THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Friday, April 30, 2010

My Heart Bleeds for These Folks...Sure it Does

Sheesh! First this ex-mobster rats out his colleagues, gets into the Federal Witness Protection Program, leaves it, and now he's stuck living off a paltry $30 grand a year. Oh the injustice! Does your heart bleed for this guy? Neither does mine.

This story appeared in the New York Times May 2, 2010:

After the Mob, He’s Just Scraping By



Josh Ritchie for The New York Times

HIDING “There’s not a lot of ads out there saying, ‘Wanted: Ex-crime boss of a Mafia family. Ten years experience required,’ ” Mrs. DeFede said.

A SATURDAY, 11 a.m. Seniors’ hour at the diner.

An old man with a hearing aid butters his toast. Two Jamaican nurses help a woman with a walker through the door. An elderly mother and her daughter share a stack of pancakes, the mother guiding her fork past the oxygen tube in her nose.

Sitting in one booth with his wife, the former acting boss of the Luchese crime family tucks into his $4 plate of scrambled eggs. He wears a pink Hawaiian shirt, a gold medallion, a brand-new pair of therapeutic sneakers. He is talking about the old days: everything he had, everything he lost.

“How much money?” he asks, responding to the question with a question.

“Awww, tons of money,” he answers. “It’s hard to say how much.”

This is Joe DeFede, a retired New York gangster who oversaw the rackets in the city’s garment district in the 1990s, a perch that provided him with a Cadillac, a driver, three horses stabled at Aqueduct and a home entertainment system columned in the style of ancient Greece. Like many mobsters, he walked through life with dignity and pride and, usually, with several thousand dollars in his pocket.

These days, though, he walks with a faltering step of age and with the weight of financial worry. After a five-year prison stint, legal fees and the crushing costs of creating a new identity — he entered but then left the witness protection program — the boss is almost broke. He and his second wife, Nancy, live on an annual income they said was not much more than $30,000: Social Security, a modest annuity and her pension from 20 years of working in a bank.

“That’s the fear we got,” said Mr. DeFede, 76, a slight man with a bookmaker’s grin who is known as Little Joe. “We try to keep our payments up” — for the car, the house, a recent hip replacement — “but sometimes we can’t hack it.”

Or as Mrs. DeFede, 74, explained, “We’re just scraping by.”

It might be hard to muster sympathy — especially in the midst of a recession — for a guy who once earned his living shaking down businesses and taking illegal bets, even if he served his sentence and testified at several federal trials that helped put his former Mafia colleagues behind bars. But there is no such thing as a Gangster I.R.A., so the DeFedes are living check to check (and under assumed names) on the hard edge of a sharp financial knife.

They are hardly the first to struggle in their golden years when the years that went before were lived outside the law. Before the film “American Gangster” revived his finances, Frank Lucas, who earned — then lost — millions as a heroin dealer, was living in a public housing project in New Jersey. (He is now trying to start his own fashion line.) Henry Hill, a Luchese family associate whose story formed the basis for the movie “Goodfellas,” sells signed posters as well as his memoirs and cookbooks at the Web site

“These people wind up as desperadoes in a sense,” said Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote, among other things, the screenplay for “Goodfellas.” “They come up with different schemes to survive without a 401(k). Don’t forget, they were hustlers to begin with.”

The DeFedes fit that mold: friendless, jobless and, faced with an uncertain future, living on their wits. Mrs. DeFede has sold jewelry — a ruby necklace, an emerald bracelet — to help support the household and has even written a book about her trials, “Life With Little Joe.”

It is a love story, sort of, opening with a startling scene of a young Mr. DeFede slapping her face. The manuscript encompasses their lives together: from obscurity to opulence, from the bulletproof vest she once found in her husband’s closet to their nervous flight into the federal government’s arms. While one might think a mob moll’s tell-all would make for an easy sale, that has not been the case. Mrs. DeFede’s agent spent an unsuccessful year shopping the book around. The couple still hopes the manuscript will provide them a nest egg. Publish or perish, Mafia style.

Last year, Mrs. DeFede took a job as a cashier at a clothing store. It paid $7.50 an hour and required cleaning toilets. She lasted three days.

