The Chicago Syndicate: Michael Spilotro
Showing posts with label Michael Spilotro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Spilotro. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Deputy U.S. Marshal Trial to Begin on Monday

Once known as a tireless bloodhound who tracked down fugitive gang leaders, deputy U.S. marshal John T. Ambrose now faces years behind bars if he is convicted of betraying his oath and leaking secrets to the mob.

Ambrose, 40, is due to go on trial Monday for tipping off organized crime figures seven years ago that a so-called made member of the Chicago mob had switched sides and was now providing detailed information to federal prosecutors. Ambrose denies he ever broke the law in handling secret information.

"The feds are guaranteed to see this as the worst sort of treacheryThe Chicago Outfit," says mob expert John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit." ''I don't think I'm overblowing it. They're going to see him the way the military sees a Benedict Arnold."

U.S. District Judge John F. Grady has ordered extraordinary security including screens in the courtroom to conceal the faces of key witnesses from spectators.

Inspectors in the government's supersecret Witness Security Program operated by the U.S. Marshal's Service will testify behind the screens and also use pseudonyms.

The idea is to prevent anyone from identifying the inspectors, whose job it is to guard heavily protected witnesses from mob assassins, terrorists or others who might want to silence them.

Ambrose defense attorney Francis C. Lipuma objected to the screens and testimony under false names. "This is going to sensationalize the trial," Lipuma told a recent hearing.

Ambrose is accused of leaking information to the mob about an admitted former hit man, Nicholas Calabrese, who was the government's star witness at the landmark 2007 Family Secrets trial that targeted top members of the Chicago mob.

As a trusted federal lawman, Ambrose was assigned to guard Calabrese on two occasions when witness security officials lodged him at "safe sites" in Chicago for questioning by prosecutors.

Ambrose is charged with stealing information out of the Witness Security Program file and passing it to a go-between believing it would go to reputed mob boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.

He's accused of leaking information about the progress of the investigation -- nothing about the whereabouts of the closely guarded witness. But prosecutors say it still could have put Calabrese in jeopardy, and Grady seemed to agree when the issue came up at a hearing last week.

"Anyone who has even occasionally read a Chicago newspaper in the last 20 years knows what the potential consequences of testifying against the so-called Mafia are," the judge told attorneys.

The Family Secrets trial was Chicago's biggest mob trial in years. Three of the top names in the mob including Calabrese's brother, Frank, were sentenced to life in prison and two other men received long terms behind bars.

Nicholas Calabrese admitted he was involved in the murders of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and his brother, Michael. Tony Spilotro was the model for the Joe Pesci character in the movie "Casino."

Nicholas Calabrese also said one of the Family Secrets defendants, reputed mob boss James Marcello, was among those in a suburban basement the night the Spilotro brothers were strangled.

Calabrese agreed to cooperate in the Family Secrets investigation in 2002 after a bloody glove recovered by police yielded DNA evidence placing him at a murder scene. Rather than risk capital punishment, Calabrese agreed to become a witness. He was placed in the Witness Security Program.

Ambrose was charged with stealing and leaking the contents of Calabrese's file after federal agents bugged the visitors room at the federal prison in Milan, Mich.

James Marcello was an inmate there and was visited by his brother, Michael Marcello, the operator of a video gaming company who eventually was charged in the case and pleaded guilty to racketeering.

Authorities overheard the Marcello brothers discussing a mole they had within federal law enforcement who was providing security for Calabrese. They called him "the babysitter." They said he was also providing information on the investigation.

Agents quickly narrowed the suspects to Ambrose when one of the Marcellos said "the babysitter" was the son of a Chicago policeman who went to prison decades ago as a member of the Marquette 10 -- officers convicted of shaking down drug dealers.

Ambrose's fingerprint was later found on the file.

Thanks to AP

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, March 24, 2009

Brother of Mob Boss to Testify Against U.S. Marshal

For months, Michael Marcello passed along key information about a top mob snitch during his 2003 prison visits to his half-brother, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello -- the Chicago Outfit's top boss.

The details about the key witness, mob killer Nicholas Calabrese, were allegedly coming from the man assigned to protect Calabrese from the mobsters who wanted him dead -- deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose.

Now, in a stunning reversal, Michael Marcello, once his imprisoned half-brother's eyes and ears on the street, will testify against Ambrose next month, a prosecution filing shows.

Ambrose is charged with leaking important information about Nick Calabrese to the Outfit. Marcello could provide key testimony about how the information allegedly made its way from Ambrose to Ambrose's friend with Outfit connections to reputed mobster John "Pudgy" Matassa to Michael Marcello to James Marcello. Matassa has not been charged in the case.

Michael Marcello pleaded guilty in the Family Secrets case in June 2007, admitting he ran an illegal video-poker business. He didn't agree to cooperate then and got 8½ years in prison.

It's unclear what prompted the turnaround. Prosecutors would not comment, and an attorney for Marcello did not return a message. Such cooperation often results in less prison time.

Prosecutors secretly recorded Michael Marcello's conversations when he visited James Marcello in prison.

The Marcellos were intent on finding out what Nick Calabrese had revealed about James Marcello's involvement in the 1986 killings of mobsters Anthony and Michael Spilotro.

James Marcello drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville area home, where the two men believed they were going to get promotions in the mob, according to testimony in the Family Secrets case. Instead, several mobsters, including Nick Calabrese, pounced on them and beat them to death.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Is John DiFronzo Now the Undisputed Boss of the Chicago Mob

With last month's life sentences for several top hoodlums, Outfit investigators say John DiFronzo is now the undisputed boss of the Chicago mob.

He's been called "No Nose" ever since part of his nose was sliced off while jumping through a window during a Michigan Avenue burglary.

After the I-Team was told by numerous organized crime sources that John "No Nose" DiFronzo holds a regular luncheon meeting at a west suburban restaurant, we took a look for ourselves. (Video of the meeting.)

A train whistle signals the approach of noon in west suburban River Grove. Also like clockwork on this Friday is the arrival of John DiFronzo to the Loon Cafe.

The 80-year-old convicted mob boss has driven his shiny new pickup truck a few blocks from the Grand Avenue home where he has lived for years.

He is the first one at the restaurant for "Lunch with No Nose."

"Mr. Difronzo's been there on a regular basisThe Chicago Outfit. The earlier story was that he was in there like clockwork every Tuesday night. It was his local watering hole just like a lot of guys in Chicago have their local wateringhole. Rumor has it that he's in there a bit more frequently these days," said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit (IL) (Images of America)."

His nose long since re-cast from the old days and more likely to be called "Johnny Bananas" to his face, DiFronzo is the first to arrive.

