In one of the biggest strikes in Chicago's history against the mob, federal authorities today began rounding up alleged organized crime figuresincluding outfit boss Joseph "The Clown" Lombardoin connection with a string of 18 unsolved murders and one attempted murder dating back to 1970.
In the culmination of what officials dubbed "Operation Family Secrets," a federal racketing indictment unsealed this morning took direct aim at Chicago's three dominant mob chapters: The Grand Avenue crew of Lombardo; the Melrose Park crew of brothers Jimmy and Michael Marcello, and the 26th Street crew of imprisoned mobsters Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother, Nicholas, who has turned mob informant.
Lombardo, 75, of Chicago, remains at large, authorities said. Lombardo previously was convicted in U.S. District Court in Chicago in another major mob investigation. He was released from prison in 1992.
Another suspect was found dead of apparent natural causes along with a substantial amount of cash and checksin a Kane County hotel room, while a third is being sought in Florida.
Everyone else named in the indictment is either under arrest or about to be arrested.
"This unprecedented indictment put a `hit' on the mob," said U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. "It is remarkable for both the breadth of the murders charged and for naming the entire Chicago Outfit as a criminal enterprise under the anti-racketeering law."
"The outfit maintained hidden interest in businesses, maintained hidden control of labor unions, corrupted law enforcement and acquired explosives," Fitzgerald said.
Fourteen suspects were named in the sweeping indictment, discussed at length by authorities at a news conference downtown this afternoon.
The unsolved murders include those of the mob's top man in Las Vegas, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, and his brother, Michael, according to the nine-count indictment.
Tony Spilotro, 48, a Chicago mob enforcer, ruled Las Vegas in the 1970s and early 1980s. Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro in the 1995 movie "Casino.''
Spilotro and his brother, 41, were last seen alive on June 14, 1986. Their badly beaten bodies were found buried in an Indiana cornfield eight days later.
Eleven defendants formed the backbone of the Chicago mob by allegedly participating in illegal conduct such as extorting "street taxes" from businesses to allow them to operate; running sports betting and video poker machines; loan sharking; extortion; threats and violence.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $10 million in alleged racketeering proceeds from the 11 men and the Marcello brothers' business, M&M Amusement.
Three suspects were not indicted for racketeering conspiracy, but instead face charges of illegal gambling or tax fraud conspiracy.
The mob of Al Capone and Frank Nitti has long been entrenched in Chicago with its tentacles reaching into hallways of unions, casinos and police departments. In fact, the indictment alleges that two retired Chicago police officers aided the outfit
Retired officer Anthony Doyle, known as "Twan," is accused of being a mob mole inside the police department. He allegedly worked for Frank Calabrese Sr., keeping him informed of law enforcement's investigation into the murder of John Fecarotta, according to the indictment.
The other retired officer, Michael Ricci, is accused of working for the mob while he was a Cook County Sheriff's officer, passing messages from the jailed Frank Calabrese Sr. to other members of the mob. He is accused of lying to the FBI on behalf of the mob.
After a lengthy investigation, FBI and the IRS agents today began arresting the 14 suspects in Arizona, Florida and Illinois.
The indictment gives chapter and verse on the structure and chain of the mob's chain of command and how the crews carried out its criminal activities. The crews are known by their geographic locations and included Grand Avenue, Melrose Park, 26th Street, Elmwood Park, Rush Street and Chicago Heights.
The nine-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury Thursday and unsealed today. The investigation started with 18 previously unsolved murders and one attempted murder between 1970 and 1986, all in the Chicago area except for one slaying in Arizona.
"What makes this indictment significant to us is for the first time we have the heads of multiple crews indicted in one indictment," said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office.
Referring to the mob as "LCN," for La Costa Nostra, Grant said, "This is the first indictment that I can recall that involved so many murders, which really gets at the heart of what LCN is, which is a bunch of murderous thugs."
Today's arrests, he added, will have a "significant impact" on organized crime by cutting its numbers in the region.
"From everything we've learned, the LCN has been reduced to six crews from four," Grant said. "We now believe there are four crews operating in the Chicago areathe Elmwood Park crew, the South Side 26th Street crew, the Grand Avenue crew and the Melrose Park- Cicero crew. Current membership from what we can estimate is over 100 members and associates."
Arrested in Illinois were: