The Chicago Syndicate: Nicholas D'Andrea
Showing posts with label Nicholas D'Andrea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicholas D'Andrea. Show all posts

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

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

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

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Son of Mob Hit Man Takes Witness Stand

Ronald Jarrett looked at the video screen on the witness stand in the Family Secrets trial on Tuesday and saw the image of a mustachioed face staring back.

Chicago Outfit, Mob Hit Man and Bookie, Ronnie Jarret"That was my father," he said of Ronnie Jarrett, a noted Outfit hit man and bookie who was gunned down in 1999.

The younger Jarrett, 35, was one of a series of prosecution witnesses called Tuesday to corroborate some of prosecution witness Nicholas Calabrese's key testimony over the last week about mob murders, how the Chicago Outfit made its money and what role Frank Calabrese Sr. and other defendants played.

Jarrett, in a white dress shirt and buzz-cut hair, testified that his father was a member of Frank Calabrese's Outfit crew and ran a gambling operation. When his dad was sentenced to prison in 1980, both Calabrese brothers dropped by to visit him, he said.

On his father's release from prison, Jarrett said, the two of them began working together in a gambling ring that took bets on football, basketball and horse racing, among other sports. Some of the money went to Frank Calabrese's family. Ronnie Jarrett bankrolled the operation, his son said, keeping cash in a bedroom drawer or a coat pocket in his closet.

The operation expanded to two offices, one in Burbank and another in Chicago, Jarrett said. Gambling slips were hidden in the ceiling of the front porch of the Chicago office, he said. Times were good, he said, until his father's fatal shooting just before Christmas in 1999.

Jarrett said he once asked reputed mob figure Nicholas Ferriola who was responsible for his father's death. Ferriola, who has pleaded guilty as part of the Family Secrets prosecution, brought players to the gambling operation, he said.

According to Jarrett, Ferriola told him that Johnny "Apes" Monteleone ordered his father's hit. Nicholas Calabrese had testified that Monteleone took over as boss of the Outfit's 26th Street crew after the deaths of brothers Angelo LaPietra and Jimmy LaPietra in the 1990s. "He told me that my dad had a problem with Johnny 'Apes,'" Jarrett testified.

On cross-examination by Joseph Lopez, the attorney for Frank Calabrese Sr., Jarrett acknowledged that Calabrese had tried to push him away from bookmaking. Through his questioning, Lopez also suggested that Jarrett's father could have been killed for refusing to let his gambling operation be controlled by Monteleone. To his knowledge, the younger Jarrett said, his father didn't pay "street taxes" to Outfit bosses.

In the afternoon, prosecutors called witnesses in an attempt to bolster Nicholas Calabrese's account of the murder of Nicholas D'Andrea, who had been suspected in an attempt on the life of reputed mob capo Al Pilotto on a golf course in Crete.

The heart of the government case involves 18 long-unsolved gangland slayings. Calabrese's brother and four other defendants are on trial in the landmark case.

Calabrese had described the killing in detail last week, saying D'Andrea had been lured to a garage in Chicago Heights. Calabrese testified he had been told that a tall man and a short man would walk into the garage and that he was to club the short man with a bat.

On entering the garage, the tall man took off running, possibly tipping off the shorter D'Andrea, Calabrese had said. It then took several members of the hit squad, including Family Secrets defendant James Marcello, to overpower and subdue D'Andrea, Calabrese testified. D'Andrea's body was later found in the trunk of his car, according to testimony.

The surprise of the day came when Terri Nevis, D'Andrea's former wife, said a photo that prosecutors have shown to jurors was, in fact, not her husband. "Absolutely not," she said in a whispery voice when Thomas Breen, Marcello's lawyer, showed her the photo. It remains to be seen how much the apparent error will aid the defense because Calabrese, in his testimony, said he didn't recognize the photo as that of D'Andrea.

Calabrese had said that within days of the hit on D'Andrea, Outfit bosses showed him a newspaper story about another murder. He said he had been told that the victim was the taller man who had spooked D'Andrea in the garage. Prosecutors have told the judge they will show jurors that a mobster named Sam Guzzino was killed soon after the D'Andrea hit. The government contends he was the taller man in question.

Nevis, who had begun living with D'Andrea when she was 15 and he was in his late 40s, testified that on the day he died, it was Guzzino who called D'Andrea to set up a meeting. "He said to get Nick on the phone," said Nevis, now a 45-year-old mortgage banker living on the West Coast. Another witness, Karen Brill, testified that Sam Guzzino would come by his brother's cab company in Chicago Heights where she worked. The company had a garage that shared space with a bar and brothel called "The Vagabond Lounge," Nevis said.

Brill was shown a photo of an old brown garage she said was the one she was talking about -- the same photo Calabrese told jurors appeared to look like the garage where D'Andrea was killed.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mobster's Widow Testifies at Trial

Friends of ours: Nicholas D'Andrea, James Marcello

Chicago mobster Nicholas D’Andrea drove off in his silver Mercedes with his gun tucked into his belt and within hours was murdered and stuffed into the car’s trunk, his widow testified Tuesday.

Terri L. Nevis, 45, told a federal court jury that as he pulled away from their house on Sept. 13, 1981, D’Andrea was immediately sandwiched between a car in front of him and a car that seemed to be trailing him.

“Was that the last time you saw your husband alive?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk asked. “That was the last time I saw him period,” she testified.

Prosecutors blame mob boss James Marcello for the D’Andrea killing in one of the seemingly endless feuds that marked the Chicago Outfit, as the city’s organized crime family calls itself, in the 1970s and 1980s.

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