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

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Jon Seidel.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

John Matassa, Longtime Union Boss and Reputed Mob Figure Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

A reputed Chicago mob figure and longtime union boss pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal felony charge of embezzlement in an alleged scheme to fraudulently qualify for early retirement benefits.

John Matassa Jr., 67, known by the nickname “Pudgy,” faces up to about 21 months in prison after entering his plea on the lone count before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, according to a plea agreement with prosecutors.

"The guy's hanging on to the carpet like a cat," one union member told the Tribune at the time. "He's just not cooperating at all. I just can't wait until he's gone."

Matassa’s name also surfaced during the 2009 trial of a deputy U.S. marshal who was convicted of leaking sensitive information to a family friend with alleged mob ties, knowing the details would end up in the Outfit's hands. Matassa allegedly acted as a go-between.

The leak involved the then-secret cooperation of Outfit turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, whose testimony led to the convictions of numerous mob figures — including Marcello — in the landmark Operation Family Secrets investigation.

Calabrese testified at the Family Secrets trial that Matassa was present in October 1983 when Calabrese was indoctrinated as a “made” member of the mob at a ceremony at a shuttered restaurant on Mannheim Road.

Matassa, the former secretary-treasurer of the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711, was charged in a 10-count indictment in 2017 with putting his wife on the union’s payroll in a do-nothing job while lowering his own salary.

He then applied for early retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration's Old-Age Insurance program, listing his reduced salary to qualify for those benefits, the indictment alleged.

The charges also alleged that Matassa personally signed his wife's paychecks from the union over a four-year period and had them deposited into the couple's bank account.

According to Matassa’s 18-page plea agreement, preliminary sentencing calculations call for him to be given 15 to 21 months in prison, but Kennelly will make the final decision. Matassa must also pay a total of $66,500 in restitution to the union and Social Security Administration, according to the agreement.

Kennelly set sentencing for May 22.

Dressed in a purple checkered shirt, the husky Matassa, of Arlington Heights, leaned against a lectern and answered, “Yes, your honor” in a deep voice as Kennelly asked him if he understood the terms of his plea deal. About halfway thought the 40-minute hearing, Matassa accepted the judge’s offer and took a seat.

For years, Matassa has been associated with some of the Outfit’s most notorious figures, including former reputed boss James “Jimmy Light” Marcello.

In the late 1990s, Matassa was kicked out as president of the Laborers Union Chicago local over his alleged extensive ties to organized crime — a move Matassa fought for years.

"The guy's hanging on to the carpet like a cat," one union member told the Tribune at the time. "He's just not cooperating at all. I just can't wait until he's gone."

Matassa’s name also surfaced during the 2009 trial of a deputy U.S. marshal who was convicted of leaking sensitive information to a family friend with alleged mob ties, knowing the details would end up in the Outfit's hands. Matassa allegedly acted as a go-between.

The leak involved the then-secret cooperation of Outfit turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, whose testimony led to the convictions of numerous mob figures — including Marcello — in the landmark Operation Family Secrets investigation.

Calabrese testified at the Family Secrets trial that Matassa was present in October 1983 when Calabrese was indoctrinated as a “made” member of the mob at a ceremony at a shuttered restaurant on Mannheim Road.

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Feds want John "Pudgy" Matassa's union duties limited as reputed mobster awaits trial

Federal prosecutors want a reputed Chicago mob figure to curtail his day-to-day duties at a local laborers union while he faces charges stemming from an alleged scheme to fraudulently qualify for early retirement benefits.

John Matassa Jr., 65, pleaded not guilty Thursday to a 10-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, theft of government funds, embezzlement from a labor organization and making false entries in union records. The most serious charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly released Matassa on his own recognizance, requiring him to turn in his passport and firearm owner's identification card.

During the 10-minute hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Rothblatt said prosecutors had a "sincere concern" that while awaiting trial, Matassa, secretary-treasurer of the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711, would be free to communicate with witnesses in the case and continue to make decisions on how to spend union members' dues. Rothblatt said prosecutors would be asking for Matassa's communications and financial duties to be restricted while the case was pending.

Matassa's lawyer, Robert Michels, objected, saying the union has a board of trustees that is "fully capable" of making personnel decisions without court intervention.

Kennelly asked prosecutors to put the request in writing before he ruled.

