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FBI nabs runaway mob enforcer charged in racketeering-murder case

MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press

A reputed mob enforcer who had been the focus of a nationwide manhunt since April when federal prosecutors unsealed racketeering-murder charges against the alleged top echelon of the Chicago underworld was arrested Friday in Kentucky, the FBI announced.

Frank "The German" Schweihs, 75, was captured without incident by the FBI at an apartment in Berea, Ky., a rugged, hilly area 40 miles south of Lexington.

Schweihs was one of two defendants in the Chicago case who slipped away from federal lawmen just before prosecutors unveiled the long-sealed indictment against reputed Chicago mob boss James Marcello and 13 others in the FBI's Operation Family Secrets investigation.

FBI agents were still hunting for another fugitive, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 76, known as one of the senior figures in the Chicago mob.

The indictment charges that Chicago hoodlums and mob associates conspired in at least 19 unsolved murders, including that of that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, once known as the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas, and his brother Michael. Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro in the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie "Casino."

The indictment charges Schweihs with taking part in the racketeering scheme, in which the participants allegedly agreed to commit a number of murders.

It also charges him with extorting payments, or "street tax," on behalf of organized crime by using "force, violence and fear" in the summer and fall of 2001 against the owners of adult entertainment clubs in Indiana and the Chicago suburbs.

Schweihs had an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in Lexington at which he waived extradition. He will be held there until he can be returned to Chicago, officials said.

When he returns, Schweihs will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, who is presiding over the Family Secrets case.

David Beyer, an FBI spokesman in Louisville, said Schweihs first leased the Berea apartment two weeks ago and paid cash. His previous known residence was in Dania, Fla.

Nita Wiles, who identified herself as the owner of the apartment buildings, said Saturday that Schweihs was not a resident there. Wiles said Schweihs visited frequently because he was dating a woman who had rented an apartment in September.

Berea resident Tori Kittoe said she witnessed Schweihs' arrest about noon EST Friday. A plainclothes officer asked Schweihs if he had any weapons and Schweihs said he didn't, Kittoe said.

"He went on peacefully," she said of Schweihs.

"It really scared me that somebody who has possibly done something so horrible lived just a few doors down from me," Kittoe said.

Lt. Ken Clark of the Berea Police Department said residents of the apartments, close to Interstate 75, believed Schweihs had been there just a few days.

Federal law enforcement officers have been baffled thus far in their search for Lombardo. They offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the two men.

Lombardo wrote a letter to Zagel last May, offering to turn himself in if he were guaranteed that he would be tried separately from the other defendants. He later wrote a second letter, taking issue with news reports in the case.

Lombardo went to federal prison in the 1980s after being convicted along with then-International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Roy Lee Williams in a bribery conspiracy.

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Associated Press Writer Jeffrey McMurray in Berea, Ky., contributed to this report.

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