The Chicago Syndicate: Thomas Johnson
Showing posts with label Thomas Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thomas Johnson. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sentencing of Mob Handyman, Thomas Johnson, Kicks Off Chicago Outfit Sentencing Season

'Tis the season to be sentenced for the Chicago Outfit.

By the time the New Year rings in, more than a half dozen hoodlums will have guaranteed reservations at the Holiday Pen.

Mob handyman Thomas Johnson on Tuesday became the first of several Operation Family Secrets defendant to be sentenced this month. Johnson, of Willow Springs, was handed a 30-month prison term and three years of supervision after pleading guilty to his role as an Outfit handyman. U.S. District Judge James Zagel also fined Johnson $7500. He will surrender on March 3, 2009 to begin serving his sentence.

"It is undisputed that Johnson for over seven years engaged in illegal conduct for and with Outfit associate Michael Marcello and his (Michael Marcello's) brother, Outfit boss James Marcello," stated federal prosecutors in sentencing reports. "Johnson's full-time employer was Cicero-based 'M&M Amusements,' which was a large-scale illegal gambling business operating for the financial benefit of the Chicago Outfit."

In Johnson's plea agreement, he admitted rigging video poker machines so that they could be used for actual wagering. "Johnson and others did so by installing a 'knock-off' button or switch which enabled the bar owner to keep track of winning and losing plays. Johnson and his co- conspirators then placed these illegally-altered machines at dozens of bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout Chicagoland" stated prosecutors.

Johnson's talents were not limited to tinkering on machines. He was also a skilled bookkeeper, according to federal investigators. "He created two sets of written documents during the weekly accountings held with the proprietors where the gambling machines were located. Johnson would record the true amount of income retrieved from the machines, and split this figure with the proprietors as agreed. On 'settle-up day,' Johnson also created another set of written records ("collection reports") which falsely recorded a lower amount of income generated by the machines, namely 50% of the actual income generated" authorities said.

Johnson's pleaded guilty of conducting an illegal gambling business and tax fraud. Government agents estimated that he cheated the IRS out of nearly $1.69 million.

Attorneys portrayed Johnson, 53, as little more than a mob stooge, who was a "minor participant, if not a minimal participant. In a court filing, they said Johnson's "involvement was limited to participating in a non-violent illegal gambling operation. Furthermore, within the gambling operation, Mr. Johnson was a low level employee. Mr. Johnson regularly visited business owners participating in the gambling operation to collect proceeds and collection reports from the machines. In return, Mr. Johnson was paid $2,400.00 per month."

The Family Secrets defendants who were convicted at trial will be up for sentencing next week, including former Chicago Police Department officer Anthony Doyle and Paul "The Indian" Schiro, both on Dec. 10

The namesake of the USA vs. Frank Calabrese case as it is officially known, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese, will be sentenced on Dec. 11 in the Dirksen Building courthouse.

He will be followed by Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo on Dec. 15 and James "Little Jimmy" Marcello on Dec. 17.

The key witness in the landmark case, one-time Outfit assassin Nick Calabrese, will be sentenced on Jan. 26, 2009. Nick Calabrese, who has admitted his role in more than a dozen gangland hits, turned government witness and fingered his brother Frank in the mob plots.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dennis Johnson Sentenced in Chicago Mob Video Gambling Ring

A bit player snared in a government crackdown on the Chicago mob was sentenced last week to six months in federal prison for converting video games into gambling devices.

Dennis Johnson, 38, of Plainfield was also given three years' probation following his release for his part in the video gambling racket run out of suburban Cicero by suspected mobster Michael "Mickey" Marcello.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said that although Johnson was not the mob leader that some of his co-defendants were, he was instrumental in a multimillion-dollar scheme.

Zagel sentenced Johnson to the minimum under the federal guideline range, saying he deserved credit for pulling himself together and changing his lifestyle since pleading guilty in June 2007.

Prosecutors did not press for a stiff sentence. "He was a small cog in the large wheel of the Outfit," said Markus Funk, one of three prosecutors who secured convictions against suspected top-echelon Chicago mobsters at the trial.

The case is one of the biggest targeting organized crime in Chicago. Defendants are accused of operating the Chicago Outfit - another name for the city's organized crime family - as a racketeering enterprise.

Johnson and his brother, Thomas Johnson of Willow Springs, both worked for Marcello's Cicero-based M&M Entertainment.

The two acknowledged they altered video games so they could be used as gambling devices, placed them in taverns and clubs, and collected the proceeds. Bogus records hid the profits, they said.

Thomas Johnson and Marcello have also pleaded guilty. Thomas Johnson is awaiting sentencing. Marcello got eight years after admitting he tried to buy the silence of jailed mobster Nicholas Calabrese - the government's star witness - by paying his wife $4,000 a month in hush money.


Monday, April 25, 2005

With Operation Family Secrets, Prosecutors Boast of 'a Hit on the Mob'

In one of the biggest strikes in Chicago's history against the mob, federal authorities today began rounding up alleged organized crime figures—including outfit boss Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo—in connection with a string of 18 unsolved murders and one attempted murder dating back to 1970.

In the culmination of what officials dubbed "Operation Family Secrets," a federal racketing indictment unsealed this morning took direct aim at Chicago's three dominant mob chapters: The Grand Avenue crew of Lombardo; the Melrose Park crew of brothers Jimmy Marcello and Michael Marcello, and the 26th Street crew of imprisoned mobsters Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother, Nicholas Calabrese, who has turned mob informant.