Matassa, of Arlington Heights, appeared in court Thursday in a blue suit jacket and shirt with no tie. He spoke only to answer "Yes" in a husky voice when Kennelly asked him if he understood his rights.

An indictment handed down last week alleged that Matassa put his wife on Local 711's payroll in a do-nothing job in February 2013 while lowering his own salary, authorities charged. He then applied for the early retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration's Old-Age Insurance program, listing his reduced salary, enabling him to qualify for those benefits, the indictment alleged.

The charges also alleged that Matassa personally signed his wife's paychecks from the union and had them deposited into the couple's bank account.

In the late 1990s, Matassa, nicknamed "Pudgy," was kicked out as president of the Laborers Union Chicago local over his alleged extensive ties to organized crime.

Matassa's name also surfaced during the 2009 trial of a deputy U.S. marshal who was convicted of leaking sensitive information to a family friend with alleged mob ties, knowing the details would end up in the Outfit's hands.

The leak involved the then-secret cooperation of Outfit turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, whose testimony led to the convictions of numerous mob figures in the landmark Operation Family Secrets.

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lawsuit Alleges @IUBAC Local 21 Falsely Accused Concrete Contractor, Quality Restorations, of Mob Ties

A Chicago concrete contractor has hit a local labor union with a lawsuit, claiming the union lied about the business during demonstrations and in fliers designed to protest the contractor’s work on the Apparel Center building in River North.

On April 14, Quality Restorations Inc. filed its complaint in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, Administrative District Council #1 of Illinois, defamed the construction company in fliers handed out to potentially thousands of people as part of a campaign against the business.

According to the complaint, Quality Restorations secured a contract to make unspecified repairs to the building, located at 350 N. Orleans, just north of the Chicago River and next to Merchandise Mart, in Chicago.

In June 2015, Quality Restorations’ complaint said the IUBAC’s Local 21 demonstrated near the building against Quality Restorations’ work on the project. According to the complaint, the demonstrators handed out “orange flyers … to numerous people passing by … including an agent of the owner.”

The complaint said the fliers delivered a litany of allegations against Quality Restorations, including that the company requires its workers to join a union, identified in the fliers as the “Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711.” The fliers said that particular union “negotiates sweetheart contracts that usually mean substandard wages and little or no benefits” for workers. Further, the fliers allegedly stated Local 711 was affiliated with “the Chicago Mob” through two men, identified in the court documents as James Bertino and John Matassa.

The fliers allegedly asked the owners of the building to stop working with Quality Restorations and “to stop doing business with a Mob union.”

It provided the contact information for a different contractor for the building’s owners to call, should they “think this work should be done by a contractor who works with real unions and whose employees receive proper wages and benefits.”

Quality Restorations said the building’s owners “questioned Quality Restorations about them immediately upon learning of them.”

The complaint indicated the fliers represented an injury to Quality Restorations’ business because the company asserted the accusations contained in the fliers were false, and “building owners and the engineers that manage their construction projects and assist in hiring contractors are sensitive to the associations and reputations of the contractors they hire, and they seek to avoid public relations issues at their buildings and work sites.”

Quality Restorations said they are “not associated with and does not conduct business” with Bertino, Matassa or “the mob” and pay their employees’ “proper wages and benefits,” contrary to the statements in the fliers designed to “impute that Quality Restorations is complicit in the alleged crimes of IUAW Local 711 and that Quality Restorations is involved in organized crime.”

The contractor asked the court to order the IUBAC to pay unspecified damages, including punitive damages, to be determined at trial.

Quality Restorations’ website lists Bob Joyce as its founder, owner and president. The website says the company has been in business since 1984, and has worked on a number of high profile building projects in Chicago.

The company is represented in this defamation action by attorney Matthew A. Wlodarczyk, of Wlodarczyk Law LLC, of Arlington Heights.

Thanks to Jonathan Bilyk.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Not the Hollywood Mob, It's the Chicago Outfit

In the mobster movies, a car pulls up and heavy men in hard shoes get out. And in the quiet suburban house, the wiseguy turned government witness stands foolishly in his new kitchen, oblivious in his bathrobe, scratching, boorishly guzzling milk from the carton.

The guns come up. The milk spills. The feds lose another witness.

