The Chicago Syndicate: Joey Aiuppa
Showing posts with label Joey Aiuppa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joey Aiuppa. Show all posts

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stool Pigeon?

Friends of ours: Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Sam Carlisi, Joseph Ferriola, Joey Aiuppa, Nick Calabrese, John Fecarotta, Tony Spilotro, Michael Spilotro, Billy Dauber, Ronald Jarrett

Reputed mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. was taking a walk with his son in the prison yard at the federal detention center in Milan, Mich., uttering words that should never have left his lips. During that walk and others, Calabrese Sr. spoke of mob slayings -- ones the FBI says he was involved in, according to sources familiar with the matter. He discussed who was a made members of the Outfit and who wasn't. And he described his own initiation rites into the Chicago mob, where he was a reputed "made" man.

Under Outfit rules, talking about any one of those topics would be enough to get a mobster killed. But what was worse for Calabrese Sr. was that his statements were being secretly tape-recorded, by own his son, Frank Jr., who was in prison with him at the time, several years ago.

During those strolls around the prison yard, Calabrese Sr. spilled decades of mob secrets, details he should have never told anyone, even his own flesh and blood. Now those indiscretions are coming back to haunt him. Calabrese Sr.'s secretly recorded statements helped federal prosecutors build their case against him and other alleged mobsters, including the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, James Marcello. "Wings" Jim Marcello started in the Chicago Syndicate as the driver of "Black Sam" Carlisi who was the powerful underboss under Joe Ferriola. Carlisi himself started as the driver for Joey Aiuppa when Aiuppa was boss.

The tape recordings are vital to the case and expected to be played at the trial next year of Calabrese Sr., Marcello and others, and should be a highlight. The trial will mark the culmination of the most significant prosecution federal authorities have brought against the Chicago Outfit, charging top leaders with 18 murders. Frank Calabrese Sr. alone has been accused of taking part in 13 of the slayings.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, Joseph Lopez, downplayed the importance of the tape-recorded conversations on Friday and questioned how the feds could properly interpret them. "My client doesn't know anything about any murders," Lopez said. The feds "gave the son the script, and he followed it. It's all very good theater."

Lopez contended that no fresh details about the slayings pop up on the tapes, and some conversations show "a father puffing up his chest for his son." "They are talking about facts that people 'in the know' would know," Lopez said. "When you hear the tapes in court, everyone will be able to draw different conclusions as to what was said."

Frank Calabrese's son, Frank Jr., put his life on the line every time he secretly tape-recorded his father, who was always cagey, always suspicious. The men were in prison together on a loan-sharking case the feds had brought against Calabrese Sr. and his crew. Calabrese Sr., who ran the crew, got nearly 10 years in prison. His son, Frank Jr., who had much less involvement in the matter, got more than 4 years.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was known for his brutality and ruthlessness, both on the streets and at home, ruling his family with fierce intimidation. To this day, Calabrese Sr. still tries to reach out and rattle family members, whether by getting messages passed out to relatives from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he is being held, or having rats put on the porch of another family member, sources said.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was extremely leery of even his closest associates, much less family, making it that much more of a challenge for the younger Calabrese to get him talking. Frank Calabrese Jr. not only had to get his father chatting about matters that his father would be extremely reluctant to talk about. The son also had to get his father to discuss those matters clearly, with enough detail, to be useful to federal prosecutors.

If Calabrese Sr. or any other prisoner found out the younger Calabrese was wearing a listening device in the prison yard, his life would have been in peril. But somehow, Frank Calabrese Jr. exceeded all expectations.

Despite all the danger to Calabrese Jr., he received no major benefits from the FBI. His main motivation was trying to ensure his father would stay behind bars for the rest of his life, law enforcement sources said. Calabrese Jr. was released from prison in 2000.

One recording Calabrese Jr. made even helped persuade his uncle Nick to cooperate with the feds. Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother Nick Calabrese had a long history together and were tight. They would often do mob killings together, authorities said. But what was once a close partnership is now a blood feud, with Nick Calabrese confessing to 15 mob hits and helping the FBI. Frank Calabrese Sr.'s own words helped turn his brother Nick into one of the FBI's most valuable informants.

The key conversation came one day when Frank Calabrese Sr. and Frank Jr. were in prison and discussing Nick Calabrese and whether he was cooperating with the feds. Nick Calabrese was not cooperating at the time, but relations were tense between the two brothers. Frank Calabrese Sr. was refusing to have his underlings send money to help support his brother's family, according to court testimony. And Nick Calabrese was still sore over how Frank Calabrese Sr. had treated his own sons, Frank Jr. and Kurt, in the loan-sharking case, effectively hanging them out to dry.

