February 6, 2009
In federal court Thursday, Spilotro was addressing the judge. His back was to Chicago Outfit boss James Marcello, convicted of conspiracy in the 1986 murders of Spilotro's gangster brothers.Pat Spilotro isn't a gangster. He's a dentist. But his brothers Anthony, a killer who ran wild in Las Vegas, and Michael, who drew heat by getting an acting part playing a fed on "Magnum P.I.," were of the Outfit.
In the movie "Casino," the brothers are beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield and left in a shallow grave. The real story from the Family Secrets trial is that Marcello drove them to an Outfit meeting in a Bensenville home, where the bosses of every Outfit crew put their fists and feet on them, then came the ropes, the organization sharing the spilling of Spilotro blood.
On Thursday, Pat Spilotro spoke to U.S. District Judge James Zagel, and called out other mobsters placed by testimony at the Spilotro murder but never charged, including top boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo.
In Outfit circles, some wise guys are angry, wondering why DiFronzo was left alone by the feds. And sources say the whispers continue about DiFronzo's good fortune and freedom.
In court, as he spoke facing Zagel, Pat Spilotro was aiming directly behind him, at the heart of Marcello.
"He should have known better, having lost his own father in a grisly, horrible fashion -- stuffed into a 50-gallon barrel," said Spilotro, almost spitting out the words, his voice shaking.
That's cold, but so was Marcello, dark eyebrows, face pale against his dark suit under those fluorescent courtroom lights. And cold or not, Jimmy knew it was true, despite having told authorities in the early 1990s that his father died in a car accident.
Here's what happened: In 1973, his father, Samuel Marcello, was collecting juice-loan debts from the owner of the Korner Sandwich Shop, at Western and Taylor. Marcello was a tiny guy, but he had big muscles with him named Joseph Grisafe.
On that day in November, they disappeared. A month later, the snack shop owner was found in the trunk of his car at O'Hare International Airport, hands bound, throat slashed.
Then, on July 6, 1974, authorities discovered the reason why the snack shop owner was stuffed like a pepper in his trunk. Two reasons, actually, each reason crammed into 50-gallon steel drums left at the sandwich shop.
Sam Marcello fit neatly in one, hands bound, shot once in the head. Grisafe, the muscle guy, was 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. He wasn't all there. This is how the government explained it in recently filed court papers: "Grisafe's legs were severed and found packed in a 'Junior Baby Ruth' box, located near the steel drums. (Grisafe was taller than Samuel Marcello.)"
Around the federal building, I heard a story that James Marcello, a grown man and mobster at the time, didn't personally avenge his father. It was done by others who could stomach the heavy work.
Other members of the Spilotro family spoke Thursday, including Michael's widow, Annie, who briefly took over Hoagie's Pub, run by her husband.
In 2007, Annie Spilotro testified in Family Secrets that after her husband's murder, she sold the business to two powerful Chicago political figures, state Sen. James DeLeo (D-How You Doin?) and prosperous zoning lawyer James Banks, the nephew of city Zoning Committee Chairman Ald. William Banks (36th).
She complained she received less than she expected in the DeLeo/Banks deal. So she appealed to the boss, Marcello.
"I thought he was in a position to help me," she testified then.
But on Thursday, she wouldn't even say Marcello's name, only calling him "the defendant" as she recounted the pain of raising her children alone.
Zagel asked Marcello if he wanted to say anything, and Marcello said no, and then Zagel put it on him, using some of the same words used by Pat Spilotro.
"You could have done better, you know how to do better, and I regret that you did not," Zagel said. "You could have led a better life. But now you will have to pay for your crimes. On count one, life in prison...."
Spilotro was still angry on the way out of court. He knows his brothers weren't angels. But they were his blood.
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