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Feds nab 'Joey The Clown'

January 14, 2006

BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter


 

To hide his appearance, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo grew a full beard and longer hair. The 77-year-old reputed mob boss managed to skirt the feds for nine months in the Chicago area by continually moving from one so-called mob “spider hole” to the next, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant said Saturday.

When they nabbed him Friday night, the feds found cash, business cards and a suitcase stuffed with clothes, they said Saturday.

But they really knew they had the right guy when they found Lombardo’s own driver’s license on him. It still listed his Ohio Street address, Grant said.

On Friday night, about a dozen FBI agents descended on Lombardo in an Elmwood Park alley as he and an elderly friend sat inside a 1994 silver Lincoln. The FBI did not arrest the other man, who lives at 2329 W. 74th Street.

Lombardo didn’t resist arrest but he wasn’t exactly compliant either, Grant said. Agents had to walk up to the car and open the door.

Grant said Lombardo could not have hidden from authorities without the help of others and said investigation continues into who may have been “aiding and abetting” Lombardo.

Lombardo was one of 14 to be charged in a sweeping mob indictment last year, a result of the federal Operation Family Secrets investigation. The massive indictment ties 18 previously unsolved murders to the Chicago Outfit. In a superseding indictment, Lombardo was specifically tied to the 1974 murder of Daniel Seifert in Bensenville.

Lombardo’s lawyer, Rick Halprin said they will go to trial and he expects Lombardo to be acquitted. Lombardo is expected to appear in court Tuesday.

Grant said agents nabbed Lombardo after continuing to surveil Lombardo’s known associates for nine months.

“I wouldn’t say we were lucky last night,” Grant said. “I would say we were good.”

Letters had local postmarks

Authorities have said they always believed Lombardo didn't stray far. In his time on the lam, he wrote letters to his attorney, and they carried local postmarks.

Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin, said he received a call late Friday from the U.S. attorney's office, notifying him that Lombardo had been caught while driving with an unidentified friend.

His client was picked up on 74th Avenue in the western suburb.

Halprin said Lombardo was being housed at 17th and State, a police facility, after the Metropolitan Correctional Center refused to take him, possibly because of his age and a needed health waiver. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

"His chances of getting bond are the same as Osama bin Laden's," Halprin said. "Maybe not as good."

The fact that Lombardo was caught due to surveillance is ironic because after he and Schweihs fled, questions arose as to why the two were not kept under surveillance before the April 25, 2005, arrests.

In a July interview with the Sun-Times, FBI Supervisory Special Agent John Mallul and Special Agent Michael Maseth, who leads the Family Secrets investigation, said the two left "well before" the mob indictments and their fleeing didn't come as a surprise to the FBI.

The feds swabbed Lombardo for DNA in 2003. At the time, the agents said the FBI did everything it could to track them without tipping off the dozen others caught.

nkorecki@suntimes.com

Contributing: Monifa Thomas

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