Frank Calabrese Sr. assured his son on the recording that he had gotten word out of the prison that if Nick Calabrese was helping investigators, then he would have no objection to his brother being killed. Frank Calabrese Sr. said that this was the life he and his brother had chosen. When the feds played that tape for Nick Calabrese, he began cooperating. But that wasn't the only factor contributing to Nick Calabrese's change of heart.

On another recording with his son, Frank Calabrese Sr. scoffed about a mob hit that his brother Nick nearly botched and talked about it in detail. Calabrese Sr. told his son how Nick Calabrese had been assigned to kill fellow mob hit man John Fecarotta in 1986.

Fecarotta had messed up an attempt to kill Tony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, and mob bosses decided that Fecarotta had to go.

According to court records and law enforcement sources, Fecarotta was set up on the ruse that he and other mobsters were going to drop off a bomb. Fecarotta apparently never figured out that the device they were carrying was fake, made up of flares taped together to look like dynamite. Nick Calabrese and Fecarotta were heading to the job site in a stolen Buick. As they pulled up near a bingo hall on West Belmont, Calabrese pulled his gun to kill Fecarotta. But Fecarotta fought him off, struggling with Calabrese until the gun went off, wounding Calabrese in the forearm.

Fecarotta ran for his life, and Nick Calabrese bolted after him, knowing if Fecarotta escaped, it would mean Nick Calabrese's own death sentence from the mob.

Nick Calabrese shot and killed Fecarotta, but Calabrese made a critical error. He left behind a bloody glove, which investigators recovered and kept. Years later, DNA tests tied Nick Calabrese to the glove and the murder.

On the secret tape recordings, Frank Calabrese Sr. spoke of other murders involving him and his brother. In one instance, Frank Calabrese Sr. bragged how he had orchestrated a shotgun slaying in Cicero of two men, Richard Ortiz and Arthur Morawski. They were sitting in a car outside Ortiz's bar on Cermak when eight shots were pumped into the 1983 Mercury, killing both men. Ortiz was killed over drugs, law enforcement sources say. Ortiz's family has denied Ortiz had anything to do with drug dealing. Morawski was killed by accident.

Calabrese Sr. also discussed his role in the 1980 slayings of mob hit man William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte, in Will County. Calabrese Sr. implicated his righthand man, the late Ronald Jarrett, as being involved, too. Jarrett was slain in a mob hit in 1999. I was living near Jarrett at this time. Calabrese Sr. even talked about mob hits he had no involvement in -- the murders, for instance, of Tony and Michael Spilotro.

Martin Scorsese's celebrated Las Vegas gangster movie, "Casino," had the men being beaten to death with baseball bats in an Indiana cornfield. But the movie got it wrong. Tony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, had been lured back to the Chicago area. Spilotro, a made man, was told he was going to be promoted and that his brother was going to be made into the Outfit.

James Marcello, now the reputed head of the Chicago mob, allegedly drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville-area home and their deaths, according to court testimony. Although, it was not like this in the movie, several sources within the FBI have already suggest this from their CI's.
On tape, in the prison-yard conversations with his son, Frank Calabrese Sr. names the mobsters who were there to kill the Spilotro brothers, including his brother, Nick. As the men surrounded Tony Spilotro, he begged for time to say a prayer, a novena, sources said. His killers declined and proceeded with their work. I find it dubious that Tony "the "Ant" would have begged anybody for anything, especially to say a novena.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir Staff Reporter Sun-Times

Sunday, August 18, 2002

The new 'Outfit'

In a secretly recorded conversation between two Chicago mobsters, the late "Singing Joe" Vento croons a love song of sorts about a top Outfit leader.

"You know the guy we met?" Vento asks mob enforcer Mario Rainone.

"Yeah," Rainone says.

"You think he's a nobody?" Vento asks.

"No, I know he's somebody," Rainone says.

"You better believe he's f------ somebody," Vento says.

That somebody is James Marcello.

James "Little Jimmy" Marcello has climbed his way to the top of organized crime in Chicago through murder and mayhem, law enforcement sources say. But Marcello’s biggest edge in getting the top job may simply be his age - he's only 58, a full 15 years younger than the gray old men thought to be running the show while Marcello waits to get out of prison.

At the moment, "Little Jimmy," as Marcello is known, is sitting in a federal prison in Milan, Mich., serving out his 12-1/2-year sentence for racketeering, extortion and illegal gambling. But when he gets out next year, mob watchers say, he's expected to take on a big new job--head of the Chicago Outfit. But if Marcello is a somebody, he's still not a really big somebody--and he never will be--at least not when compared with the infamous men who ran the mob before him, powerful hoods like Al Capone, Anthony Accardo, Sam Giancana and Joseph Aiuppa.

Marcello is doomed to be a lesser mob boss because the Chicago mob itself today is less of a power, squeaking along with much less money, far fewer members and a fraction of its old political influence.

