Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 7 News List

US jury finds five guilty of decades of organized crime


A federal jury found five aging men guilty on Monday in a racketeering conspiracy that involved decades of extortion, loan sharking and murder aimed at killing anyone who dared stand in the way of the Chicago mob.

The verdicts capped an extraordinary 10-week trial that laid bare some of the inner workings of what is known as The Outfit.

The prosecution's star witness was an admitted hit man who took the stand against his own brother to spell out the allegations, crime by crime. Over 10 weeks, the jury heard about 18 killings, including the beating death and cornfield burial of Tony ``The Ant'' Spilotro, the mob's man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the 1995 movie Casino.

It was a sweeping victory for prosecutors. The jury found all five men guilty of a racketeering conspiracy that included the 18 unsolved murders, as well as other counts of bribery, illegal gambling and tax fraud.

Alleged mob boss James Marcello, 65; alleged mob capo Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78; convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr, 70; and convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70, could face up to life in prison. The fifth man, retired Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, 62, was the only one among the five not accused of carrying out at least one of the killings.

Testimony ranged from accounts of former friends lured to their deaths to clandestine rituals where initiated "made guys" had their fingers cut and were required to take an oath while holding burning religious pictures.

The government's star witness was Nicholas Calabrese, an admitted hit man who cooperated with the government in hopes of avoiding a death sentence. He said his brother, Frank Calabrese, ran a loan sharking business and specialized in strangling victims with a rope then cutting their throats to make certain that they were dead.

Frank Calabrese admitted in court that he associated with mobsters, but denied being one.

Yet his brother described a 1983 killing in which the two blasted away on a suburban Chicago street, killing two.

"In my mind, I knew I had to do this because if I didn't, my brother would have flattened me," Nicholas Calabrese testified.

Frank Calebrese's attorney, Joseph Lopez, had urged jurors not to trust his client's brother.

"He would shoot you in the head over cold ravioli," Lopez declared.

Doyle, the retired police officer, was accused of leaking law enforcement information to the mob.

During the trial, the court heard tapes the FBI made of him as he spoke with Calabrese in the visitors room at federal prison.

The prosecutor said it was mob code talk. Doyle said that he could not understand what Calabrese was telling him and considered it "mind-boggling gibberish."

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