The Chicago Syndicate: John Fecarotta
Showing posts with label John Fecarotta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Fecarotta. Show all posts

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Renee Fecarotta Russo and Nora Schweihs of Mob Wives Chicago Sued by Manager

Call it a “Mob” contract gone bad.

Two cast members of “Mob Wives Chicago” are being sued by film producer and talent manager Nick Celozzi Jr., who says both women owe him a cut of their pay for appearing on the new VH1 reality TV show.

The lawsuits, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, accuse Renee Fecarotta Russo and Nora Schweihs of breaking their contracts with Celozzi.

He says his company, Family Ties Management, arranged for both women to attend a casting call with the show’s production company, JustJenn Productions. The women hired Celozzi to be their manager for two years, according to copies of contracts that appear to have been signed by Russo and Schweihs in December.

As their manager, Celozzi was supposed to collect 15 percent of what the women get paid to be on the TV show — a figure listed in the lawsuits as $6,000 for each of the season’s 10 episodes. That makes Celozzi’s cut $900 an episode for Russo and the same for Schweihs.

Looks like it was an offer they could refuse.

To date, Russo has forked over $500 while Schweihs has paid $900, according to the lawsuits, which say the women each owe a total of $9,000 for season one — plus interest and legal costs.

“I do believe a lot of people who are new to this business … when they realize that there’s a lot of costs to being involved in this type of industry, they change their minds about what decisions they wanted to have made several months prior,” said Celozzi’s attorney, James Pesoli.

The management contracts call for disputes to be settled before the American Arbitration Association in New York. But Pesoli said that “due to the size of the claim being relatively minimal, under $10,000, it’s in both parties’ best interest to attempt to settle it locally.”

Pesoli, who appeared in court with Russo’s attorney earlier this week, said discussions are under way to potentially settle out of court. He said things haven’t progressed as much in the case of Schweihs, whom they’ve had “a great amount of difficulty” in serving with the lawsuit.

Attempts to reach Schweihs, Russo and Russo’s attorney Wednesday were unsuccessful.

“Mob Wives Chicago,” a spinoff of the popular “Mob Wives” series, debuted June 10 and airs Sundays on the cable network. The show follows the lives of five women related to Chicago mobsters.

Russo is the niece of late loan shark and Outfit hit man “Big John” Fecarotta.

Schweihs is the daughter of Frank “The German” Schweihs, an alleged mob enforcer who died shortly before going to trial in 2008 in the city’s historic Family Secrets case. Nora Schweihs made headlines last week when she had father’s remains exhumed from St. Mary Cemetery in Evergreen Park — part of her purported quest to find out what really happened to her dad.

Celozzi, a former actor, used to appear in his father Nick’s commercials for Celozzi-Ettleson Chevrolet in Elmhurst. Dividing his time between California and the western suburbs, Celozzi has several mob-related entertainment projects in the works, including a documentary on his grand-uncle, notorious Outfit boss Sam “Momo” Giancana.

Thanks to Lori Rackl Irackl

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chicago Is My F—ing Town - Episode 1 of Mob Wives Chicago


If you ever thought that the mob was just Staten Island, think again. “The mob is Chicago. It’s in the pavement, it’s everywhere,” Renee Fecarotta Russo explains in the first moments of Mob Wives Chicago. This is where the mob began.Now that we know Chicago is where is began, let’s meet the ladies.

Renee is the niece of Big John Fecarotta, an alleged enforcer for the mob who was gunned down in 1986, shot in the back by his best friend.

Before he died, he treated Renee like a princess, and that’s just how Renee treats her own daughters, Giana who’s 20 years old (damn, Renee, you look good for the mom of a 20-year-old!) and Isabella, age 10. Giana’s father is in prison and has been for thirteen years, and unlike the women from Staten Island, making prison visits is not a priority. “I haven’t visited him this whole time, and I never want to see him again,” she says. Giana wants to know her dad though, and Renee can’t stand the idea that she wants to visit a man who was not only convicted of murder, but who was never there for her as a dad. “This guy is so horrible that I really don’t want him near my daughter.” Giana disagrees.

Nora Schweihs
Nora knows Chicago is a corrupt town and explains that the stuff we’ve seen on The Sopranos is kid stuff compared to what happens on a day-to-day in Chicago. Nora’s dad is Frank “The German” Schweihs, who is the most notorious hit man in Chicago. Just don’t insinuate that he killed Marilyn Monroe, because Nora will stab you. “Mind your own business and shut the f— up about my dad,” seems to be Nora’s motto. Nora was best friends with her dad. She still might be, his whereabouts are currently unknown. Though he was presumed to have passed away in prison, the day of the funeral, the funeral director called her family and told them that the FBI confiscated his body. She’s absolutely tortured by the fact that she was never able to say goodbye to the man she loved. After a decade in Florida, Nora moved back to Chicago and plans to find out just what happened to her dad. Reality shows don’t have nearly enough mystery, so here’s to hoping Nora’s story finds some resolution, because now I’m dying to know what happened to her dad, too.

Pia Rizza
Vince Rizza was a crooked Chicago cop turned government informant. His daughter, Pia, is not a fan of rats and considers him an embarrassment to her family. She’s had to live with the stigma of having a cooperator in the family, and admits that, when asked about her father, she tells people he’s dead. Pia’s a single mom who works at a strip club which she’s totally fine with, but Nora looks down on. “She’s so much better than working at the strip club,” Nora says. “It’s just a job,” Pia says. A job that brings in thousands of dollars a night, sometimes.

Nora feels comfortable enough talking about Pia’s job though because they go way back and their families have history and they’re like sisters. Which also gives Pia the freedom to tell us that “Nora gets a bad rap because a lot of people think she’s f—ing nuts.” I look forward to seeing that side of her. But for now, Nora just wants Pia to get her life together and find a more respectable profession. Pia takes offense to that notion.

Renee doesn’t know Pia that well, but she feels the same way about the stripping (“What she does is an embarrassment…Get off the pole.”) and to boot, she’s heard that Pia is a goumada, a mistress to several married men.

Renee admits to being judgmental, but what she really should have said was she is Judge Judy, Judge Wapner, and Judge Joe Brown all rolled into one. She can’t stand Pia’s profession, she knows Pia’s father is a rat and thinks that’s a disgrace. “Obviously this girl has no integrity,” Renee tells Nora. Do I sense our first beef of the season?

Norah just wants to have a nice girls’ night out with all the women so they can get to know each other, and suggests that maybe Pia will grown on Renee. “Like mold?” Renee asks. But before girls night happens, Pia’s cousin Anthony calls her to tell her he saw Nora out at a club, and Nora was talking smack about Pia. Sounds like Renee’s judgmental ways rubbed off, because Anthony says Nora was calling her a b—h and a whore. “Nobody talks s— about me,” Pia says. Oooh, it’s actually a race to see whose beef will blossom first this season!

Before that can happen, we meet Christina Scoleri. Born and bred in Little Italy, Christina grew up a fighter who’s used to watching her back. Christina’s father is a burglar for the mob. Though she’s loyal to her dad, she’s “definitely not the girl to take over the family business,” she says. After a ten-year marriage, she’s recently divorced but still living with her ex-husband. “I know it’s a little weird.” I mean, okay, it is a little weird, but whats weirder is that no one in Christina’s family knows they’re divorced, not even her nine-year-old daughter who lives with them. Well, we know where Christina’s Mob Wives salary is going to go, paying off the years of therapy her daughter’s going to need to figure out this situation. Christina knows she needs to get out though, that’s for sure.

Pia is Christina’s friend and has been for over ten years, and Christina doesn’t really know the other women. Pia tells Christina the things her cousin heard Nora saying, specifically that she’s a “c—t,” and Christina can’t believe it but advises Pia to address it “in a nice way first” before raising fists. Christina sounds wiser by the minute, also saying that the issue should be addressed before the girls’ night out so it’s not tense for everyone.

Rounding out the pack is Leah Desimone, another native of Little Italy, a self-professed chubby-chaser, and a woman whose father kept his mob indiscretions hidden from her view. Leah still lives at home with her father, so in case you thought Christina had the weirdest living situation of the bunch, she’s got some competition. “I don’t wanna leave my father!” Leah says.

She’s connected to the gang through Christina, as they both grew up on the same street, but she knows who the other girls are. Christina tells Leah about the Pia-Nora drama and Leah sums up the situation by saying “Nora and Pia are two balloon-heads. I’ve never seen a friendship like this before in my life.”

Leah is going to be absent from girls’ night because she’ll be out of town, and that means we won’t have access to her running commentary and Italian slang for a scene or two, which bums me out. What the crap is a bazzarelle? Because my Google translator isn’t finding it. Leah says it’s best that she’s not there though, because she will throw down if necessary, and anything can trigger her.

On to girls night… Nora is the only person who’s looking at this thing optimistically. She wants everyone to hang out, have a good time, meet one another. But no one else is psyched because of what they’ve heard, or think they’ve heard through the Chicago grapevine.

“Are the girls late or are we early?” Renee asks, and Nora mentions that Pia’s usually late. “That’s disrespectful,” Renee says, and already it feels like trouble’s brewing. Poor Pia has no idea how Renee feels because she tells us “I like Renee, I think she’s a fun girl.”

When Pia and Christina arrive, so far so good. Hugs all around! But then Pia starts talking about some unsavory behavior, like the time she was in Florida and drank a pitcher and a half of mojitos, and Renee looks at her like she wants to drown her in an above-ground pool full of mojitos. And if her dirty looks weren’t enough to make Pia feel unwelcome, Renee broaches the subject of Pia’s father being a rat, and Pia explains that her father was a rat but that she is nothing like him. Renee doesn’t push the envelope, but she also doesn’t warn to Pia, even after that reassurance.
We already have two potential beefs in the room, but now we get a third once Christina brings up the topic of Nora’s dad being a hit man. No one ever told Christina that this subject was off-limits, apparently. “What would make you bring such a sore subject into such a happy moment?” Nora asks. “My dad didn’t kill any-f—ing-body.”

