Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk assailed defendant Frank Calabrese Sr.'s character during closing arguments in Chicago's Family Secrets trial yesterday, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun Times.
Funk played the jury clip after clip of Calabrese's secretly recorded conversations. "You can hear that man laughing, laughing about the murders," the prosecutor said at one point.
Calabrese (right) is charged with involvement in 13 mob murders. The prosecutor also outlined the evidence against the other defendants in the trial, Joseph "the Clown" Lombardo, James Marcello, Paul Schiro and former police officer Anthony Doyle.
Funk noted that, in order to believe the stories presented by defendants who took the stand, the jury would have to accept that several of them were unlucky enough to be caught by federal eavesdropping devices as they play-acted, according to a story by Rob Olmstead of the Chicago Daily Herald.
When Lombardo took the stand, he testified that he merely acted the part of a mob boss from time to time. He insisted he had no connection to the underworld.
The prosecutor urged jurors to stand up for the rule of law: "Who gives them the right to take the lives of other human beings? How is it that they can just walk into a business and demand money?"
Funk was scheduled to complete his closing remarks today. Closing arguments are expected to continue through Thursday.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Tocchet reached a plea deal with prosecutors. He was charged with participating in a gambling ring with New Jersey State Trooper James Harney and with James Ulmer of Swedesboro, NJ. The ring dealt with bets totaling millions of dollars. Harney, no longer with the police force, was recently sentenced to five years in prison. Ullmer was sentenced last week to two years probation, according to Sports Illustrated.
The unidentified writer spoke of intense pangs of guilt after Basciano was convicted of racketeering murder after a 10-hour jury deliberation last month. "I needed to get this off my chest and to also let Vinny know that he had one juror that felt he was innocent of the murder charge," the letter said.
Defense attorney James Kousouros asked U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis for a conference on the letter, indicating he was "disturbed at the tone and substance..."
The jurors in the case remained anonymous throughout the trial.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
"...Like James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson," 78-year-old Lombardo (right) testified in a Chicago courtroom yesterday.
Lombardo, on trial with other men accused of running the Chicago Outfit criminal organization, was ready with answers to all of his apparent underworld links as he took the stand in his own defense.
Asked about a photo that shows him at a restaurant table with underworld characters including former Outfit boss Tony Accardo and Joey Aiuppa, Lombardo responded that he had just gone in to the restaurant "to get a sandwich" when an old friend called him over to say hello.
Asked about the killing of Daniel Seifert, who was prepared to testify against Lombardo in a union corruption case, Lombardo responded that he had "no idea Mr. Seifert was gonna testify against us."
Asked about his use of the word "we" when he and alleged racketeer Louis "The Mooch" Eboli discussed retribution against a business that didn't pay the mob "street tax," Lombardo said he merely misspoke.
DeVecchio (left) reportedly told Scarpa's father that Bari was turning informant, a particularly worrisome accusation as Bari's boyfriend at the time was Colombo Crime Family boss Alphonse Persico. Investigators believe Scarpa and his father then shot the woman to death at a Brooklyn social club.
The Bari murder is one of four that prosecutors have linked to DeVecchio's alleged cooperation with members of the Colombo Family. DeVecchio is asking now for the case against him to be thrown out because prosecutors have made use of earlier testimony he provided while under immunity.
The bail hearing for alleged Montreal Mafia bigshot Nick Rizzuto began this week, according to a report by the Canadian Press. The hearing is expected to last two weeks and to include witnesses and wiretap evidence. A court order has banned publication of the hearing details.
Rizzuto, 83, was arrested nine months ago in a large police roundup of suspected organized criminals. He is charged with gangsterism, conspiracy and drug-related offenses.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Krivoi (left) is the former son-in-law of Boris Nayfield, a chief of the Russian mob.
Krivoi was charged in Kings County NY of participation in two killings committed a month apart in 1992: Boris Roitman, 21, who Krivoi feared was a police informant, was killed by shotgun wounds to his chest and neck in Brooklyn on Aug. 26, 1992; Thien Diep, 24, a high-stakes pool player, was shot in the head during the course of a robbery on or about Sept. 23, 1992.
Prosecutors argued that Krivoi ordered underling Pyotr Sarkisov to kill Roitman and that Krivoi personally shot Diep. In a separate trial, Krivoi accomplice Vitaly Ivanitsky was found guilty of the same crimes a day earlier.
