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Defense presents closing arguments in Chicago mob trial

Defense presents closing arguments in Chicago mob trial

The defense attorney for one reputed mob boss told the jury that the government's star witness, an admitted hit man whose victims begged for their lives, would lie about anything to save his own skin.
Counsel for another alleged leader of the Outfit, as Chicago's organized crime family is known, tried to pick apart evidence that the government claims links Joey "The Clown" Lombardo to a 1974 murder.
Both approaches came Tuesday as defense attorneys presented closing arguments for two of the five defendants in Chicago's biggest mob trial in years.
Meanwhile, prosecutors wrapped up the first phase of their closing arguments earlier in the day, reminding jurors what happens to people who cross the Outfit: "You end up dead," assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk said during a nearly five-hour presentation that stretched over two days.
Closing arguments for the remaining three defendants will resume Wednesday, to be followed by the prosecution's final rebuttal.
Those on trial are Lombardo, 78; convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr., 70; convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70; reputed mob boss James Marcello, 65; and retired Chicago policeman Anthony Doyle, 62. They're charged with a conspiracy that allegedly includes 18 long-unsolved murders, illegal gambling, loan sharking and extortion.
Marcello's attorney, Marc Martin, referred to Funk's comparison on Monday that the case is like a jigsaw puzzle.
"The pieces do not fit with respect to James Marcello," Martin said.
He spent much of his time trying to convince the jurors that the testimony of Nicholas Calabrese, which linked Marcello to several murders, was unreliable and often didn't correspond to evidence at the scene.
Calabrese agreed to testify against his own brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., and to spill mob secrets to avoid the death penalty after investigators matched his DNA to blood on a glove at a 1986 murder scene.
"This is a man who had no scruples about cutting the throat of a dead man, about pouring lighter fluid in the face of a man he had just killed," Martin said.
"Do you think he would lie? Do you think he would lie to save his own life?" he asked.
Martin also maintained that Marcello could not be one of the mob's full-fledged "made guys" because at the time Nicholas Calabrese testified such a ceremony occurred, those inducted had to be 100 percent Italian.
Martin used a shamrock on an overhead projector to indicate Marcello's Irish heritage, then showed jurors a copy of Marcello's birth certificate, indicating his mother was named "Irene Flynn."
Lombardo attorney Susan Shatz tried to discredit evidence prosecutors say links Lombardo to the 1974 mob-style execution of federal witness Daniel Seifert, a businessman preparing to testify against Lombardo and others.
In one of the getaways cars after Seifert's killing, authorities found a police scanner that prosecutors allege Lombardo bought. Shatz said Lombardo often bought scanners for his boss, Irwin Weiner, but she attacked the reliability of the then-teenage store clerk who said Lombardo purchased the scanner.
Authorities also say they found Lombardo's fingerprint on the vehicle's title application. Shatz said while a photo of the print matches Lombardo's, the original title application no longer exists. She also said Lombardo could have touched the title when it sat in the office of Weiner, whose secretary notarized it.
And she told the jury that Weiner _ who is now dead _ had more to lose than anyone if Seifert testified. Weiner owned several businesses, including a fiberglass manufacturing company with Seifert.
Shatz then turned the podium over to co-counsel Rick Halprin, who said that Lombardo easily could have been a member of the Outfit, by virtue of his background and the people he ran around with.
He said Lombardo did run a dice game and associated with powerful men linked to the mob. Lombardo was convicted with the then-president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters of conspiring to bribe a U.S. senator. He was later convicted of scheming to skim millions of dollars from a Las Vegas casino.
"He was nothing but a hustling messenger boy," Halprin said. "That doesn't make him a capo, that doesn't make him a made man. That just makes him a man who hustled his way into prison."
Halprin reminded the jury of how, when Lombardo got out of prison in the early 1990s, he took out a newspaper ad denying that he was a "made guy," vowing to steer clear of the mob and telling readers to call his parole officer if they saw him commit any crimes.
Funk used the morning to remind jurors of details of the 18 murders they heard about over weeks of testimony.
Those included that of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, who was beaten to death along with his brother, Michael, in 1986 and buried in an Indiana cornfield.
Tony Spilotro, known as the mob's man in Las Vegas, was the inspiration for the Joe Pesci character in the 1995 movie "Casino." In the film, Pesci's character was beaten with bats and buried alive.


Updated : 2020-12-03 13:02 GMT+08:00