“Nora’s in f—ing la la land about what her dad used to do,” Christina tells us. Again, loving Christina’s to-the-point honesty. I wonder if it will come back to bite her? (This is also the same women who admits “I could drink, like, a kegger of shots!” during the night. I also wonder if that will come back to bite her.)
Renee notices that Christina is like halfway through her kegger of shots and she’s like “Slow down, killer!” But the moment we assumed would happen finally happens, Pia tells the girls “I have to address something.”

“I have to tell Nora about what I heard.” Pia tells Nora what her cousin told her, and Nora’s response is very lawyer-y. “Tell him to get it on tape, and then I’ll believe what I said,” she says, basically talking in circles because I don’t really know what she means. “It’s hearsay.” Finally she tells Pia “I never said it.”
“I don’t know if Nora called Pia a whore, but I wouldn’t blame her if she did,” Renee says. “If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck…quack quack.”

Nora and Pia actually talk things out and kiss, and Nora says “Love you, drop it.” Beef number one seems to actually be squashed, which seems miraculous.

Christina’s not dropping anything though. “You guys should have addressed this the next day,” she tells Pia, sticking to her guns of nipping drama in the bud. Except that she has no clue that she’s starting beef number three. Christina and her kegger of shots are losing control and she keeps pushing everyone’s buttons over an issue that’s already been resolved, and no one knows why. Judging from her face, I don’t even know if she knows why.

She holds fast to the notion that since Pia confided in her about this issue, it’s now her business, and she doesn’t like the way it was resolved after all.

“Shut the f— up!” Pia tells Christina. “Are you my friend or are you not my friend? Right now I don’t think you’re my friend!” she yells, getting up off her couch. “All of a sudden Christina’s like a raging junkyard dog.”

Christina tosses her drink at Nora who stepped in to separate them, and hell breaks loose. “This is completely out of control,” Renee says, as security tries to pry the women apart, but they are fused together at the hair extensions by now.

Once the dust clears, Renee still finds a way to place the blame on Pia, saying “Pia she just has no class. She’s just a piece of s—.”

Introductions are complete, welcome to the world of Mob Wives Chicago.

Thanks to Elizabeth Black

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Mob Wives Chicago Cast

As the second season of VH1′s ratings hit “Mob Wives” continues to captivate fans with the never-ending, real-life drama in New York, the network introduces a new group of “Syndicate Sisters” with the debut of the franchise’s first spin-off, “Mob Wives Chicago,” to premiere Spring 2012.

Mob Wives Chicago

“Mob Wives Chicago” follows the lives of five women allegedly connected to “The Outfit,” Chicago’s version of the Mob, as they bear the cross for the sins of their Mob-associated fathers. With lives that are right off the pages of a story book, each woman has chosen her own way to live her life in the city that was once home to Al Capone, sometimes in spite of and many times because of who her father is. Along the way these women battle their friends, families and each other as they try to do what’s best for themselves and their children. But ultimately, it is the ghost of their fathers they battle, living and dead, as they try to overcome and persevere in the face of these men’s notorious legacies.

Meet the cast of “Mob Wives Chicago”:

RENEE FECAROTTA RUSSO: Renee is a strong independent businesswoman who was raised by her uncle, “Big John” Fecarotta, following the death of her father. An alleged loan collector and hit man for “The Outfit,” Fecarotta was Renee’s mentor and best friend until being gunned down by fellow mobster Nick Calabrese. Fiercely loyal to his memory, Renee still abides by the “code”: never associate with rats…take it to the grave.

NORA SCHWEIHS: Nora is back in Chicago to take care of some unfinished business. Nora’s father, Frank “The German” Schweihs, was reputed to be one of the most notorious hit men for the Mob. Schwiehs, whose alleged “hits” were not limited to the Mob, has long been rumored to be responsible for the death of Marilyn Monroe. Shortly after his death in 2008, the government confiscated his remains before he could be properly buried. Nora has returned to Chicago to learn the whereabouts of his body. Despite growing up hearing stories of his viciousness and brutality, Nora idolized her father and she continues to defend him… even to his grave.

PIA RIZZA: Pia may have a mouth like a trucker, but she’s spoken zip about her father since she was a little girl. Vincent Rizza was a dirty Chicago cop who worked for the Mob, testified against the Mob and then went into the Witness Protection Program. Pia has struggled all her life to hide from the shame of having a “rat” for a father. It’s been especially difficult to avoid the judgments and finger pointing in a town that celebrates the folk heroes and glory days of the Mob.

CHRISTINA SCOLERI: As an unemployed divorced mother of a 9-year-old, Christina is struggling to provide a stable environment for her daughter. Christina is the daughter of Raymond Janek, a one-time thief and alleged fence for the Mob. Serving 20 years off and on for various offenses, Janek finally went straight in 1987, and his relationship with his daughter remains distant. Christina’s father is a reminder of her own unstable upbringing, and she’s determined not to repeat the sins of her father.

LEAH DESIMONE: Leah is the over-protected daughter of William “Wolf” DeSimone, a supposed “associate” of the Mob, but Leah’s keeping mum. Leah never knew, and knew never to ask what her Dad did for a living. Leaving one day in a suit, Wolf would return days later in street clothes with no explanation and none expected. Now “retired,” Wolf still keeps tabs on his little girl. But as vigilant as he is of her safety, Leah is equally secretive of her Dad’s profession … if you’re “connected,” you NEVER talk about it!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Frank "The German" Schweihs' Daughter to Star on "Mob Wives: Chicago"

During his long career as a mob enforcer, Frank “The German” Schweihs gained a reputation as a fearsome hit man relied upon by the Chicago Outfit to eliminate its enemies, including potential government witnesses who might talk out of school.

Schweihs, who was said to be so psycho scary that even other tough guy mobsters went out of their way to avoid him, died of cancer in 2008 while waiting to go on trial in the landmark Operation Family Secrets case.

Later this week, sources tell me, the television network VH-1 is planning to announce Schweihs’ daughter Nora will be one of the stars of the new Chicago spinoff of its hit reality series, “Mob Wives.”

Is there still any doubt in your mind that The Outfit isn’t what it used to be? “Mob Wives,” which bills itself as a docu-soap, has never purported to spill any mob secrets during its now two season run following the exploits of a group of Staten Island women with familial ties to New York organized crime figures. “Mob Wives: Chicago” isn’t expected to be any different.

Instead, the program explores the lives of the women with the goal of showing how their mob surroundings have affected them personally—as mothers, daughters and wives. For anybody who has seen the prolific catfighting among the New York cast, the affect would appear to be pretty straightforward: it’s made them crazy.

Nora Schweihs, 48, is said to be a piece of work herself. I’ve only managed to get her on the phone a couple of times — both occasions resulting in her angrily yelling at me that she didn’t know what I was talking about and to never call again. Still, I can respect that. That’s how a real mobster’s family member is supposed to react when a newspaper reporter calls, not schedule a press conference.

The German’s daughter certainly has the bona fides for the show. Her ex-husband, Michael Talarico, was a mob bookmaker and nephew of mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra. In fact, when Talarico testified for the prosecution against Frank Calabrese Sr. in the Family Secrets trial, he told the jury he was still working as a bookie.

There’s Nora Schweihs of Mob Wives Chicagoa rather unflattering mugshot of Nora Schweihs on the Internet arising from a 2004 DUI arrest in Florida, where she and her father both used to live. She was also charged in the incident with resisting arrest and felony possession of cocaine. She was convicted on the DUI, but the other charges were dropped.

Joining Schweihs on the show will be her good friend, Renee Fowler Russo, the niece of mob loan shark and killer John Fecarotta, whose own 1986 assassination provided the break that set the Family Secrets dominoes in motion. Nicholas Calabrese, the hit man whose cooperation with authorities was at the heart of the Family Secrets case, is said to have flipped in large part because he left a bloody glove behind when he killed Fecarotta, which years later provided a DNA match.

What qualifies Russo for the show, we’re told , is that she and her mother Barbara, Fecarotta’s sister, lived with “Big John” while she was growing up. Russo, 44, now operates an eye care business in Ukrainian Village and has numerous other past entanglements that could add to the drama.

The other two women in the four-member cast are Pia Rizza, 40, daughter of Vincent Rizza, a dirty Chicago cop who doubled as a bookmaker and juice collector before he turned government witness, and Christine Scoleri, 41, daughter of a small-time Cicero-area hood described to me as a “knockaround guy.”

Rizza’s father was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1982 for drug dealing and ended up in the federal witness protection program. Perhaps most notably, he testified against Harry “The Hit” Aleman, maybe the only Chicago mob guy of his generation more feared than Schweihs.

Scoleri’s father shows up so infrequently in our news clippings that I’m not quite comfortable mentioning him by name with the rest of this crowd. Scoleri, by the way, is her married name.

I’m told there are another one or two Chicago mob women, as yet unrevealed, who aren’t part of the regular cast but might make cameo appearances during the season with an eye toward a bigger role in the future — if our mob women prove as popular as New York’s.

Might there be a “your daddy killed my daddy” story line sometime in the future?

Thanks to Mark Brown

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Meeting Frank Calabrese Jr.

It was a tattoo that almost got Frank Calabrese killed. He'd had it etched across his back while he was in Milan prison in Michigan: a large map of America over which prison bars have been superimposed with a pair of hands reaching out through them in handcuffs. He'd designed it himself, to make a point, he says, about "how you are free in America but somehow not free".

The tattoo was drawn by a fellow inmate, against prison regulations, with the connivance of a guard whom they bribed to look the other way.

Soon after he'd had it done, Calabrese was walking around the prison exercise yard. He was wearing a wire, his torso wrapped in recording equipment like a Christmas tree. Walking beside him was one of the world's most dangerous men – a killing machine from the Chicago mob whose preferred method of assassination was the rope and knife.

Calabrese had just succeeded in enticing the other man into telling him about a succession of murders he'd committed, including that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael, immortalised by the film Casino. The unwitting confession was captured by the wire and recorded for later analysis by the FBI.