Happily, it didn't happen in real life to Nicholas Calabrese, the Chicago Outfit hit man turned star government witness in the Family Secrets trial that sent mob bosses, soldiers, even a corrupt cop to prison. Calabrese is very much alive. Yet in federal court this week, the story of Outfit penetration of witness security is playing out in the case of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, accused of leaking sensitive information about Calabrese—including his movements—to Chicago's mob.

It's a difficult case to prove, since U.S. District Judge John Grady tossed out key evidence on Thursday. He invited an appeal by telling the jury "I made a mistake" in allowing secret prison tapes to be played linking Ambrose's late father, a Chicago cop convicted in the Marquette 10 police drug scandal, with other crooked cops connected to the Outfit.

Whether Ambrose is found guilty or not, it's obvious that imprisoned Outfit boss Jimmy Marcello and his sleepy brother Michael—who testified in a rumpled orange jumpsuit Thursday—believed they'd cracked the security around Calabrese.

The Marcellos knew of Calabrese being driven around town to murder locations where he briefed the FBI on unsolved hits that formed the basis of Family Secrets, which sent Jimmy and others to prison for life. They knew Calabrese called his wife from a phone dialed as Ambrose guarded Calabrese.

The Marcello brothers knew all about it in January 2003, weeks before I revealed in a Feb. 21, 2003, column that Calabrese was talking to the FBI about a series of unsolved homicides—including the murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro—and that his federal prison records had disappeared.

Though I'm flattered the Marcellos are loyal readers, and that Ambrose's defense would try to use my column to argue that the leak could have come from just about anywhere, Mickey Marcello testified Thursday that he knew about Calabrese because a law-enforcement source was spilling.

According to Marcello, a fat reputed Chicago mobster, Johnny "Pudgy" Matassa Jr., would tell him what the source learned. Then Marcello would drive to federal prison to tell Jimmy. Then, unbeknownst to the Marcello brothers, the FBI would tape what they said.

"John says his source was giving him a list of names," the balding Mickey testified. "... I had John. He had who he had, who I presumed was a law-enforcement officer."

Matassa and Marcello would meet, but not over checkered tablecloths, candles stuck in bottles of Chianti.

"One time it was Dunkin' Donuts, various restaurants, places like that," Marcello said.

He said Matassa told him about others Nick Calabrese was helping the FBI to investigate, including the boss, John "No Nose" DiFronzo—implicated but not charged in the sensational Spilotro murders. And about Anthony "The Trucker" Zizzo, who later disappeared from a Melrose Park restaurant lot and has never been found.

Mickey Marcello, a font of information, developed a severe case of Fedzheimers when asked about Joe "The Builder" Andriacci, and those two brothers from Bridgeport, Bruno and Frank "Toots" Caruso. Andriacci and the Carusos were not charged.

"Andriacci. 'The Builder,' " said Ambrose lawyer Frank Lipuma during cross-examination. "Is he a mob boss?"

"I don't know," Marcello deadpanned.

"Are you aware of the Carusos who run Chinatown/Bridgeport?" Lipuma asked.

"No," Marcello said. "I'm not aware of that."

"Aren't they associated with organized crime?"

"They know a lot of people," sighed Marcello. "I guess you could say that. That they know a lot of people."

So do the Marcello brothers. They knew a guy who knew a guy who knew Nick Calabrese was taking the FBI to places where murders were committed.

That's not Hollywood.

It's Chicago.

Thanks to John Kass

Mob's Secret Language Revealed

Rub your stomach? That's code for John Matassa, also known as "Pudge" for his love of the sweets.

Brush your nose? Must be talking about boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

Rubbing fingers together denotes hush money paid out to a moulieri, or wife.

For the benefit of a federal jury hearing the case against accused turncoat federal agent, Michael "Mickey" Marcello on Thursday deciphered the gestures and phrases he and his brother used to discuss mafia business while behind bars.

Marcello told jurors the information he discussed with his brother, Outfit street crew leader Jimmy Marcello, in a Michigan prison came from "the baby sitter," the guy whose father died behind bars and who dialed phone numbers for a wanted hit man-turned-witness in protective custody. But Mickey Marcello, reluctantly testifying Thursday in his prison-issue orange togs and laceless shoes, said he never knew the source's real name or how he got access to the secrets.

Prosecutors fingered deputy U.S. marshal John T. Ambrose as the man who leaked word to the mafia about Nick Calabrese, the protected witness Ambrose guarded.