As for her husband, she is apt to say, “There’s not a lot of ads out there saying, ‘Wanted: Ex-crime boss of a Mafia family. Ten years’ experience required.’ ”

Not unlike their law-abiding counterparts, they are filled with rage and bitterness — and violent apprehension — at their economic prospects. Mr. DeFede is so suffused with anxiety he sleepwalks and, in that state, literally punches the walls.

“Joe has fights in his sleep, cursing at some shadowy figure from the past,” Mrs. DeFede wrote one evening, jotting down thoughts for a reporter. “He has hit me several times during these episodes. Of course, he didn’t mean to harm me, but after one really bad incident, I was trying to calm him down and I got punched in the face.”

Mr. DeFede was nearing 70 when he got out of prison and discovered that a contract had been taken on his life. He was accused — wrongly, he insists — of stealing nearly a million dollars of Luchese family money. “If I did what they said I did,” he reasoned one night at the dismal bar of a chain restaurant, “you think that I’d be here?”

The DeFedes met in 1958 and married 12 years later, each with a divorce in the rear view. A couple of years ago, they settled here in a 55-and-older community— they insisted its name be withheld for security reasons — and have built a pleasant, albeit precarious, life.

Family is far away: Mrs. DeFede’s son is in New York, in the throes of a recent divorce. Mr. DeFede’s daughter is on Long Island, but visiting is difficult — she lives with his former wife.

They have grandchildren in San Diego but cannot afford the plane ticket. “It’s lonely living alone,” said Mrs. DeFede, a classic tough cookie with an Irish-American wit. “Holidays are the worst. You see other people with their families and it totally breaks your heart.”

A few years ago, her oldest friend from Brooklyn moved into the neighborhood to be with her. But there was drinking, petty fights and eventually unkind words; part of the problem was the friend started dating a retired cop. The two have parted ways, potentially forever. How does one explain oneself to the neighbors, after all?

“We don’t have a life,” Mrs. DeFede said.

What they do have is each other. Mrs. DeFede carries her husband’s glasses and double-checks his payments on the bar bill. Mr. DeFede cleans the gutters — he did, at least, until his hip went bad. She makes suggestions of what he ought to order from the menu. He drives her to the beauty parlor and waits until she is done. She back-seat drives from the front seat of the car.

When evening comes, they watch television together — the History Channel, “Divorce Court,” “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Mr. DeFede plays solitaire. He visits the barbershop, not to have his hair cut, but for company. “They’re Cubans, so they don’t speak too much English — it’s difficult,” he said.

One recent Saturday, they visited a flea market. Mr. DeFede pulled into a spot and hung his disabled parking permit from the mirror. He stepped outside and observed his front bumper, scratched like a scabbed shin.

“Five years old,” he said. “I never drove a car five years old before.” He put his hands together, palms up, and shook them back and forth in disbelief. “Remember that song?” he asked. “ ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’?”

Inside the bazaar, Mrs. DeFede looked at several items she could not afford. A patterned blouse. A yellow purse. Shoes.

“You see what I’ve done to her?” asked Mr. DeFede, looking on. “You see this? She could’ve had anybody. Anybody. She ended up with me.”

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 20th in Series

(photos l to r: Poodle that would have made a great mascot at the Fontainebleau's Poodle Lounge in Miami; red contacts; below: man with readers)


In Miami Beach near the Fontainebleau Hotel’s pool area, a lot of money was both won and lost playing gin rummy in the old days.

Some of the winners wore red-tinted sunglasses. Why? They were necessary to read the marked cards which had been daubed with a green or violet ink applied to the backs of the cards. Since the naked eye can’t see the marks against the card’s red background, it takes special red-tinted glasses to view the ink.

The method was improved by Chicago’s KC Card Company, a firm that catered to the needs of legitimate magicians. But unsavory characters such as card cheaters also discovered the KC Card Company. Just like the magicians, the cheaters bought the company’s red-tinted contact lenses, plus several decks of marked cards or “readers,” The combo was perfect for a friendly Saturday night poker game. There was just one hitch: anyone with brown eyes wearing the red contacts couldn’t be spotted. But the contacts made a person with blue eyes look pink. Guys with brown eyes were soon in demand.

I don’t suggest you try this in Las Vegas. The eye-in-the-sky’s color surveillance camera with its red filter could make you a guest of Clark County’s jail and enter you in the Griffin Book of Known Cheaters.

Check out my book, Thief! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist, for a hilarious true story about my run-in with readers and how I cheated a New York mobster.