Italian police recently stumbled onto information related to the planned black market sale of more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons to the Iraqi government, according to a story published by CBS News.
The deal was uncovered by Operation Parabellum, originally an anti-Mafia probe. Early last year, police searching airline baggage for smuggled drugs found helmets, bulletproof vests and a catalog of weapons. Police were eventually led to the details of a $40 million deal.
The Iraqi participants in the deal claimed in e-mails with Italian brokers that the purchase had the approval of the U.S. government. A U.S. spokesman in Baghdad denied that.
Friday, August 10, 2007
The arrest of 14 suspected organized criminals in Sicily has revealed a link between Mafia groups on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, according to a story published in the Australian Daily Telegraph.
The 14 suspects face extortion and money laundering charges as well as charges related to assisting fugitive crime boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo.
Wiretaps revealed that the suspects were in contact with organized crime bosses in New York. The news report specifically mentions New York's Gambino Crime Family. Sicilian mobsters are reportedly funneling proceeds from illegal operations into real estate speculation in Brooklyn.
- Deep Water website: www.jpmacheca.com
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Connie Marcello, who legally changed her name to Marcello though she and James Marcello never married, testified in the Family Secrets trial last week. She noted that the mob boss paid for her suburban home, took care of her $15,000 gambling debt and provided her with up to $5,000 per month.
Also last week:
- Michelle Spilotro, daughter of Michael Spilotro (right) who was executed by the Outfit in 1986, said James Marcello called for her father on the day he disappeared. She said she recognized Marcello's voice.
- Dr. John Pless, a forensic pathologist, described the autopsies of Anthony and Michael Spilotro, according to a story by Kelli Conkey of Medill Reports. He noted that the decomposing bodies had been dug up in an Indiana cornfield after being dead at least a week. Dr. Pless said there was no evidence that the men had been buried alive but he could not rule it out. He said they were likely beaten to death. Michael suffered a broken nose, head and neck injuries. Asphyxia - lack of oxygen - was attributed to his right lung being almost entirely filled with blood. Anthony died of head, neck and chest injuries, in addition to asphyxia.
- Ann Spilotro, wife of Michael, testified that her husband understood that he was in trouble with the mob in the weeks leading up to his June 1986 murder, according to an AP story published by ABC7 in Chicago. Michael and his brother Anthony were lured to a Bensenville basement, were killed there and were buried in Indiana.
Franco Franzese, 43, believed to be a key aide to Sicilian Mafia bosses, has been arrested by Italian police in Palermo, according to a Reuters news story.
Franzese has been listed by the Italian Interior Ministry as one of Italy's most dangerous criminals. He is believed to have served as an aide to Salvatore Lo Piccolo, reputedly one of the Mafia's most powerful current bosses.
Agents placed a listening device in Joey Leo's car and tapped his cellphone after failing in wiretapping attempts directed against Daniel Leo (right). As a result, they obtained portions of conversations related to mob business between Daniel Leo and his nephew. Some of the conversations related to extortion of a taxi business between 2002 and 2006. Joey Leo is held without bail.
Authorities believe Daniel Leo quietly succeeded Vincent "The Chin" Gigante as Genovese boss. He was charged May 30 with four counts of extortion. He pleaded not guilty but was held without bail. Leo was first mentioned as Genovese boss in December of 2006. Authorities cautioned at the time that the Genovese clan was notorious for screening its actual bosses through the use of front men.
US Mafia was born in New Orleans
Joseph P. Macheca and the
Birth of the American Mafia
Written by Thomas Hunt and Martha Macheca Sheldon, Deep Water captures the life and times of Joseph P. Macheca. It finally sets the record straight on the man who was a warrior for the corrupt New Orleans Democratic machine, a pioneer of the Crescent City’s fruit trade, a Confederate privateer and the legendary “godfather” of the first Mafia organization to germinate in American soil.
While answering at last the questions surrounding the 1890 assassination of Police Chief David Hennessy and the subsequent Crescent City lynchings, Deep Water establishes the factual details of Macheca’s life and sets them against the vivid backdrop of Gilded Age New Orleans. Published by iUniverse.
- Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related 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.