Thursday, June 28, 2007

Secrets: Shakedown video and the Clown's driver

Jurors in Chicago's Family Secrets trial on Tuesday were shown a videotape of an Outfit "street tax" collector at work. Frank "the German" Schweis, whose case was severed from the current trial because he is ill, was shown trying to persuade adult-bookstore owner William "Red" Wemette to pay the $1,100 a month tax, according to a story by Jeff Coen of the Chicago Tribune.

Cooperating with authorities, Wemette told Schweis (right) that an underworld competitor was already taking protection payments from him. Schweis suggested that no one would dare to compete with the Outfit. He recalled one competitor who was eliminated: "Lumbo made it real [expletive] clear to him."

Prosecutors say "Lumbo" is a nickname for Family Secrets defendant Joseph Lombardo.

On Wednesday, the jury heard from a former driver for Lombardo (left). Alva Johnson Rodgers, 78, was brought into the Outfit in 1973 after helping Chicago gangster Marshall Caifano in a successful legal appeal. Rodgers, a habitual criminal, and Caifano once shared a cell in Atlanta federal prison, according to a Coen story in the Tribune.

Rodgers recalled when Lombardo was promoted over Caifano within the Outfit. Rodgers then went to work as Lombardo's driver. Soon after, Rodgers and Caifano started a peep-show business in Chicago and moved to monopolize the porn industry in the city under Outfit control.

Prosecutors on Wednesday also played an audio tape of Lombardo threatening the life of a casino owner who failed to pay back a loan.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.