His brother Peter shows up next. The owner of a suburban waste-hauling firm, Peter DiFronzo is a convicted warehouse thief who did time at Leavenworth. Mob investigators say, like his brother, Peter is a fully initiated "made" member of the Chicago Outfit and believed to be his brother's most trusted lieutenant and advisor.

Then comes Marco "the Mover" Damico, a one-time bricklayer and DiFronzo protoge. Damico is a convicted mob capo with a 50-year criminal history of gambling, racketeering and toug guy intimidation. "Marco at one time was running the Elmwood Park Street Crew. I wouldn't be surprised if they found him a higher stature position if one was available right after he got out," said Binder.

Next to arrive, another DiFronzo brother, Joe, a former juice loan boss, once convicted of running the nation's largest indoor marijuana farm.

Other DiFronzo chums walk in, until the table for nine is full, for what could be a command performance.

"Anybody in the Outfit would go when they're called. It's a very hierarchical organization. A lot of these guys would spit in the face of the devil walking through the doors of Hell," said Binder.

For decades the Chicago mob has been conducting business at restaurant dining tables. One of the most famous photos in Outfit history was snapped in 1976 and was later found by the FBI during a raid. It shows a group of mobsters at a table.

Except for Joey "the Clown" Lombardo who was just sentenced to life in prison, the crime syndicate leaders seen together in the photo are all dead.

But now, there is a new family photo, taken by the I-Team just last Friday as John "No Nose" DiFronzo dishes out pizza to the Outfit's upper crust.

After the two hour pizza and wine meeting, DiFronzo was first to leave.

GOUDIE: "John...
DIFRONZO: How ya doin' buddy?"
GOUDIE: "How was the meeting?
DIFRONZO: What meeting?
GOUDIE: The pizza lunch.
DIFRONZO: Oh, yeah. that was good. That was good."
GOUDIE: You come here a lot?
DIFRONZO: No, first time.
GOUDIE: Mr. Damico in there?
DIFRONZO: I have...I don't even know who he is.
GOUDIE: I thought I saw him going into your lunch.
DIFRONZO: No, I haven't seen him. He hasn't been around."


DiFronzo was not charged during the landmark Family Secrets trial in 2007 that took down major mob bosses and solved more than a dozen gangland murders. But key witness and hitman Nick Calabrese testified that DiFronzo had a hand in the grisly, 1986 murders of Las Vegas mob boss Anthony Spilotro and his brother Michael. During a sentencing hearing last month, Park Ridge dentist Dr. Pat Spilotro challenged the government to arrest DiFronzo for his part in killing of his brothers.

GOUDIE: "Pat Spilotro said he wanted to know why the government hadn't picked you up in connection with Family Secrets.
DIFRONZO: I, uh--don't know anything about it...sorry.'


"From the federal government's point of view, the jury believed Nick Calabrese, they believed everything he said. The government convicted everybody. One of the things Nick Calabrese said was that John Difronzo was one of the guys beating on the Spilotros. He's the one guy left still alive who was identified by Nick Calabrese who hasn't been indicted and tried," said Binder.

GOUDIE: Are you concerned that you may end up in Family Secrets two?
DIFRONZO: I'm not concerned at all...bye bye...nice talkin' to you."


The pleasantries may soon be finished for John DiFronzo.

In two weeks mob informant Nick Calabrese is scheduled to be sentenced . But Calabrese' work as a government witness will probably not end. His next appearance could come against the man they call "No Nose."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Friday, February 06, 2009

Will Multiple Mob Murders be Solved by Operation Family Secrets - Part Two?

One of my loyal readers, Chicago mob boss James Marcello—captured on grainy federal recordings eating salty corn chips while discussing my column—will be sentenced in the "Family Secrets" case on Thursday.

Marcello, 66, may receive life in prison for his conviction of racketeering conspiracy in connection with previously unsolved Chicago Outfit murders.

The movie "Casino" incorrectly depicted Chicago mob brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield in 1986. But the trial showed that Marcello drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville home, where Michael thought he was going to become a "made member" of the Outfit. Bosses from every crew waited in the rumpus room for the brothers, who were beaten, strangled, their bodies dumped in the corn.

Dr. Pat Spilotro—dentist brother of the slain men—is scheduled to give a statement before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel. Dr. Pat has been secretly working with the FBI for years. He's expected to name other mobsters he believes should also pay for the killings.

Many of the murders involved Nick Calabrese, the hit man turned federal witness, who spilled what he knew on his family and others, giving this case the name "Family Secrets."

So, how do I know Jimmy Marcello reads this column? It came up in trial evidence and federal tape.

In late February 2003, at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., the imprisoned Marcello is sitting with a visitor, his close friend Nick "The Caterer" Vangel, a Greek businessman so nicknamed by wise guys because he once owned The Carlisle banquet hall in Lombard.

That was a day or so after my column of Feb. 21, 2003, about Nick Calabrese entering the witness protection program, prepared to testify about the Spilotro and other hits. Nick Calabrese killed dozens of men, but the prospect of his testimony terrified the Outfit and they were trying to find out more.

"I just saw this last thing in the Trib," Vangel tells Marcello on the FBI surveillance tape about the column.

Marcello responds in Outfit code, with winks and nods. He also does another strange thing: Since they're talking murder, Marcello begins chomping on a bag of tasty snack food: Fritos. That's a Super Bowl commercial if I ever saw one.

As Vangel tells Marcello of Nick Calabrese, of bosses swabbed for DNA, of the murders being investigated and speculates about the grand jury, Marcello makes furtive motions with his eyebrows and hands. But he can't stop gobbling his crunchy fried corn.

Family Secrets cleared many Outfit killings. But others remain unsolved, perhaps waiting for a "Family Secrets II."

One mystery is the disappearance of mob boss Anthony Zizzo in September 2006, as prosecutors prepared their case. Zizzo vanished. His car turned up in the parking lot of a Melrose Park restaurant. He had been scheduled to meet some guys on Rush Street, but never made it. Imagine that.

Another is the 2001 murder of mob boss Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, gunned down in a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Lyons, the sign out front inviting customers to eat their fill "The Chicago Way."

And the 1998 killing of Michael Cutler, who was scheduled to testify in the case against Frank Caruso Jr., the son of the current reputed Outfit street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso. Junior had been charged with the savage beating of Lenard Clark, a black teenager, in Bridgeport. Cutler saw it all. But before he could testify, Cutler was shot once in the chest in what was called a random West Side robbery.

Random? If you say so.

The unsolved 1999 murder of hit man Ronnie Jarrett, killed outside his Bridgeport home, was believed to have been ordered by mobster Frank Calabrese (brother of Nick Calabrese), who last week was sentenced to life, but was never charged with the Jarrett hit.

