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

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What Do You Think?

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The jury in the Family Secrets case took a week off from deliberations.

They will return on Thursday.

No official reason why, but their return coincides with the judge's return from vacation.

But any federal judge could have taken their findings on the 18 murders.

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Daniel Seifert

Federal prosecutor Mitchell Mars, in a searing final argument for the government, laid out the evidence against Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo in the most comprehensive fashion to date concering his alleged role in the 1974 murder of Bensenville businessman Daniel Seifert.

Seifert was shotgunned just yards from his wife and 4-year-old son at his fiberglass factory in Bensenville.

Here's the government's evidence:

Lombardo had the best motive to kill Seifert. Former federal prosecutor Matt Lydon testified at trial that Seifert was the only witness to link Lombardo to a 1974 Teamster pension fund fraud case. When Seifert died, so did the case against Lombardo. Mars argued that if Lombardo had been convicted in the 1974 case, his access to the millions of dollars in Teamster pension fund money would have been gone too.

"He loses his grip on the golden goose," Mars told jurors.

Emma Seifert, Daniel's widow, testified that Lombardo was at Seifert's business the week before Seifert was slain, casing out the place.

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Irwin Weiner

The laywers for Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo have suggested someone else who should be the chief suspect in the 1974 slaying of federal witness Daniel Seifert.

The late bail bondsmen and businessman Irwin Weiner.

Lombardo is accused of killing Seifert because Seifert was scheduled to be a witness against Lombardo in a federal criminal case involving embezzlement of a Teamster pension fund.

But Lombardo wasn't only one charged in the criminal case from the 1970s. So was Weiner.

The missing voice

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Kurt Calabrese

In the Family Secrets trial, we've heard from the patriarch of the family, Frank Calabrese Sr.

Accused of 13 murders, Calabrese Sr. has told jurors from the stand how he's the real victim in the case.

Calabrese Sr. described how his brother, Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, stole the affection and loyalty of two of Calabrese Sr.'s sons, Frank Jr. and Kurt.

The betrayals came even after Calabrese Sr. plead guilty in a 1995 loansharking case to get better deals for his two sons, who were also charged, according to Calabrese Sr.'s testimony.

Frank Calabrese Sr. has developed an interesting strategy as he testifies as to the true meaning of what he told his son during recorded conversations the two had in prison in 1999.

The conversations pose a particular challenge to Calabrese Sr. because they are his own words apparently describing in great detail mob murders he allegedly committed.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, Joseph R. Lopez, goes through each conversation and asks him about particular passages.

Calabrese Sr. pauses then give his interpretation of it.

The conversations date to 1999, and Calabrese, at 70, does have to think back on them.

Calabrese Sr., though, has had months to prepare for trial and consider what he said back then.

His strategy gives his testimony a making-it-up-as-he-goes-along feel.

Reputed Outfit killer and crew boss Frank Calabrese Sr. was always talented at mob sitdowns.

Or as his attorney, Joseph R. Lopez, prefers to call them: alternative dispute resolutions.

In a sitdown, when two crews butted heads and couldn't agree on something, they would both have their say and abide by the decision of a mob boss.

Calabrese Sr., at first, treated his testimony a bit like a sitdown, hoping to tell his story the way he wants.

He didn't take into account U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

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A young Frank Calabrese Sr.
Federal prosecutors want to stop Frank Calabrese Sr. from testifying on two key points for his defense.

In a court motion filed Sunday, the Family Secrets prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge James Zagel to prevent Calabrese Sr. from testifying that his sons stole his classic cars or valuables from his vacation home in Williams Bay, Wisc.

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Frank Calabrese Sr., in happier times

In this trial, Frank Calabrese Sr. is in a jam.

He's had his hitman younger brother, Nick, testify about the murders they went out on together.

And he's had his eldest son, Frank Jr., secretly tape record him talking, in great detail, about some of those very same murders.

So what's his defense?

C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y.

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Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo

You heard it here first at the Outfit on Trial blog.

Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo is going to testify in his own defense in the Family Secrets trial.

Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin, made it official late Wednesday afternoon.

Is it a bold gamble or a foolhardy ploy?

The prosecution could rest as early as Tuesday — much earlier than originally expected.

So what does this mean for their case and the defendants?

Oops

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Even a crack team of federal prosecutors can make a mistake.

Take one photo that they showed jurors in opening statements in the Family Secrets case.

The prosecution said it was a photo of Nicholas D'Andrea, one of 18 mob hit victims.

It looks like they got the wrong guy.

The prosecution's star witness, mob hitman Nicholas Calabrese, took a verbal beating over two days from defense attorneys.

But prosecutor Mitch Mars didn't appear too worried.

He limited his re-direct to only a few minutes of questioning.

One key prosecution point:

Nicholas Calabrese never heard the secret recordings his nephew, Frank Jr., made of his father, Frank Calabrese Sr., while the two men were both in prison in 1999.

Here's why that's important.

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