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Chicago Sun-Times

News

Mob on the ropes after indictment

April 26, 2005

BY STEVE WARMBIR, ROBERT C. HERGUTH AND FRANK MAIN Staff Reporters

When Frank Calabrese Sr., Chicago's most notorious loan shark, was in prison with his son Frank Jr., he spilled some Outfit secrets.

Secrets involving details of mob murders, law enforcement sources said.

Secrets that Frank Calabrese Sr. never should have uttered once the deadly deeds were done, according to Outfit code.

Secrets that were caught on tape.

Doing the taping was Frank Calabrese Jr., who put his life on the line by wearing a listening device while in prison to help build a case against his father.

 

Some of those secrets unfolded into public view Monday as federal prosecutors revealed what is described as the most significant racketeering indictment ever against the Chicago Outfit. As part of the federal Operation Family Secrets, prosecutors charged the entire Outfit as a criminal enterprise and laid 18 murders and one attempted murder at the doorstep of the Chicago mob.

"Today, the Outfit takes a hit," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said.

Robert D. Grant, head of the FBI in Chicago, said the indictment "gets to the heart of what the [Outfit] really is: a bunch of murderous thugs."

The Outfit won't be shut down by the indictment, but it does mark the first time several crew leaders were charged in one case. The feds want $10 million in forfeiture from the racketeering defendants and a Cicero building where an illegal video poker business was allegedly run.

Former cops charged

Calabrese Sr., 68 and still in prison in Milan, Mich., on a separate case, was indicted along with James Marcello, 63, of Lombard and the man who allegedly runs the Chicago mob day-to-day, and Grand Avenue crew boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, 75, of Chicago, who was on the lam Monday night. Also on the run was brutal mob enforcer Frank "The German" Schweihs, 75, last believed to be in Florida.

Two former Chicago Police officers -- Anthony "Twan" Doyle and Michael Ricci, a onetime bodyguard for Frank Sinatra -- were charged as well. Doyle, 60, of Wickenburg, Ariz., and Ricci, 75, of Streamwood, allegedly provided inside information or passed along messages from Calabrese Sr. while he was in prison to the mob.

In all, 14 people were charged in the indictment, which sketches how the Outfit makes its money in the Chicago area, from running video poker machines to shaking down businesses. Seven men were in court Monday, all of them pleading not guilty. Another man, alleged mob killer Frank Saladino, was found dead in a Hampshire hotel, apparently of natural causes, when FBI and IRS agents went on their early Monday morning sweep to round him and other mobsters up.

Frank Calabrese Sr.'s son isn't the only person helping build a case against the allegedly brutal Calabrese Sr.

Calabrese Sr.'s brother Nick also has been spilling Outfit secrets to the feds for several years.

Nick Calabrese would be in a position to know, sources said. He and Calabrese Sr., both made men in the Outfit, allegedly participated in mob hits together.

Nick Calabrese was motivated to cooperate in part by a personal betrayal -- by his own brother.

Frank Calabrese Sr., while in prison, allegedly was presented with the possibility that Nick Calabrese could be cooperating.

If that was true, Frank Calabrese Sr. allegedly had no objections to his brother being murdered.

When Nick Calabrese learned of this, it persuaded him to cooperate, authorities said.

Bloody glove

Another factor behind the cooperation was that agents tied Nick Calabrese to the 1986 hit of John Fecarotta, a mob enforcer, the Chicago Sun-Times first reported.

Calabrese left behind a bloody glove after he nearly botched the hit of Fecarotta and got shot himself. Years later, investigators using DNA technology linked the bloody glove to Nick Calabrese. Frank Calabrese Sr. also allegedly participated in the murder.

That bloody glove was a key piece of evidence. When the FBI came to collect it from the Chicago Police evidence room several years ago, Frank Calabrese Sr. learned of it while in prison -- from a police officer assigned to the evidence room, according to the indictment and sources.

Doyle worked at the evidence and recovered property unit throughout the 1990s.

The feds had a listening device in a visiting room of the prison where Frank Calabrese Sr. is being held. When Doyle came to tell him of the FBI's renewed interest in the glove, the feds taped the conversation, authorities said. Doyle is a childhood friend of a onetime top lieutenant of Frank Calabrese Sr., Ronald Jarrett, who was gunned down in 1999, sources said.

Also helping Calabrese Sr. was Ricci, a former Chicago Police detective and later the head of electronic monitoring for the Cook County sheriff's office until 2000, authorities allege.

Ricci, in poor health and in a wheelchair in court on Monday, admitted knowing Calabrese Sr. for decades and visiting him in prison but denied helping him improperly.

In addition to the mob murders, authorities charged James Marcello's brother, Michael Marcello, with helping his brother run Outfit operations while James Marcello was in prison. The brothers' alleged illegal video poker business in Cicero, M & M Amusement, gave $500 to Friends of Blagojevich on June 29, 2002, according to state campaign finance records reviewed by the Sun-Times.

Pete Giangreco, a spokesman for Gov. Blagojevich's campaign, said tracking such donations was impossible given the high number of them, but said the campaign would return the money.

Dressing down in court

Despite the millions of dollars coming into the Outfit, the reputed mobsters in court on Monday were not at their most fashionable.

Top mob boss James Marcello, for instance, wore gray sweats.

In the audience were family members of the defendants and of the men who were slain.

One man, Anthony Ortiz, was 12 when his father, Richard Ortiz, was shotgunned to death in 1983 as part of a mob hit in Cicero. Ortiz, now 34, brought his father's mother, who is 85, to the proceedings as well.

They had both visited his grave just the day before.

While Ortiz says he wants more details on his father's death, he still can't believe charges were finally brought in the case.

"This is something I've been waiting for, for 22 years."

Contributing: Maureen O'Donnell and Dan Rozek

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