayor Daley’s been known to fight these businesses. Any mayor can control it. It's like a fiefdom. Mayors are kings of their community; they can do what they want in their community."

Thanks to Anna Davlantes

Former Crooked Cop with Ties to the Mob is Accused of Running a Sex Party Room at an Adult Bookstore

A Melrose Park pornography bookstore -- run with the help of a former crooked cop with ties to the mob -- offers a party room in the back where couples and singles have multiple sex partners as part of organized, late-night sessions.

It costs $30 or more per person to get in to the party room at 15th Avenue Adult Books, run for months out of a nondescript building in an industrial area.

Guests can linger at chairs and tables or get up on a stage and partake in the activities, according to people familiar with the business.

Finger foods, such as chicken wings, are provided. They also offer drinks. And despite months of investigation by local and county officials, there's apparently nothing illegal about it.

One of the people behind the business is Robert Urbinati, a former Franklin Park police officer, who runs the business with his wife. Urbinati was sentenced in 2002 to 33 months in prison for taking $500 in bribes each month from the mob to protect a lucrative video poker gambling operation.

Urbinati, 68, also allegedly was an Outfit message man, reportedly passing communications between two high-ranking mobsters, the late Anthony Centracchio and the onetime head of the Chicago Outfit, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, now in prison after being convicted of racketeering and other crimes in the historic Family Secrets mob case.

Centracchio made the news in 2001 when it was revealed the geriatric mobster was caught on a secret FBI video recording having sex with a younger employee at the abortion clinic he ran.

As for Urbinati, "my client has done his time, and now he's moved on to the second phase of his life," said well-known criminal defense attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, who has represented many alleged mobsters.

Urbinati could not be reached for comment.

Lopez stressed that there was no prostitution at the business, and no illegal drugs, just consenting adults doing their own thing. The party room is used for other activities too, Lopez said, like bachelor parties. "No different than the Sybaris, except more people," Lopez argued, referring to the motel chain where couples go for romantic weekends.

Since last year, the Cook County sheriff's police has sent in undercover officers on several occasions and found nothing illegal happening, a spokesman said.

Melrose Park Mayor Ronald M. Serpico said he'd rather not have the business in his town but there's nothing he can do about it. His own police have investigated it and called in the Cook County sheriff for assistance. The Cook County Department of Public Health investigated and found no issues, Serpico said.

"Is it fun for us? Absolutely not," Serpico said. "Do I want to be having this conversation with you?" the mayor asked. "I'd rather be talking about the Super Bowl."

The pornography bookstore meets village zoning requirements for such businesses, which were set up after Melrose Park was sued in federal court over the issue.

Serpico argued that the vast majority of Melrose Park residents don't even know the business is there or what goes on there, given its location.

"It couldn't be further away from civilization," Serpico said. "Not one resident has called to complain."

The mayor said he did not know who was running the bookstore until recently.

When asked if he had qualms about a onetime associate of organized crime helping operate a business in his town, Serpico said no, adding, "I can't control what somebody has done in the past."

The bookstore "is what it is," Serpico said. "I can't regulate morality."

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Monday, February 08, 2010

Is Casey Szaflarski the King of Mob-Controlled Video Poker Throughout Chicagoland?

Casey Szaflarski allegedly runs a multimillion-dollar video poker business for the Chicago mob. But he's the first to tell you he has a fuzzy memory.

When lawyers in a civil case tried to figure out how much he was worth, he forgot to bring any financial documents -- even though he had been ordered to do so.

"An oversight," Szaflarski said.

He also told lawyers he doesn't own the Bridgeport home he lives in -- and isn't sure who does. He transferred his interest in the home to a trust, but wasn't sure how or when. And although federal court records suggest he's the new king of mob-controlled video poker in the Chicago area, he says he doesn't know how much he owns of Amusements Inc., a Berwyn company that distributes video gambling machines.

"Yeah, I have a bad memory," Szaflarski, 52, said at the time.

Szaflarski's bad memory got him sanctioned by the Cook County judge overseeing Szaflarski's civil case a few years ago. But that could just be the start of his problems.

Newly unsealed court documents show Szaflarski is a target of an ongoing federal investigation of mob-controlled video poker machines across the Chicago area. The investigation comes as the state has recently legalized video gaming in an effort to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into its coffers. But bars can't legally have the machines pay out until a state agency sets rules to regulate the machines and distributes licenses. Top mobsters, meanwhile, have been caught on secret FBI recordings welcoming the legalization of video poker machines, a business they have dominated over the years.