Suddenly the older man stopped and asked to see Calabrese's new tattoo. "Why've you been covering it up? Let me see it," he said. It was an instant death warrant. If Calabrese lifted up his shirt and revealed the wire, the older man, who was shorter than him but immensely powerful, would know he had been betrayed and would kill him on the spot with his bare hands. It was 300 yards to the prison door and Calabrese calculated he wouldn't make it, deciding instead to stand his ground and bluff it. He pulled his shirt down and refused, saying it would get him into trouble. The older man looked puzzled for a second, then relaxed and backed off.

Should Calabrese have been exposed at that moment as an FBI informant, it would have put an end to the largest mafia investigation in American history. As it was, he went on to hold many more hours of taped conversations with the older man that helped to blow apart the Chicago mob. The Outfit, the organised crime syndicate of Al Capone that had terrorised the city for 100 years, had finally got its comeuppance.

That exchange in the prison yard was significant for another, more personal, reason. The older man whom Calabrese was secretly recording, condemning him in the process to spending the rest of his life in prison, had the same name as him: Frank Calabrese. Senior. His father.

Hollywood revealed to Frank Calabrese Jr the truth about his father. Until he saw his own domestic life play out on screen, he'd assumed he was from a normal family.

Home life in the heavily Italian and mafia-frequented neighbourhood of Elmwood Park was dominated by his father's Sicilian roots. Three generations of Italian-Americans – his grandparents, parents and uncles, brothers and cousins – were crammed into the house they called the Compound. Frank Jr was the eldest of three sons, and his father's favourite.

What his father did all day was a mystery to the young boy. When other kids at school asked him how his dad made a living, he was nonplussed.

"Tell them I'm an engineer," Frank Sr would say.

"What, like a choo-choo-train engineer?"

"No, tell them I'm an operating engineer."

Calabrese was 12 when The Godfather came out. The Corleone family it portrayed was strikingly similar to his own. Art was imitating life, or was it the other way round? His father was friendly with Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi, the Godfather's son-in-law, in the movie. One night, Russo was being interviewed on a show and pulled out a knife he said had been given to him by a mobster.

"I gave him that knife," Frank Sr said as they sat watching TV.

Years later, in one of the taped conversations Frank Jr had with his father, Calabrese Sr remarked that Mario Puzo's account in the original book of the initiation ceremony for "made men" was spot on. "Whoever wrote that book, either their father or their grandfather or somebody was in the organisation," said Calabrese Sr, who, as a "made man" himself, knew what he was talking about.

"So you mean they actually pricked the hand and the candles and all that stuff?" Frank Jr asked.

"Their fingers got cut and everybody puts the fingers together and all the blood running down. Then they take pictures, put them in your hand, burn them. Holy pictures."

A few years after The Godfather came out, Frank Sr began to draw his son into the family business. It was a slow, almost imperceptible process. "He started to involve me in little things," Calabrese said. "It was like, 'Hey, son, do this for your dad. Go take this envelope, go deliver this to a store.'"

Calabrese was encouraged to keep a low profile. "We were taught to blend, to fly under the radar. My father told me to drive Fords and Chevies, not Cadillacs or BMWs. Wear baseball caps, not fedoras, ski jackets, not trenchcoats."

At 19, Calabrese was allowed to take part in mob activities, starting with collecting money from peep shows and graduating into keeping the books. It was an education of sorts. "I learned all my maths through the juice loan business." As he became more central to his father's racketeering and gambling concerns, the lessons became more specific. Calabrese was shown by his father how to hug someone to see if they were carrying a gun or wearing a wire.

Calabrese embraced his new life. "When I bought into it, I bought into it strong. Whatever my father told me to do, that's what I did. I didn't fear law enforcement, or jail, or death. If my father told me to walk full-speed into that wall, I would."

Then, at the age of 26, Calabrese was invited to take part in an initiation ceremony all of its own – his first gangland murder.

For a key prosecution witness in a massive mob case that took down 14 top mafia bosses, Frank Calabrese Jr comes across as remarkably relaxed. He's not in a witness protection scheme, lives under his own name, and when I visit him in a condo apartment outside Phoenix in Arizona, he readily opens the door and welcomes me in without so much as a frisking. How does he know I'm not a hit man sent from Chicago to exact revenge? "I don't," he says.

Calabrese looks the part of a Chicago hard man. His head is shaved, accentuating his large ears and piercing blue eyes. He's wearing a sleeveless vest and slacks, which display the product of hours spent pumping iron. When he speaks, though, Calabrese does so with a surprising softness and introspection. It's a bit like listening to Tony Soprano talking to his therapist (Calabrese is a big Sopranos fan – he watched the whole series with his mother and ex-wife, wincing at the parallels with his own family).

Hanging on the wall of his apartment is a framed photograph of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr from the original Ocean's 11. His father, he explains, was friendly with Sinatra's bodyguard.

Frank Calabrese Sr – aka Frankie Breeze – was born in 1937 into a poor Italian family on the west side of Chicago. He left school at 13 and could barely read and write. By 16 he had begun to make money as a thief and later developed a "juice" loan business, extracting exorbitant rates of return. It was a lucrative enterprise: at its peak he had $1m out on loan with collections of up to 10% per week. After the trial ended and the elder Calabrese was given multiple life sentences, the FBI searched his home and found $2m-worth of diamonds and almost $800,000 in bills and property deeds.

In 1964, Calabrese Sr was "whistled in" to the Outfit by a much-feared mafia underboss called Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. The nickname came from what LaPietra would do to anyone who fell behind with their loan repayments: hang them on a meat hook and torture them with a cattle prod or blowtorch. Cause of death – suffocation from screaming. The younger Calabrese grew up thinking of LaPietra as "Uncle Ang".

Together with LaPietra and his own brother, Nick, Calabrese Sr developed a specialist role as the Outfit's murder squad. Calabrese Jr was given an insight into that as a teenager one night when his father came home and hurried him into the bathroom. With the fan on and the water running so no one else could hear, he breathlessly recounted a hit he'd just carried out. "We got 'im… Our guy wasn't listening to the rules, so we shotgunned him."

Those who were "retired" by Calabrese Sr and his brother included Michael "Bones" Albergo; John Mendell, who rather foolishly robbed the home of the Outfit's consigliere, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo; a business rival called Michael Cagnoni, who was blown up in his car; rogue mobster Richard Ortiz; and Emil Vaci, a Las Vegas-based gangster the Outfit feared might inform against them. Then there were the Spilotros of Casino fame. Tony Spilotro was head of the Outfit's Vegas arm, running a gambling and "skimming" business (skimming off casino profits without telling the tax authorities). He got too big for his boots, and when the bosses found out he was having an affair with another made man's wife, they wanted him gone.

Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael were lured to Chicago under the pretext that Michael would be "made" and Tony would be promoted to capo. Instead, they had ropes thrown around their necks and were strangled – the legendary "Calabrese necktie".

The younger Calabrese's own brush with murder came in 1986 when he was chosen to take part in a hit on John "Big Stoop" Fecarotta. He was to sit in the back seat of the getaway car. "I was ready to murder for my dad," Calabrese says. "You always need two guys in the car, and I was to go with my uncle Nick. If I'd crossed that line, there would have been no coming back. But my uncle talks me out of it. He tells me, 'This ain't for you. You don't want this life.' He saved me."

That was a turning point for Calabrese, in both his relationship with the mob and, by extension, with his father. When he was young, his father was loving towards him, always ready with a hug. But as Calabrese Sr came increasingly under the influence of the murderous LaPietra, he changed, growing colder and more brutal towards his son. "His temper became shorter, he would be quicker with his hands, more controlling. He didn't think twice about cracking you in the face."

The younger Calabrese came to see how manipulative his father was, switching personalities at the click of his fingers. "If you were sitting with him here right now, you'd love him. He'd charm you. But when you'd gone, he'd turn into his second personality – a controlling and abusive father. And his third personality was the killer."

To try to wriggle out of his father's tight embrace, Calabrese set up in business on his own. He opened Italian restaurants, and later began dealing cocaine. He kept that hidden from his father, knowing that if he was found out "the old man would have killed me". He also kept secret his own intensifying addiction to the drug. In a desperate move to break free and to keep his habit fed, Calabrese began stealing from a cache of about $700,000 in $50 notes his father had tucked behind a wall in his grandmother's basement.

Not a good idea. When his father discovered the losses, and who was responsible, he issued a decree. "From now on, I own you," he told his son. "The restaurants are mine, your house is mine, everything is mine."

A few months later his father asked Calabrese to join him for a coffee. They met at a lock-up garage used by the crew. "As I opened the door I realised, oh shit! He's setting me up. He slams the door, turns and sticks a gun in my cheek. Then he says: 'I would rather have you dead than disobey me.'"

Calabrese started sobbing and begging for forgiveness. "Somehow I got out of that garage. As we got back in the truck, he started punching me and back-handing me in the face. My tears were rolling down and all I could think about was how I could never trust this man again. From that day on, I have never trusted anybody. Nobody."

The decision to turn informant against his own father was taken in 1998 inside Milan prison where both Frank Calabreses were sent after being found guilty of racketeering and illegal gambling. Imprisonment was the best thing that happened to the younger man. It allowed him to kick his cocaine addiction, and to become healthy once again. Most important, it freed him from his father's control.

He became determined that as soon as he was released he would make a new life for himself. "I decided that I was going to quit the Outfit. I'd wound up in prison, on drugs. That wasn't what I wanted any more. I had to find a way to go straight when I came out."

But he knew a huge hurdle stood in his way: his father. He had a choice. Either he could wait until they were both out, then confront his father and tell him he wanted to leave the family business, in which case there would almost certainly be a showdown and one of them would end up dead. Or he could cooperate.