One incredibly puzzling death hasn't even been listed as a hit. Outfit bookie and city worker Nick "The Stick" LoCoco—tangled in the City Hall Hired Truck scandal—loved to ride horses. In November 2004, the bookie went for a canter in the woods, fell off his steed and died. On a Sunday, with NFL games under way and money on the line, a bookie goes for a horseback ride? Isn't that odd?

Marcello will have plenty of time to ponder all this and read my column while munching on his Fritos, day after day after day. Betcha Jimmy can't eat just one.

Thanks to John Kass

Thursday, February 05, 2009

James Marcello, Highest Ranking Mobster Charged in Operation Family Secrets, Sentenced to Life in Prison

In the long history of the Chicago Outfit, few murders have captured national attention like the killings of Anthony and Michael Spilotro, two brothers found battered and buried in an Indiana cornfield in 1986.

On Thursday, the man reputed to be the one-time head of the Chicago mob stood before a federal judge with an emotionless stare, his hands folded in front of him as he prepared to hear his sentence for his role in the Spilotro killings. James Marcello's expression didn't change as U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced him to life behind bars. Marcello was believed to be the highest-ranking mobster felled by the 2007 Family Secrets mob conspiracy trial, and he was held responsible for its marquee murder.

The Spilotros were killed for bringing too much heat to the mob's lucrative arm in Las Vegas, then headed by Anthony Spilotro. The brothers' deaths were immortalized in the movie "Casino," which showed them being beaten with bats in a farmer's dark field.

The Family Secrets trial cleared up many of the myths surrounding the killings. Testifying for the government, mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese explained how the brothers were actually lured to a suburban Chicago home with the promise of promotions but were jumped in a basement by a hit team.

In some of the most riveting testimony of the trial, Calabrese recounted how the men walked down the basement stairs. Realizing his fate, Anthony Spilotro asked whether he could say a prayer.

That moment was not lost on one of their brothers, Patrick Spilotro, a suburban dentist who aided federal authorities in the Family Secrets investigation. Spilotro was one of three relatives to address the court during Marcello's sentencing hearing and ask for a just punishment. Those who "denied my brothers a prayer . . ." he said, his voice trailing off, "deserve no mercy."

Prosecutors alleged Marcello drove Calabrese and others to the murder scene. He might have known how his actions would hurt others, Patrick Spilotro said, as Marcello lost his father in an Outfit killing.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk argued for a stiff sentence, describing Marcello as more cunning, courteous and adept than the other mob figures at the trial. In short, he was management material. "That is why he, unlike them, is in a different position in the Outfit," Funk said.

Marcello's lawyers, Marc Martin and Thomas Breen, told the judge there was little they could say that had not been repeated often during the trial. Marcello pleaded not guilty and always maintained his innocence, they said. "Mr. Marcello has denied his involvement in the Spilotro brothers' murder as well as [a third murder]," Breen said. "That's all he can do."

When Zagel offered him a chance to address the court, Marcello declined, as many convicted reputed mobsters have historically done.

The judge then echoed Funk as he handed down the sentence, saying Marcello had shown self-control and judgment throughout the trial, unlike others who had sometimes come unglued. It was most significant to Zagel that "you could have done better," the judge told Marcello. "You know how to do better."

Marcello spent most of the hearing looking relaxed in a dark olive suit, even when the son of another of his victims turned from the courtroom lectern to stare him down. Bob D'Andrea's father, Nicholas, was beaten to death in 1981 while mob leaders were questioning him about an unauthorized attempt on the life of a ranking Outfit member.

D'Andrea told Marcello to imagine his father's pain as he was beaten with the butt of a shotgun while tied up in the back of a car. One day, Marcello will have to explain himself to God, D'Andrea said. "I hope Mr. Marcello has some good answers for him," he said. "That's not life. That's eternity."

At the defense table, Marcello sat still, one hand resting on his cheek.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Operation Family Secrets Mob Trial Sentencing to Continue This Week

Federal agents tried for more than three decades to penetrate the deepest secrets of Chicago's organized crime family -- the names of those responsible for 18 ruthless murders aimed at silencing witnesses and meting out mob vengeance. They even called the investigation Operation Family Secrets.

Their patience was rewarded six years ago when a mob hit man began to spill the family secrets as part of a deal to keep himself out of the execution chamber. And starting this week, three aging dons of the Chicago underworld convicted in September 2007 as a result of that testimony are due to receive long sentences -- quite likely life.

Two alleged henchmen also convicted after the 10-week Family Secrets trial are expected to get long sentences as well.

"These were the main guys who ran the crime syndicate -- they were ruthless, they were absolutely ruthless," says retired police detective Al Egan, also a former longtime member of an FBI-led organized crime task force.

Wisecracking mob boss Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 80; convicted loan shark and hit man Frank Calabrese Sr., 71; and James Marcello, 66, all face a maximum of punishment of life in prison.

Former Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, 64, and convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 71, weren't convicted of any murders but the jury found them guilty of participating in what prosecutors say was a long-running conspiracy that included killings, gambling, loan-sharking and squeezing businesses for "street tax."

The case is a major success for the FBI in its war on the mob.

"It led to the removal or displacement of some of the most capable guys in organized crime," says author John Binder whose book, "The Chicago Outfit," tells the story of organized crime in the nation's third largest city. And it sends a strong message to members of organized crime: Do you really want to be the guy at the top? Because we're going to get you in the future."

Lombardo is the most colorful defendant. He was sent to federal prison in the 1980s for conspiring with International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Roy Lee Williams and union pension fund manager Allen Dorfman to bribe Sen. Howard Cannon, D-Nev., to help defeat a trucking deregulation bill. Cannon was never charged with any wrongdoing and the bill became law with his support.

When Lombardo got out, he resumed life as the boss of the mob's Grand Avenue street crew, prosecutors say. He denies it but his attorney, Rick Halprin, told the trial he ran "the oldest and most reliable floating craps game on Grand Avenue."

When the Family Secrets indictment was unsealed, Lombardo went on the lam for nine months. And when he was brought before Zagel, the irrepressible clown quickly lived up to his nickname. The judge asked him why he had not seen a doctor lately.

"I was supposed to see him nine months ago," Lombardo rasped, "but I was -- what do they call it? -- I was unavailable."

"A little joke now and then never hurts," he told the trial. But the jury found him responsible for gunning down a federal witness.

The jury also found Calabrese responsible for seven murders.

His own brother, Nicholas Calabrese, 66, testified that Frank liked to strangle victims with a rope and slash their throats to make sure they were dead.

Nicholas Calabrese became the government's star witness after he dropped a bloody glove near the scene of a mob murder. He agreed to talk out of fear that agents would match his DNA to that on the glove and he would be sentenced to death.

Among other things, he said his brother Frank liked to give names to their mob hits.