Last May, agents from the FBI, IRS and ATF simultaneously hit more than 20 Chicago and suburban bars, in one of the largest raids of its kind. Law-enforcement officials stripped the video gambling machines of their computer circuit boards, collected thousands of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds and took gambling records, according to court documents from the investigation overseen by prosecutors T. Markus Funk and Amarjeet S. Bhachu.

During the raids the afternoon of May 27, Szaflarski was stopped in his black H3 Hummer. He had $6,214 in cash on him. Szaflarski is accused in court documents of driving in his Hummer and making the rounds of bars where his video poker machines were located, then splitting the proceeds 50-50 with the bar owners.

The investigation of Szaflarski is part of a larger probe that has already resulted in charges against the reputed mob boss of Cicero, Michael "Fat Ass" Sarno, and an allegedly high-ranking member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, Mark Polchan.

Sarno is charged with ordering a pipe-bombing in 2003 of a Berwyn video poker business that was competing with Szaflarski's company, court records show. Polchan allegedly organized the bombing and also worked to put Szaflarski's video poker machines in Outlaw clubhouses throughout the Chicago area.

To track the FBI investigation, Polchan allegedly received help from crooked suburban cops, whom he paid off with free sexual favors from prostitutes, court records show.

Szaflarski appears to have taken over the multimillion-dollar video poker distribution business of Chicago mob boss James Marcello and his half-brother Michael, court records show. James Marcello was convicted of racketeering and other crimes in 2007 in the historic Family Secrets mob trial, and his half-brother pleaded guilty to racketeering. Both are in prison.

Szaflarski told a government informant that he learned the video poker business from Michael Marcello, court records show.

Szaflarski has allegedly contributed money from the video poker business to Sarno, who is also known as "Big Mike" and "The Large Guy," according to a federal search warrant affidavit. Sarno recently made headlines when he received permission from a federal magistrate judge to get out of house arrest so he could have Christmas Eve dinner at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in downtown Chicago.

More indictments are expected in the Sarno case, but Szaflarski has not been charged with any crime.

Szaflarski could not be reached for comment, but an attorney who has represented many well-known Chicago mobsters, Joe "The Shark" Lopez, said Friday he was stunned by the allegations. "He's a businessman with a good reputation," said Lopez, who said he knows Szaflarski but does not represent him. "He's just a normal, everyday, Joe Citizen. I'm shocked to hear these allegations."

While operating a video gambling distribution business for at least 10 years, Szaflarski has managed to stay under the radar.

His wife, Denise, however, made the news during the city's Hired Truck scandal when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed she was one of the owners of a trucking firm that received more than $400,000 under the program.

Denise Szaflarski is the daughter of the late mobster Joseph "Shorty" LaMantia, who was a well-known Outfit burglar. Her brother, Rocco "Rocky" LaMantia, set up the trucking company, called Dialex Trucking. Rocky LaMantia is now in state prison, serving a six-year sentence for robbing a pawn shop.

Casey Szaflarski appears to have been making a profitable living from his business. From 2003 to 2005, he made an average of $142,000 in salary and other compensation from Amusements Inc., according to his tax records cited in a judicial order.

Szaflarski has a long history of legal battles. He was behind an unsuccessful lawsuit to throw out an Elmwood Park ban on video poker machines in town. And he's been involved in a series of lawsuits over legal bills stemming from that original case and a related one.

One of the attorneys who represented Szaflarski in the legal bill cases was Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica.

Peraica, who is also a private attorney, said Friday he represented Szaflarski because he knew him from living in Bridgeport and from attending the same church, St. Jerome.

Peraica said he had "no idea" Szaflarski had possible connections to organized crime and has not represented him in any criminal cases.

While his client has made a good living off video poker, Peraica himself has been one of the most vocal opponents of allowing video gambling into unincorporated Cook County.

Last year, the County Board voted to ban such devices after state lawmakers decided to legalize them to fill Illinois' depleted coffers.

Szaflarski's business donated $500 in 2008 and another $500 in 2009 to Peraica's political campaign fund. Peraica said he saw no conflict in accepting the contributions. Szaflarski never mentioned the video poker ban to him, and Peraica, in fact, voted for the ban, he noted.

"This is all rather remarkable," Peraica said, pledging to return the contributions if Szaflarski is indicted.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir


Affliction Sale

Flash Mafia Book Sales!