In Capone's day, his boys raked in more than $100 million a year--more than $1 billion in today's dollars. Today, the Chicago Outfit pulls in just $100 million, according to law enforcement estimates.

In the 1980s, the Chicago mob had roughly 200 "made" members, each of whom ran his own various illegal businesses. Today, according to the FBI, the mob is down to about 50 made members--not enough hoods to fill up a small prison cellblock. And in the mob's heyday, the tentacles of organized crime in Chicago, like organized crime families across the nation, reached deep into labor unions, city and suburban police departments, city halls and the Statehouse.

The mob at its most powerful was impressively diversified, drawing hundreds of millions of dollars from loan-sharking, pornography, bookmaking, prostitution, extorting legitimate businesses, looting union pension and insurance funds, ghost payroll jobs in government, burglary, profit skimming at casinos, robbing jewelry salesmen, bankrolling drug dealers and whatever else somebody could dream up to grab a buck.

Who's the MOB BOSS lite of the Chicago underworld?

For generations, there was seldom any question. Capone was the man. Then Nitti. Then this guy or that guy. Some were unfamiliar names to the public, but ask anybody paying attention—the cops, the U.S. Justice Department, some punk breaking into houses trying to make his Outfit "bones" - and they could tell you exactly who was boss of the mob. No longer. If there is a top boss now, he's more of an underworld boss lite. Law enforcement sources, disagreeing even among themselves, say one of these three men is in charge. (Some mob experts believe Lombardo runs the mob now. He's 73. Other mob watchers say John ''No Nose'' DiFronzo runs the show. He's also 73. Still others say it's Joe ''the Builder'' Andriacchi. He's 69.) Today, the mob is still into a lot of that stuff, at least along the edges, but it relies heavily on a single source of income--illegal gambling. The Chicago Outfit is simply too decimated to be doing much more, brought low by relentless federal prosecutions and changing times.


In the last 20 years, federal prosecutors in Chicago, armed with evidence produced by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service, have put mob leader after mob leader behind bars--more than 150 made members, associates and workers.

Mob boss Sam "Wings" Carlisi, for whom Marcello worked as a chauffeur, died in prison in 1997. (Carlisi was sentenced to serve 13 years for convictions on mob racketeerings, loan sharking and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in the Chicago area and the West suburbs.) Mob boss Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa went to prison in 1986 and died in 1997, a year after his release. (Joey Doves started as a gunman for Capone. He served time for skimming profits from the Mob's interests in its Las Vegas casinos.) Top mob counselor Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra went to prison in 1986 and died in 1999, shortly after his release. ("The Hook" was a member of the Mob's 26th Street Crew that patrolled South of the Eisenhowser Expressway including the gambling dens of Chinatown and Chop Shops on the Southside.) Top mob lieutenant Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo went to prison in 1982 and was released in 1992.

What's left of the mob's leadership is getting old. This, of course, assumes that anybody is really in charge. Adding to the Outfit's problems, many top mobsters moved from the city to the suburbs years ago, abandoning those tough old Chicago neighborhoods that were always the mob's best recruiting grounds. New talent can be hard to find.

The Chicago Outfit today makes most of its money from illegal gambling. Those video poker machines in the back of local bars and social clubs feed millions a year to the mob. Illegal sports gambling, whether through a neighborhood bookie or an offshore betting operation somewhere in Central America, feeds millions of dollars more to the mob.

The mob also continues, though at a slower pace, to finance drug deals, engage in loan-sharking--lending money at exorbitant rates to those people no bank will touch--and to wield influence in organized labor, despite a strong federal effort to purge the mob from such unions as the Laborers and the Teamsters.

Indeed, the mob's continued influence within unions remains so strong that it--along with the mob's influence in politics--will be the subject of a future installment of the Chicago Sun-Times' "Crime, Inc." series.

As the sons of old-time mobsters pick up law degrees and MBAs, the new Chicago mob also has developed a fondness for setting up quasi-legit companies, such as insurance firms, designed to rip off clients at the first opportunity.

One example the feds point to is Specialty Risk Consultants, a reputed Outfit insurance company that is accused of siphoning more than $12 million out of the town of Cicero.

That scheme, though, didn't fare well on two fronts. Eight reputed players in the scam, including Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese, are on trial in federal court, and the jury in the case is expected to start its seventh day of deliberations Monday. (On January 9th, 2003, Betty Loren-Maltese revieved a sentence of eight years in prison from U.S. District Judge John Grady)

While the scam showed some sophistication, the profits from it weren't invested well. Key members of the scheme are accused of plowing millions of dollars into an isolated Wisconsin golf course that they had hoped to turn into a casino. The feds dubbed it the mob's "Fantasy Island," and that's all it ever was. No casino ever opened, and a white elephant remains.

Though the Chicago mob's top leadership has been decimated, young Turks have begun to turn more to violence, threatened and real, according to FBI experts and other law enforcement sources. Most obviously, two men have been shot dead in mob hits in recent years, but there's also the cheap day-to-day viciousness.

