Mobster's stay in California prison doesn't last long

February 9, 2012 4:24:52 PM PST
One week ago the I-Team reported that convicted mob boss James Marcello was being transferred from Chicago to a prison in California. Marcello's attorney suggested the move was a government dirty trick. In this Intelligence Report: The mobster's California visit will be a short one.

In the mob, when somebody says "let's take a ride," it is usually a one-way trip that doesn't end well. In the case of Jimmy Marcello it was the Bureau of Prisons that unexpectedly gave him a ride to California last week. But, Thursday, a livid federal Judge James Zagel is giving Marcello a return ticket home.

And the judge is furious at those who violated his long-standing order to keep Marcello in Chicago.

Federal prosecutors say Jimmy "The Man" Marcello's transfer was the result of a "miscommunication." He had been at the Metro Correctional Center in Chicago helping to prepare his appeal, when last week, guards notified Marcello that he was going to be transferred.

The U.S. Marshals Service that runs JPATS, the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transport System, came and got Marcello for the move across the country.

By the end of last week, the 68-year-old outfit boss was tucked away in his cell at the Atwater penitentiary east of San Francisco.

Thursday in court, with Marcello's attorney Mark Martin crying foul, Judge Zagel told Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bachu, "This is something that should not have been done. I don't know how you are going to get him back here, but you're going to get him back here."

Marcello will get back to Chicago the same way he got out there, and the marshal service says the process has already begun via the JPATS system that shuttles 1,400 prisoners a day throughout the U.S. They use a fleet of government and charter aircraft, buses, vans and cars, and service 70 metro areas in the U.S. It is a high-intensity, high-security transport service, where they like to remind passengers there are no peanuts or cocktails served.

It is unclear whether this mode of transport will allow Marcello to be back in Chicago on Monday for a court hearing as Judge Zagel would like. There is only one JPATS flight in and out of Chicago each week and authorities decline to reveal the schedule.

The prisoner transport program, made famous by Hollywood in the movie Con Air, costs more than $150 million a year for the U.S. government to operate.

Marcello's mistaken, unnecessary trip to California and back cost taxpayers about $4,000.

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