The crime syndicate known as the “Chicago Outfit” have outlived their days since the time of Prohibition. The Chicago based mafia family has brought the Windy City its “biggest mobster-family trial” yet. At the forefront of the racketeering monopoly is Antonino Leonardo Accardo or best known by his mob name, Tony Accardo. The gangster and delinquent, also known as the “Big Tuna”, has earned a big reputation for getting what he wants without getting attention from the public.
December 1977: A group of eager burglars decide to make their move on the home of Mr. Tony Accardo. The Chicago mob boss did not take the raiding of his basement vault lightly and decided to immediately have the men hunted down and killed. Prosecutors say they have nine potential witnesses but identities weren’t disclosed due to safety reasons. The star witness of the upcoming trial is Nicholas Calabrese, who has 40 years of active experience with the Outfit mob. Nicolas has pleaded guilty to several counts, including 14 counts of murder, and is expected to testify against his brother Frank Calabrese Sr. Years before, the son of Frank Calabrese Sr. reportedly collaborated with federal agents by wearing a listening device and spying on his father while both of the men were in prison on racketeering charges.
Indictment of the “Outfit Family” includes charges of murder, gambling, pornography, extortion and loan sharking at the top of their activities. The infamous mob bosses at the top of list as defendants are: Paul Schiro, 69, Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo, 78, James Marcello, 65, Frank Calabrese Sr., 70, and retired Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, 62. All of the defendants and co-defendants have pleaded not guilty. One defendant, dubious extortionist Frank “The German” Schweihs, has been dropped from the trial because of health issues.
“U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald back in 2005 said, “This unprecedented indictment puts a hit on the mob.” If this is true today, other racketeering mob-junkies like the New York based “Five Families” will be consequently struck down with anti-racketeering legislation.
Jury selection has already begun and the trial should have already been set to date. The U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel questioned more than 30 potential jurors in apparent view of defendants, attorneys, and court appointed persons but did not disclose their personal information. The only quandary of the arrangements is that the numbers of defendants have seemed to decline as we come closer to the end of jury selection.
The trial originated from the FBI’s investigation, “Operation Family Secrets”. The trial will most likely unearth the truths behind a possibility of 18 unsolved mob-related homicides.
Two men under accusations of colluding with the Outfit mob have pleaded guilty as of June 2007. This leaves only the five mentioned above as defendants in the racketeering proceedings. A Mr. Nicholas Ferriola, 32, has pleaded guilty to racketeering, bookmaking, and extortion. A Mr. Joseph Venezia, 64, has pleaded guilty to owning a gambling operation without reporting the earnings to the IRS.
Sadly the head of the Outfit’s operation, Tony Accardo, will not be able to make it to the trial because he passed away May 1992 at the age of 86.
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