Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Family Secrets mob trial with Sun-Times reporter Steve Warmbir

Messing with the mob's mind

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James DiForti.jpg
James DiForti, not a snitch

In the Monday editions of the Chicago Sun-Times, we tell the story of how the FBI created such a paranoid atmosphere in the Chicago Outfit, many mobsters, including Frank Calabrese Sr., came to believe that fellow Outfit member and reputed killer James DiForti was a rat.

Outfit people on the street to this day believe DiForti was a snitch.

But he wasn't.

Here are some more details on how the FBI messed with the mob's mind, according to a review of court records in the Family Secrets case and an interview with Kevin Blair, an FBI agent who worked in Chicago and was an architect of the FBI's strategy.

Blair came up with the name for the investigation, Family Secrets, but he downplayed his own role and praised the job done by other agents who continued his original work on the case.

Here's how it went down.

In the 1990s, the FBI had two informants with ties to the Cicero crew.

The first was private investigator Sam Rovetuso, court records show. In 1998, the FBI had him falsely tell Michael Spano Sr., then the head of the Cicero crew, that an FBI agent had come to interview Rovetuso, but Rovetuso declined, telling the agent to speak to his attorney.

Rovetuso said his attorney sent him a letter with the topics that the FBI wanted to talk to him about.

The attorney was made up, and so was the letter, complete with a fake letterhead, created by the FBI.

Rovetuso showed the letter to Spano Sr., whose suspicions were aroused that there could be a snitch tied to the Cicero crew.

Rovetuso was wired up and recording Spano Sr.'s chatter about the possible rat and what he could tell the FBI. That recording and others led to his conviction and that of a crooked Cicero police chief in an unrelated case.

The second informant, who has not been identified publicly, had a long relationship with the Cicero crew and had provided them accurate information for years about law enforcement.

That's because the second informant had a relationship with one of most crooked cops in the history of Chicago, William Hanhardt. Hanhardt was chief of detectives, but he was also in the mob's pocket, according to testimony at the Famly Secrets trial.

Hanhardt was convicted in a separate case for running a multimillion dollar jewelry theft ring.

By passing along information from Hanhardt over the years, the second informant had credibility within the Cicero crew.

So when the FBI started having that informant feed misinformation into the crew, it was accepted at face value.

The informant told the crew he had somebody working within the FBI offices but wasn't any more specific.

The informant lied to the crew that he had learned from his source that the FBI had a mob snitch.

Word soon spread, and that ramped up the Outfit's paranoia.

The FBI bolstered the informant's credibility even further by giving him vague, relatively useless information to spread to the crew.

For instance, when FBI agents were serving subpoenas in Cicero as part of an investigation, the FBI would tell the informant that general fact. The informant would pass the intelligence along to the Cicero crew, who would eat it up.

When a mob indictment was coming down, the informant would be told to pass along the fact that something big was going to happen. Nothing more than that, just that something big was going to happen.

Again, the crew feasted on what appeared to them to be valuable insider information.

As this was going on, the Outfit's suspicions began centering on one man, James DiForti.

DiForti had been charged in 1997 with gunning down a man who owed him money but hadn't gone to trial in two years.

The delay raised the eyebrows of mobsters.

Then the FBI pulled another trick. Two agents went to Michael Ricci, a crooked cop, who was secretly meeting with Calabrese Sr. in prison to provide him whatever inside law enforcement information he could glean.

For years, Ricci was a Chicago police officer but at the time in 1999, he was working for the Cook County sheriff's department.

The agents who visited Ricci at the sheriff's office dropped DiForti's name in such a way to show they had an interest in him.

Ricci quickly reported this to Calabrese Sr., during one of the several prison visits that Ricci made to see his old friend.

This intrigued Calabrese Sr. even further.

In the end, Calabrese Sr. became so obsessed with DiForti that FBI agents had to warn him that his life could be in danger. They also wanted to see if they could flip him.

DiForti, though, shut the door in their faces.

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28 Comments

Have you heard anything about when sentencing will be yet?

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: No dates have been set yet as to sentencing. When they are, the Sun-Times will report it.

Steve,

Any idea on when they return to court for the Sentencing?

Thanks,
Melissa

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: For the five defendants, nothing has been set yet regarding sentencing. Their next status date is in November.

The FBI has been doing this for years. Any time they stop by the locals and drop names you know they just are trying to "juice the wires" as they say.

Steve, are you going to keep telling stories like this from the court records?

Because I will keep reading,


STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: I'll definitely be following on developments from the Family Secrets case, as they materialize.

HE'S NO SNICH! Did everyone get that. Can we let the poor man rest in peace now?

What people on the street think James Di Forti is a snich? and if they did think that why the hell would they tell the newspaper? You people on here have no idea about anything or anybody. All any of you know is what you read. You know nothing about any of these men or their families. GET A LIFE!

