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Posted on Mon, May. 02, 2005
  R E L A T E D   C O N T E N T 
FUGITIVE: Frank ‘The German' Schweihs is one of 12 reputed Chicago crime family members indicted in an FBI investigation into unsolved mob hits in Illinois.
AP photo from Chicago
FUGITIVE: Frank ‘The German' Schweihs is one of 12 reputed Chicago crime family members indicted in an FBI investigation into unsolved mob hits in Illinois.



FBI says hit man, 75, kills for mob

Reputed mafia hit man Frank ''The German'' Schweihs, of Dania Beach, is on the lam, accused of whacking Joe Pesci's character in the film Casino.


The FBI says a 75-year-old Dania Beach retiree is, in real life, a mafia hit man who for decades has been doing contract murders for the Chicago mob.

But despite being described by legendary Chicago Crime Commission member and mob investigator John Flood as ''one of the most violent criminals'' he had ever encountered, Frank ''The German'' Schweihs has never spent a day in prison for murder.

In fact, up until April 22, Schweihs lived openly as a retired construction worker on Southeast Seventh Street in Dania Beach.

And before that, in Hollywood, on Georgia Street.

Even in his police mug shot, there is no obvious sign that Schweihs is anyone other than a typical Broward County senior citizen, living on a pension.

''He was easy to find, his name and number was listed in the phone book,'' Miami FBI Special Agent Judy Orihuela said. ``But when we went to arrest him on Monday morning [April 25], he was gone.''

Schweihs, whose last conviction in 1989 was for extortion of an Illinois pornography company, is now a fugitive.

He is one of the 12 reputed Chicago crime family members indicted in ''Operation Family Secrets,'' an FBI investigation into 18 unsolved mob hits that took place over the past 20 years in Illinois.

FBI agents, joined by Internal Revenue Service investigators and detectives from the Chicago Police Department, used DNA samples and organized crime insiders to build cases against the suspects.

The FBI calls it Chicago's biggest mob bust.

The operation also indicted James Marcello, 68, the reputed head of organized crime in Chicago, and Joseph ''The Clown'' Lombardo, 75, a longtime mob leader for whom Schweihs reputedly killed on command.

Schweihs' most infamous alleged hit was featured in the 1995 movie Casino, in which the character of Chicago mobster Tony ''The Ant'' Spilotro, played by actor Joe Pesci, and Spilotro's brother, Michael, are beaten with baseball bats, then stripped and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield.

But the truth -- according to Flood, a 41-page indictment and other Chicago mob experts -- is that the Spilotro brothers were beaten in a home near O'Hare International Airport and then taken to the cornfield to be buried.

''The Spilotros were beaten with something hard and heavy,'' said Flood, who suspects that the FBI will reveal that Schweihs was at the Illinois home for the lethal 1986 beating. ``They were dead by the time they were buried.''


Flood, a former Chicago police officer, said he knows Schweihs very well.

Flood said he first met Schweihs when ''The German'' was allegedly attempting to kill a motel owner back in the 1960s.

''His partner tried to run me down in the getaway car,'' said Flood, who tackled Schweihs. The two men were arrested but never convicted of attempted murder.

Former Las Vegas casino boss and current Boca Raton resident Frank ''Lefty'' Rosenthal, whom actor Robert DeNiro portrayed in Casino, declined to be interviewed about Schweihs.


But in the book, Casino: Love and Honor In Las Vegas, Rosenthal called the Dania Beach resident ``a really dangerous guy. A German. A genuine tough guy.

He had a terrible limp because he shot himself in the leg one day by accident.''

Flood had a different explanation.

''He has a limp because he got shot breaking out of Chicago's detention center,'' Flood said.

Before becoming part of Hollywood mafia movie myth, Schweihs was arrested more than a dozen times for burglary in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale between 1957 and 1975, according to Florida police records. He was never convicted on those arrests, records show.

Meanwhile, in 1962, his former girlfriend, Eugenia Pappas, was murdered, and her body was found in the Chicago River with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Chicago law enforcement officials think Schweihs did it, but he was never charged.


Other murders that Chicago law enforcement have linked Schweihs to:

• The 1967 murder of Chicago loan shark Alan Rosenberg.

• The 1973 killing of Richard Cain, a Chicago police vice detective and then chief investigator for the Cook County Sheriff's Department -- who reputedly worked for legendary Chicago mob godfather Sam Giancana.

• The 1983 Chicago slaying of Allen Dorfman, the financial wizard who ran the Teamsters Union pension fund.

Dorfman bankrolled the Las Vegas casinos that Rosenthal ran.

A 1983 Herald article said Chicago investigators were looking at Schweihs' role in the Dorfman killing.

But the then-Hollywood resident was never indicted.

And Schweihs was suspected in the 1985 Chicago murder of Charles ''Chuckie'' English, who worked as a lieutenant to Giancana.

''The government indicted them on 18 [murders in Illinois], but more murders in other states will pop up, guaranteed,'' predicted Chicago mob and labor expert Jim McGough, who runs the Illinois Police and Sheriff's News website,

Flood and McGough said it is common for mob hit men to live in one city and then travel to another to do a contract killing.

''Men like Schweihs love warm-weather states like Florida where it's peaceful,'' Flood said. ``Contract killing is just a job. Their boss tells them to go to some city to whack someone. They fly in, do the job, and are back home in time to eat stone crab claws.''


The Chicago mob experts describe the 5-foot-11, 180-pound German/Italian Schweihs, at age 75, as just as strong and as tough as he was 50 years ago.

In fact, the indictment accuses Schweihs of strong-arming another Illinois porn company in 2001, shortly after getting out of jail.

''Murder and strong-arming is a skill that doesn't fade with age,'' Flood said.

``In fact, men like Schweihs get more effective with age. People underestimate them because they are senior citizens. And underestimating them just isn't smart.''

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