Juror excused from Family Secrets trial was scared of Outfit

Top Outfit bosses to remain behind bars
September 10, 2008 7:10:22 PM PDT
The Chicago Mob is an illicit business, notorious for its myths, mystery and folklore. One baffling moment in the recent history of the Outfit now has an explanation.

The incident occurred last year near the end of the Operation: Family Secrets prosecution of five members of the Outfit.

One juror, an alternate, was excused from the panel without explanation by trial Judge James Zagel.

In a ruling on defendants' post-trial motions Wednesday, Judge Zagel, for the first time, disclosed the reason for the juror's dismissal. She seemed to be frightened of the mob.

Zagel wrote that the female juror's posture and demeanor "revealed at best discomfort and perhaps anxiety or panic." When she asked the judge if any threats had been made against her during the trial, he excused her. None of the defense attorneys objected at the time.

There have been numerous cases the past 75 years in which the Outfit tried to buy justice and influence judges and juries when hoodlums were on trial. Mob bosses have also been known to silence witnesses and intimidate jurors.

For those reasons, the names of jury members impaneled in the Family Secrets case were not made public, and they were anonymous. But, considering the well-documented history of Outfit intimidation and violence against those working for justice, we now know that at least one juror seemed unwilling to take the risk.

The five members of the Chicago Outfit were all convicted last year in the government's landmark mob case and Wednesday were all denied new trials by Judge Zagel.

In a written order handed down by Zagel, the guilty verdicts for murder, conspiracy and racketeering will stand against Outfit bosses Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr, James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello and Outfit soldier Paul "the Indian" Schiro. Mob associate and former Chicago police officer Anthony "Twan" Doyle was found guilty of racketeering. His post-trial motion was also denied.

Judge Zagel said in his order that the motions were being denied "because there was ample evidence to support the jury's verdict" and that the jury was within its right to believe government recordings and witness testimony.

Specifically, Zagel noted Joe Lombardo's testimony on the witness stand worked against him and that Lombardo's advertisement in a newspaper stating he was no longer in the Outfit was "nothing more than a stunt."

The defendants argued that Judge Zagel should have granted a mistrial when he received a note during the trial from a juror saying that other members of the jury had formed opinions about the case before all the evidence had been heard. The defendants' motion stated that "some [jurors] also mentioned that they would be very upset if they had to deliberate for more than a few days while waiting on a decision that should already be made or close to being known." After receiving the note, Judge Zagel questioned each juror, dismissed two of them and says that he stands by his determination that the rest of the jury was not tainted.

Lombardo, Marcello, Schiro and Doyle also argued they were entitled to a new trial because a juror observed Calabrese threaten to kill Assistant US Attorney T. Marcus Funk, during closing arguments. Zagel stated jurors were able to differentiate between the defendants, so it would not have clouded their judgment.

Zagel acknowledged that Funk did "misstate some of the evidence in his closing argument." But the judge denied Schiro's motion for a mistrial because Funk and co-council Mitch Mars pointed out the mistake.

Zagel said he disagreed with several of the defendants' complaint that media coverage leading up to and during the trial tainted jurors and that the identities of the jurors should not have been anonymous.


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