Jurors assigned blame in some of the most infamous gangland killings in the city's history Thursday, agreeing with prosecutors that the Chicago Outfit used fists, ropes, knives, guns and a bomb to conduct its dark business.
In Chicago's biggest mob trial in decades, jurors found that three of the Outfit figures on trial committed 10 of the 18 murders in the case, a verdict that could mean life sentences for them.
But in the remaining eight homicides, they found themselves deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict, a finding that means a fourth defendant was not found accountable for the one murder he faced.
James Marcello, the reputed head of the Chicago Outfit, sat perfectly still as a court deputy read that the anonymous panel found that he took part in the 1986 murders of Anthony Spilotro, the mob's Las Vegas chieftain, and his brother Michael. His lawyer, Thomas Breen, pressed his hand to his forehead on word of the verdict.
In the crowded courtroom gallery, Patrick Spilotro, the brother of the victims, grabbed hold of his wife's hand.
Joey "the Clown" Lombardo leaned over on the defense table and rested his chin on his hand, remaining motionless as the deputy read that the jury found he committed the 1974 murder of federal witness Daniel Seifert, shot and killed exactly 33 years ago on Thursday.
In the gallery, Seifert's son, Joseph, present as a child when his father was gunned down at work, smiled.
After court, Seifert said he was looking directly at Lombardo as the verdict was read.
"But for some reason, he didn't look my way," Seifert said with a wry laugh.
Frank Calabrese Sr., who appeared to be praying before the decision was announced, steadied himself on the defense table and shook his head side-to-side as the verdicts were read. The jury found he committed seven murders: the 1980 shotgun slayings of informant William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte; the 1981 car-bombing of trucking executive Michael Cagnoni; and the killings of hit man John Fecarotta, bookie Michael Albergo, bar owner Richard Ortiz and his friend Arthur Morawski.
"Now he can rest in peace after 24 years," said Ellen Ortiz, widow of Richard Ortiz. "The Lord punishes in many, many ways."
But not every relative of a victim walked away satisfied with the outcome. Among the killings the jury deadlocked on was whether Marcello murdered Nicholas D'Andrea, who was found bludgeoned in the back of a burning car in 1981.
In the hallway outside the courtroom after the verdicts were announced, D'Andrea's son Bob's eyes were slightly reddened as he expressed frustration over the verdict.
"The whole world knows he did it," D'Andrea said. "I didn't wait 26 years to hear this."
Walking hand-in-hand with her victims' services case worker, Charlene Moraveck started to sob as she left the courthouse. The jury had been unable to find Calabrese responsible for the 1976 murder of her husband, Paul Haggerty.
"I waited 31 years," she said. "That bastard ruined my life. They couldn't come to a decision. I could have made a decision in five minutes. Everything was taken from me. It's never in the past. I'm disappointed with the jury."
The jury couldn't decide whether the fourth defendant, Paul "the Indian" Schiro, was to blame for killing grand jury witness Emil Vaci.
The lawyers involved in the landmark trial over the summer said it appeared that the jury deadlocked on killings in which the only evidence came from Calabrese's brother, Nicholas, the government's key witness.
But the jury appeared to find the defendants committed a murder when evidence corroborated Nicholas Calabrese's account, such as undercover recordings of Frank Calabrese Sr.
"It seems that they, as in probably most homicide cases, wanted to have some solid corroboration for our main witness, Nicholas Calabrese," Assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars said. "So it seems they're broken down along the lines of Calabrese's testimony along with tape-recorded evidence of his brother Frank or forensic evidence such as the fingerprint associated with Joseph Lombardo's participation in the Seifert homicide."
Prosecutors claimed an overarching victory, calling the case perhaps the government's most significant against the Outfit in Chicago history. The four Outfit figures as well as former Chicago police officer Anthony "Twan" Doyle were convicted of racketeering conspiracy earlier this month. Doyle, who wasn't implicated in any murders, and Schiro each face up to 20 years.
But Joseph Lopez, Frank Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, said that the jury's deadlocking on six of the killings was "absolutely, without question," a victory for his client.
Lopez, who at one point Thursday told reporters he didn't even know if the Outfit existed, said he did not think it was a fair trial.
"I don't think anybody charged with a case like this could get a fair trial anywhere, because of the publicity prior to trial, because of shows that they make in Hollywood, and because of scripts that they write in Hollywood," Lopez said.
"Al Capone is probably the most famous Chicagoan we have," Lopez added. "You go to Paris and ask who John Gotti is, they won't know, but if you ask them about Al Capone, they're certainly going to know who he is."
Rick Halprin, Lombardo's attorney, disagreed, saying he felt it was a fair trial, but he noted that an appeals court will have to make that decision.
Halprin said that if the killings had been tried in state criminal court, the defense would have had a better chance to attack the evidence.
Halprin, a veteran criminal-defense lawyer, praised the prosecution.
"The government did a remarkable job organizing this case," Halprin said.
First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro, who has spent decades supervising organized-crime cases such as Family Secrets, called the outcome a remarkable achievement.
"To take more than 30 years of evidence of murders that were never solved, and put them together and convict the leadership of organized crime is something I never thought I would see," Shapiro said, "and I'm sure the people in Chicago, particularly the people who have been preyed upon by organized crime, never expected to see, and I'm sure the families of many of the victims never expected to see."
Among those was Patrick Spilotro, who explained what he felt as he had grabbed his wife's hand.
"It was a sense of justice being served," he said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun