June 18, 2007
By Pamela Mortimer
The long-awaited trial against reputed top mob bosses from Chicago is set to begin on Tuesday and is expected to last four months.
The FBI sting known as “Operation Family Secrets” is the focus of a federal trial surrounding defendants who are allegedly tied to “The Outfit”, Chicago’s organized crime family. Reportedly, the eight defendants who are named in the indictments are high-ranking soldiers in the famous crime family. Most notable are James Marcello, Frank Calabrese, Sr. and Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo. They are accused of involvement in eighteen unsolved murders dating back to 1970. One defendant, Frank "The German" Schweihs, has been dismissed from the trial for health reasons. A retired Chicago police officer, Anthony Doyle, is also on the list.
All have pleaded not guilty.
A federal marshal has also been charged with leaking information to the crime family regarding a star witness’ whereabouts.
Nicholas Calabrese, the star witness who claims to have forty years of inside knowledge of the Outfit, was the person responsible for the indictment of Marcello and his own brother, Frank Calabrese, Sr. He is expected to testify.
In May, Nicholas Calabrese admitted that he was involved in fourteen murders including that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Outfit’s Las Vegas protégé. Spilotro, who was beaten to death in 1986 along with his brother, was the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in the movie "Casino".
The house of cards kept on falling. Michael Marcello, younger brother of defendant James, admitted to officials on Thursday that he paid Nicholas Calabrese $4,000 a month to keep his mouth shut about the family’s illegal activities. Michael Marcello was found guilty of racketeering, conducting illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, and hiding profits from federal tax collectors.
Maybe he should have taken a page out of Al Capone’s book when it came to the IRS.
Speaking of Capone… Tony Accardo, Capone’s successor, will surely be given special mention at the trial for ordering the murders of six men who made a foolish attempt to rob his basement vault. Accardo, who was dubbed “Joe Batters” by Capone for his apt use of a baseball bat, was the reputed boss of the Chicago Outfit until shortly before his death in 1992. Although Accardo was the head of the family much longer than the legendary Capone, he was all but unknown to the public. He was admired for his preference to stay behind the scenes, letting flashier mobsters like Sam Giancana take the spotlight.
Both James Marcello and Frank Calabrese Sr. were previously convicted of racketeering more than a decade ago. However, prosecutors maintain that there are new conspiracy charges even though some of the same criminal acts were part of the previous indictments. Since someone can’t be charged twice for the same crime, the defense is ready to call “foul” if the prosecution doesn’t have a whole new game plan.
Gus Russo, author of "The Outfit", a book regarding the Chicago mobsters, stated that the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act has been helped prosecutors to make significant progress in the courts. (Just ask Tony Soprano.)
"But, regretfully, greed is such a part of our culture that you're always going to have a criminal element and it will organize," stated Russo. "This will hurt the mob but it won't end it."