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April 27, 2005

Chicago Mob takes the biggest hit

Sinatra's bodygaurd held as FBI gangland murder inquiry swoops on The Outfit
POLICE claim to have solved the Mob murder portrayed in the film Casino in one of the largest crackdowns on organised crime in Chicago’s gangland history.

Prosecutors have charged 14 people affiliated with the group known as “The Outfit” with a string of crimes, including 18 killings, dating back to 1970, among them the double murder of a pair of brothers previously thought to have been buried alive in a cornfield in Indiana.


Those indicted included James Marcello, a reputed Mob boss known as “No 1”, and his brother, Michael, as well as two former police officers, one of whom worked as a bodyguard for Frank Sinatra.

Most of the accused were either captured or already in custody, but yesterday the FBI was still hunting for Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, the reputed boss of the Grand Avenue crew, and Frank “The German” Schweihs, an alleged Mob enforcer. Officials said that the charges, following on from the FBI’s “Operation Family Secrets”, amounted to one of the most sweeping crackdowns on organised crime in Chicago, Al Capone’s former home town.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor, declared: “Today, the Outfit takes a hit.”

Robert Grant, head of the FBI office in Chicago, said that the arrests had cut the number of street “crews” operating in the Chicago branch of the national crime syndicate known as La Cosa Nostra from six to four. “What makes this particular indictment significant to us is that, for the first time, we have the heads of multiple crews indicted in one indictment,” he said.

The racketeering indictment included charges of beatings, extortion and illegal gambling, as well as the 18 killings. Eight of the killings were double murders, including the notorious murder of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the Mob’s man in Las Vegas, and his younger brother, Michael.

Martin Scorcese’s 1995 film Casino, in which Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro, suggested that the brothers were beaten with bats and buried in Indiana. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave and a post-mortem analysis found soil in their lungs, indicating they had been buried alive. However, the new indictment says that they were actually killed in a basement elsewhere on June 14, 1986.

Prosecutors are expected to rely on evidence gathered by Frank Calabrese Jr when he was in jail with his father, also Frank, one of Chicago’s most notorious loan sharks. The son risked his life to wear a secret listening device as his father spilt the secrets of the Mob.

Mr Calabrese Sr’s brother, Nick, was also said to have been co-operating with authorities after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the murder of a Mob enforcer killed for botching the burial of the Spilotros.

Also charged were two former policemen, Anthony “Twan” Doyle and Sinatra’s onetime bodyguard Michael Ricci, who allegedly passed messages from Mr Calabrese Sr to the Mob while he was in prison.

An alleged Mob hitman, Frank “Gumba” Saladino, 59, was found dead when FBI went to arrest him in an Illinois hotel room on Monday. Officials said that he appeared to have died of natural causes.

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