The FBI called their investigation Operation Family Secrets. The 2007 trial lasted three months and took into account 18 murders. In addition to his father's life sentences, long prison sentences were eventually handed out to seven other Outfit bosses. It was an extraordinary result given the history of the Chicago mob. In its 100 years, the Outfit had committed more than 3,000 murders, yet before this only 12 convictions had been secured. Until Calabrese took the stand, backed up by his uncle Nick, who had also turned prosecution witness, not a single made member had been held accountable.

During the trial, the younger Calabrese gave evidence against his father standing just feet away from him in the courtroom. "The one thing I wasn't ready for was the emotional part. I walk into the courtroom and it's the strangest feeling I've ever had. There was my dad. Part of me wanted to go over to him and hug him and say, Dad, I'm going to take care of you. It's going to be OK. Man, I wasn't prepared for that."

As he left the courtroom at the end of his testimony, "the tears just started streaming. An agent asks me, 'Are you OK?' And I say, 'No, I've just realised that's the last time I'll ever see my dad.'"

He was right about that. The elder Calabrese, now 74, is being held in a maximum security institution in Missouri where he has been kept for the past two years in almost total isolation. He is permitted no visitors, nor any contact with other prisoners in a regime reserved for a handful of the most serious terrorists and serial killers.

Calabrese left Chicago after the trial and moved to Phoenix, partly to get away from his past and partly because the hot, dry air of Arizona is good for his health. A few years ago he discovered he had MS and though he keeps it at bay with exercise, it causes him to limp.

He lives with his two children, Kelly and Anthony, and makes a living as a motivational speaker, telling law-enforcement conferences and self-help groups how he has turned his life around. He is unmarried, but his former wife Lisa lives nearby and they remain close. She is still deeply afraid, he says, that his father will seek retribution and she has pleaded with him to enter witness protection. But he continues to refuse. As he writes in his book: "I'm pragmatic. If people can kill presidents, they can kill me. Nobody is invincible and completely safe in today's world."

When I ask to see the tattoo that nearly got him killed, he pulls up his shirt to reveal that his back carries not only the drawing of the map of America with prison bars, but also seven small tattoos depicting bullet holes – like the ones you get on cowboy posters. "I feel I'm always going to have to watch my back," he explains, "so those bullet holes are a reminder to me to be alert every day."

Regrets, he has a few. He still finds it difficult to come to terms with the fact that he committed the mobster's ultimate sin by ratting on another. And though he is convinced he made the right decision, he is still deeply troubled by the outcome. "At this stage in his life, as my dad gets old, I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be his protector, not his executioner."

Can there be forgiveness between them, the Frank Calabreses? "I can forgive him. I love my dad to this day, I just don't love his ways. But I don't think he can forgive me. I really don't. I wish he could."

Calabrese says he's resigned to the grip his father has, and will for ever have, over him. "I know in my heart that the day my father dies he'll haunt me," he says. "This will go on for eternity. I don't know what to expect in the next life, but I do know that wherever it is he will be waiting there for me. And he's not going to be happy with me."

Thanks to Ed Pilkington

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Excerpt from Frank Calabrese Jr's 'Operation Family Secrets'

I set myself up in the corner of the prison library at the Federal Correctional

Institution in Milan, Michigan, and banged out the letter to FBI Special

Agent Thomas Bourgeois on a cranky old Smith-Corona manual typewriter. My mobster father, Frank Calabrese, Sr. — who was serving time with me in FCI Milan — had taught me to be decisive. So when I typed the letter, my mind was made up.

I didn't touch the paper directly. I used my winter gloves to handle the sheet and held the envelope with a Kleenex so as not to leave any fingerprints. The moment I mailed the letter on July 27, 1998, I knew I had crossed the line. Cooperating with the FBI meant not only that I would give up my father, but that I would have to implicate my uncle Nick for the murder of a Chicago Outfit mobster named John "Big Stoop" Fecarotta. Giving up my uncle was the hardest part.

When I reread the letter one last time, I asked myself, What kind of son puts his father away for life? The Federal Bureau of Prisons had dealt me a cruel blow by sticking me in the same prison as my dad. It had become increasingly clear that his vow to "step away" from the Outfit after we both served our time was an empty promise.

"I feel I have to help you keep this sick man locked up forever," I wrote in my letter.

Due to legal and safety concerns, it was five months before Agent Thomas Bourgeois arranged a visit to meet with me at FCI Milan. He came alone in the early winter of 1998. In 1997 the FBI and Chicago federal prosecutors had convicted the Calabrese crew, netting my father, Uncle Nick, my younger brother Kurt, and me on juice loans. Bourgeois seemed confused and wanted to know what I wanted.

I'm sure Bourgeois also wondered the same thing I had: What kind of son wants to put his father away for life? Maybe he thought I was lying. Perhaps I had gotten into an argument and, like most cons, was looking to get my sentence reduced. Yet in our ensuing conversation, I told Tom that I wasn't asking for much in return.

I just didn't want to lose any of my time served, and I wanted a transfer out of FCI Milan once my mission was accomplished. By imprisoning us on racketeering charges, the Feds thought that they had broken up the notorious Calabrese South Side crew. In reality they had barely scratched the surface. I alerted Bourgeois that I was not looking to break up the mob. I had one purpose: to help the FBI keep my father locked up forever so that he could get the psychological help he needed. The FBI didn't know the half of his issues or his other crimes.

When asked by Bourgeois if I would wear a wire out on the prison yard, I promptly replied no. I would work with the FBI, but I would only give them intelligence, useful information they could use, and with the understanding that nobody would know I was cooperating, and I would not testify in open court. Outfit guys like my dad called that "dry beefing." Frank Calabrese, Sr., was one of the Outfit's most cunning criminals and had been a successful crew chief and solid earner for the Chicago mob for thirty years.

He could smell an FBI informant a mile away. If he hadn't talked about his criminal life in the past, why would he do so now?

I searched my soul to make sure I wasn't doing this out of spite or because Dad had reneged on taking care of me and Kurt financially in exchange for doing time. This couldn't be about money! After Agent Bourgeois's first interview with me at Milan, he reported back to Mitch Mars, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Chicago Organized Crime Section. Mars wanted to know if there was enough to present the case to a grand jury and gather a bigger, more inclusive case against "the Outfit," Chicago's multitentacled organized crime syndicate, which dated back to the days of "Big Jim" Colosimo and Al Capone.

As I lay in my cell bunk, I thought about my refusal to wear a wire. Suppose I gave the Feds information, but my father got lucky and walked? I'd be screwed, Uncle Nick would be stuck on death row, and after my dad's sentence ran out he would bounce right back out on the streets to continue his juice loan business and murderous ways.

What if what I was doing was wrong? How could I live with myself? I loved my dad dearly, and I love him to this day. But I was repulsed by the violence and his controlling ways. I had to decide between doing nothing and cooperating with the Feds, two choices I hated.


I knew that if I did nothing, my father and I would have to settle our differences out on the street. One of us would end up dead, while the other would rot in prison. I would be incriminating myself, and I didn't want an immunity deal. If I needed to do more time to keep my dad locked up forever, so be it. After I sent the letter, I was determined to finish what I started. I contacted Agent Bourgeois one more time to tell him I had changed my mind. I would wear the wire after all. All the deception my father had taught me I was now going to use on him.

My father's own words would become his worst enemy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feds Raid House of Frank Calabrese Sr. - Discover Hidden Recording Devices, Tapes, Notes, Cash, & Jewelry

Federal agents say they discovered potentially incriminating tapes and notes -- along with almost $730,000 in cash and about 1,000 pieces of apparently stolen jewelry -- stashed behind a large family portrait during a search of the family home of convicted mob hit man Frank Calabrese Sr.

Authorities said they found recordings of what they believe could be "criminal conversations" that Calabrese taped with mob associates years ago.

They seized several recording devicesFamily Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob, such as suction-cup microphones used to tap into telephone conversations, and 10 to 15 used microcassettes -- one of which appears to bear the last name of a convicted Outfit member, agents said.

There also were "handwritten notes and ledgers" that could be records of extortion and gambling activities, authorities said.

In addition, authorities discovered seven loaded firearms they believe had been used in criminal activity because they were wrapped so no fingerprints would be left on them.

In a court filing this afternoon, federal authorities said they want to seize the property to satisfy some $27 million that Calabrese was ordered to pay in forfeiture and restitution following his conviction for a series of gangland slayings and sentence of life imprisonment.

Calabrese's lawyer Joe Lopez said he was surprised to hear about the search at his client's home on Tuesday. He said Calabrese's wife and their two sons, one of whom is in college most of the year, live in the home.

He said the home had been searched on other occasions over the years by the FBI and said he was surprised the items were not uncovered in the past. "Now that this is coming up it leads one to wonder what is really going on in this case,'' said Lopez. "I was surprised, I think everyone was surprised who heard of this."

He said he did not know if family members knew about the items found in the home because he has not had a chance to speak to Calabrese's wife or his client. He said Calabrese does not have access to telephones and is "kept under lock and key."

He said that among the items that were found at the home was at least one recording that he believed was made in 1998 after Calabrese was in custody. He said that Calabrese was in brief custody in 1995 and was released on bond, and then surrendered himself to authorities in 1997 and was in federal custody in Michigan. "He's been in custody since 1997," said Lopez. "I have no idea what those recordings are. For all I know it's Frank Sinatra singing."

He said that the money is going to the government because the government went into the home to search for any assets that would go to the government as part of Calabrese's outstanding forfeiture order. "There is no recourse. The money belongs to them. They can seize assets to satisfy judgment just like any other judgment creditor,'' said Lopez.

Calabrese, 71, was one of the five Outfit associates convicted in the landmark Family Secrets trial that riveted Chicago for weeks with its lurid testimony about 18 decades-old gangland slayings.

The code name for the federal investigation came from the secret, unprecedented cooperation provided against Chicago mob bosses by Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, and his son, Frank Jr. Their testimony peeled back layers of Outfit history as they detailed hits, bombings, extortions and other mayhem by the mob's 26th Street crew.

