Saturday, September 29, 2007

Secrets: Three defendants guilty of 10 murders

Calabrese, Lombardo, Marcello
could be sentenced to life in prison

Jury deadlocked on Schiro charge

The jury in Chicago's Family Secrets trial on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, convicted three aging mob bosses of ten gangland murders, according to an Associated Press story by Mike Robinson.

Frank Calabrese, Sr., 70 (at right, top); James Marcello, 65 (at right, second from top), Joseph Lombardo, 78 (at right, third from top); and already facing long prison sentences in connection with racketeering convictions, now face the possibility of life behind bars for the racketeering murders. The jury deadlocked on whether Paul Schiro, 70 (at right, second from bottom), was guilty of murder. Family Secrets defendant Anthony Doyle, 62 (at right, bottom), was not charged with involvement in the racketeering murders. Schiro and Doyle still face significant jail time - up to 20 years each - due to their racketeering conspiracy convictions in the case.
The five defendants were convicted of racketeering conspiracy on Sept. 10. Jurors then deliberated for eight days on the murder charges, which relate to slayings as long ago as 1970.
Joseph Lopez, attorney for Calabrese, complained of the media circus surrounding the case and promised an appeal, according to a story by Jeff Coen of the Chicago Tribune. "I don't think anybody charged with a case like this could get a fair trial anywhere, because of the publicity prior to trial," he said.
  • Calabrese was convicted of seven murders: the 1980 shotgun deaths of William and Charlotte Dauber, the 1981 car-bombing of Michael Cagnoni, and the slayings of John Fecarotta, Michael Albergo, Richard Ortiz and Arthur Morawski. Calabrese was earlier convicted of racketeering conspiracy, extortion, running an illegal gambling enterprise. He was initially charged with 13 racketeering murders.
  • Marcello was convicted of participating in the June 1986 beating deaths of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro. Marcello was earlier convicted of racketeering conspiracy, obstructing a criminal investigation, running an illegal gambling enterprise and tax fruad conspiracy. He was initially charged with three racketeering murders.
  • Lombardo was convicted of the 1974 shooting death of Daniel Seifert, who was expected to testify in a federal investigation of Lombardo. Lombardo was earlier convicted of racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He was charged only with the Seifert murder.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining eight murders, including the 1981 slaying of Nicholas D'Andrea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Mars noted that jurors seemed to have difficulty convicting on just the testimony of mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese.
"It seems that they... wanted to have some solid corroboration for our main witness," Mars said. "So it seems they're broken down along the lines of Calabrese's testimony."
Some of the murder charges were supported through statements on surveillance tapes and/or forensic evidence, he noted.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Authorities say DiFronzo is top man in Outfit

John "No Nose" DiFronzo (right), 78, is a top man in the Chicago Outfit, according to a video report by ABC-7 in Chicago. The report indicated that DiFronzo's younger brother Peter is his top lieutenant.

In the recent Family Secrets trial, mob turncoat witness Nicholas Calabrese spoke of John DiFronzo's participation in the murder of the Spilotro brothers. Federal authorities also have surveillance video showing Chicago mobsters referring to DiFronzo in conversation by touching their noses rather than by using his name.

Asked why they chose not to include DiFronzo in the Family Secrets case, prosecutors responded that they did not want to go after the mob bigshot with just a single witness against him.

Italian police nab Mafia administrator

Italian police last week announced the arrest of 72-year-old Giuseppe Lipari, suspected of managing the business affairs of now-jailed Sicilian Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano.

Casso Jr. faces eviction from turncoat's house

Anthony Casso Jr., son of Lucchese Crime Family bigshot Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, was due in court today for eviction proceedings, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Burton Kaplan, a devastating mob-turncoat witness in the Mafia Cops case, is the apparent owner of Casso's rented home in Brooklyn, and he wants Casso out. Casso has fought the eviction, arguing that the Kaplan fraudulently acquired the property in 1985 in a money-laundering scheme with Casso Sr. He also charged that Kaplan borrowed $150,000 from his father to pay for the wedding of his daughter, who is now a Manhattan supreme court justice.

Kaplan countered that Casso Jr. and his family have lived in the home rent-free for 20 years. He said he offered to sell Casso the home for $650,000. When Casso attempted to negotiate with Kaplan privately, he was prevented from doing so, since Kaplan is a protected government witness.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Secrets: Jurors break until Sept. 20

The Family Secrets trial jury, now considering whether four defendants were responsible for 18 Chicago mob murders described in the case, will not deliberate again until Thursday, Sept. 20, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

The jury break was announced Friday by U.S. District Judge James Zagel's office. Four days earlier, the same jury convicted defendants James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese Sr., Paul "the Indian" Schiro and Anthony "Twan" Doyle of racketeering conspiracy.

Marcello, Lombardo, Calabrese and Schiro could be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty of the racketeering murders.

The defendants:

James Marcello
Guilty of racketeering conspiracy, obstructing a criminal investigation, running an illegal gambling enterprise, and tax fraud conspiracy. Charged in connection with three racketeering murders.

Frank Calabrese Sr.

Guilty of racketeering conspiracy, extortion, running an illegal gambling enterprise. Charged in connection with 13 racketeering murders.