One was known as "Strangers in the Night," he testified. That was because the Frank Sinatra song was playing on the jukebox while two men were strangled in 1978 in a suburban Cicero restaurant.

Marcello was at one time the mob's big boss, according to federal investigators.

The jury held him among those responsible for the murder of Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro, at one time the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for the Joe Pesci character in the movie "Casino."

Spilotro and his brother Michael were found buried in a shallow grave in an Indiana cornfield.

Doyle is the only one of those convicted at the trial who is not accused of direct involvement in the murders.

Schiro was sentenced to prison for 5 1/2 years in 2002 for being part of a gang of jewel thieves run by the former chief of detectives of the Chicago police department, William Hanhardt. Prosecutors claimed he was to blame for a mob hit in Phoenix. But the jury deadlocked on the case.

Nicholas Calabrese is to be sentenced Feb. 23.

Thanks to CBS2

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Will Chicago's Mob History and Clout Mentality Follow Obama to the White House?

The city of Chicago is one of the few major metropolitan areas that runs away from its past at every opportunity. Yet, indeed, the very construction of the city led to the term “underworld.” And with rampant corruption controlled by infamous individuals like “Big Jim” Colosimo, Al Capone, Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, Murray “The Camel” Humphrey and Tony “Joe Batters” Accardo, Chicago can hardly bury its past — no pun intended.

Since the turn of the 20th century, what Carl Sandburg referred to as the “City of Big Shoulders” was perhaps the center of organized crime in the United States. Though New York had its Syndicate and Detroit had the Purple Gang, many believe true power in America’s underworld was concentrated in something called the Outfit.

With the election of Barack Obama will come a great deal of history-laden baggage, which will make the movie “The Godfather” seem like a Walt Disney cartoon.

From David Axelrod, who was nurtured on the Daley Machine, to the political organizing, which Barack Obama so proudly claims a lineage, Chicago’s brand of one Party politics may be a model for the Obama administration in Washington, D.C.

It is no mistake the president-elect joined Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s South Side Chicago church. Obama wanted to learn the ropes of power politics and how it was played in the Windy City. There were no better teachers than Mayor Daley and his cadre of obliging aldermen who responded to the cracking of the political whip. A failure to do so would quickly leave them on the outside looking in — without protection from the media, the law and any other threat which loomed on the horizon.

The question is not whether Obama will use the lessons he learned in Chicago as president. The question is: How much of that lesson will become the modus operandi for the Obama adminstration? Some say it might become Chicago on the Potomac, when referring to the political mechanism Obama may surround himself with. If so, it will be our nation’s darkest nightmare come true. And combined with the Clinton-brand of Arkansas politics, there may truly be a new day in our nation’s Capitol.

But how did the Daley Machine take root in Chicago? A book titled, The Outfit: The Role of Chicago’s Underworld in the Shaping of Modern Americawritten by Gus Russo and published in 2001 gave Americans a frigthening glimpse into the Daley Machine and how it got its start.

After Capone left power, due to his conviction on tax evasion charges in the early 1930s, it was Ricca, Humphrey and Accardo who truly called the shots in what many refer to as the Mafia. Even “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky, originators of organized crime in New York, would not make a move without consulting the Chicago Triumvirate whose innovation and power criminologists say was matched by none.

Since the hay-days of mob activity in Chicago, the city has done everything possible to shed its dark past. But its reputation lives on — despite the efforts of the current mayor, Richard M. Daley. In the early century, individuals like “Big Jim” Colismo controlled gambling and prostitution in the city. With the advent of Prohibition, organized crime found its true calling through the sale of bootleg alcohol, combined with the pandering trade. Added profits were topped off by a very lucrative illegal gambling racket.

After Capone’s departure, the mob moved into the numbers game — which had made millions for underworld entrepreneurs in the African-American community. Union corruption — which was master-minded by Murray “The Camel” Humphrey — brought great fortune to the Outfit as well. Eventually, the mob moved into the illicit drug trade. Until the early 1960s, the Chicago Outfit was ruled with an iron hand by Ricca, Humphrey and Accardo.

Though in later years, more flamboyant underworld figures, such as Sam “Mooney” Giancano and lesser players, including Joseph “Joey Doves” Aiuppa, and the Spilotro Brothers of the movie “Casino” fame, controlled organized crime in Chicago, the FBI virtually wiped out mob activity in the city — although remnants of the Outfit still exist today.

Chop shops and vending machines (poker, cigarettes, etc.) are still reported to be controlled by criminal entities. But the glory days of the Chicago Outfit are said to be long gone. Yet, the public doesn’t have to look far to find reminders of those wild times gone by.

Indeed, Chicago’s current mayor may not hold that office if not for the influence the Outfit had when it came to the election of his father, Richard J. Daley. Perhaps the Daley link with organized crime is one of the reasons why the city does all it can to obscure Chicago’s dark and corrupt history. You will not find city-sponsored tours of famous gangland hang-outs. Even historical landmarks, like the site of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre at 2122 N. Clark St., though an empty lot, are nagging reminders of a bygone era which City Fathers would rather forget.

The Outfit played a significant role in Richard J. Daley’s coming to power. Hizzoner "The Boss" was the protégé of 11th Ward Committeeman, Hugh “Babe” Connelly whose ties to the mob go way back to the days of the “Moustache Pete’s” who included prominent underworld figures like Johnny Torrio who first brought Capone to Chicago. Daley took over Connelly’s 11th Ward seat in 1947. In league with people like 11th Ward Ald. “Big Joe” McDonough, by 1955 the Mob was grooming Daley to be Mayor and, with the help of the Outfit, his election became a reality.

For example, in the very mobbed-up 1st Ward, Daley won a plurality of votes by a staggering margin of 13,275 to 1,961. After his election, Daley moved to solidify the Outfit’s power in the city. In 1956, Daley disbanded “Scotland Yard” an intelligence unit which had compiled reams of detailed records about Chicago crime figures. All this was to the grief of the Chicago Crime Commission who believed Daley’s election had set the city back a decade -- as far as the prosecution of organized crime.

Perhaps Richard M. Daley received much of his education from his father whose political coffers were stuffed with mob cash, according to the FBI. And perhaps the free rein given to organized crime by the Father implanted ideas in the mind of the son regarding possible revenue expansion through alternative sources. It’s possible today’s Chicago mayor learned a very important lesson from Tony “Joe Batters” Accardo, who secretly financed the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas in 1955, the same year Richard J. Daley was elected mayor. For nearly a quarter of a century afterward, the Chicago mob skimmed literally hundreds of millions of dollars out of Las Vegas casinos while operating with near impunity in Chicago, their home base.