Want to know more about marking cards? Check this cardshark museum site out: and also this site:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dueling Las Vegas Mob Museums

The following story is reprinted in its entirety from the New York Times:

Vegas Mob Museums, Ready to Go to the Mattresses

Harold P. Matosian/Associated Press

A mob hearing in 1950 at the downtown federal courthouse in Las Vegas. The building will house a city-sponsored museum.

Isaac Brekken for The New York Times

The old downtown federal courthouse is under renovation for the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

Isaac Brekken for The New York Times

The $42 million museum has been financed through a series of state, federal and local grants. It is set to open next March.

Dueling centers chronicling the history of the mob are planned for Las Vegas, and it seems almost certain that someone is going to get hurt. Well, feelings anyway.

“I am not the least bit worried about them,” Mayor Oscar B. Goodman said of the potential competition to the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, a city-sponsored project he has championed for years. That museum is set to open next March in the old downtown federal courthouse, the site of the 1950 mob hearings led by Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

“They are no competition because we are the real thing,” said Mr. Goodman, a former defense lawyer for reputed Mafia figures. “Forget about it.”

But the rival, which involves the daughter of the famed Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, is promising a collection of mob memorabilia in the Tropicana casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

“Our experience will be very different from theirs,” said Carolyn Farkas, the spokeswoman for the museum, the Las Vegas Mob Experience. “Theirs is more a law enforcement accounting; for us it is more a personal view.”

The idea for the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement was seeded when the city bought the 1933 federal courthouse and post office from the federal government for $1 in 2002, with the strict understanding that the building — one of the oldest in Southern Nevada — be used for cultural purposes.

For much of the middle of last century, organized crime ruled the Strip, developing and managing an array of casinos, skimming their way to success. Federal prosecutors put an end to their reign in the 1980s. The city determined its historical relationship to organized crime — and the role the courthouse played in it — made the site a perfect fit. “It came from the soil of this building,” said Nancy Deaner, the city’s cultural affairs manager.

The building is being meticulously restored, down to the original coffered ceiling and crown moldings hidden for years and the original mustard, oxblood and royal blue colors long ago washed in white.

The $42 million project has been financed through a series of state, federal and local grants, and the work has progressed a bit glacially as money has trickled in.

The project, once listed as one that could stimulate this city’s embattled economy, was attacked by Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, when city officials suggested that it might qualify for federal stimulus money.

“That got blown out of proportion with morons in Washington shooting off their mouths,” said Mr. Goodman, whose office chair resembles a throne. He said he tried his first case in the court building.

The museum will have three stories and nearly 17,000 square feet of exhibits, including an interactive courtroom in which visitors can get finger printed. It will also include the brick wall from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (it was removed brick by brick and put in storage but will be constructed, bullet marks and all, Ms. Deaner said), roughly 700 objects and extensive exhibits on law enforcement efforts against the Mafia.

The museum is dear to Mr. Goodman’s efforts to revitalize the downtown area of Las Vegas, which for years has been the dirty ashtray to the Strip’s gilded cup.

“This story is so rich, our efforts to tell it are hard to do in a museum this size,” said Dennis Barrie, the creative director of the museum, who curated the collections at the International Spy Museum in Washington and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

At the same time, Eagle Group Holdings — working with Antoinette McConnell, the 74-year-old daughter of Mr. Giancana — is looking to open the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the end of the year.

While executives from the Mob Experience declined to identify the planned site, a document provided by someone involved in the transaction who was not authorized to speak before a planned announcement of the deal next month shows an agreement with the Tropicana Las Vegas, which is undergoing a $165 million renovation.

The Mob Experience would include theme park-style exhibits, including one called “Final Fate” in which a visitor “gets made or gets whacked,” according to the description.

The Tropicana, one of the oldest properties on the Strip, had fallen on hard times over the years but was recently sold and is now co-owned and run by Alex Yemenidjian, a former chief executive of MGM Studios. Rather than demolishing the original structure, as has happened with other older hotels, the new owners are restoring it.

Mrs. McConnell, who splits her time between Las Vegas and Chicago, said in a telephone interview that such an exhibit had been “a dream of mine” for years and that it would offer “the greatest thing you have ever experienced.”

Mrs. McConnell, whose late husband was a lawyer who represented organized crime figures, added: “The Mafia is something that people can’t get enough of. For some people it is like an addiction.”