When he was sentenced to life in prison a year ago, Calabrese denied he was a feared mob hit man responsible for more than a dozen gangland slayings. "I'm not no big shot," said Calabrese, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a strap holding his glasses on his mostly bald head. "I'm not nothing but a human being, and when you cut my hand, I bleed like everybody else."

A federal judge didn't buy it. Saying he had no doubt Calabrese was responsible for "appalling acts," U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced him to life in prison at a hearing marked by emotional testimony from victims' relatives and a heated exchange with his own son.

Another of Calabrese's sons, Kurt, stepped to a lectern to tell Zagel that his father beat him throughout his life. "In short, my father was never a father," said the younger Calabrese, describing him instead as an enforcer who hurled insults as regularly as he threw punches, ashtrays, tools or whatever else was within reach when his temper exploded.

The son asked his father whether he might want to apologize for his conduct. "You better apologize for the lies you're telling," the father barked back in the crowded courtroom. "You were treated like a king for all the things I've done for you."

"You never hit me and never beat me up?" Kurt Calabrese answered incredulously before glaring at his father and stepping from the courtroom a moment later.

In another dramatic courtroom scene, Charlene Moravecek, widow of murder victim Paul Haggerty, yelled at Calabrese for cutting Haggerty's throat and stuffing him in a trunk. Her husband had no connection to the mob, she told Calabrese. "You murdered the wrong person," she said. "That shows how smart you all are."

"God will bless you for what you say," Calabrese replied calmly from the defense table.

"Don't you mock me, ever," Moravecek responded through tears.

In September 2007, the same jury that convicted Calabrese of racketeering conspiracy held him responsible for seven murders: the 1980 shotgun killings of hit man and informant William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte; the 1981 car bombing of trucking executive Michael Cagnoni; and the slayings of hit man John Fecarotta, Outfit associate Michael Albergo, and bar owner Richard Ortiz and his friend Arthur Morawski.

Zagel, using a lower standard of proof than the jury, held Calabrese responsible for six additional murders, including Haggerty's, making him eligible for life imprisonment.

Nicholas Calabrese had testified in gripping detail about how brother Frank beat and strangled many of his victims with a rope before cutting their throats to ensure they were dead. Zagel said it was that family betrayal that stuck with him as he presided over the trial.

"I've never seen a case in which a brother and a son -- and counting today, two sons -- testified against a father," the veteran judge said. "I just want to say that your crimes are unspeakable," Zagel said later.

Allowed to address Zagel before he was sentenced, Calabrese rambled for half an hour about how his family had conspired to steal from him and then falsely blamed him for mob crimes to keep him behind bars. He called his brother a wannabe gangster who collected for Outfit bookmakers. Calabrese didn't deny being a loan shark, but he said his organization never resorted to violence to collect debts.

Cagnoni's widow as well as relatives of Morawski and Ortiz testified about dealing with decades of grief over the violent deaths of their loved ones.

Richard Ortiz's son, Tony, said he was 12 when his father was shot in a car outside his Cicero bar. Ortiz said he ran to the spot where the killing had occurred.

"I remember the crunching of the broken glass under my feet," said Ortiz, who recalled that his father's trademark cigar was still lying on the ground.

"I picked it up and held onto it, knowing it was all I had left of him."

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Sunday, July 12, 2009

City of Chicago Squeezes Widow of Man Squeezed by The Chicago Outfit

Whether the name of Richie Urso ever makes it into the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich next June is anybody's guess.

You've probably never heard of Richie Urso. But the FBI sure has heard of him.

His is a classic Chicago story, about a beefy yet charming guy born on Grand Avenue, who got in trouble with the law as a kid, only to make political friends and become extremely wealthy.

He was arrested once for jewelry theft in the '60s by the Outfit's top Chicago police detective, William Hanhardt. Urso's alleged partner in the theft was the mob enforcer Frankie Cullotta, who later became the technical adviser for the movie "Casino." The charges against Urso went away. Like I said, it's a Chicago story.

Richie went from the trucking business into real estate, dropping thousands of dollars in contributions to politicians like Mayor Richard Daley and former Gov. Dead Meat. He hung around with bankers, real estate players, insiders at the Cook County Board of (Tax) Review, at Mart Anthony's Restaurant on Randolph Street.

He was worth millions in real estate. He was also the victim of an Outfit shakedown that figured in the FBI's landmark Family Secrets case against top mob bosses.

Now the FBI is going through his business, interested in his associates, including former Mutual Bank of Harvey boss Amrish Mahajan, who has dropped off the political map. Though not charged, Uncle Amrish is under investigation as a top Blagojevich fundraiser. "My husband was excited because he was supposed to go with Amrish and Daley on a trip to India," said Richie's wife, Joanne Urso, recalling what she told federal investigators. "They were all going to go together. But then he died."

Daley and his wife, Maggie, made the trip with a Chicago business delegation.

Amrish Mahajan was a political connection for Daley, Blagojevich and other politicians to the Indian community. His wife, Anita, said, "He did not go on the trip with the mayor."

Anita -- charged with bilking the state out of millions of dollars in phony drug tests -- said her husband was in India, and unreachable.

After Richie's death in 2003, lenders called in their notes. Lawyers demanded big fees. The will that he told Joanne was stashed in a Mutual Bank safe deposit box was never found. And Daley's City Hall, which had never given Richie much trouble, suddenly slapped Joanne with a series of citations on their properties.

City Hall is also demanding she sell Richie's prized 24-acre site just west of the Cook County Jail for millions less than she says it's worth. Ald. George Cardenas (12th) is demanding the site for a park. "I'm getting ripped off by everybody. By everybody," Joanne Urso said.

She told me Richie died of a heart attack on the kitchen floor of a girlfriend's home, on April 15, 2003. "You should call her," she said.

So we did. The woman is Mary Ann Dinovo, who works in human resources for the county tax review board, which handles tax appeals for every parcel of real estate in the county.

"He said, 'What do you got to eat?' " recalled Dinovo. "I'd just made a big tuna salad. He said, 'Can I have some?' The TV was on in the kitchen. The fork dropped out of his hand. He said he felt sick and went to the bathroom."

Minutes later, Richie Urso, his mouth full of tuna salad, was dead at age 61.

"It was karma that we met," Dinovo said. "We loved to do things together, go to shows, go to Navy Pier. ... He'd always play like he was poor. 'I'm just a poor truck driver,' he'd say. Sometimes we'd drive by a piece of property and he'd ask me who owned it."

Did you help him find out who owned it? "Absolutely not," said Dinovo, who said she has not been contacted by federal authorities. "I never knew what the hell he had. I didn't ask. But how do you think I felt when after he died, his friends told me that he was worth, like, $50 million? I said, 'What?' "

In late November of last year, Blagojevich hadn't yet been arrested. But the noose was tightening.

About a week before the FBI knocked on the governor's door, they knocked on Joanne Urso's door. FBI agents and a lawyer from the U.S. attorney's office wanted to chat.

"They asked about everything that was going on with the banks, the lawyers, our properties," Joanne Urso said. "... They asked about Amrish Mahajan and the governor. Oh, and [state Sen.] Jimmy DeLeo, they asked about him."

Only Blagojevich has been charged with a crime, and it's not illegal to know a guy like Richie Urso.

The FBI didn't have to ask about Richie and the Outfit. Without Richie, there may not have been a Family Secrets case that sent three mob bosses to prison.

That's because in 1986, just three months after gangsters Tony and Michael Spilotro were murdered, Richie Urso was the victim of an Outfit shakedown.

It all came out in testimony by mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, and chronicled in the book "Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob" by my colleague Jeff Coen.

Nick's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., and fellow mobster John Fecarotta were competing to squeeze Urso for payments on a juice loan from the 1960s. It wasn't even Urso who borrowed the money. The father of an Urso partner owed the juice.

Urso was growing wealthy by the 1980s, and the mob wanted a piece. Fecarotta demanded that Urso make Fecarotta's house payments. Frank Calabrese Sr. held a knife to Urso's crotch, also demanding cash, according to trial testimony.

By then, Fecarotta had botched the burial of the Spilotro bodies, leaving them in a shallow grave in an Indiana cornfield, allowing them to be found. Fecarotta's shakedown of Richie Urso gave Frank Sr. another reason to lobby Outfit bosses for a Fecarotta solution. "And that sort of put the nail in the coffin," Nick Calabrese testified.

Nick and Frank helped kill Fecarotta on Belmont Avenue, but Nick lost a bloody glove at the scene. Years later, the FBI used DNA from that glove to turn Nick Calabrese into a star government witness.

The Outfit usually doesn't shake down legitimate squares, but targets people who can't run to the government.

"My husband helped all of them," Joanne Urso said. "When people borrowed money, he paid for that. He was paying and paying all his life."

At the time of his death Richie Urso controlled a string of properties, including a South Loop building housing the Pink Monkey strip club, a Cicero property housing the adult bookstore Bare Assets and a Chicago Chinatown neighborhood shopping complex. But the crown jewel was the land near the jail complex.

Now City Hall has moved to take the property. According to public records, Joanne Urso owes Mutual Bank more than $9 million on that property and another huge lot at 6501 W. 51st St.

The city has offered her $7.1 million for the Little Village parcel. Her appraisers say it's worth $13 million. It would be worth much more if Cook County expands the jail.

"They [City Hall] thought I would sell it right away," she said. "But I wasn't going to just give it away. Now it feels they've decided to try and just take it."

Joanne Urso is a woman alone. Her clout died six years ago, on another woman's kitchen floor, with tuna salad in his mouth.

Once, Richie Urso was squeezed by the Outfit. Now his widow is getting squeezed by City Hall. It's a classic Chicago story.

The central theme is that there's nothing deader than dead clout. And now Joanne Urso has to pay for it.

Thanks to John Kass

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mob Hit Man Nick Calabrese, Admitted Killer of 14, Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

It was a judgment day like none Chicago has ever seen.

Mob hit man Nicholas Calabrese, the admitted killer of 14 people, stood before a judge Thursday as the only made member of the Chicago Outfit ever to testify against his superiors. His cooperation solved some of the Chicago area's most notorious gangland killings and sent three mob leaders away for life.

