'Joey the Clown' responsible for thousands of mob crimes

Feds admit Lombardo got away with murder, now should get life term
March 11, 2009 10:25:51 AM PDT
As if there were really any doubts, federal prosecutors in Chicago on Monday will unmask Joey Lombardo's wisecracking ways as all just part of a well-rehearsed act. Behind the cutaway newspapers over his face, away from courthouse pratfalls and one-liners they will say, existed a ruthless, controlling Outfit killer and racketeer: a wise-guy in a very unfunny, brutal sense.

When Lombardo, 80, is sentenced on Monday afternoon, assistant U.S. Attorney Marcus Funk is expected to describe him as having "direct-as well as command-responsibility for literally thousands of Outfit-related criminal acts."

That is how the government characterized Lombardo in a court filing late Friday that explains why prosecutors will ask Judge James Zagel to sentence the octogenarian to a life sentence. (To view the government filing on Lombardo, click here.)

With that, the longest running clown act in Chicago mobdom should be in the center ring for the last time on Monday.

The court papers reveal publicly that "Lombardo's real name is actually 'Giuseppi Lombardi'." His family was from Bari, Italy.

If Joseph Lombardo was the Americanized-version of the hoodlum's birth name, he also had many other aliases. "Joey the Clown" was the most notorious nickname, although his associates never dared to call Lombardo that to his face.

In mob circles Lombardo preferred to be called "Lumpy," in respect for his head-beating skills that would leave large cranial lumps. He is also listed in federal law enforcement records as "Joe Padulla" and "Joe Cuneo."

A lifetime resident of Chicago's Italian neighborhood along W. Grand Ave., Lombardo is a career gangster. The Outfit crime that should keep him behind bars until his last breath occurred nearly 35 years ago.

"Lombardo has been found by a jury of his peers to have committed the brutal September 27, 1974, execution-style murder of Daniel Seifert while Mr. Seifert's wife was present, holding her 4-year-old son Joe (named after Lombardo) in her arms," write prosecutors in Friday's federal court filing.

"One can only speculate as to how much damage to society could have been prevented had Lombardo in the 1970's been convicted of that brutal murder and sentenced to imprisonment for life. Lombardo's case is in a sense an aggravated one, however; for over three decades Lombardo enjoyed the primary benefit of 'getting away with' this murder, namely, freedom. This fact, combined with Lombardo's leadership role in the Outfit and his obvious contempt for the truth as put on display during his testimony, confirm the justness of a life sentence.

Lombardo's attorney Rick Halprin contends that the mobster wasn't even at the crime scene. Halprin says Lombardo was at a Chicago police station to report his wallet had been stolen.

During the Family Secrets mob trial, Lombardo testified that he had left the Outfit years ago?part of a so-called "withdrawal defense."

Prosecutors disagree and say that Lombardo should be sentenced for decades of mischief. "There is no evidence that Lombardo ever withdrew from the conspiracy he joined in the 1970's, and that did not end until 2007" states Funk.