Richie Daley had to see the unlimited amounts of cash that could be directed into city coffers through the expansion of gambling in Chicago. And though most of what used to be underworld crime has been incorporated into white collar America, gambling becomes even more seductive, no matter what memories of Chicago’s past may be dredged up in the process.

Forensic Psychology programs can give you a great insight into the minds of the mob and also lead to a great career.

Thanks to Daniel T. Zanoza

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mobster Offers Only Pennies Per Hour in Restitution to Families of Victims

Prosecutors want James "Little Jimmy" Marcello to pay millions in restitution for the victims' lost lifetime earnings.

There were fourteen of them, killed in cold blood by the Chicago Mob. Federal prosecutors want James "Little Jimmy" Marcello to pay millions of dollars in restitution for the victims' lost lifetime earnings.

Lawyers for Mr. Marcello contend that he should only be responsible for paying funeral expenses of victims, under case law, and that he really shouldn't pay anything. And in a unique argument against the payment of any restitution, Marcello attorney Marc Martin states that certain mob murder victims would have been eventually been put in prison with measly income potential.

"The government's expert speculates as to the earnings potential and life expectancy of certain murder victims," wrote Mr. Martin in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. "The expert failed to take into account the victims' actual circumstances, i.e., their specific actual damages. For example, the evidence showed that Nicholas D'Andrea and Michael Spilotro were criminals. If they had been convicted and sentenced (Michael Spilotro was awaiting a federal criminal trial at the time of his death), their prison earning capacity would have been pennies an hour."

Marcello's lawyer also challenges whether convicted mob bosses should be on the hook for restitution for "victims for whom the jury did not reach a verdict during the special verdict phase (Henry Cosentino, Paul Haggerty, John Mendell, Vincent Moretti, Donald Renno, Nicholas D'Andrea and Emil Vaci). Restitution cannot be awarded for such persons. A conviction is a condition precedent for a restitution judgment," states Martin. "There is no authority for awarding restitution in instances where the jury fails to reach a verdict."

As a result, Martin says "Defendant James Marcello respectfully moves this Honorable Court to deny the government's request for restitution and/or order any lawful and equitable relief."

Marcello is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17 by Judge James Zagel. Co-defendant's in the Operation: Family Secrets case will also be sentenced before Christmas. All are facing the prospects of lengthy stays in the penitentiary for their roles in a lucrative, decades-long Outfit enterprise.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

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.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Family Secrets Mobsters Seeking Gifts of Leniency and Mercy During Holiday Season Sentencing

It's not even October but several top Chicago Outfit bosses are already thinking about Christmas and hoping they'll receive gifts of leniency.

In rat-a-tat succession this December, five mobsters who were convicted in the milestone Operation: Family Secrets prosecution last year are now scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel.

The pre-Christmas list of defendants who will stand before Judge Zagel begins with Anthony "Twan" Doyle, a former Chicago police officer. Doyle is to be sentenced Monday, December 8. Doyle's sentencing and the others will take place in Zagel's courtroom on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn in downtown Chicago.

An Italian-American who was born "Passafume," the ex-cop changed his name to the Irish "Doyle" when he joined the Chicago Police Department. He was convicted of being the Outfit's "go-to guy" during some of his 21 years on the police force. The jury found that Doyle was part of a racketeering conspiracy that used violence to achieve its goals.

Next up in court will be Paul "The Indian" Schiro, who is due to be sentenced Wednesday, December 10. Schiro was convicted on racketeering charges.

The following day, Thursday December 11, lead defendant Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese, Sr. will be sentenced. It was Calabrese Sr.'s son and brother who both turned government witnesses and brought down the elder's Outfit street crew like a house of parlay cards. Nearly one year ago, a federal jury blamed "The Breeze" for nearly a dozen gangland murders and on Dec. 11 Calabrese Sr. is will face a sentence that will likely keep him locked up for the rest of his life.

The pre-holiday sentencing will continue the following week, on Monday December 15, when Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo will appear before Judge Zagel. Lombardo was also convicted of racketeering in connection with the old, unsolved mob murders, including those of notorious Las Vegas boss Anthony "Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael. The Spilotros were found buried in an Indiana cornfield in 1986 after a dispute with their Outfit superiors. "The Clown" is known for his courtroom antics, such as peering out from behind a homemade newspaper mask, wise-cracking with lawyers and judges and once leading news crews on a downtown chase through a construction site. He is likely to be less jovial on Dec. 15, when he faces what will be tantamount to a life sentence.

The final sentencing for the five major Family Secrets defendants will be Wednesday, December 17. James "Little Jimmy" Marcello will also face the potential of life in prison for his role in mob killings and the collection of Outfit "street tax." The mob crew strong-armed protection money from businesses, ran sports bookmaking and video poker businesses as well as loan sharking operations. They rubbed out some of those who might have spilled their secrets to the FBI.

Admitted mob hitman Nick Calabrese, brother of Frank "The Breeze," will be sentenced Monday, January 26, 2009. Nick Calabrese had a hand in at least 15 gangland hits before turning informant. His cooperation was key to the original indictment of 14 Outfit bosses and soldiers and the success of the prosecutions.

Several lower-echelon members of the mob crew have already been sentenced. Also, Judge Zagel has denied defense motions for new trials.

Sentencing Dates

Anthony Doyle Sentencing Dec 8

Paul Schiro Sentencing Dec 10

Frank Calabrese Sr. Sentencing Dec 11

Joseph Lombardo Sentencing Dec. 15

James Marcello Sentencing Dec 17

Nicholas Calabrese Sentencing Jan 26, 2009

Frank Schweihs -- Died before trial.

Already Sentenced

Michael Marcello -- 8 1/2 years prison
Nicholas Ferriola three years in prison
Joseph Venezia -- 40 months prison
Dennis Johnson -- 6 months in prison

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Frank "The German" Schweihs, Chicago Outfit Mob Enforcer, Dies Awaiting Trial

Frank "the German" Schweihs, a reputed Chicago Outfit enforcer once described as one of the most feared men in the city, died Wednesday in a North Side hospital after being transferred from the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he was awaiting trial.

Frank 'The German' SchweihsSchweihs, 78, was cancer-stricken and too ill to face charges in last year's landmark Family Secrets case, one of the biggest mob trials in Chicago's history. The frail Schweihs was scheduled to go to trial Oct. 28. He appeared at recent hearings in federal court in a wheelchair.

On Wednesday, Schweihs died in Thorek Memorial Hospital, said jail spokesman Vincent Shaw.

Schweihs initially went on the lam after the sweeping indictment came down in 2005, but authorities were able to track him down in an apartment complex in a small town in Kentucky late that year.

His upcoming trial had been threatened when Schweihs signed a do-not-resuscitate order that might have forced officials to move him from the downtown jail, which has no medical facility. But Schweihs rescinded the order.