Joey Lombardo
Guilty of racketeering conspiracy, obstruction of justice. Charged with one racketeering murder.

Paul Schiro
Guilty of racketeering conspiracy. Charged with one racketeering murder.

Anthony Doyle
Guilty of racketeering conspiracy. Doyle is not facing charges in connection with the racketeering murders.

FBI says Bulger might be in Sicily

The FBI has released photographs and video that it says could be fugitive mobster James "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, according to a story by Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News.

The images, taken in the area of Taormina, Sicily, were obtained through a U.S. drug enforcement agent who happened to be vacationing there in April and spotted the couple. The FBI is hoping others might be able to help identify the couple. A $1 million reward is offered for information leading to Bulger's capture.

Bulger led the Winter Hill Gang in Boston while aiding FBI investigations of local Italian mobsters. He has been charged with participating in 19 murders.

Historical feature on 'canary' Reles

Today's issue of the New York Daily News includes a historical feature by David J. Krajicek on Syndicate hitman Abe "Kid Twist" Reles. Facing possible electrocution for a series of killings, Reles decided in 1940 to aide in the prosecution of his old associates. He was a key witness in the 1941 case against mob boss Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, and prosecutors expected Reles to help send Albert Anastasia to the chair. But, on Nov. 11, 1941, Reles fell to his death from a window in the Half Moon Hotel, where he was under police guard. A couple of tied-together bedsheets were found out the window, and some suggested Reles was trying to escape. The great distance to the ground and the distance Reles landed away from the building were indications that he was helped out of the window. Reles became known as the canary who could sing but couldn't fly.

Monday, September 10, 2007

'Secrets' jury finds all guilty

Second round of deliberations
to focus on 18 gangland murders

The five defendants in Chicago's Family Secrets trial were convicted on all counts today, according to a story by Jeff Coen of the Chicago Tribune.

A federal jury convicted James Marcello, 65; Joey "the Clown" Lombardo (below right), 78; Frank Calabrese Sr. (left), 70; Paul "the Indian" Schiro, 69; and Anthony "Twan" Doyle, 62, of racketeering conspiracy. Doyle is a former Chicago police officer who was charged with providing secret details of a federal investigation to the mob. The other four defendants reputedly served in leadership positions in the Chicago Outfit.

After a trial of 10 weeks, the jury deliberated for four days before reaching the verdict. Jurors' names are being kept confidential.

The panel's responsibilities are expected to continue tomorrow, when they will hear arguments relating to 18 gang murders - including the 1986 slayings of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro - charged to the defendants. A second round of jury deliberations will follow.

Any subsequent convictions could result in imprisonment for life.

The defendants were among 14 indicted for racketeering conspiracy in April 2005.

One of the key witnesses in the case has been Nicholas Calabrese, brother of defendant Frank Calabrese Sr. Just before the trial opened, Nicholas Calabrese pleaded guilty to participating in at least 14 mob murders. Other defendants, including Nicholas Ferriola and Joseph Venezia, reached plea deals with prosecutors before the trial began.

Defendant Frank "the German" Schweihs was severed from the trial because of poor health. Authorities say Schweihs appears to have made a miraculous recovery from cancer, and a separate Schweihs trial is planned for April.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Probe found mob behind NYC school bus union

An independent probe of a 15,000-member school bus drivers union in New York City has uncovered evidence that "organized crime has infiltrated and controlled" it, according to a story by Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times.

A report written by independent counsel Richard W. Mark in January was made public yesterday by some members of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. That report indicated that top union officials were engaged in extortion, kickbacks and bribes.

Former president of the local, Salvatore Battaglia, is facing federal trial on extortion charges and bribery. Battaglia has pleaded not guity to the charges. Secretary-Treasurer Julius Bernstein was forced to resign as he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice.

Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello (left), reputed ex-boss of the Genovese Crime Family, acknowledged a year ago that he arranged illegal payoffs for the union leadership. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

Schweihs trial expected in April

Frank "the German" Schweihs is expected to be brought to trial in April in a sequel to the current Chicago Family Secrets case, according to a report by John Drummond of CBS-2 in Chicago.

Schweihs, 77, a reputed mob enforcer, was removed from the list of defendants in the current case when he was reportedly diagnosed with cancer. Authorities note that he has since made a miraculous recovery.

Convicted of extortion in 1989, Schweihs is now charged with participating in the murder of government witness Daniel Seifert in September 1974.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pizzonia gets 15 years for murder conspiracy

Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia, reputed lieutenant within the Gambino Crime Family, was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, according to a story by Trymaine Lee of the New York Times.

Pizzonia, 65, was convicted in May of involvement in the 1992 killings of Thomas and Rosemarie Uva of Queens (below). The Uvas had been engaging in the dangerous hobby of targeting Mafia clubs for robberies. With the Gambino, Bonanno and Colombo Crime Families all gunning for the couple, they were shot to death on Dec. 24, 1992.

Pizzonia was charged with committing the murders, but a jury found him guilty only of conspiring in them.

Defense attorneys had argued for a prison sentence of no more than 10 years. At sentencing, federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein called Pizzonia "a lifelong member of a vicious gang."

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; 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.