Consider, for example, the business tactics of the Giuliano brothers, Thomas and Christopher, who were convicted in 1999 of using muscle--beating a man up--to force the man to pay gambling debts. The victim owed Thomas Giuliano $75,000 and was told that amount would skyrocket to $200,000 in about 30 days if he didn't pay up. Thomas Giuliano, 33, allegedly warned the victim that he should show up to one meeting or "I'm gonna come through the window and grab you." When the brothers finally did track down their man, at his place of work, Christopher Giuliano, 29, grabbed the man's neck with both hands and began pushing his head into the wall. Fortunately, FBI agents, who had the business under surveillance, rushed in and saved him.

Or consider the case of alleged mob soldier Anthony Giannone, from suburban Bartlett, who made this colorful threat to a man who owed him $55,000: "When I find you, every day it rains, I'm gonna make you remember me." The implied threat, authorities explained, was that Giannone would break the man's bones. And even after the victim healed, his mauled body would ache when it rained.

Who's the boss?

Is it Joey the Clown?

Or No Nose?

Or the Builder?

The fact that mob watchers are not even sure who's running the Chicago Outfit these days--Lombardo, DiFronzo or Andriacchi--is seen by some as a sign of great sophistication.

"That very fact that you need to ask that question shows how effective the Outfit is," argues St. Xavier University Professor Howard Abadinsky, who has written on Chicago organized crime.

Or it could mean there is no clear leader willing to step up and take the heat from the feds, other observers argue.

The Chicago mob, Abadinsky points out, wisely keeps a low profile, especially compared with the New York mob, which has a way of gathering headlines through gunplay. Or as then mob boss Tony Accardo once told FBI agents in the early 1970s, "We're gentlemen in Chicago. They're savages in New York." But there have been those two mob hits in the last three years. In 1999, mobster Ronald Jarrett was shot dead outside his Bridgeport home. Two years later, Anthony "the Hatch" Chiaramonti was shot outside a Brown's Chicken & Pasta in south suburban Lyons. And so, some observers wonder if the violence will escalate over turf disputes.

Abadinsky, for one, doubts it. "They've been successful, they've been controlled, they are much more hierarchical," he said. "They've been able to control the kind of violence that would generate attention."

To rise to the top of any organization, you have to build an impeccable resume and pay your dues. And it helps to have family in right places.

By these standards, law enforcement sources say, James Marcello is perfectly positioned to take command of the Chicago Outfit. Especially given his relative youth--he's 58.

He worked for Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation as a laborer from 1960 to 1973, but it has been his other jobs, like working as the No. 2 man for "Wings" Carlisi, that spoke to his true talents.

Marcello, who lived in the Lombard area, has shown he's crafty and paranoid about surveillance. He's feared. And stone-cold ruthless.

At his trial, prosecutors said Marcello took part in planning the hit of a mob associate, Anthony "Jeeps" Daddino, which never took place, and was a prime mover behind the unsuccessful torching of the Lake Theatre in Oak Park. But Marcello is best known in mob circles for his alleged part in the slayings of the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and Spilotro's brother Michael.

In 1986, the Spilotros were stripped to their underwear, beaten senseless and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield. No one has ever been charged in the case, but investigators have long believed Marcello helped set up the brothers for the hit.

Marcello's brother-in-law is former Chicago police officer William Galioto, whom the Chicago Crime Commission named a mob lieutenant in its 1997 organization chart.

Galioto was an investor in a new movie studio being planned on the West Side in 1995. The project attracted front-page headlines--and fell apart--when Mayor Daley killed a $5.5 million low-interest loan for the studio after learning about the mob ties. And Marcello's nephew is John Galioto, business manager of Laborers' Local 225 in Des Plaines until it was forced into trusteeship in the late 1990s because of alleged ties to organized crime and extravagant spending. Both Galiotos have denied any connection to organized crime.

Even without such impressive connections, Marcello's name is enough to invoke dread. Take, for instance, this secretly recorded conversation between Richard Spizziri, who worked for Marcello, and a man behind on juice loan payments.

"I don't want to give this to Little Jimmy," Spizziri says. "If I give this to Jimmy, he's gonna send somebody. He's gonna send f------ . . . f------ nine guys out, and they will find you."

During another chat, Spizziri describes the talents of the dedicated professionals to be dispatched.

"I don't want youse to get hurt," he tells the debtor. "I really don't want you to get hurt, 'cause they don't send f------ people like Sean," Spizziri says, referring to a big guy who works for him.

"Sean's a f------ goof. . . . Sean does what you tell him to do, a couple of slaps and it's over.

"These people, when they send these people, they like what they're doin'. This is their job.

"They love it."

Reported by Steve Warmbir

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