During the Family Secrets trial, in which five of Schweihs' co-defendants were found guilty, witnesses testified that Schweihs was a henchman for capo Joey "the Clown" Lombardo. Schweihs was identified during the trial as being involved in the 1974 hit in Bensenville on Lombardo business partner and federal witness Daniel Seifert.

Schweihs' last court appearance June 10 was memorable, as he complained loudly and barked at federal prosecutors. One of them, Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk, who was part of the trial team on Family Secrets, had looked in his direction as he spoke with his attorney Ellen Domph.

"You makin' eyes at me?" Schweihs snarled. "Do I look like a [expletive] to you or something?"

In a recent court filing, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel to seat an anonymous jury to hear the Schweihs case, noting that he used violence to rise in the Outfit starting in the 1960s.

"Throughout this phase of his life, Schweihs continued to use seemingly irrational brutality for 'effect,' portraying himself as the consummate 'tough guy' at every opportunity," the government's brief stated.

Trial testimony during last year's Family Secrets case made it clear that Schweihs was someone who others linked to the mob feared most.

Michael Spilotro, who was killed in a mob hit along with his brother, once told his daughter that if she ever saw Schweihs around their home, she was to call 911 immediately. Brothers James and Mickey Marcello, defendants in the case, had another nickname for him: "Hitler."

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Friday, April 11, 2008

Judge Takes No Action for Now on Alleged Threat by Mobster to US Attorney

The federal judge who presided over Chicago's biggest mob trial in years ruled Thursday that a threat allegedly uttered by one of the defendants during closing arguments calls for no immediate action.

It should be obvious that a defendant is not entitled to a new trial or any other relief merely because a juror observed his behavior in court, U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said in a 12-page opinion.

"A defendant seeking relief in this instance is somewhat like the apocryphal child who murders his parents and then asks the court to have mercy on an orphan," Zagel said.

The jury convicted five defendants of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that involved illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 murders that went unsolved for decades.

Among the victims was Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the mob's longtime man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the movie "Casino." He and brother Michael Spilotro were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield in June 1986.

Other victims were strangled, beaten and shot to keep them from leaking secrets to the FBI, according to witnesses at the 10-week trial.

Several of those convicted at the trial argued that the alleged threat may have prejudiced the jury and one of them, mob boss James Marcello, asked for a new trial.

The alleged threat took place while Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk delivered a closing argument for the government.

Four jurors told prosecutors after the trial that while Funk spoke, convicted loan shark and hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. said: "You are a (expletive) dead man," according to a letter from the government to Calabrese's lawyer last October.

The juror who made the initial report was "extremely credible" in saying he heard part of the sentence and saw Calabrese mouth the rest of it, Zagel said in his opinion Thursday. Prosecutors didn't hear it.

Zagel said he held a hearing at the request of the defendants but found no reason for further action now. The judge did say, however, that he would address the issue further when he rules on the defendants' post-trial motions.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Banks Family Rules

In the overly gentrified Bucktown community on the city's North Side, neighbors call the gigantic gray stone home on Wood Street by a special name: the "French Embassy." But why not give it a proper name -- "La Palais de la famiglia du Pastries Banks."

The massive single-family home that dwarfs neighbors and casts a humongous shadow was featured in the Tribune's amazing series on zoning this week "Neighborhoods for Sale."

Written by Tribune reporters Dan Mihalopoulos, Robert Becker and Darnell Little, the series -- with more installments to come -- focused on what critics call Chicago's corrupt pay-to-play zoning system, and how neighborhoods suffer as real estate developers intersect with aldermanic ambition.

So I stood there on Wood Street on Wednesday, staring at the so-called French Embassy, the mountain of frozen gray stone, the wrought iron-covered balconies, the security cameras right out of a Ludlum novel. It didn't feel like Paris.

It felt more like Albania, at some Ministry of Information, or perhaps the compound of their late dictator, the psychotic communist Enver Hoxha. But I say live and let live. A property owner has the right to build what they choose to build on their own land. Yet not at the expense of their neighbors, merely because they touched their alderman with contributions and got the zoning lawyer whose uncle runs the zoning committee.

The problem with Chicago zoning, according to this series, is that everything is so haphazard, with some aldermen invoking some standards and other aldermen invoking other standards, so there is no one standard.

Except for the Banks Family Standard.

They're the powerful political family on the Northwest Side, picking judges, congressmen and Department of Transportation bosses. Some even consider them the second most powerful family in Chicago politics, behind, of course, Bruno and Toots Caruso from Chinatown.

I don't know if the Banks Family Standard is measured in pounds sterling, or cannoli from the city's finest bakeries, but when it comes to zoning in Chicago, the Banks Family Rules. After the mayor's brother Michael, the Banks family is the alpha and omega of zoning.

You'll find a Banks that sells property. Another that buys property. Another Banks is the city's busiest zoning lawyer.

Ald. William J.P. Banks, chairman of the Committee on Zoning, is the powerful boss of the 36th Ward. He's the boss when his big brother Sam "Pastries" Banks, a powerful attorney, lets him run things. And Pastries is the boss when state Sen. Jimmy DeLeo (D-How You Dooin?) is busy in Springfield, where he's the real governor, having to sometimes keep the pretend governor, Rod Blagojevich, in line.

And what about Jimmy Banks, son of Pastries, and a top zoning lawyer in his own right?

Jimmy Banks was the zoning lawyer for the "French Embassy" expansion, or, as neighbors may call it forevermore, "La Palais de la famiglia du Pastries Banks," and guess what?

It got approved. And the Bankses don't even live there.

His uncle, the alderman, excuses himself from the zoning meeting, as he does periodically when nephew Jimmy's cases come up. He walks into the City Council's back room, and has a sandwich and waits. And like so many times before, the aldermen approve Jimmy's zoning cases, not because he's Pastries' son or the alderman's nephew, or on account of 36th Ward muscle, but because of Jimmy's amazing legal abilities.

Cynics may scoff at such intellectual purity coming from City Hall on zoning issues, but don't be fooled. Chicago aldermen are known to be prisoners of their own virtue.

Pastries and his 36th Ward boys were also mentioned in the recent federal Family Secrets trial of Chicago Outfit crime bosses.

An Outfit sanctioned burglar, Sal Romano, testified that he bribed corrupt police with the help of Sam Banks, though Banks remained mum at the time of the testimony. And Annie Spilotro, widow of Michael "Magnum P.I." Spilotro, also testified that she had disagreements with DeLeo and Jimmy Banks over the sale of her husband's restaurant, after Michael and his brother Tony were murdered.

Apparently, there is bad blood between the families. Annie Spilotro testified that she appealed to Outfit boss James Marcello to iron out things between the Spilotros and Bankses. But the sit-down never took place. And that should have told the Spilotros where they stood.