While Mrs. McConnell and Mr. Goodman could go head-to-head on hyperbolic enthusiasm for personal projects, Mr. Goodman says the sheer force of his gorgeous building, an esteemed staff and the power of his bully pulpit alone will make his museum the most talked about in town.

“My whole life has been competitive,” he said. “And I don’t lose.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Q & A with Martha Frankel

Martha Frankel—celebrity journalist, author, Woodstock Film Festival moderator, winner of a NYFFA Award in creative fiction…and former poker addict—does everything with a passion. To pigeonhole Martha as another in-your-face, heartless Paparazzi type in her role as celebrity journalist would totally miss the mark. On her website, the legendary arms of Bruce Willis, Katie Couric, Roman Polanski, Liam Neeson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Andy Garcia and Lindsey Lohan drape themselves affectionately over the shoulder of their blond interviewer. It’s clearly the genuine warmth and magic of Martha Frankel that makes even the super-wary let down their guard.

But who is this neat, funny woman? The following was taken directly from her website:

I know what you're thinking--- oh no, not her again. But yes, Martha Frankel here. Writer of books, interviewer of celebrities, recovering internet poker addict, lover of ethnic cooking, collector of beach glass.

I'm not quite as smart as you might think, but I am a lot smarter than I look. I'm a worrier and a procrastinator, a potentially lethal combo. Whatever I'm doing, I'd prefer to be doing it in my pajamas.

I dream of driving the Zamboni for the New Jersey Devils or coaching third base for the New York Yankees. I'm a part time radio host and full time bon vivant. I now know more about hair removal than most barbers.

I have zipped Jennifer Lopez into her wedding gown, gone CD shopping with Jeff Bridges, out-run the paparazzi with Sean Penn. I've traveled around the world, interviewing some of the greatest actors of our time. When I say "I have to go to work," I often mean that I have to lie on the couch and watch movies. I love my job.


Several years ago during her pinch-me-I must-be-dreaming life as a celebrity journalist, Martha spiraled downward into the black pit of online poker addiction. Sparing no details, she shared both the poignant and horrific events that led to her obsession in her autobiographical book, Hats & Eyeglasses. Those expecting a melodramatic foray into self-pity will be sorely disappointed. It’s one of the funniest, soul-baring books this interviewer has ever read.

After I reviewed Hats & Eyeglasses for The New York Post, Martha sent me an autographed canvass bag displaying her book’s cover. The bag now has that “lived-in” look and remains one of my most cherished possessions.

Martha Frankel received a phone call from Sir Anthony Hopkins two hours after receiving his Academy Award for best actor during which he said that her prediction of his winning the Oscar was right. I wondered what would cause a person to risk such an enviable life plus the love of family and friends?

I decided to find out.

Mob Speak: Let’s start right off with your autobiographical book, Hats & Eyeglasses. What possessed you to write the book Martha?

MF: I’d like to say that I wrote it because I was tired of hiding my secret, that I wanted to help others, that writing it would make me a better person. But that’s bullshit. I had been writing a story about my family and its penchant for gambling for years, but then when I became addicted to online poker I stopped writing it. I was mortified by my own behavior. It was one thing to write about them---quite another to write about me. I always thought I was above that kind of addiction. Plus, in order to write about it I’d have to shut the computer down and not play multiple hands of poker for 12 hours straight. Years after I had stopped playing online I met a new agent, and she asked me if I had any ideas for a book. I went through a bunch of things that I thought would make good stories, but none of the ideas seemed to really grab her. And then I said, “well, I played internet poker for a couple of years and lost tens of thousands of dollars, and not a soul in the world knows.” That got her attention. So I wrote a proposal, and within weeks she sold it. I really wrote the book because once they gave me the advance, there was no way I was giving it back! But the really funny thing is that it did help me when I exposed my secrets, and it helped other people, and it made me a much better person. So you never know.

Mob Speak: When you were in the throes of your poker addiction, how did you manage to meet assignment deadlines?

MF: In the beginning I played poker all day and then wrote furiously all night long to meet my deadlines. Then I started taking the people I was interviewing to the casinos with me. Then I started turning stories down. I told editors that I had to go to be with my aging mother (that made them feel really bad), or that I had this endless flu. I’m surprised that no one thought I had a coke addiction.

