- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal jury found five aging men guilty yesterday in a racketeering conspiracy that involved decades of extortion, loan sharking and murder aimed at eliminating anyone who stood in the way of the Chicago mob.

The verdicts capped a 10-week-trial that laid bare some of the inner workings of what is known as “the Outfit.”

The prosecution’s star witness was an admitted hit man who took the stand against his own brother to spell out the accusations, crime by crime. The jury heard about 18 unsolved killings, including the beating death and cornfield burial of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the mob’s man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in the 1995 movie “Casino.”

The jury deliberated for less than 20 hours before announcing its verdicts. The five men were found guilty of all counts, including racketeering conspiracy, bribery, illegal gambling and tax fraud.

Purported mob boss James Marcello, 65; purported mob capo Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo, 78; convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr., 70; and convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70, could face up to life in prison. The fifth man, retired Chicago police Officer Anthony Doyle, 62, was the only one among the five not accused of carrying out at least one murder.

The government’s star witness was Nicholas Calabrese, a confessed hit man who cooperated with the government in hopes of avoiding a death sentence. He said his brother, Frank Calabrese, ran a loan-sharking business and specialized in strangling victims with a rope, then cutting their throats to make certain they were dead.

Frank Calabrese admitted in court that he associated with mobsters but denied being one himself.

Frank Calabrese’s son helped the FBI tape conversations with his father while both were serving time for a loan-sharking conviction. In court, the son translated for jurors: When his father tells him to “keep 10 boxes of Spam ham, ‘He’s telling me to keep $1,000 a month for myself,’ ” he said.

Frank Calebrese’s attorney, Joseph Lopez, urged jurors not to trust his client’s brother.

“He would shoot you in the head over cold ravioli,” Mr. Lopez said.

Lombardo is probably the best-known defendant. After the indictment was unsealed, he went on the lam for eight months before finally being cornered by an FBI organized-crime squad in an alley outside Chicago.

True to his nickname, “The Clown” later answered a judge who wanted to know why hadn’t seen a doctor lately: “I was supposed to see him nine months ago, but I was — what do they call it? — I was unavailable.”

Doyle, the retired police officer, was accused of leaking inside law-enforcement information to the mob.

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