Like those neighbors living next to the gargantuan structure on Wood Street, there are certain political dictums, (or is that dicta?) in Chicago, as "Neighborhoods For Sale" proved.

One is that you can't fight City Hall. And the other is that when it comes to building and zoning, the Banks Family Rules.

Thanks to John Kass

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Dentist Gets Drilled by "The Shark"

Joseph "The Shark" Lopez returns with more Shark Tales from the Family Secrets trial and some questions for Pat Spilotro, the dentist brother of Tony and Michael Spilotro. Pat testified during the trial regarding his relationship with some of the defendants. Nick Calabrese, testifying for the prosecution, revealed how both Tony and Michael met their demise.

"The trial was quite a show of characters. The best was Dr. Spilotro, the rat. If his brothers could have seen him on the stand testifying as a government witness they would have puked. He was disgusting. He sat there like a big church victim crying about his brothers.

What about the families of the guys his brother killed, did he weep for them? What about the guy whose head went into the vise or the burglars that were killed? What about those guys doc?

There were times I thought the trial would never end. Day after day was a grind. Judge Zagel kept it going at a good pace. The big issue on appeal will be the double jeporady arguments of Calabrese and Marcello. This case will go on for years to come and it aint over yet!" - Joe Shark

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

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Difronzo Family Secrets

John DiFronzo was implicated in outfit murders and other crimes during the recent mob trial of the century, but he wasn't charged. The I-Team has learned more about the man they call "No Nose."

You can call him "No Nose," or you can call him "Johnny Bananas" as he is sometimes known. But to the thugs, hustlers and hoodlums who report to him in the outfit, federal authorities say 78-year-old John DiFronzo is known as the boss. And they say DiFronzo's top lieutenant has the same last name because it's his younger brother.

A finger to the nose: that's mob sign language for John "No Nose" DiFronzo, according to feds. The pantomime act was caught on covert jailhouse tapes of meetings between Chicago Outfit bosses that were used as evidence during this summer's Family Secrets trial.

Authorities say DiFronzo's position is so important to the mob, that his underlings don't want to implicate him by speaking his real name.

So, they signal his nickname "No Nose," awarded to DiFronzo decades ago after a Michigan Avenue fur heist when part of his sniffer was severed as he jumped through a plate glass window.

John DiFronzo cut his teeth with the mob's Elmwood Park crew. He and his wife once lived in a Grand Avenue apartment house that they own, where their name is still on the front mailbox.

No Nose's rap sheet stretches back to the 1950s and features dozens of arrests and convictions. During the Family Secrets trial, federal prosecutors portrayed DiFronzo as a top outfit leader, and for the first time, said he was involved in the 1986 gangland murders of Anthony Spilotro -the mob's Las Vegas boss - and his brother, Michael, who were found six feet under an Indiana farm field.

The only evidence of DiFronzo's role in the Spilotro hit was from mob snitch and star witness Nick Calabrese. Law enforcement sources say they didn't want to risk losing a case against DiFronzo.

In one 2003 conversation between mobster brothers Jimmy and Michael Marcello, feds say they discussed No Nose.

James: "it quieted down on this guy, they didn't have what they thought they were gonna have or something like that?

Michael: I guess. That's what we heard. They thought they had something now they're not so sure."

DiFronzo is now atop the mob's flow chart that started with Scarface and continued through the Big Tuna, according to former federal agent and ex-Chicago crime commission director Bob Fuesel. "Their spots change, but they're still the same outfit that we know about from the days of Capone through Accardo for 50 years up until John DiFronzo today," Fuesel said.

DiFronzo was unreachable in River Grove or at his corner lot vacation home in Lake Geneva. His longtime lawyer, Carl Walsh, declined to comment Wednesday.

The FBI said a gag order prevented them from answering why DiFronzo hasn't been charged with the murders that prosecutors say he committed.

Do they even know where he is? "There is no reason for us to know his whereabouts because he hasn't been charged with anything," said Ross Rice, FBI spokesman.

Mob investigators say No Nose will lean on his brother, Peter DiFronzo, to help manage outfit rackets. Peter DiFronzo is a convicted warehouse thief who did time at Leavenworth. He and his brother are both fully initiated "made" members of the Chicago Outfit, according to the Chicago Crime Commission.

FBI records state that Peter and No Nose operate a west suburban construction and waste hauling firm, a politically connected company that "obtained contracts through illegal payoffs or intimidation."

When the I-Team visited D and P Construction Tuesday, Peter DiFronzo thought we were there to survey for new sewer lines. When told that the I-Team was there on an outfit investigation, he claimed to no know nothing and drove off in a new Cadillac Escalade.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spilotro Brothers Leave Court

Friends of ours: Anthony Spilotro
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

Anthony Spilotro, left, and his brother, Michael, leave the federal building in Chicago.Reputed mobster Anthony Spilotro, left, and his brother, Michael, leave the federal building in Chicago after a bond hearing in this June 17, 1986 photo. Anthony Spilotro was known as the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas and inspired the Joe Pesci character in the movie casino. He and his brother were beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield in June 1986.

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007, a forensic pathologist who did autopsies on the Spilotros, testified at the trial in Chicago of five men charged with taking part in a racketeering conspiracy that included 18 murders. He said there was no evidence that the two men were buried alive.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dentist and Lawyer in Heated Courtroom Exchange

Friends of ours: Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Anthony Spilotro, James Marcello, Nicholas Calabrese
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro, Michael Marcello

Joey "the Clown" Lombardo spent months eluding federal authorities after he was indicted in the Family Secrets mob-conspiracy case, but he couldn't outrun the pain of an abscessed tooth.

So in January 2006, he quietly made arrangements to see his dentist, Patrick Spilotro, after Spilotro's Park Ridge practice had closed for the night. But Lombardo didn't know that Spilotro was an FBI tipster, hoping to help solve the murders of his reputed mobster brothers, Anthony and Michael Spilotro.

Testifying Tuesday at the Family Secrets trial, a sometimes tearful Patrick Spilotro said he told the FBI about a second clandestine appointment a few days later with the fugitive -- this time to adjust a bridge.

"They knew the exact time" of the visit, he testified in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, providing the most complete account yet of how Lombardo was captured after nine months on the lam. The reputed mob boss was arrested in Elmwood Park that same day.

Lombardo is one of five men on trial in the sweeping conspiracy case involving 18 previously unsolved murders, including the Spilotros' killings in 1986.

During the visit for dental work, Spilotro said he pressed Lombardo again about what had happened to his brothers. Lombardo, who was in prison when the slayings occurred, had always told him the slayings wouldn't have happened if he had been free, Spilotro said. But this time the answer changed. "I recall his words very vividly," Spilotro testified. "He said, 'Doc, you get an order, you follow that order. If you don't follow the order, you go too.'"

