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October 2010 Archives

A federal judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that a secretly recorded conversation between reputed Cicero mob boss Michael Sarno and Outlaw motorcycle member Mark Polchan allegedly involving loansharking can be used as evidence in the upcoming trial of the two men.

U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman decided to allow in the April 6, 2007, conversation between the men, over the objections of defense attorneys.

Guzman decided that the prosecution's theory that the chatter is about juice loans is certainly reasonable, though the defense can argue otherwise.

At one point Sarno appears to talk about setting loan terms.

Sarno trial delayed

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After federal prosecutors said they had just discovered a critical, new witness, a federal judge on Wednesday delayed the trial of reputed Cicero mob boss Michael "Big Guy" Sarno until Nov. 9.

The trial had been scheduled to start next week, but prosecutors said they have recently found a jewelry store clerk who has identified one of the men charged in the case, Outlaw motorcycle gang member Mark Polchan, as one of the robbers of the store in 2001 in Novi, Mich.

Prosecutors said one witness to the robbery couldn't identify Polchan from a photo lineup, but another one did.

Polchan's attorney asked for more time to deal with the new information.

"It's basically a last-minute time bomb we've been given a week before trial," defense attorney Damon Charonis said.

Prosecutors disagreed on the characterization but agreed to the three-week delay in the trial rather than begin next week without being able to use the new evidence.

The evidence could be a significant break for prosecutors, since some of their other witnesses against Polchan are believed to be people with criminal pasts as opposed to a victim without a criminal history or the need to cut a deal with prosecutors.

Defense attorneys for Polchan need the time to have their investigator interview the new witness, contact a potential witness who can testify on the reliability of eyewitness identification from nearly a decade ago and determine if Polchan has an alibi for the time in question.

The federal trial for reputed Cicero mob street boss Michael "Big Guy" Sarno, Outlaw treasurer Mark Polchan, alleged video poker king Casey Szaflarski and two other men is scheduled to start this coming Monday, Oct. 18, with jury selection.

The trial is expected to last three to four weeks in courtroom 1219 of U.S. District Court Judge Ronald A. Guzman. Prosecutors have said they will call between 80 to 100 witnesses in their case.

Watch for defense attorneys in the case to try to shred the credibility of some of the government's key witnesses, given their criminal backgrounds.

For those unfamiliar with the case, federal prosecutors have charged that Polchan, who ran Goldberg Jewelers in Cicero, oversaw a crew of burglars who hit jewelry stores and homes, and then kicked back some of the proceeds from those robberies to mob boss, Sarno. Sarno oversaw video poker in the area and allegedly ordered the bombing of a Berwyn business that was competing with the mob-sanctioned video poker company run by Szaflarski.

It promises to be a fascinating trial, and the Outfit on Trial blog will provide routine updates throughout the proceedings.

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