Lombardo, 75, of Chicago, remains at large, authorities said. Lombardo previously was convicted in U.S. District Court in Chicago in another major mob investigation. He was released from prison in 1992. Another suspect was found dead of apparent natural causes— along with a substantial amount of cash and checks—in a Kane County hotel room, while a third is being sought in Florida. Everyone else named in the indictment is either under arrest or about to be arrested.

"This unprecedented indictment put a `hit' on the mob," said U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. "It is remarkable for both the breadth of the murders charged and for naming the entire Chicago Outfit as a criminal enterprise under the anti-racketeering law."

"The outfit maintained hidden interest in businesses, maintained hidden control of labor unions, corrupted law enforcement and acquired explosives," Fitzgerald said.

Fourteen suspects were named in the sweeping indictment, discussed at length by authorities at a news conference downtown this afternoon. The unsolved murders include those of the mob's top man in Las Vegas, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, and his brother, Michael Spilotro, according to the nine-count indictment. Tony Spilotro, 48, a Chicago mob enforcer, ruled Las Vegas in the 1970s and early 1980s. Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro in the 1995 movie "Casino.'' Spilotro and his brother, 41, were last seen alive on June 14, 1986. Their badly beaten bodies were found buried in an Indiana cornfield eight days later.

Eleven defendants formed the backbone of the Chicago mob by allegedly participating in illegal conduct such as extorting "street taxes" from businesses to allow them to operate; running sports betting and video poker machines; loan sharking; extortion; threats and violence.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of $10 million in alleged racketeering proceeds from the 11 men and the Marcello brothers' business, M&M Amusement. Three suspects were not indicted for racketeering conspiracy, but instead face charges of illegal gambling or tax fraud conspiracy.

The mob of Al Capone and Frank Nitti has long been entrenched in Chicago with its tentacles reaching into hallways of unions, casinos and police departments. In fact, the indictment alleges that two retired Chicago police officers aided the outfit

Retired officer Anthony Doyle, known as "Twan," is accused of being a mob mole inside the police department. He allegedly worked for Frank Calabrese Sr., keeping him informed of law enforcement's investigation into the murder of John Fecarotta, according to the indictment.

The other retired officer, Michael Ricci, is accused of working for the mob while he was a Cook County Sheriff's officer, passing messages from the jailed Frank Calabrese Sr. to other members of the mob. He is accused of lying to the FBI on behalf of the mob.

After a lengthy investigation, FBI and the IRS agents today began arresting the 14 suspects in Arizona, Florida and Illinois.

The indictment gives chapter and verse on the structure and chain of the mob's chain of command and how the crews carried out its criminal activities. The crews are known by their geographic locations and included Grand Avenue, Melrose Park, 26th Street, Elmwood Park, Rush Street and Chicago Heights.

The nine-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury Thursday and unsealed today. The investigation started with 18 previously unsolved murders and one attempted murder between 1970 and 1986, all in the Chicago area except for one slaying in Arizona.

"What makes this indictment significant to us is for the first time we have the heads of multiple crews indicted in one indictment," said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office.

Referring to the mob as "LCN," for La Costa Nostra, Grant said, "This is the first indictment that I can recall that involved so many murders, which really gets at the heart of what LCN is, which is a bunch of murderous thugs."

Today's arrests, he added, will have a "significant impact" on organized crime by cutting its numbers in the region.

"From everything we've learned, the LCN has been reduced to six crews from four," Grant said. "We now believe there are four crews operating in the Chicago area—the Elmwood Park crew, the South Side 26th Street crew, the Grand Avenue crew and the Melrose Park-Cicero crew. Current membership from what we can estimate is over 100 members and associates."

Arrested in Illinois were:

James Marcello, 63, of Lombard, and his brother Michael Marcello, 55, of Schaumburg.

Nicholas Ferriola, 29, of Westchester.

Joseph Venezia, 62, of Hillside.

Thomas Johnson, 49, of Willow Springs, and his nephew Dennis Johnson, 34, of Lombard.

The defendants were expected to appear this afternoon before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Another defendant, Frank Saladino, of 59, was found dead of apparent natural causes in a hotel room in Hampshire, in rural Kane County. About $25,000 in cash and $70,000 in checks were found with the man's body, officials said.

Ricci, 75, is currently living in Streamwood and was expected to voluntarily surrender to the FBI. Doyle, 60, of Wickenburg, Ariz., was arrested in Arizona.

Frank "The German" Schweihs, 75, of Dania, Fla., and formerly of Chicago, is at large and being sought in Florida, authorities said.

Three other defendants—Frank Calabrese Sr., 68, of Oak Brook, his brother Nicholas W. Calabrese, 62, of Chicago and Paul "The Indian" Schiro, 67, of Phoenix—already were in federal custody.

Eleven of the defendants were charged with conspiracy, including conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder, in connection with illicit organized crime activities including loan sharking and bookmaking.

All 11 also face charges including obstructing justice, extorting "street taxes" from businesses, sports bookmaking, operating video gambling machines, making "juice loans" charging ruinous interest rates and using extortion, threats, violence and intimidation to collect on those loans.

Thanks to Todd Lightly


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