US marshal trial goes to jury

April 23, 2009 4:35:46 PM PDT
A federal judge took the stand Thursday in the trial of Deputy US Marshal John Ambrose. The testimony of this surprise witness is the final twist in the case that went to the jury late Thursday afternoon. Ambrose is accused of leaking information about a federal witness to members of the Chicago mob. Judge Charles Kocoras was called to testify about the character of the defendant, John Ambrose.

Ambrose said this is a case where the government has a gaping hole in its charges against him.

The deputy US marshal had his last shot at convincing the jury that while he "screwed up" -- to use his words -- he did nothing criminal. And, in an unusual move, the federal judge was called as a witness by Ambrose. Kocoras is a well known, longtime federal judge, indeed the chief judge from 2002-2006.

Kocoras, who did not choose to testify but was subpoenaed, said that Ambrose used to work as a deputy marshal in his courtroom and handled grand jury matters. When Ambrose moved to the well-publicized fugitive division, Kocoras said the two worked together again and that Ambrose was good at his job and seemed to be truthful.

But in closing arguments, the government ripped into Ambrose's use of such character witnesses. Assistant US Attorney Diane MacArthur told the jury that Ambrose witnesses may have worked with him but didn't really know him.

In a scathing conclusion, prosecutor Markus Funk said that Ambrose's three confessions are proof enough he is guilty of leaking information about mob witness Nick Calabrese, whose testimony was instrumental in the Family Secrets outfit murders case. Instead of protecting Calabrese as assigned, prosecutors say Ambrose admitted leaking to mob bosses secret information about is cooperation, admitted leaking classified information about crime syndicate boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo, and admitted leaking police details of the Spilotro brothers murders.

Ambrose's lawyer Frank Lipuma told the jury that Ambrose may have violated policies but committed no crimes, that the government was out to get him, and that Ambrose was confused and stressed out when he confessed.

It was famous US attorney Pat Fitzgerald and FBI Chicago boss Robert Grant who personally questioned Ambrose about the leak, a tag team that Ambrose's lawyer Thursday criticized, saying the region's top two lawmen gave inconsistent stories.

Among the prosecution's final words to the jury, "John Ambrose is guilty many times over." That decision is now in the hands of the jury. Assuming they don't reach a decision Thursday night, they will return at 9:30 Friday morning to deliberate for the day.


Load Comments