Lombardo occasionally leaned over on his cane to talk with a lawyer during Tuesday's testimony.

Upon cross-examination, Lombardo's lead attorney, Rick Halprin, asked Spilotro whether the person he treated was simply an old man with a bad tooth. Lombardo, whose defense strategy suggests he is preparing to testify on his own behalf, contends he is only a mob-connected business man, not an Outfit boss.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel is expected to ask each of the five defendants whether they plan to testify as soon as Wednesday.

Spilotro also testified that his brother, Anthony, was in his office on June 12, 1986, just two days before he vanished. While there he had access to a phone, and apparently called the home of defendant James Marcello, according to phone records displayed Tuesday.

Marcello, the reputed leader of the Chicago Outfit, already has been blamed in the Spilotro killings by the trial's star witness, mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese. And Michael Spilotro's daughter has testified that Marcello called her father at home the day he and his brother disappeared.

Patrick Spilotro's testimony Tuesday led to one of the most heated cross-examinations to date in the trial.

Marcello's lawyer, Thomas Breen, asked Spilotro about his decision to clean out Anthony Spilotro's hotel room before he had been reported as a missing person and before police had searched the room for fingerprints.

"It's what I did at that time," said Patrick Spilotro, who seemed to struggle with his emotions throughout his testimony. "I really didn't have my whole head on at that time."

Breen asked what would have happened if the Spilotro brothers had returned to the room and thought there had been a burglary. They had been missing for barely 24 hours when Patrick Spilotro cleaned out the room.

"That would've been a blessing for me then," said Spilotro, who said he knew enough at the time to guess that his brothers would never be coming back. His sister-in-law, Ann, had told him that her husband, Michael, believed he could be in danger.

"She told me where they went," Spilotro said, raising his voice slightly. "They went with Marcello."

At that remark, Breen paced around the lectern, then walked up to Spilotro. Breen told Spilotro his sister-in-law never mentioned Marcello by name during her testimony. "You were the first person to ever share that, doctor," Breen said sarcastically. "Ever report that to the FBI?"

"The FBI was aware that Marcello had called there and [my brothers] went to meet him," Spilotro answered.

"Yeah, right," Breen shot back. "That's the problem when somebody does [their own] investigation."

Prosecutors ended the day by playing recordings made while Marcello was being visited by his brother, Michael, at a federal prison in Michigan. The men, who did not know they were being recorded, spoke about the Family Secrets investigation with code and hand gestures.

Allegedly referring to Nicholas Calabrese as "Slim," authorities said the men can be heard speculating about whether Calabrese is cooperating with them.

In a later video from January 2003, the brothers are seen sitting side-by-side in a prison visiting room. They are heard discussing a source -- who authorities contend was a U.S. marshal (John Ambrose) working a witness security detail. The source had confirmed for the brothers Calabrese's cooperation with the authorities.

The source had seen a summary from Calabrese outlining the participants in some 18 homicides, including the slayings of the Spilotro brothers, which the Marcellos referred to in code as "Zhivago."

"All your names are on that [expletive]," Michael Marcello could be heard to say.

"You're kidding," his brother replied.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mistress Faces Reputed Mobster

Friends of ours: James Marcello, Tony Spilotro, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro

The reputed mob boss did his best to keep a poker face Thursday.

First, the daughter of one of the Spilotro brothers tried not to cry as she indirectly blamed James Marcello for luring her father to his violent death.

Then a second witness, a slim, woman with shoulder-length brown hair testified against him in a quiet voice he knows well.

Connie Marcello, 53, who changed her name after becoming Marcello's mistress, said she met him while she was tending bar in Cook County strip clubs such as Michael's Magic Touch and The Hollywood. James Marcello, who was married to another woman, gave her thousands a month in cash for more than 20 years, she told jurors at the Family Secrets mob conspiracy trial in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.

The gifts are important because prosecutors allege Marcello ran an illegal, cash-based gambling empire that saw video poker machines placed in bars around the Chicago area. If she was ever asked where her money came from, Connie Marcello testified, she was supposed to say her mother gave it to her.

Her testimony came during the continuing trial of five men—including Marcello—for a conspiracy that allegedly included 18 previously unsolved murders, including the killings of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro.

Connie Marcello calmly said she lied to Marcello in 2005 after she appeared before a grand jury, telling him the subject of the money never came up. "I just said it was things about the '80s," she said she told him.

She was still getting money from him as late as June, she said. His brother or a friend would hand her an envelope or a coffee cup stuffed with $100 bills, she said.

Marcello paid for her lawyers, she said, and when she ran up $15,000 in gambling debt, Marcello's cash made it go away. If she was forced to testify at the Family Secrets trial under a grant of immunity, as she did Thursday, she was expected to say nothing and go to jail, she said.

On cross-examination, she was asked if Marcello was being kind to her and her two children, one of whom was adopted and has special needs. That, she said before leaving the courtroom, was true too.

Connie Marcello's testimony followed an earlier session where Michelle Spilotro, the daughter of mob figure Michael Spilotro, talked about working as a hostess at her father's restaurant in the 1980s. She watched him whisper with mobsters in the back room, she said, and told jurors she watched in her house as her dad and alleged mob leader Joey "the Clown" Lombardo wrote each other notes on a child's toy instead of talking out loud.

It was a board that could be written on and then erased by pulling a plastic sheet away from its backing. "You'd see scribbling and they'd lift it up," she said. And she received directions from her father about taking phone calls, especially when a man she knew as "Jim" rang the house.

"Jim," who authorities allege is James Marcello, had a distinct voice with a thick Chicago accent.

Spilotro, 38, now a homemaker, fought tears on the witness stand as she thought about the day in June 1986 when her father disappeared. Her father and uncle were waiting for "Jim" to call, and she answered the phone. After that, she said, the Spilotro brothers got dressed to leave the house.

She said her father left his jewelry in a Ziploc bag on the kitchen counter, and told her to tell her mother to bring it to a graduation party they were attending that night.

Years later, an FBI agent sat her in a car and played her a "voice lineup" of five investigators and Marcello reading a couple of paragraphs from an item in a Chicago newspaper.

When Marcello's voice came on, Spilotro told agents she didn't need to hear anymore, she was sure it was the caller.

On cross-examination, Spilotro acknowledged she hadn't heard "Jim's" voice for three years before listening to the tape. Spilotro's testimony followed that of her mother, Ann Spilotro, who told jurors her husband had once told her that he and his brother "were going to be No. 1" in the hierarchy of the Outfit. The men eventually were targeted for death because Anthony Spilotro, the mob's Las Vegas boss, was attempting unauthorized hits.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

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