The FBI got smart to the leaks in 2003 when they caught the Marcellos on tape talking about Calabrese's covert cooperation with federal investigators. But the brothers talked in code and used a slew of gestures to disguise their conversations about criminal Outfit business. And they almost never named names.

One tape in particular was played twice for jurors Thursday before U.S. District Judge John Grady then decided to strike it from the record. On it, Jimmy asked where the news of Calabrese's cooperation came from.

"The guy who is giving it to you?" James asked.

"The guy who is his babysitter," Michael responded.

"Oh yeah?"

"Baby sitter guy. Same guy."

"Same guy that was at the other place with him?"

"(Nods affirmatively) Same guy that took him the first time."

Baby sitter guy, Marcello said, is a law enforcement source whose father was part of the "Marquette 10" police corruption case and since has died, which describes Ambrose's father.

Marcello, 58, pleaded guilty in 2007 to racketeering charges in the Family Secrets mafia case and is now serving his sentence. Thursday the judge had to constantly remind Marcello to sit up and speak into the microphone.

Marcello's answers came in short bursts, rarely in full sentences, as if he never got over a lifetime of communicating in code to foil eavesdropping investigators and evade wiretaps. Granted immunity by Judge Grady, Marcello didn't balk at any of the questions, but punctuated his answers with lots of "whatever you call it, I don't know."

Mickey Marcello's source was John Matassa, who Marcello said was still separated by several sources from the leaker.

"But you didn't know the information was coming from the marshal's office, right?" defense attorney Frank C. Lipuma asked.

"Right," Marcello said.

"There's no indication you know where Matassa got the information from, right?"


Thanks to Lauren Fitzpatrick

Mickey Marcello is Reluctant Witness in Deputy US Marshal John Ambrose Trial

FBI recordings caught brothers James and Michael Marcello anxiously discussing information in 2003 that their Chicago Outfit associate Nicholas Calabrese might testify against them and others.

On Thursday, Michael "Mickey" Marcello was on the witness stand in Chicago's federal courthouse, reluctantly reliving those undercover recordings in the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose.

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and thick glasses, Marcello, 58, squinted at transcripts of several recorded conversations with his brother and deciphered the vague codes and signals they used to furtively discuss Calabrese's enrollment in the witness protection program.

Marcello testified that he learned of Calabrese's cooperation with law enforcement from reputed mob figure John "Pudgy" Matassa Jr.

Ambrose is on trial on charges that while twice guarding Calabrese, he leaked Calabrese's cooperation to a family friend with alleged mob links, knowing the sensitive information would end up in the Outfit's hands.

Marcello denied directly knowing Ambrose or knowing that Ambrose was allegedly the source to the mob of Calabrese's cooperation.

When asked who he was referring to on one undercover recording when he identified the source as Calabrese's "baby-sitter," Marcello said, "The guy that watches him."

Marcello testified that Matassa indicated that the original source was in law enforcement. But Matassa said he himself was receiving information from another man named "Billy," Marcello said.

Marcello said that he presumed that referred to William Guide, a former Chicago police officer convicted in the Marquette 10 police corruption trial in the 1980s. Guide was a close friend of Ambrose's father, Thomas, who was also convicted in that prosecution and died in prison. But a key 2003 video recording in which the Marcello brothers discuss the source's ties to the Marquette 10 defendants, the initial clue that led authorities to investigate Ambrose, was belatedly removed from evidence Thursday by U.S. District Judge John Grady.

Grady reversed his earlier decision to allow the videotape as evidence even though the jury had already viewed it twice during the trial. "I apologize for making a mistake," said Grady, ordering the jury to ignore that particular videotape and hand in transcripts of that tape.

Prosecutors have argued that Ambrose leaked details of Calabrese's cooperation to Guide with the knowledge that it would reach organized-crime figures. Ambrose's attorneys have admitted that Ambrose talked to Guide about protecting Calabrese but contend he had no criminal intent.

Marcello, serving an 8 1/2-year sentence on racketeering and conspiracy convictions, spent more than five hours on the stand, responding to most questions with clipped, one-word answers. When questioned about his own organized-crime ties or the rank or status of other Outfit figures, including his brother James, he became visibly uncomfortable, stammering answers and pleading ignorance.

Outside the courtroom, Marcello's lawyer, Catharine O'Daniel, said that her client had testified only because he was granted immunity and threatened with an additional sentence for contempt if he did not appear. "He is not here willingly," O'Daniel said. "He's as willing as I am whenever I go to get a root canal."

