Monday, April 25, 2005

Friends of my Father's, off to the Big House

New York Times, old reliable again

April 25, 2005

U.S. Indicts 14 Reputed Mobsters in Chicago


CHICAGO, April 25 - The names read like a who's who of reputed Chicago mob leaders from some faded blotter left behind at the police department's old State Street headquarters: Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Frank "the German" Schweihs, Frank "Gumba" Saladino, and on and on.

But today, 14 of these accused Chicago mobsters, including several who have for years been reputed to be in the top level of organized crime leaders in this city, were being rounded up in connection with 18 murders that stretch back over four decades and had gone unsolved and, in some cases, nearly forgotten.

Several of the accused are in their mid-70's now, and one, though only 59, was found dead, apparently of natural causes, when the authorities arrived today to arrest him in the hotel room where he lived. A few of the others accused, meanwhile, had moved away from here, to states better known for retirement, Florida and Arizona.

Describing the 9-count, 41-page racketeering conspiracy indictment of the 14 men as putting a "hit on the Mob," Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States Attorney here, said in a statement, "After so many years, it lifts the veil of secrecy and exposes the violent underworld of organized crime."

While arrests of organized crime figures are hardly unique in a city where Al Capone once lived, rarely have so many of its reputed high-level leaders been charged all at once or has the entire "Chicago Outfit" been officially deemed a criminal enterprise under federal racketeering laws.

"This really lays out the whole continuing criminal enterprise that is still going on," said Thomas Kirkpatrick, president of the Chicago Crime Commission, a nonprofit anticrime group created in 1919 by Chicago business leaders who were increasingly worried that it was becoming unsafe to conduct business in this town.

"People tend to forget what these guys are about," Mr. Kirkpatrick said.
"They watch 'The Sopranos' or some of these movies about the mob and they think it's just some colorful characters. The thing is, they're still doing this. These characters are still doing this."

Among the most notorious murders the authorities say they have solved with today's announcement of the indictment that was years in the making: the 1986 death of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the organization's chief enforcer in Las Vegas, and his brother, Michael, who were buried alive in an Indiana cornfield. In the mid-1990's, Joe Pesci portrayed a character based on Tony Spilotro in the movie, "Casino."
[FYI* Marvin knew Howard Rosenberg, played by Robert DeNiro in the movie "Casino"]

Gretchen Ruethling contributed reporting for this article.

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