Mob Speak: For the record: No coke addiction. Okay…we all get the up side of being a celebrity interviewer. Is there a down side?

MF: I live in a small town near Woodstock NY. My stories are in magazines that sell in my local supermarket. Sometimes my neighbors think that my job is my life, that I am surrounded by glamorous people and that I would rather be at a big movie premiere than at a local softball game. But once they get over that, there really is no down side of being a celebrity interviewer! It’s a great job. And when I say I have to go to work, I often mean that I have to lie on the couch and watch movies. And they pay me for this. I’m still shaking my head in wonder.

Mob Speak: It took a lot of guts to come clean about your gambling problem. How difficult was it? Do you still have the urge to play online poker?

MF: Coming clean about it was hard, but nothing compared to how hard it was to stop playing online. Or how lousy my life was during that time. I can play live poker and have no problem, but as soon as I started to play online, I fell into a rabbit hole of hell. I rarely think about it any more. And when I do, I punch myself in my fucking head and go for a long long walk.

Mob Speak: Did writing your book help you in any way?

MF: Writing Hats & Eyeglasses was the most thrilling, frightening, wondrous experience. It changed me and helped me in ways I never could have predicted. When it came out and I started hearing from people who loved the book and felt like I was speaking right to them, that was so fabulous. People wrote to talk with me about gambling, which I expected. But the depth of their pain was a surprise. And people often write to talk about my mother, which is this little delight that never loses its power to thrill me.

Mob Speak: Moving on to another topic, here’s an excerpt from Martha’s new book Brazilian Sexy: Secrets to Living a Gorgeous and Confident Life:

“You know exactly who she is: the woman with the nowhere-near-perfect figure who walks into the party as if she owns it … and within seconds, she does. The rhythm-less girl next to you in dance class who is having more fun than anyone else in the room. That gal whose megawatt smile blinds you so you don’t even notice her two-inch roots. What these women have in common is that they’ve learned how to be Brazilian Sexy — which has nothing to do with a great tan or a perfect body, and everything to do with being at ease in your own skin. Here’s how to capture that spirit in a bottle:”

Sounds just like me…lol. Please tell us more about the book, Martha? For starters, where did the idea originate?

MF: That same fabulous agent, Lynn Johnston. She called one day and said, “You have to come to Manhattan and meet this amazing woman.” So I went in the next day and had lunch with Janea Padilha, who invented the Brazilian wax and is one of the co-owners of the J sisters Salon, which is world famous. Their clients are actresses, models, housewives, and regular people. People go in to the salon to get a manicure or a waxing, and they leave with Janea’s advice. She is the most self confident woman I have ever been around, and her way of being should be bottled. She has been around women her whole life, and she knows everything. Working on this book was pure joy.

Mob Speak: So what’s on the horizon for Martha? Any new projects?

MF: Oh yeah. I am writing a very dirty novel, about a middle aged couple and their wild sex life. I think it will shock some people. And another memoir, about Woodstock in the 70’s. Lots of sex, drugs, and attitude in that one too. Also working on two screenplays and a TV show idea. And trying to keep up with my own life.

Mob Speak: Sounds like a lot of projects on the table, Martha. I’ll tell you what. Let me know when the dirty novel is fait accompli and we’ll do a second interview, okay?

Congratulations on your new book, Brazilian Sexy, available at Amazon and brick-and-mortar stores, of course. Can’t wait to read it. May the gods smile on you, Martha Frankel!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hot off the Wire: Feds Arrest 14 Gambino Members

02:27 PM ET

Federal officials say there was a scheme to infiltrate the hotel where jurors stayed during the trial of mob boss John Gotti, pictured, but it was called off.

Fourteen people that authorities identified as members of the Gambino crime family were arrested following a series of raids on charges ranging from murder to child sex trafficking and jury tampering, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

The jury tampering charge stems from a scheme to infiltrate the hotel where sequestered jurors stayed during late mob boss John Gotti's 1992 murder and racketeering trial, according to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The plot was called off, federal authorities said, when Gotti became convinced - correctly so - that the jury would rule in his favor.

In the indictment, members of the crime family are charged with four murders.

Among those arrested was reputed current boss Daniel Marino. The Gambino family is one of organized crime's five leading families.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Preview: Ex-Poker Addict Interview's coming next Wed. April 21. That is, the Q & A with reformed online poker addict, multi-published author and celebrity interviewer, Martha Frankel.