Weighing Calabrese's terrible crimes against his unprecedented testimony in the Family Secrets trial, a federal judge sentenced him to just 12 years and 4 months behind bars, leaving relatives of Calabrese's many victims outraged and distraught.

One widow, Charlene Moravecek, collapsed moments after leaving the courtroom and was taken from the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on a stretcher. She had earlier glared at Calabrese in court and called him "the devil."

Anthony Ortiz, whose father, Richard, was shot to death by Calabrese outside a Cicero bar, called the sentence pathetic. "To me, that's a serial killer," Ortiz said of Calabrese. "That's less than a year for every person that he killed."

Making the sentence even harder for the families to swallow is the likelihood that Calabrese, 66, will be released from prison in as little as four years. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he must serve 85 percent of his sentence, but Calabrese has been incarcerated in connection with the Family Secrets case since November 2002.

Bob D'Andrea, the son of mobster Nicholas D'Andrea, whom Calabrese admitted beating with a baseball bat, said he expected the judge to be somewhat lenient. But Calabrese won't receive his ultimate penalty in this life, he said. "If he believes in God, he knows what he has coming," D'Andrea said.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who had to balance rewarding Calabrese for his extraordinary cooperation with punishing him for the 14 murders, knew his decision wouldn't be acceptable to many relatives of the victims. He spoke directly to them in a slow, deliberate tone.

"None of this happened without Nicholas Calabrese," Zagel said of the landmark Family Secrets prosecution. The judge reminded the crowded courtroom that Calabrese had given families some sense of closure. Zagel said he also had to consider that other would-be mob turncoats must be given some incentive to provide information too.

Federal prosecutors left the sentence to Zagel's discretion but later expressed support for his decision. However, "pure justice" would have required that Calabrese be imprisoned for the rest of his life, said First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro.

Shapiro, a veteran mob-fighter, noted that Chicago has been "the toughest nut to crack" in the U.S. when it comes to turning mob insiders. "Here Judge Zagel has sent the word out that if you do what Nick Calabrese has done, you have the chance of not spending the rest of your life in prison," he said.

With images of many of his 14 victims flashing on a screen just a few feet away, Calabrese had refused to even look that way. He instead stared down at the empty defense table looking like he was trying not to cry.

Wearing a plain gray shirt and jeans, he finally walked to the lectern with a slight limp. He apologized for his wrongdoing and said he thinks about his crimes all of the time. "I can't go back and undo what I done," he told Zagel as his wife and children looked on. "I stand before you a different man, a changed man."

Calabrese's testimony had riveted Chicago in summer 2007 as he pulled back the curtain on murder after murder. He testified about wetting his pants during his first killing, fatally shooting friend and hit man John Fecarotta and taking part in the notorious slayings of Las Vegas mob chieftain Anthony Spilotro and his brother, Michael. At trial, five men were convicted, including mob bosses James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo and his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr. Four of them were linked to 18 murders in all.

All of the victims' family members who addressed Zagel in court Thursday said they understood the significance of what Calabrese had done, but they still said they wanted him to pay fully. They recounted years of heartbreak, with the men violently taken from them missing holidays, weddings and births.

"I have waited half a life for the chance to come face to face with the person responsible for my father's death," said Janet Ortiz, the daughter of Richard Ortiz.

Peggy Cagnoni, whose husband, businessman Michael Cagnoni, was killed in a car-bombing on the Tri-State Tollway that Calabrese had said took a hit team months to pull off, called Calabrese "the ultimate killer."

"I feel you are truly heartless and deserve no mercy," she said. "You got caught in a trap and had nowhere to go."

Calabrese had decided to cooperate after investigators confronted him in 2002 with DNA evidence taken from a pair of bloody gloves he dropped while leaving the scene of the Fecarotta homicide in 1986.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk called Calabrese a "walking, breathing paradox." Funk acknowledged that the unassuming Calabrese could sometimes be a cold, robotic killer but said he had shown remorse and had done as much or more than anyone before him to damage the Outfit.

Calabrese's lawyer, John Theis, sought a sentence of less than 8 years in prison, which effectively would have meant his immediate release. Calabrese will forever live in fear, Theis said, but should be given the chance to once again be with his family.

Zagel said he doubts Calabrese will ever truly be free. No matter how long he lives or in what protected place it will be, Calabrese will always have to look over his shoulder. "The organization whose existence you testified to will not forgive or relent in their pursuit of you," he said.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

U.S. Seeks Nearly $4 Million in Restitution from Family Secret Mobsters

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA )
) No. 02 CR 1050
v. ))
Judge James B. Zagel
FRANK CALABRESE SR., et al. )

MOTION FOR IMPOSITION OF RESTITUTION

This cause comes before the Court on motion of the United States for imposition of
restitution, pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (“MVRA”), in the above-captioned matter against defendants Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle.1 For the reasons discussed below, these defendants are jointly and severally liable for a total restitution amount of $3,909,166.30.2

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendants Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo, Paul “The Indian” Schiro, and Anthony “Twan” Doyle were convicted as a result of their criminal participation in a racketeering enterprise known as the Chicago Outfit. The charged conspiracy involved, among other categories of criminal conduct, the murders of 18 individuals. See Doc. #397 at 9-10. There is little dispute that these murders were part of the conspiracy, and were committed to advance the criminal objectives of the Chicago Outfit.

The jury in its Special Verdict forms, moreover, concluded that James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, and Frank Calabrese Sr. personally participated in Outfit murders;3 the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Paul Schiro’s involvement in the Vaci homicide. In addition, Doyle, a long-time Chicago Police Officer and member of the conspiracy since the 1960's, knew full well that the Outfit committed homicides. Doyle in fact was taped discussing that the Outfit killed people with Calabrese Sr.,4 and indeed personally attempted to obstruct the investigation of the Outfit homicide of John Fecarotta. It would therefore be frivolous to argue that it was not foreseeable to defendants that the racketeering conspiracy they joined in the 1950's and 60's, and never withdrew from, involved homicides. Because defendants were convicted for their involvement in a the Outfit’s racketeering conspiracy, because the charged murders advanced the Outfit’s illegal objectives, and because such murders were known and/or foreseeable to the defendants, defendants Calabrese Sr., Marcello, Lombardo, Schiro, and Doyle must be held jointly and severally responsible for restitution to the estates of the murder victims.

II. ARGUMENT

The MVRA defines a “victim” as:

[A] person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of an offense for which restitution may be ordered including, in the case of an offense that involves as an element a scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity, any person directly harmed by the defendant's criminal conduct in the course of the scheme, conspiracy, or pattern.

18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2) (2000) (emphasis added); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3663(a)(1)(A) (authorizing restitution for defendants “convicted of an offense under [Title 18]”). If, as here, the victims of the violent crimes are deceased, the Court must order restitution payable to the victims’ estates. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(1). Moreover, according to 18 U.S.C. § 3664(h):

If the court finds that more than 1 defendant has contributed to the loss of a victim, the court may make each defendant liable for payment of the full amount of restitution or may apportion liability among the defendants to reflect the level of contribution to the victim's loss and economic circumstances of each defendant. There is substantial case law dealing situations where, as here, murder victims’ estates, the victims’ families, or the victims’ dependents, including widows and children, are entitled to receive restitution payments:

• United States v. Douglas, 525 F.3d 225, 253-54 (2d Cir. 2008) (affirming restitution award
for funeral expenses and lost income under 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(3), (4));
• United States v. Serawop, 505 F.3d 1112, 1125, 1128 (10th Cir. 2007) (defendant convicted
of voluntary manslaughter ordered to pay restitution for lost income to estate of three-month
old victim);
• United States v. Cienfuegos, 462 F.3d 1160, 1164 (9th Cir. 2006) (finding the victim’s estate
was entitled to restitution);
• United States v. Oslund, 453 F.3d 1048, 1063 (8th Cir. 2006) (affirming restitution order
awarding lost future income under the MVRA and stating that “[w]hen the crime causes the
death of a victim, the representative of that victim’s estate or a family member may assume
the victim’s rights”) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2));
• United States v. Pizzichiello, 272 F.3d 1232, 1240-41 (9th Cir. 2001) (victim’s surviving
family members properly awarded lost income, funeral, and travel expenses under the
MVRA);
• United States v. Checora, 175 F.3d 782, 795 (10th Cir. 1999) (defendants convicted of voluntary manslaughter ordered to pay restitution for the support of the victim’s minor children that were directly and proximately harmed as a result of the victim’s death);
• United States v. Razo-Leora, 961 F.2d 1140, 1146 (5th Cir. 1992) (defendants convicted of charges related to a murder-for-hire conspiracy ordered to pay restitution for lost income to the murder victim’s widow);
• United States v. Jackson, 978 F.2d 903, 915 (5th Cir. 1992 )(“[T]he district court has the authority to order the defendants to pay the victims’ estates an amount equal to the victims’ lost income . . . .”);
• United States v. Roach, 2008 WL 163569, at *3-5, 9 (W.D.N.C. Jan. 16, 2008) (restitution awarded for lost income based on reasonable assumptions that murder victim would work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year until age 65 at state minimum wage and receive two percent increase per year);
• United States v. Visinaiz, 344 F. Supp.2d 1310, 1312-13 (D. Utah 2004) (MVRA requires restitution for lost income in homicide cases; no ex post facto implication); and
• United States v. Bedonie, 317 F. Supp.2d 1285, 1288-90 (D. Utah 2004), rev’d on other grounds, 413 F.3d 1126 (10th Cir. 2005) (court appointed an expert to calculate lost income who made reasonable and reliable race- and sex-neutral projections of future lost income without any discount for possible “consumption” of income by the victims).

