Opening statements were heard today in the case of U.S. vs. Calabrese, et al., better known as the Chicago "Family Secrets" trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scully opened for the prosecution, speaking for just under an hour. He outlined the crimes detailed in the indictment against five alleged racketeers.
An image of each of 18 murder victims was projected onto a screen in front of the jury as Scully described the murders and indicated who among the defendants the government believes is responsible. Thirteen of the murders were attributed to defendant Frank Calabrese Sr. (left).
"This is not 'Sopranos,'" he told the jury. "This is not 'The Godfather.' This case is about real people and real victims." The Chicago crime family known as the Outfit, he said, is "corrupt, it's violent, it's without honor."
Curiously, the prosecutor named John DiFronzo as a conspirator in the 1986 murders of the Spilotro brothers. DiFronzo was not indicted in the case, though he is widely regarded as a leader of the Chicago Outfit. (See televised report by NBC5 in Chicago.)
Calabrese's defense attorney Joseph R. Lopez, apparently using the same statute of limitations defense that was employed successfully in the John A. "Junior" Gotti trial last year, insisted that his client has been out of organized crime since the 1980s.
Lopez attacked two close Calabrese relatives who are to testify for the prosecution. The attorney charged that Calabrese's brother Nicholas, who has confessed to multiple murders and turned informant, was the real mob boss of the family.
"People reported to Nick Calabrese," Lopez said. "When Nick Calabrese was in prison, crew members came to see him."
Lopez stated that his client's son, Frank Jr., was motivated by greed to testify against his father.
Rick Halprin, attorney representing defendant Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, postponed his opening statement until the start of the defense case. That could be some time off. The trial is expected to last through the summer.
Joining Lombardo, 78, and Calabrese, 70, at the defense table are accused racketeers James Marcello, 65; Paul "the Indian" Schiro, 69; and Anthony Doyle, 62. Doyle, a former police officer, has not been charged in any of the murders. All five men insist they are innocent.
Related MobNews posts:
- Chicago 'Secrets' trial opens 06-19-07
- Schweihs severed from 'Secrets' trial 06-18-07
- Chicago mobster paid hush money 06-18-07
- Ratting out the Outfit 06-08-07
- Chicago mobster admits 14 killings, cooperates 05-24-07
- TV report previews Chicago Outfit trial 05-15-07
- Family Secret jurors' names secret 04-25-07
- Feds look for $500K from Lombardo 04-24-07
- Witness list of Chicago Outfit trial revealed 04-23-07
- Deputy marshal charged with aiding mob 01-13-07
- Chicago commission papers subpoenaed 01-10-07