Thanks to Robert Mitchum

Friday, April 10, 2009

John Ambrose - The Mob's Babysitter?

Top Chicago Outfit bosses described a deputy wiith the U.S. Marshal service as the "Mob's Babysitter."

The deputy goes to trial next week on charges that he provided sensitive witness information to the Outfit.

When the court bailiff announces "United States versus John Thomas Ambrose" on Monday in a Chicago courtroom, history will be made. It will be the only time since George Washington swore in the first U.S. Marshals that a deputy has ever been charged with leaking inside information to a criminal organization.

When Chicago Deputy Marshal John Ambrose broke down doors for the Great Lakes fugitive squad, it was seen across the country during a CNN special report. But it was what Ambrose was doing behind closed doors, away from the cameras, that authorities say makes him a criminal.

According to federal charges that Ambrose will face beginning Monday, he leaked information about mob investigations.

"The breach could have put at risk the life of one of the most important witnesses ever developed in Chicago against the Chicago Outfit. It could have put at risk US Marshals, and family members of that witness," said Robert Grant, FBI agent in charge.

That witness was Nick Calabrese, mob hitman extraordinare. In 2002, Calabrese began secretly cooperating with the FBI in an investigation called Family Secrets.

One of the primary duties of the U.S. Marshal service is to protect government witnesses. The ultra secret, cloak and dagger style witness security program, or WITSEC as it's known, has protected 17,000 people since 1970 and officials claim not one has ever been harmed.

Calabrese was a protected witness. Deputy John Ambrose was assigned to protect him.

According to federal records, as a supervisor, Ambrose had access to confidential case information, including details of Calabrese's cooperation, where he would he housed, and when he would be moved.

It was during secretly recorded prison conversations between Chicago mob bosses that federal agents knew there was a leak.

The discussions between Outfit leader Jimmy Marcello and his brother Michael were in code. But on numerous occasions when they talked about "the babysitter," feds say that was their code name for Ambrose who was babysitting Nick Calabrese and allegedly leaking inside information to the mob through an Outfit connected family friend.

"No system is perfect. And much of what we do depends on trust and confidence and honor," said Gary Shapiro, first assistant U.S. attorney.

Federal authorities said they were shaken by what they said they found and Ambrose was called in and question by his superiors on several occasions. He denied having contacts with mob lieutenants John "Pudgy" Matassa and or with "Little Tony" Rizzo who had recently gone missing and has never turned up.

Records reveal Ambrose told investigators several conflicting stories including one that he leaked outfit information to curry favor with Chicago mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo but only for the purpose, he said, of helping to locate federal fugitives in the future.

"John Ambrose is not connected to the mob at rests on impressions and opinions of an FBI agent," said Frank Lipuma, Ambrose' lawyer.

Ambrose lives in south suburban Tinley Park. He has never publicly spoken about this case. In a 2005 TV interview, Ambrose did discuss how his father motivates him to be a federal lawman. "As corny as it may sound, I feel like he's (my dad) nudging me in a direction or opens my eyes to something," said Deputy U.S. Marshal Ambrose.

Ambrose' father, Thomas, was a Chicago police officer, highly decorated and respected until he was snared in the notorious Marquette Ten police corruption scandal in the 1980's.

Another one of the Marquette ten was William Guidie, John Ambrose' family friend, the one to whom he allegedly passed inside information.

Nothing happened as a result of the breach and Calabrese went onto help convict the top bosses.

Federal judge John Grady said that 40-year-old Ambrose isn't charged with being a member of the Outfit, of murdering anybody or being involved in the Family Secrets Trial and that he is concerned about sensationalizing the proceedings.

That said, Judge Grady is allowing some witnesses in the Ambrose trial to testify from behind screens so no one will see their faces.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deputy US Marshal Breaks Down Meeting with Prosecutors Regarding Mob Leak

A deputy U.S. marshal from Chicago, once a rising star in his office and now accused of leaking information to the mob, was questioned about possible contacts with other reputed mobsters, according to testimony in federal court Tuesday.

Investigators quizzed Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose about any contacts he had with top reputed mobsters John "Pudgy" Matassa and Tony Zizzo, who is now missing, according to testimony. Ambrose denied even knowing who the men were.

Ambrose, 39, is charged with lying to the feds about leaking secret information about mob killer Nicholas Calabrese, who decided to cooperate with the government and was in the witness protection program.

