Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Chicago Outfit trial to enter deliberation

GOODFELLAS GETS REAL The trial has included descriptions already appearing in Hollywood mobster films, leaving jurors to unravel `the history of organized crime'


Alleged Chicago mob boss James Marcello, seen in an undated photo, is one of five defendants in Chicago's biggest mob trial in years. The defendants are charged with a conspiracy that allegedly includes 18 long-unsolved murders, illegal gambling, loan sharking and extortion. Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin tomorrow.


When Chicago's biggest mob trial in years got under way, prosecutors urged jurors to throw out any notions they had picked up from The Sopranos or The Godfather.

Ten weeks later, as jurors prepare to begin deliberations, they could write a miniseries based on what they heard in the courtroom about the Chicago Outfit, as the city's organized crime family is known.

There was an admitted hit man, who would "shoot you in the head over a cold ravioli," according to a defense attorney.

A son who pretended to reconcile with his father, then recorded their prison conversations for federal agents -- including one about how men burned holy pictures in their cupped hands at the ceremony to become a "made" guy, or mob member.

So-called friends allegedly luring friends to their deaths. Bodies buried at construction sites. Secret meetings in parking lots. Code words used in jailhouse conversations.

A dentist, determined to solve the crime of his murdered brothers, who had a fugitive alleged mobster show up at his office with a toothache.

The jury is scheduled to begin deliberations tomorrow in the federal racketeering conspiracy case against five defendants: reputed mobster Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78; reputed mob boss James Marcello, 65; convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70; retired Chicago policeman Anthony Doyle, 62, and convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr, 70.

Assistant US Attorney Mitchell Mars said the 10-week trial was about "the history of organized crime in Chicago," and asked jurors during his closing arguments to hold the defendants accountable for murder, illegal gambling, loan sharking and extortion.

Defense attorneys, meanwhile, attacked the case as one built largely on the testimony of a hit man who admitted lying to authorities in the past and was only cooperating with the government now to escape the death penalty. Attorney Joseph Lopez told jurors the FBI stands for "forever bothering Italians."

Much of the testimony centered on 18 long-unsolved murders, including the killing of one man whose story has already been picked up by Hollywood.

Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, known as the mob's man in Las Vegas, was the inspiration for the psychopathic burglar played by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese's 1995 film Casino.

In the movie, Pesci's character and his brother are beaten with bats in a cornfield and buried alive. In court, jurors heard what admitted hit man Nicholas Calabrese alleges happened.

Nicholas Calabrese, who is the brother of defendant Frank Calabrese Sr, testified for the government that mobsters were mad at Tony Spilotro because he was "bringing too much heat" on them and romancing the wife of a Las Vegas casino executive.

He said the brothers were lured in June 1986 to the basement of a suburban Chicago home where they were told Tony would be dubbed a capo, or mob captain, and Michael a "made guy."

Instead, Calabrese said, the men were jumped by about 14 men who beat and strangled them to death.

The bodies were soon discovered in a shallow grave in an Indiana cornfield, but a forensic pathologist who helped conduct autopsies told jurors there was no evidence that they were still breathing when buried.

Jurors also heard from the Spilotros' brother, Patrick, a dentist who choked back tears on the witness stand.

He said Lombardo appeared at his suburban Chicago dental office in January of last year to have a tooth abscess treated at a time he was wanted by authorities.

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