June 22, 2007
How do 18 Chicago Outfit murders remain unsolved for decades?
It might help to have the cops on your side.This came out in the opening statement by Assistant U.S. Atty. John Scully in the historic Family Secrets trial, when Scully pointed at one of the accused, a fellow with the intriguing nickname of "Twan."
He's called Twan in the 11th Ward, in Bridgeport and Chinatown, where not only the wiseguys are nervous about this trial, but presumably some 11th Ward politicians, too, about information gushing from the mouths of Outfit informants.
Twan is a tough-looking fellow, with a muscly forehead and plates for eyebrows, a Chinatown Sammy Sosa in a nice suit, and the only one of five defendants not accused of being involved in the 18 murders.
The name Twan remains a mystery. If any of you know his longtime friend, Bridgeport's former labor boss, Frank "Toots" Caruso, and you ask Toots and he tells you, please call me. On a pay phone.
Scully's suggestion about how things work isn't in the name Twan, but in another, official name used by Twan:
Chicago Police Officer Anthony Doyle.
According to Scully, Doyle was with the Outfit and a loan shark, but Doyle also worked in the evidence section of the Chicago Police Department for a time. If Scully's allegations are correct -- and Scully was correct a few years ago when he put former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt behind bars for running the Outfit's jewelry-heist crew -- the Outfit's reach into local law enforcement will be demonstrated once again.
Good cops who make small mistakes are often publicly humiliated, trotted out and yelled at by politicians who wag their fingers for TV cameras. Their families are ruined. But law-and-order politicians somehow always forget to wag their fingers at cops like Hanhardt or Twan.
If you're a loyal reader, you might remember that I wrote about Outfit tough guy John Fecarotta years ago, after reporting that Chinatown crew member Nicholas Calabrese had sought refuge in the federal witness protection program, which started Family Secrets. Fecarotta was implicated in many of the 18 murders by Scully on Thursday, including the 1986 beating deaths of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro. It was Fecarotta's job to bury them. He blew it by inserting them in a shallow grave in an Indiana cornfield.
After the Spilotros' bodies were found, Fecarotta was invited to go on another crime, on Belmont Avenue. But he didn't know he was the intended target until Nick Calabrese pointed a gun at his face.
There was a struggle, Nick was shot, and though Fecarotta ended up dead, a bloody glove was found, dripping with Nick's DNA. The glove ended up in the police evidence section where Doyle worked.
When the FBI began asking about the glove, Scully said Doyle became quite interested in this development, figuring that his Outfit superiors would be equally interested, if not more so. Scully alleged that Doyle told Nick Calabrese's brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., about the glove that could put the Calabrese family in the Fecarotta murder.
"He betrayed his oath to the public and decided to remain loyal to Outfit interests," Scully said.
There were other highlights in court Thursday, including Frank Calabrese Sr.'s lawyer, the dynamic and splendidly dressed Joseph Lopez, the only lawyer in town tough enough to pull off pink socks and work for mobsters while remaining a loyal reader of my column.
He described his client as a man ruined by an ungrateful son, another informant witness, Frank Calabrese Jr. Junior was a drug addict who didn't want to go into the trucking business and who cared more about a tarty wife than his own father's love, Lopez said.
He pointed to his client, who allegedly strangled several people until their eyes popped out but who was so soft and kindly-looking in court, he could have been in a TV commercial for facial tissue.
"Who is this man in the powder blue suit who could be a cheese salesman from Wisconsin?" Lopez asked the jury about Frank Calabrese Sr.
Gentle Wisconsin cheese salesman? I wonder where he read that one.
Other highlights included the lists of the Outfit soldiers allegedly in on the 18 killings. And the repeated mention of Bridgeport hit man Ronnie Jarrett, who worked for Bridgeport trucking boss/mayoral favorite Michael Tadin and was the model for the James Caan crime classic "Thief."
Jarrett was gunned down in 1999, about the time that Twan was getting worried about the glove. Jarrett's murder is not included in this case.
"Unfortunately," said Lopez, arguing that his client was not involved in other murders, "people get killed for various reasons all the time."
"The truth," Lopez said, quoting a lyrical Italian proverb, "is somewhere between the clouds."
But I think it's in the evidence room of the Chicago Police Department.
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