Daily Herald
Three mobsters guilty in 10 of 18 murders
By Rob Olmstead | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 9/28/2007 12:22 AM

"There's one less Clown in the circus," said a triumphant Joseph Seifert Thursday, moments after Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo was found by a jury to have murdered his father.

For Seifert, the finding by the jury that four mobsters committed at least 10 of the 18 murders they were accused of was especially sweet. His father, Daniel Seifert, was murdered at his Bensenville factory 33 years ago to the exact day of the verdict.

For others, though, the partial findings of the jury were a bitter disappointment.

As the verdict was read, Bob D'Andrea's face slowly grew redder and redder as his lips pursed tighter and tighter.

The son of murder victim Nicholas D'Andrea, Bob D'Andrea was slowly realizing that the court clerk was not reading out his father's name as a murder the jury had decided unanimously was committed by Lombard mobster James Marcello.

Nicholas D'Andrea's murder was one that the jury was split over as to whether there was enough evidence to say without a reasonable doubt the mobsters had committed.

"I waited 26 years for this?" said the outraged D'Andrea outside the courtroom. "They might as well have stood up and said 'innocent.'"

One victim's family member, a woman who arrived late for the reading of the verdict, collapsed on the floor in tears outside the courtroom when she was told the jury had rendered no verdict on the killing of her relative Paul Heggerty.

What the jury's rationale was in the split verdict wasn't revealed; they declined to speak to the media after delivering their verdict. Their identities have been kept secret by U.S. District Judge James Zagel for their protection.

Despite the partial verdicts Thursday, none of the men on trial are going free any time soon.

Lombardo, Marcello, Paul Schiro of Phoenix and Frank Calabrese Sr. of Oak Brook were all convicted of racketeering.

On Sept. 10, jurors found the five guilty of racketeering and have been debating since then -- with some vacation interruptions -- what murders alleged as part of that racketeering each of the four mobsters committed.

While the murders were not a separate charge, a finding that the mobsters committed murder could enhance their sentences to life in prison.

With the exception of Schiro, each of the four accused of committing murders was found to have done so at least once.

Schiro had been accused of killing Emil Vaci in Phoenix on June 7, 1986. The jury reached no verdict as to whether Schiro committed that murder. Still, he faces up to 20 years in prison on the racketeering charge.

The other defendants were not as lucky as Schiro.

Calabrese Sr., for example, was found to have committed seven of the 13 murders of which he was accused.

One of those guilty verdicts was for the murder of Michael Cagnoni, a trucking executive whose car was blown up June 24, 1981, on an on-ramp in Hinsdale. He was killed because he had stopped paying "street tax" to the mob, prosecutors said.

As the clerk read the verdict on Cagnoni, Calabrese Sr. appeared to show a hint of the temper he had demonstrated during final arguments, when he burst out "Dem are lies!" as prosecutors spoke. Thursday, he managed to keep quiet, but bit his lower lip and scowled. He quickly hid the emotion, though, coolly sipping a cup of water after the clerk read that he had been found guilty of murdering Arthur Morawski in Cicero on July 23, 1983. Morawski's only offense toward Calabrese Sr. was that he happened to be with Richard Ortiz, the intended target of Calabrese's hit.

Daniel Seifert's murder was the only one Lombardo had been been accused of. Poised on the edge of a court bench, Joseph Seifert sat tensely while he waited for the word. When it was read, Seifert's body slumped back in relief as relatives of other murder victims patted him on the hand.

For his part, Lombardo had simply looked ahead toward the judge while the Seifert verdict was read, his head hung in his hand as if he was bored. But after the verdict reading moved on to Calabrese, The Clown looked over to the jury to deliver a murderous glare.

Marcello was found to have committed two of the most notorious murders in mob lore, slayings defense attorneys called the "marquee" murders of the case: the killings of mobsters Anthony and Michael Spilotro inside a Bensenville or Wood Dale home. The exact location was never determined, but their bodies were taken to an Indiana cornfield where they were buried after their June 14, 1986, murders.

The two were lured to the home with the promise of promotion within the mob, but as soon as they entered the basement, they were set upon by at least a dozen mobsters who beat and kicked them to death, testified Nick Calabrese, brother of Frank Calabrese Sr.

His testimony was key, acknowledged Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Mars, who prosecuted the case with John Scully and Markus Funk.

But just as key were the tapes of Calabrese Sr. recorded by Frank Calabrese Jr., Mars said.

Mars remarked that James Marcello and his brother Mickey had been caught on tape in prison speculating that Nick Calabrese's testimony alone wouldn't be enough to put them away, but he worried that an additional building block might do the trick.

"They were right," said a happy Mars after the verdict was read.

Despite his satisfaction with the findings, Mars and Chicago FBI chief Bob Grant were adamant that they had only hampered the Chicago Outfit Thursday with the verdict, not killed it.

Grant noted that there are 28 known "made" mob members still roaming the streets and over 100 associates. He even speculated that there now might be further violence as those players jockey for power with the absence of their former leadership.

"That's always an issue," Grant said.

Marcello, prosecutors said when they indicted him, had been the head of the mob.

In addition to the murders, the months-long trial illustrated other crimes that feed the mob, such as gambling and extortion of legitimate businesses.

There was testimony that household-name businesses like Connie's Pizza and Celozzi-Ettelson Chevrolet were made to pay street tax.

Although Nick Celozzi called the Daily Herald personally to deny that the mob had ever put the arm on him for street tax, recordings between Calabrese Sr. and his son mention collections from the dealership.

The Elmhurst car giant was the same one made famous by its commercials that boasted, "Where you always save more money."