Here's a glimpse from Frankel's website:

"I'm not quite as smart as you might think, but I am a lot smarter than I look. I'm a worrier and a procrastinator, a potentially lethal combo. Whatever I'm doing, I'd prefer to be doing it in my pajamas.

I dream of driving the Zamboni for the New Jersey Devils or coaching third base for the New York Yankees. I'm a part time radio host and full time bon vivant. I now know more about hair removal than most barbers.

I have zipped Jennifer Lopez into her wedding gown, gone CD shopping with Jeff Bridges, out-run the paparazzi with Sean Penn..."

Check out Martha's bio page. You may be surprised:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 19th in Series

Haunted Strip Casino

Prior to 1986, the MGM Grand stood on the spot where Bally’s Hotel and Casino now sits. The MGM was one of the world’s largest hotels with a 26-story tower before it moved to its current location on Tropicana and the Strip.

On November 21, 1980, during the early hours of the graveyard shift, 84 people lost their lives and 650 were injured in a terrible fire. Many of those who died were trapped on the upper floors. The fire was said to have started in the kitchen. The loss of life was so great that it caused Las Vegas to change its fire code. One man told me that his friend went back inside to collect his casino chips and was later found burned to death. An astounding $223 million was paid out to settle law suits.

Just 90 days after the MGM fire, another fire broke out at the Las Vegas Hilton where eight people died. The loss of life might have been greater had it not been for the new safety guidelines after the MGM fire. Today, because of those two fires, Las Vegas has the strictest fire code in the world.

By the way…ever since the MGM fire, guests and employees have witnessed visions in the form of people appearing and disappearing in some of the rooms and hallways.

Check here for more info on this historic fire:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 18th in Series

Photo: L. to R. Kirk Kerkorian & Steve Wynn

Corporate Greed

Why does everyone I know wish they could go back to the way Vegas once was? I think it has a lot to do with the current corporate greed that not only hurts Las Vegas, but the country as a whole.

I became friends with Frank Modica, owner of the Landmark Casino, when he hired me to manage his poker room. He told me something I’ll never forget. A shift manager came to him and showed him how the casino could hold a higher percentage on blackjack. Mr. Modica said, “Why would I want to do that? It would bust out players and they wouldn’t want to come back.” He went on to own the Showboat Casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Not bad for a guy who started out as a casino dealer.

Sure the mob was greedy with money they skimmed from Las Vegas casinos, but visitors to Sin City got a lot for their money. Even without the huge amount of comps, you could stay in a nice hotel, eat and see a lounge show without going home broke. The mob realized it was gambling where they made their killing.

As corporations took over in the 1980s, Vegas started growing at a phenomenal rate with high rises, million dollar condos and themed casinos and hotels going up everywhere. Greed made the Wall Street movers and shakers forget they were in the desert and not New York City.


Here's a time-line of corporate Las Vegas history:

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Illinois Mobster's Stash... 'Treasure Trove'" reads the AP headline on March 25th of this year. It's over a year since the Operation Family Secrets trial ended, but now there's a new discovery. Here's the story:

Chicago--Nearly $730,000 in cash, about 1,000 pieces of jewelry and loaded handguns found hidden alongside recording devices in a mobster's suburban home show there are still plenty of mysteries to unravel about the notorious Chicago Outfit.

The discovery in a secret compartment behind a family portrait in Frank Calabrese Sr.'s home--a year after the massive Operation Family Secrets trial sent Calabrese and several other to prison--may trigger a fresh look at everything from unsolved shootings to a jewel theft ring once run by the former Chicago police chief of detectives.

"I would say it's a treasure trove, really," James Wagner, one-time head if the FBI's organized crime unit in Chicago and the Chicago Crime Commission.

FBI spokesman Ross Ross would not comment extensively on the investigation or search of Calabrese's home in suburban Oak Brook, which was revealed in documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court. But he said investigators would run ballistics tests on the weapons and attempt to trace the jewelry and track down owners.

Calabrese, 71, was one of several reputed mobsters convicted last year in a racketeering conspiracy that included 18 decades-old murders. he was blamed for 13, sentenced to life in prison and was one of four defendants ordered to pay more than $24 million, including millions in restitution to the families of murder victims.


The Chicago Outfit's family secrets aren't so secret any more.