Mob handyman Thomas Johnson on Tuesday became the first of several Operation Family Secrets defendant to be sentenced this month. Johnson, of Willow Springs, was handed a 30-month prison term and three years of supervision after pleading guilty to his role as an Outfit handyman.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel also fined Johnson $7500. He will surrender on March 3, 2009 to begin serving his sentence.
"It is undisputed that Johnson for over seven years engaged in illegal conduct for and with Outfit associate Michael Marcello and his (Michael Marcello's) brother, Outfit boss James Marcello," stated federal prosecutors in sentencing reports. "Johnson's full-time employer was Cicero-based 'M&M Amusements,' which was a large-scale illegal gambling business operating for the financial benefit of the Chicago Outfit."
In Johnson's plea agreement, he admitted rigging video poker machines so that they could be used for actual wagering. "Johnson and others did so by installing a 'knock-off' button or switch which enabled the bar owner to keep track of winning and losing plays. Johnson and his co-
conspirators then placed these illegally-altered machines at dozens of bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout Chicagoland" stated prosecutors.
Johnson's talents were not limited to tinkering on machines. He was also a skilled bookkeeper, according to federal investigators. "He created two sets of written documents during the weekly accountings held with the proprietors where the gambling machines were located. Johnson would record the true amount of income retrieved from the machines, and split this figure with the proprietors as agreed. On 'settle-up day,' Johnson also created another set of written records ("collection reports") which falsely recorded a lower amount of income generated by the machines, namely 50% of the actual income generated" authorities said.
Johnson's pleaded guilty of conducting an illegal gambling business and tax fraud. Government agents estimated that he cheated the IRS out of nearly $1.69 million.
Attorneys portrayed Johnson, 53, as little more than a mob stooge, who was a "minor participant, if not a minimal participant. In a court filing, they said Johnson's "involvement was limited to participating in a non-violent illegal gambling operation. Furthermore, within the gambling operation, Mr. Johnson was a low level employee. Mr. Johnson regularly visited business owners participating in the gambling operation to collect proceeds and collection reports from the machines. In return, Mr. Johnson was paid $2,400.00 per month."
The Family Secrets defendants who were convicted at trial will be up for sentencing next week, including former Chicago Police Department officer Anthony Doyle and Paul "The Indian" Schiro, both on Dec. 10
The namesake of the USA vs. Frank Calabrese case as it is officially known, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese, will be sentenced on Dec. 11 in the Dirksen Building courthouse.
He will be followed by Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo on Dec. 15 and James "Little Jimmy" Marcello on Dec. 17.
The key witness in the landmark case, one-time Outfit assassin Nick Calabrese, will be sentenced on Jan. 26, 2009. Nick Calabrese, who has admitted his role in more than a dozen gangland hits, turned government witness and fingered his brother Frank in the mob plots.