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

March 2008 Archives

A secret hearing

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Under tight security and a blanket of secrecy, the former foreman of the Family Secrets jury took the witness stand Thursday to testify how he heard a mob killer allegedly utter a threat under his breath to a federal prosecutor during the prosecutor’s closing argument.

The alleged threat is at the center of an effort by defense attorneys to get new trials for the five defendants convicted in the biggest Outfit case in recent memory.

The lawyers contend up to four jurors heard the threat, and it biased their deliberations. Prosecutors contend the verdicts should stand.

The jury foreman testified in a courtroom that had been cleared of anyone not directly involved in the case. The courtroom doors were locked. Court officials taped manila envelopes over two courtroom windows and even the crack between the two courtroom doors, so no one could peer in, in an apparent attempt at increasing security.

Michael Marcello wasn't just a messenger boy for his half-brother, mob boss James Marcello, a federal prosecutor argued Tuesday.

But Michael "Mickey" Marcello did run his share of errands.

Like going to pay off the family of mob killer Nick Calabrese to buy his silence. Unfortunately for James Marcello, Calabrese flipped to help the feds.

Or providing payments to his brother's mistress.

But Michael Marcello had more important duties as well.

Frank Calabrese Sr.

Defense attorneys for Michael Marcello introduced an innovative way to praise their client during his sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

At least he's not mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr.

Attorney Catharine O'Daniel noted that Calabrese Sr., convicted in the Family Secrets trial, tried to bring his two sons into Outfit business.

Michael Marcello wanted his son as far away as possible from that life, O'Daniel argued.

Marcello's son, Sam, made a heartfelt plea for father before U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

When Michael “Mickey” Marcello visited his half-brother, Chicago mob boss James Marcello, in prison in 2003, the men talked about the possibility that Michael Marcello would get locked up too.
Michael Marcello told his brother he wasn’t worried.

“What are they going to do, give me two f------ years?” he asked, in a secret recording the FBI made of the visit.

Michael Marcello was off — by more than 6 years, he learned Tuesday.

Michael "Mickey" Marcello, the half-brother of mob boss James Marcello, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison Tuesday afternoon.

More details to come.

John Ambrose
John Ambrose

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose has lost his bid to get his admissions to investigators kept out of his upcoming trial on charges he leaked secrets about a star federal witness to the Chicago Outfit.

Ambrose was arguing that any statements he made during a September 2006 interview with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant were coerced and shouldn't be used against him.

Ambrose is accused of leaking details of the witness statement of a man he was supposed to be guarding as part of the witness protection program - mob killer Nicholas Calabrese. Calabrese was the star witness in the Family Secrets trial last year.

U.S. District Judge John Grady found that Ambrose's attorney, Francis Lipuma, raised several good points but rule that prosecutors Markus Funk and Diane MacArthur offered rational explanations for each of Ambrose's complaints.

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose is in federal court, fighting for his freedom as his attorney tries to convince a judge to throw out incriminating statements Ambrose allegedly made to federal investigators as they told him they had him dead to rights leaking secrets about a star mob witness.

The hearing is in its third day and continues Thursday. (There is no hearing scheduled for Wednesday.)

Plenty of newsworthy nuggets have emerged over the course of the court hearing.

Ambrose, for instance, wore a wire against the man he thought of as a father, according to the hearing.

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