In a conspiracy such as this, co-conspirators must be held jointly and severally liable for the total foreseeable restitution amount. See generally United States v. Rand, 403 F.3d 489, 495 (7th Cir. 2005) (“[Defendant] may be held responsible for losses caused by the foreseeable acts of his co-conspirators. Co-conspirators generally are jointly and severally liable for injuries caused by the conspiracy . . . .”), citing United States v. Martin, 195 F.3d 961, 968-69 (7th Cir. 1999); United States v. Amato, 540 F.3d 153, 163 (2nd Cir. 2008) (holding that it was “within the district court's discretion to make [defendant] jointly and severally liable for entire loss that [victim] suffered as a result of conspiracy even while apportioning liability of some of [defendant's] co-conspirators.”). The evidence at trial established the proposition, understood well by the co-conspirators, that an “authorized”/”okayed” murder was a powerful weapon in the Outfit’s punishment and control arsenal. In addition, the recorded February 11 and 12, 1962, discussions attached hereto as Government Exhibit A graphically highlight the Outfit’s long-standing use of murder to achieve its criminal objectives. During the two surreptitiously recorded Miami, Florida, meetings between Jack Cerone, Dave Yarras, Pete LNU, James Vincent “Turk” Torello, and others, the men discuss various Outfit murders (indeed, the men were assembled in Florida to kill union boss Frank Esposito). The foreseeability prong of the analysis therefore strongly favors a full restitution award.



Turning to what evidence the Court can consider in its effort to determine the total loss, the MVRA specifically provides for restitution to “the victim for income lost by such victim as a result of the offense,” and states that the restitution amount shall represent “the full amount” of the victim’s loss. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(2)(C); § 3664(f)(1)(A); see also Roach, 2008 WL 163569, at *8-9 (restitution awarded for lost income based on reasonable assumptions that murder victim would work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year until age 65 at state minimum wage and receive two percent increase per year). Applied to the present case, the inquiry thus centers on approximating the future income of the above-described murder victims. Cienfuegos, 462 F.3d at 1164 (“Any victim suffering bodily injury or death necessarily incurs the income lost only after the injury, i.e. in the future, as a consequence of the defendant’s violent act.”).5 This income figure must include prejudgment interest through the date of sentencing “to make up for the loss of the funds’ capacity to grow.” United States v. Shepard, 269 F.3d 884, 886 (7th Cir. 2001) (relying on 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(1)(B)(i)(II) and In re Oil Spill by the Amoco Cadiz, 954 F.2d 1279, 1311-35 (7th Cir.1992)).

“The determination of appropriate restitution is by nature an inexact science.” United States v. Williams, 292 F.3d 681, 688 (10th Cir. 2002). Though not required to do so, the government has engaged Financial Forensic Expert and Certified Public Accountant Michael D. Pakter to prepare a report calculating the lost estimated earning capacity of the identified murder victims. See generally Cienfuegos, 462 F.3d at 1169 (requiring non-speculative basis for calculations). Michael D. Pakter’s twenty-two page report is attached hereto as Government Exhibit B.

III. CONCLUSION

The calculations set forth in the attached report are based on conservative assumptions,6 see Government Exhibit B at 16-18, and constitute the best available evidence of the proper restitution amount under the MVRA. The government has therefore sustained its burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence the losses sustained by the victims, and has established that Outfit murders were at a minimum reasonably foreseeable to Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Lombardo, Schiro, and Doyle. See generally 18 U.S.C. § 3664(e) (Court resolves restitution disputes by preponderance of the evidence standard); Razo-Leora, 961 F.2d at 1146 (“The prosecution has the burden of demonstrating the amount of loss sustained by the victim and proving this loss by a preponderance of the evidence.”); see also Doc. #839 (government’s summary of trial evidence presented against each defendant). The government therefore asks this Court to hold defendants Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul Schiro, and Anthony Doyle jointly and severally liable for restitution in the amount of $3,909,166.30. See Government Exhibit B at 7.

Respectfully submitted,
PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney
By: s/ T. Markus Funk
T. MARKUS FUNK
Assistant U.S. Attorney
219 South Dearborn, Room 500
Chicago, Illinois 60604
(312) 886-7635

1 Defendant Nicholas Calabrese at trial admitted his involvement in a number of Outfit murders. That testimony, however, was given pursuant to the Court’s grant of immunity. Tr. 2299-2300. Moreover, with the exception of the murder of John Fecarotta, the information provided by Nicholas Calabrese to law enforcement was at all times proffer-protected. See Tr. 2870. The government is restricting the instant restitution request to victims who were not lifelong associates/members of the Chicago Outfit; the Fecarotta homicide is therefore not part of the government’s calculations, and accordingly no restitution is sought as to Nicholas Calabrese.

2 This restitution amount is separate and distinct from defendants’ forfeiture liability. See United States v. Webber, 536 F.3d 584, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2008) (“Forfeiture and restitution are distinct remedies.”).

3 Frank Calabrese Sr. was found to have participated in the murder of Michael Albergo, William Dauber, Charlotte Dauber, Michael Cagnoni, Richard Ortiz, Arthur Morwawki, and John Fecarotta; James Marcello was found to have participated in the murders of Anthony Spilotro and Michael Spilotro; and Joseph Lombardo was found to have participated in the murder Daniel Seifert.

4 See 2-19-2000 Transcript (Doyle telling Calabrese Sr. how James LaPietra and John “Apes” Monteleone without authorization beat another mob associate and as a result were almost ordered killed by Outfit Boss “Skid” Caruso; Doyle: “Had it been where the Old Man was still alive, they’d of went.”)

5 Indirect loss or consequential damages should not be included in any restitution order; only direct, actual losses may be awarded. United States v. Frith, 461 F.3d 914, 921 (7th Cir. 2006), citing 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2); United States v. George, 403 F.3d 470, 474 (7th Cir. 2005) (“‘Loss’ means direct injury, not consequential damages.”). On the other hand, no expenses for consumption should be deducted from any potential claim for lost future wages; such deductions are not permissible under the MVRA, which provides only for an award of “income lost,” not net income lost. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(2)(C). Additionally, restitution must be ordered for necessary funeral and related services. 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(3).

6 The government reserves the right to submit an adjusted report if and when the government receives additional/revised income or other information for the victims.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Preying on a Mobster's Paranoia

Chicago Outfit assassin Frank Calabrese Sr. was stewing in prison in 1999, trying to figure who was ratting him out for crimes worse than the loan-sharking that had landed him there.

First on his list of prime suspects was fellow mobster James DiForti. Calabrese Sr. couldn't stop gabbing about how DiForti could hurt him.

Calabrese Sr. covered every angle with his son, Frank Jr., who was locked up with him in federal prison in Milan, Mich. He quizzed two crooked cop friends for intelligence on DiForti, who was out on the street.

Calabrese Sr. -- so paranoid other mobsters made fun of him for always talking in code -- had not one but three nicknames for DiForti: "Poker," because DiForti liked to play poker; "Tires," because DiForti once had a tire store; and "rota," Italian for tires.

There was only one error in Calabrese Sr.'s thinking.

DiForti wasn't the snitch. FBI agents, preying on his paranoia, had played a mind game on him. And while Calabrese Sr. focused on DiForti, he missed the informant right under his nose -- his son, Frank Jr., who was secretly recording his father.

The mind game served two purposes. Calabrese Sr.'s focus on DiForti kept him talking about misdeeds -- much of it being recorded. And it kept the real informant safe from his father's suspicion. Agents had little doubt Calabrese Sr. would have had his son killed.

The FBI mind game is the untold story of the Family Secrets investigation, pieced together through court records and an exclusive interview with one of the key agents involved at the start of the case, Kevin Blair.

In an interview last week, Blair, now an FBI supervisor in Southern California, downplayed his own role and praised the work of fellow agents. But as one of the early agents on the case, Blair came up with the name for the investigation, Family Secrets.

Without the turmoil within the Calabrese family, the case would never have been made. Frank Calabrese Jr. also testified against his father at trial. Frank Calabrese Sr.'s brother, Nick, cooperated and told jurors how he and his brother killed for the mob.

Family Secrets began when Frank Calabrese Jr. wrote a letter in 1998 to the FBI, telling them he wanted to cooperate. "I feel I have to help you keep this sick man locked up forever," he wrote.

Frank Calabrese Sr. wanted to restart the Calabrese mob crew when he got out and wanted his son, who was going to released sooner, to pave the way. "It scared Frank Jr., and he realized he didn't want his father to ever get out again," Blair said.

After the FBI got the letter from Calabrese Jr., Blair was sent out to talk to him. The two men had a history. He had arrested Calabrese Jr. in 1995 on the very case that landed him in prison with his father. The arrest had gone smoothly, and Blair believes that set the tone for the FBI's further relationship with Frank Calabrese Jr., who was part of his father's crew but wasn't involved in the violence.

"When we arrested Frank Jr., it was one of those very polite, very professional things," Blair said. "We treated him like a gentleman. He treated us like gentlemen."

The tone of the arrest was designed to put Calabrese Jr. in the frame of mind to cooperate. "He knew we were treating him differently than his father was," Blair said.

Frank Calabrese Jr. got his father to talk about the murder of John Fecarotta and other slayings while he secretly recorded him. It was beyond the FBI's best hopes. "I just have to rate this guy as the best informant I've ever come across," Blair said.

Calabrese Jr. "did it with extreme risk, inside the walls of a prison. He did it with the ultimate sincerity, to make sure a bad man stayed in prison," Blair said.

The FBI also had two informants who fed false information into the Cicero crew to have them believe the FBI had an informant within the mob.

One informant, who court records show is the late private investigator Sam Rovetuso, went to Cicero mob chief Michael Spano Sr. and said an FBI agent had approached him, wanting to talk. Rovetuso said he referred the agent to his attorney, who sent Rovetuso a letter with a list of topics the FBI wanted to discuss. Rovetuso, who was wired up, showed Spano Sr. the letter.

The whole story was a lie, right down to fake attorney stationery the FBI created. The idea was to get Spano Sr. talking and worried there was a snitch within his crew, given the FBI's interest in certain topics.