Hey, Marie D., you wouldn't happen to be James DiForti's daughter, Marie DiForti, would you?

Also, no, guys on the street wouldn't tell the newspaper.

An informant would overhear some chatter about it, and the informant would tell his handler, and the cops/feds would leak it to the media as a "source" to stir up conversations on their wires and/or reinvigorate current investigations.

It's called "tickling the wire." (I've never heard of the term "juice the wire" as the above poster called it. That's a new one.)

and who the hell r u Marie D???? Let me guess your DiForti's Daughter???? Well guess what, here is a little piece of reality, your dad was a killer, yea I said it, a murderer. Get over it.

He helped kill my grandfather and my grandfather was just an innocent bystander. So you wanna get in deep about it? Then let's do it.

Marie- Go check the sauce!

Hey Marie you really need to get a life you have posted two comments and no one has even responded to them !

The truth is Diforti could have still been a snitch ! It doesnt really matter considering the guy is fertilizer !

"He helped kill my grandfather and my grandfather was just an innocent bystander. So you wanna get in deep about it? Then let's do it."


Wah wah wah. Quit your crying. You act like you're the only person allowed to grieve.

I doubt your granfather was as innocent as you think.

James Diforti is a snitch. A big-time rat, someone who would do anything to save his skin.

But in actuality, what he really needed was a different haircut.

Wow you guys on here are really mean.
SAUCE IS READY!

That's a sad thing about your grandfather.

"Wah wah wah. Quit your crying. You act like you're the only person allowed to grieve.

I doubt your granfather was as innocent as you think."


Who the hell do you think you are? I know what I know. I have talked to the FBI agent who investigated specifially his murder... he was innocent.

And Frank Sr even said on recorded tape that my grandfather was innocent and a nice guy. So bite me. If you can prove otherwise then I will kiss the ground you walk on.

"And Frank Sr even said on recorded tape that my grandfather was innocent and a nice guy'

So you're using Frank Sr as a source for what a stand up guy your grandfather was. I'd write more, but right now I can't stop laughing.

Hey Heidi, how come you've stopped wailing about your grandfather?

First of all my name is not Heidi, if you think you know who I am check your f-ing facts.

Secondly bite me. I got what I needed.

Sr was convicted of my grandfather's murder and Nick is going to be behind bars forever because of all of his confessions.

He helped solve over 40 murders, they only brought up 18 in court because the others were people who were no longer alive that would be charged.

So I got everything I needed. And if it goes back to court then I'll start "whining" again.

"...my name is not Heidi"

Heidi was a little girl played by Shirley Temple in the movie of the same name. Throughout the movie she was heard crying "granfather, grandfather", just as you whined throughout this and many other threads.

"Secondly bite me",
"So you wanna get in deep about it? Then let's do it."
"...bite me"
"and who the hell r u Marie D????"

These are a few of the comments you posted to people who didn't share your point of view. Could your anger managemnt problems be genetic? Maybe you inherited some of your grandfather's violent tendencies (hence he was not as innocent as he's been protrayed).

"And Frank Sr even said on recorded tape that my grandfather was innocent and a nice guy. So bite me"

You really want to get bit, don't you?

What I find amazing about you, Heidi, is you felt that all the defendants being found guilty somehow vindiacted the death of your grandfather ( Iknow for a fact Doyle wasn't implicated in any of the deaths, let alone your grandfather's), yet you use Frank Sr's (the defendant found responsible for the most murders) conversation as proof of your grandfather's innocence. Look up irony in the dictionary.

"And if it goes back to court then I'll start "whining" again"

Well, Heidi get ready to start whining. Although I don't think the protector of your grandfather's good name (that would be Frank Sr according to you) will get a new trial, I'll be willing to bet that before all is said and done you're going to see at least 2 and as many as 4 new trials.

I know who Heidi Is jackass.

I say bite me alot because if I say anything else Steve won't put it up. If you think you know who I am and who my Grandfather is, and you have so much information on him then give it to me.

Tell me what it is that you know, that I don't. What did my Grandfather do that made him deserve to be killed?

Also, I don't think that because they were all found guilty it vindicates it.

DiForti is dead, Nick is going to spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars, and Sr is too.

Those are the only a**holes I care about.

They are the ones who killed him. So yes I feel vindicated. The other low life losers including Doyle all deserve to rot in hell too. But I don't loose any sleep over them.

And last, I don't have anger management issues, I have issues with people who think they know everything.

So as far as I'm concerned until you show me proof that my Grandfather deserved what he got, I have anger issues with you.

I know what irony is too,I went to college and I have a degree in Criminal Justice, your just a lowly ex-cop who probably didn't go to college and get an education because it wasn't required back then.

And it will be ironic if you can actually come up with something against my grandpa.

