- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) — A newly released court document details four decades of purported Chicago mob killings, including the slayings of six men accused of robbing the vault of the Mafia’s biggest boss.

The 63-page document was submitted by federal prosecutors to U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel. He is to preside over the trial of 14 men accused in an indictment that blames the Mafia for 18 long-unsolved homicides. Jury selection is scheduled to begin June 1.

The trial is the result of the FBI’s long-running Operation Family Secrets investigation.

In the robbery case, mob bosses wanted to send a message that they would not tolerate the theft of jewelry and other items from the basement vault of fellow boss Tony Accardo’s house, according to the document submitted Thursday.

“The Outfit wanted to find out which burglars were actually involved in the Accardo burglary so they could be killed to enforce the message,” the document states.

Eventually, six men were blamed. The purported organizer of the vault burglary, John Mendell, was last heard from Jan. 16, 1978, the prosecutors said.

Among the list of 18 unsolved homicides is the killing of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the Chicago mob’s longtime man in Las Vegas, who inspired the Joe Pesci character in the 1995 movie “Casino.” His body was buried in an Indiana cornfield.

The document seeks to convince Judge Zagel that a conspiracy existed and third-party testimony that would ordinarily be hearsay should be allowed.

Among those expected to testify is Nicholas Calabrese, a self-described “made guy” in the Chicago mob who now is helping the government.

The version of the document made public Thursday is heavily redacted, with prosecutors saying their witnesses are afraid of mob reprisals and would be even more terrified if their names got out before trial.

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