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Posted on Mon, Jul. 11, 2005 Miami Herald

ORGANIZED CRIME

 

FBI berated after aging hit men flee


Dania Beach hit man Frank Schweihs has been the subject of an international manhunt for months.



rsantiago@herald.com

 

Dania Beach's Frank ''The German'' Schweihs, a reputed hit man for the Chicago mob, has been on the run since April, and two Chicago mob experts claim it's all the FBI's fault.

John J. Flood, a board member on the Chicago Crime Commission and Jim McGough, a respected expert on Chicago and mob and labor activity, claim that last month's FBI offer of $20,000 for the capture of Schweihs and his lifelong partner in crime, Joseph ''The Clown'' Lombardo, one of the reputed leaders of the Chicago crime family, is an empty gesture and blame the FBI for letting them get away in the first place.

''Offering a reward is more of a show than anything,'' Flood said. ``Anyone close to Lombardo [and Schweihs] would fear to do it.''

Schweihs and Lombardo allegedly murdered a federal witness.

And both Flood and McGough said the FBI should have kept both men under surveillance, especially mob leader Lombardo.

''Everyone knew that Joey Lombardo was going to be indicted, and how the FBI didn't have him under constant surveillance is puzzling to me,'' McGough said.

FBI DISPUTES CLAIM

But FBI Special Agent Ross Rice, spokesman for the Chicago FBI, says Flood and McGough are out of line.

``I think our office would respectfully disagree with both gentlemen on both counts. Reward offers have proven to be a very viable investigative option for us on a number of prior occasions. And, in fact, we have had a number of calls from the public since the reward offer for Lombardo and Schweihs was issued. ''

Rice added that anyone who would criticize the FBI for not having Lombardo and Schweihs under watch shows a ``real lack of understanding of federal law enforcement.''

''The resources that are required to conduct a surveillance around the clock for days in advance make something like this prohibitive,'' Rice said. ``And how will you know who is going to flee or who is not going to flee? We have limited resources. We have to use those resources very judiciously.''

Rice added that most of the 14 alleged Chicago mobsters indicted on April 21 in Operation Family Secrets, an FBI investigation into 18 unsolved mob hits that took place over the past 20 years in Illinois, were released on bond.

But Chicago mob experts say that Lombardo, 76, and Schweihs, 75, fled because, at their age, they couldn't take a chance of spending their remaining years behind bars.

Flood says that Lombardo and Schweihs have known each other for over 50 years, back when they were establishing their reputations with the Chicago Mafia as hit men.

HEAVY HITTERS

The two blood brothers have remained close. As a mob leader, Lombardo may have even played a supervisory role in four of Schweih's greatest hits:

 The 1986 baseball bat murders of Anthony and Michael Spilotro, as depicted in the Martin Scorcese film Casino.

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

 And possibly the 1987 murder of Miami cigarette boat mogul Don Aronow.

''There is a possibility that they are assisting each other anyway they can,'' said Flood, a former cop who tackled and arrested Schweihs back in the 1960s. ``Possibly they are outside the country. They have the resources, and contacts, and the cash to get on a private plane at a moment's notice.''

Both men said the fundamental reason that the FBI has not stamped out organized crime is that the FBI constantly underestimates the intelligence of its members.

Mob bosses make it their business to get insider information -- keeping their friends close and their enemies closer -- in order to stay in business and out of jail.

''When you get an indictment against someone from organized crime, you have to worry that someone in the Department of Justice organization or the U.S. court system doesn't tip off organized crime of the content of the indictment, giving them time to skip town,'' said McGough an insider tip, not luck, made Schweihs and Lombardo run.

Flood agrees. ''Schweihs and Lombardo made a decision to be on the lam for good. Schweihs and Lombardo were aware of the indictment coming down and they took off. I don't know if they are together, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are,'' Flood said.

Up until April, Schweihs lived openly on Southeast Seventh Street in Dania Beach.

And before that, in Hollywood, on Georgia Street.

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