If you don't wanna hear me whine then don't read my posts.

This is interesting. Don't stop now. Keep up with the threads!

>>"This is interesting. Don't stop now. Keep up with the threads!"
Well Bobby, I hope I can keep you entertained. Back to Heidi.

>>"I know who Heidi Is jackass (sic)."
Then why did you assume I thought that was your name? ("First of all my name is not Heidi, if you think you know who I am check your f-ing facts.")

>>"Also, I don't think that because they were all found guilty it vindicates it."
"They are the ones who killed him. So yes I feel vindicated"
Which is it?

>>"And last, I don't have anger management issues"
Of course this wasn't "last", you went on babbling like a brook. But in response to your denial, through out this blog you have lashed out at anyone who didn't share your convoluted thought process so many times that a blind man could see you have serious issues and need help. Admitting you have a problem would be the first step in curing it.

>>"I know what irony is too,I went to college and I have a degree in Criminal Justice, your just a lowly ex-cop who probably didn't go to college and get an education because it wasn't required back then."
Apparently spelling and grammer weren't required courses. And you're also wrong about what was required "back then". As a matter of fact, your tax dollars probably help pay for my college education.

>>"And it will be ironic if you can actually come up with something against my grandpa."
Do you really think it would be humorously sarcastic to read something "against" the grandfather you admit to never having met? I think it's better that you wallow in your naiveness. After all you have Frank Calabrese Sr's word on how great your grandfather was.

>>"If you don't wanna hear me whine then don't read my posts."
I'll probably quit reading your posts when the WGA strike ends. Until then, they're funnier than anything on television.

Well you haven't read all of my posts then. I have admitted to only knowing my Grandfather for the first 11 months of my life. I was to turn 1 yr old in Aug when he was killed in July.


>>"Also, I don't think that because they were all found guilty it vindicates it."
"They are the ones who killed him. So yes I feel vindicated"
Which is it?

If you could comprehend you would have understood that I was saying that because all of them were found guilty it does not matter to me.

The only ones I care about are the 3 who actually took part in the murder.

So if Lombardo, and Marcello, and Doyle, and Schiro all walked out of jail tomorrow I would not think twice.

Although I do believe that they all deserve to rot in hell. But I did not loose any sleep over the question if they would be found guilty.

I still have not heard any evidence against my grnadfather as to if he deserved to be killed in cold blood.

On the street in the wee hours of the morning, and if my dad deserved to hear it over the radio instead of by a cop actually coming to the door to tell him like they are supposed to, before it is annouced all over tv and radio.

Cops were corrupt back then and they still are now, you probably were or are, and that is why you think you know every damn thing.

You think you have all the answers then f-ing give me some a**hole, or just stop talking. Its starting to sound like word vomit, it just keeps coming.

I guess the word vomit stopped, huh Ex-Cop?

Marie D-------
I knew your father well, we were friends since we were kids. Whatever he did wrong or right was his business,but he was NO beefer,he was stand up and would have gone out that way.

We took our first pinch together .Fourteen years old. Your Grandfather and Grandmother were o.k too.

Your dad and I hung out together before they moved to Cicero. I also met your aunt in Darien at a place called Retso's. They can say what they want,they are all( want to be's )but your Father was STAND UP

Hey Steve-
Whats going on with the Family Secrets? Is there anything happening right now? Wasn't there supposed to be a hearing on the supposed statement Calabreese mouthed at the trial? And have we heard anything about sentencing?


STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: There's been no sentencing dates set yet for any of the defendants in the trial. Expect to see them sentenced in the summer.

Michael Marcello is to be sentenced next month.

The judge hasn't made any rulings yet on the issues brought up by the outburst from Calabrese Sr.

Thank you for your answer. Now I want to know have they sentenced anyone else who pled out? Or anyone who testified like Nick yet? Also has there been anything said about Schweiss and his trial yet?

STEVE WARMBIR REPLIES: No one has been sentenced yet, either those who went to trial or those who plead out. Nor has Nick Calabrese been sentenced.

There's been no date set as to Schweihs' trial yet.

Marie,
I knew your brother for many years,I was with him when he was driving the 56 ford convertible when we were kids. I knew you Gram and Grandfather too.

Like i said before I knew your brother well.

Keep your peace of mind and all the feelings you have for him because he was a stand up guy.

Business was business and nobody did anything outside of business.

I also knew your sister-n law and I know Jimmy loved her,and you too.you don't remember but I met you years ago in Darien at a place called at that retsose.

I was out of town when Jimmy passed so could not be there. But remember always, he was NO snitch .And whoever is crying about their loss just doesn't know the truth

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Warmbir published on October 8, 2007 10:24 AM.

A Son's Eulogy for His Father was the previous entry in this blog.

Doyle stays behind bars is the next entry in this blog.

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