The feds caught on tape two mobsters, reputed Chicago Outfit boss James Marcello and his half brother, Michael, talking about Calabrese's "baby-sitter" -- their code name for Ambrose -- and the information "the baby-sitter" was providing to them.

The hearing was to determine whether statements that Ambrose made to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Robert Grant, the head of the FBI in Chicago, should be tossed out.

Ambrose contends he was in custody when he made statements and was not read his Miranda rights, so the statements shouldn't be allowed in. The feds say he wasn't in custody and gave the statements freely in talks with Fitzgerald and Grant in September 2006. Fitzgerald testified Tuesday that he told Ambrose he was not under arrest -- which Ambrose denies.

U.S. Marshal Kim Widup, Ambrose's boss, backed Ambrose's account in one key detail. Widup said he believed Ambrose was in custody when he was being questioned, which could support Ambrose and undermine the prosecution's case. Ambrose's uncle, Gerald Hansen, a retired Chicago police officer and current federal court security officer, visited Ambrose while he was at FBI offices and also said he believed his nephew was in custody.

It's unclear how much those statements will assist Ambrose. U.S. District Judge John Grady said he likely wouldn't consider their opinions all that helpful.

Ambrose broke down on the witness stand as he described how he was confronted by Fitzgerald and Grant.

"I was thinking about my wife and how she was going to raise the kids if we were separated, how we were going to provide," Ambrose said, tears coming to his eyes. "I felt I had been hurled into a vat of quicksand, and Mr. Fitzgerald was throwing bricks at me," Ambrose said.

Investigators were worried that Ambrose might kill himself, and lured him to FBI offices on a ruse.

Ambrose had to hand over his gun, a customary procedure, before he went up to 10th floor conference room at FBI offices, where he was confronted by Fitzgerald and Grant.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Friday, October 07, 1988

Suspected Mob Porn Boss Dies in His Apartment

Michael Glitta, 68, known to law enforcement officials as local overseer of pornography rackets, has died in his apartment at 1221 N. Dearborn St., his attorney, Adam Bourgeois, said Thursday. Glitta, who had a history of heart ailments, suffered a fatal heart attack Wednesday night, according to Bourgeois. Glitta, who operated a magazine sales firm at 1112 N. Milwaukee Ave., had syndicate ties going back nearly 30 years, according to Chicago and federal law enforcement officials.

In 1982, the Chicago Crime Commission said he supervised pornography operations for the mob in an area that ranged from the Near North Side to the Wisconsin state line. Crime Commission records say he got his start in vice rackets by running B-girl strip joints in Chicago and later branched out to embrace X-rated films and cassette tapes. Mob watchers said Glitta reported directly to Vincent Solano, a labor union leader and reputed rackets boss for the North Side and the northern suburbs.

Police and federal officials speculated Thursday that the list of likely successors to Glitta`s porn interests includes Johnny Matassa, a Solano protege, as well as Orlando Catanese and Leo Weintraub, two men described as manufacturers and sellers of books, magazines, films and sexual paraphernalia, and business associates of mob figures. Matassa, 37, recently has been observed regularly accompanying Glitta to meetings with Solano, according to federal investigators. Solano oversees Local 1 of the Laborers Union, and Matassa is a $75,000-a-year executive with Laborers Union Local 2, whose members include sewer and tunnel workers.

Although Glitta was regarded by authorities as the mob`s top man in the distribution of pornography, there have been recent indications his power was waning. A recently disclosed FBI investigation, described in a court affidavit, contended that reputed mob terrorist Frankie Schweihs had moved in on one North Wells Street pornography shop and was planning to take over another. Both would normally have been in Glitta`s territory, police said.

With federal court approval, the FBI secretly taped conversations between Schweihs and a former porn dealer from whom he was collecting protection money on behalf of the mob, the affidavit said. On one tape, the dealer, concerned about being caught in a mob territorial dispute, asked Schweihs to talk to Glitta. Schweihs told him that he didn`t talk to Glitta, but to Glitta`s boss, who was not named in the conversation. As a result of the tapes, Schweihs was charged with extortion.

At the time of his death, Glitta was awaiting trial in Chicago on federal charges of illegally possessing two .38 caliber revolvers. Glitta`s family said a funeral was planned for Monday.

Reported by John O'Brien


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