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Closing arguments continue in Chicago mob trial

Closing arguments continue in Chicago mob trial

Prosecutors say Joey "The Clown" Lombardo was a "made guy," a lifelong member in Chicago's mob. Defense attorneys say he was just "Joey, the rent-a-gangster," and a man who turned his back on crime long ago.
In Chicago's biggest mob trial in years, Lombardo and four other defendants are charged with a conspiracy that allegedly includes 18 long-unsolved murders, illegal gambling, loan sharking and extortion.
Jurors heard closing arguments Tuesday from defense attorneys for Lombardo, 78, and reputed mob boss James Marcello, 65. Closing arguments for the remaining three defendants resume Wednesday, to be followed by the prosecution's final rebuttal.
Lombardo attorney Rick Halprin, who occasionally shouted for emphasis as he walked back and forth before the jurors, reminded them of a newspaper ad Lombardo took out in the early 1990s, after his latest stretch in prison. In the ad, Lombardo denied he was "made," vowed to steer clear of the mob and told readers to call his parole officer if they saw him commit any crimes.
It was part of Halprin's "withdrawal defense," under which he maintains Lombardo is no longer part of any conspiracy.
"What would you like that man to do," Halprin said, pointing at his client, "other than publish a notice like that?"
He said Lombardo did run a dice game, and he 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."
Marcello's attorney, Marc Martin, focused on trying to convince the jurors that the testimony of the government's star witness, which linked Marcello to several murders, was unreliable.
Nicholas 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.
Martin told jurors they cannot trust the word of Nicholas Calabrese, a man he said lured a friend to his death and is only testifying to save his own skin.
"This is a man who decided a long time ago that his life _ that Nicholas Calabrese's life _ was more valid than the lives of others," Martin said.
Martin said Nicholas Calabrese's testimony sometimes did not correspond to evidence at the scene, or just to common sense.
He paid particular attention to the trial's most high-profile murder, 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.
Martin said Nicholas Calabrese would have known that prosecutors wanted to solve the "marquee offense," and so he decided he needed to give up more names than just that of his brother and men who had passed away. So he added Marcello to the list, Martin said.
But he maintained that Nicholas Calabrese's testimony did not make sense _ such as his testimony that all the men were wearing gloves when the brothers arrived at the Chicago suburban home where they had been lured with promises of being promoted. Martin maintained such a detail would have sent the men running.
Nicholas Calabrese testified that Michael Spilotro was strangled and died quickly, and that only a tissue was needed to mop up a spot of blood. Yet a forensic pathologist who took part in the brothers' autopsies said they died from multiple blunt force injuries and choking on their own blood.
And Martin questioned why the killers would risk driving more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) with two bloody bodies in a car to find a burial spot.
Nicholas Calabrese, Martin maintained, invented a tale about the Spilotros' deaths "because he felt had to solve the crime to get his deal to save his life."
The other defendants are convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr., 70; convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70; and retired Chicago policeman Anthony Doyle, 62.


Updated : 2021-08-04 16:32 GMT+08:00