The Clown Suit: Joey Lombardo's last words

They are the defiant, last words of notorious Chicago mob boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo who died on Saturday while in prison.

"I am Positively Not Guilty of all charges in the lndictment. I rest my case Judge (sic)."

That is the conclusion of Lombardo's rambling letters this summer sent to U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey and obtained by the I-Team. Lombardo sent the letters in connection with his 2015 civil suit aimed at vacating his life sentence from the Family Secrets mob murder case. In short, Lombardo wanted out of prison up to the very end.

The mostly handwritten letters are part legal argument, part revisionist history and part play on the heartstrings; i.e. tears of the Clown who was best known for his wisecracks, quips and courthouse antics.

"I am 90 years old, on 12 pills a day, had 32 radiation on my throat cancer, had 4 stents in my arterys at 4 different times, had golbladder removed, had 4 polips cut, all my teeth are gone, I've waited 6 months for dentures they tell me I have to wait my turn...(sic)." wrote Lombardo in a letter postmarked June 26. "Had my daughter die at June 30, 2015 she was 57 years old died from pancreatic cancer...(sic)."

The nonagenarian was doing time at the fed's so-called "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado-and had no chance of release-unless he were to win a super-longshot legal case challenging his life sentence.

In the first letter, addressed to the clerk of the court, Lombardo wrote: "I hope and pray that you and Judge Blakey correct the unjust guilty verdict by the jury."

Lombardo cites "positive proof of my innocents (sic) of a conspiracy enterprise and the murder of Dan Seifert. We were friends until he was killed."

There was nothing friendly about what happened to Seifert, according to federal investigators. The suburban businessman was ambushed and murdered 45 years ago outside his Bensenville plastics factory, as his wife and their four year old son watched. Authorities said Lombardo killed Seifert to prevent him from testifying a few weeks later. Seifert was to be the government's star witness in a Teamster pension fund embezzlement case against Lombardo. Instead, he was cut down first with a .38 revolver and then finished off with a shotgun blast to the head.

Seifert's murder was one of 18 unsolved killings that occurred during decades of mob hits, that federal agents and prosecutors cleared during Operation: Family Secrets, a landmark Outfit trial that began in 2007.

Mob boss Lombardo argued that he had nothing to do with the hit on Seifert and claimed he wasn't one of the two ski-masked assassins.

He also claimed, once in a newspaper classified ad, that he had nothing to do with the Chicago mob. Federal agents didn't believe him, and said that he was at the top of the Outfit's hierarchy for years-especially as his contemporaries died or were themselves imprisoned.

Gangland-Chicago has produced a roster of clever and usually fitting nicknames given to organized crime figures. The characters include:

John "No Nose" DiFronzo (whose schnozzle was partially sliced off while jumping through a Michigan Ave. plate glass window during a retail theft) to Victor "Popeye" Arrigo (who would remove his glass eye, place it on a stack of cash piled on the bar and announce he was "keeping my eye on my money.")

But in the annals of Outfit history, perhaps only Al "Scarface" Capone had a more memorable nickname than Joey "The Clown."

He made his mark, and lived up to the nickname, even in mugshots. An early police picture of the hoodlum has him with his mouth open, head cocked and looking skyward-appearing like a rabid dog.

Most of his comedic antics occurred while coming and going from federal court. Lombardo's most legendary (and frequently displayed) stunt was to take the day's newspaper-usually the tabloid sized Sun-Times-and place it over his face as a makeshift "disguise" complete with eye cutouts. Sometimes he would also cut a small mouth hole near his mouth to make room for a typically-present cigarette.

A Lombardo family member on Monday told the ABC7 I-Team that there were no funeral arrangements to announce but that "he probably won't be laid out."
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