A second informant also told mobsters the FBI had an Outfit snitch. This informant had credibility within the Cicero crew, because the informant had been passing along true intelligence on law enforcement activity for years.

The Outfit came to believe the FBI's informant was reputed mobster James DiForti. DiForti was charged in 1997 with murder but had not gone to trial for two years -- a delay that stoked the suspicions of many mobsters.

The suspicions made their way to Frank Calabrese Sr. who clearly became obsessed with DiForti. Calabrese Sr. became so obsessed that agents eventually went to warn DiForti his life could be in danger and asked if he would cooperate. DiForti declined, shutting the door in the agents' faces.

He would die of natural causes in 2000.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Paul Fredrick Monthly Coupon Offer (468x60)

Monday, October 01, 2007

All-Star FBI Team Responds to Letter and Puts Its Stamp on Chicago Outfit

The letter that spilled the Outfit's Family Secrets arrived at the Chicago offices of the FBI in November 1998.

It was addressed to now-retired FBI supervisor Tom Bourgeois, who was then the organized crime section chief. It was from Outfit prince Frank Calabrese Jr., serving a prison sentence in Milan, Mich.

Junior offered to implicate his father, Frank Sr., and uncle Nick in the unsolved murder of Outfit hit man John Fecarotta.

"It came in the mail. I couldn't believe it," Bourgeois told me last week during an interview with current FBI agents at the FBI's expansive new headquarters on the West Side. "We went to Frank to authenticate what he told us in the letter. And then we formulated a strategy on how we were going to approach this case. Strategy was the most important part here."

The recently concluded Family Secrets case took agents countless hours transcribing and decoding prison-house code, in which, for example "Zhivago" meant the two murdered Spilotro brothers buried in a cornfield. It also sent them reinvestigating cold Outfit hits from 30 years ago.

"It's hard to explain to the public how much work is involved," said James Wagner, president of the Chicago Crime Commission and a former FBI supervisor, who trained several of the agents. "You have to sit and transcribe those conversations in paper format, and that takes days and days of work right there, a mountain of paperwork," Wagner said. "And go back and find old witnesses."

Family Secrets began long before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There were two FBI squads working the Chicago Outfit then. One was working the Calabrese end, the family that ran the Chinatown crew through gambling, loan-sharking, extortion and murder. But there was another FBI squad focusing on mob-boss heir apparent Jimmy Marcello of the western suburbs, who was preparing to get out of prison and run things the Chicago way.

Both squads folded into one after 9/11. Though resources were shifted toward terrorism, the Chicago FBI kept some of its top people on the Family Secrets case that many of you have been reading about this summer.

This weekend, thousands of words and hours of video will be devoted to great sports plays, the stupendous touchdowns and home runs, and all that pressure on the necks of the Cubs and Bears, professional athletes whose names are known to millions.

FBI agents on Family Secrets aren't on baseball cards. Their names are not known. Yet they're a team more important than a bunch of ballplayers.

The lead case agent was Mike Maseth, who knew relatively little about the Outfit when he was assigned the Calabrese case at its beginning. He spent nine straight determined years working the case and countless hours with Nick Calabrese after he flipped him. And agent Anita Stamat, working on the Marcello angle, decoded the Outfit dialect with the help of Ted McNamara, the FBI's walking Outfit encyclopedia. Veteran John Mallul was the supervisor with the institutional memory who took over when Bourgeois retired.

"Ted McNamara was the mastermind with the code," Stamat said. "He's worked organized crime for 15 years. He helped guide us through the context of the prison conversations. We were recording them in the visiting room. There could be 200 people there, having their own conversations, and sometimes, Marcello would say, 'Cover your mouth,' to his brother Michael, thinking we were reading lips."

They didn't have to read lips, because they were listening and taping.

Other agents include Luigi Mondini, Chris Mackey, Christopher Smith, Tracy Balinao, Andrew Hickey, Mark Gutknecht, Dana DePooter, Trisha Holt and Tim Keese. And from the Internal Revenue Service, there were Bill Paulin, Laura Shimkus and Mike Welch.

You might not know their names, but mention Maseth or Stamat or Mallul or McNamara or the others around wise guys, and their faces freeze. The officials say is the new reputed Chinatown boss, Frank "Toots" Caruso, wouldn't be afraid of an NFL linebacker, but he'd tighten up if Ted McNamara came by for a pork chop sandwich at the Caruso polish sausage stand on 31st Street in Bridgeport.

Outfit bosses Joseph "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Marcello will probably spend the rest of their lives in prison as a result of the case, and Paul "the Indian" Schiro might die inside too. The youngest person convicted in the Family Secrets trial is Anthony "Twan" Doyle, 62, not a boss but a Chicago cop who spilled police secrets about the Fecarotta murder to the Outfit.

Once the FBI flipped Nick Calabrese and began decoding the prison talk of his brother Frank and of Marcello, the case mushroomed. One phase is done. Other cases are being developed as you read this. "I feel this is what the FBI does best," Mallul said, "good old-fashioned police work and investigations, combined with fortuitous events that align themselves."

Like a mob princeling sending a letter to the FBI.

Thanks to John Kass

$5 Off Discount Coupon Code for Magazines.com, Inc.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Former Chicago Cop Admits to Disgracing Badge while Moonlighting for the Mob

In the Operation Family Secrets mob trial today, a Chicago Police officer admitted that he had a year's-long relationship with top ranking members of the Chicago outfit.

Former Chicago cop Anthony Doyle is one of the five men charged with outfit crimes in Operation Family Secrets. While many Chicago Police officers moonlight to supplement their city salaries, federal prosecutors say Doyle's side job was with the outfit as a loan shark and an informant, that he gave mob bosses inside police department information about evidence in a gangland murder.

Former Chicago policeman Anthony Doyle arrived for court knowing that today's cross-examination by federal prosecutors would be out to make him look like a "chumbalone." That is an Italian slang word for idiot, or dummy, and on the witness stand this afternoon was the word that Doyle himself used to describe his motivation for the tough-guy conversations he was recorded having with Chicago outfit bosses.

The jury has seen and heard the FBI surveillance tapes of Officer Doyle meeting with mob rackets boss Frank Calabrese Senior while Calabrese was serving time for extortion at the federal prison in Milan, Michigan.

Prosecutors say that Officer Doyle provided Calabrese information about police evidence in the 1986 mob hit on John Fecarota, a killing carried out by Calabrese's brother Nick. At the time, Officer Doyle was working in the police evidence section.

Doyle today said his conversations with Calabrese during prison visits were: "mind-boggling gibberish. I don't know what's being talked about."

Then he claimed that he was just giving Calabrese "lip service...I don't want to look like a chumbalone," said Doyle, who is of Italian heritage but changed his last name to the Irish Doyle when he took the police exam.

Doyle tried to explain why he visited a mob boss in prison when police rules prohibit such contacts with felons.

"You knew Frank Calabrese Senior was an outfit boss. Didn't you?" asked prosecutor T. Marcus Funk.

"No sir," replied Doyle. "I knew him as a loan shark and bookmaker for the Chicago outfit."

Then later in the day, Funk asked him: "You knew that Mr. Calabrese was an outfit man when you visited him in prison, didn't you?"

Doyle, backed into a corner, admitted "Yes, sir" he knew the obvious.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Friday, August 24, 2007

Third Defendant Testifies at Mob Trial

Former Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle took the stand Wednesday to deny he ever helped the mob by passing along sensitive information about a mob murder.

Doyle, who was born Anthony Passafiume, is accused of using his position as an officer in the evidence room of the Chicago Police Department to check on the status of blood-soaked gloves worn by mobster Nick Calabrese in the slaying of John Fecarotta. What he found, prosecutors allege, is that the gloves had been turned over to FBI investigators, sealing Nick Calabrese's fate and forcing him down the road of mob informant. Feds have Doyle on video and audiotape visiting mobster Frank Calabrese Sr., Nick's brother, in prison. On the tapes, he tells the Calabrese one of the dates in the file on the gloves.

Doyle, being led through testimony by his attorney, Ralph Meczyk, began Wednesday to try to explain how that happened.

He is the third defendant in the mob conspiracy case to take the stand in his defense. The other two were Joseph Lombardo of Chicago and Frank Calabrese Sr. of Oak Brook. James Marcello of Lombard and Paul Schiro of Arizona are not expected to testify.

Doyle maintained that he knew Frank Calabrese Sr. since he was a young man and met him growing up. The two began an association based on a mutual love of athletics, Doyle said. Doyle hadn't seen Frank Calabrese Sr. for years when he began visiting a federal penitentiary in Milan, Mich., where another friend of Doyle's was incarcerated.

Doyle, apparently in an attempt to show he wasn't hiding anything in the visits, testified he had to fill out an application with the Bureau of Prisons, listing his employer, in order to visit.

Doyle's incarcerated friend mentioned his visit to Frank Calabrese Sr., who passed along word that he wanted to see his old friend, Doyle testified. "He'd (Calabrese) been my friend since I was a young boy. I thought maybe he was in need of a friend … so I agreed to go up and visit him in Milan," Doyle said.

Calabrese Sr. arranged for him to drive up with Mike Ricci, another former police officer indicted in the case. Ricci died of natural causes before trial.

Once at the prison, Doyle said, Calabrese Sr. and Ricci began speaking in a confusing lingo he didn't understand. "He spoke now more in some sort of a mind-boggling code," Doyle testified. But Meczyk didn't ask why Doyle never asked the two why they were speaking in code or what it meant.

Instead, he steered Doyle toward recalling why he looked up information on the gloves. Ricci, a fellow cop, had called and asked him for the information, Doyle testified. And why, then, did Doyle relay a date from the file to Calabrese, Sr. on a separate visit, Meczyk asked.

Ricci, Doyle claimed, asked Doyle to, saying Ricci had told Calabrese, Sr. once, but Calabrese Sr. believed Ricci was senile.

Meczyk will continue his questioning of Doyle today, and then prosecutors will cross-examine him.

Thanks to Rob Olmstead

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


Crime Family Index