Video: Chicago mob dragnet

updated 4/26/2005 8:15:07 PM ET 2005-04-27T00:15:07

Fourteen reputed Chicago mob figures were indicted Monday on charges of plotting at least 18 murders, including the 1986 slaying of the crime organization’s top man in Las Vegas, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, who was buried alive in a cornfield.

Those indicted included 63-year-old James Marcello, who the FBI says is the head of the Chicago mob, and Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, 75, long alleged to be one of the top leaders of organized crime in the city. Authorities believe Lombardo is still in Chicago.

“This unprecedented indictment puts a ‘hit’ on the mob,” U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement. “After so many years, it lifts the veil of secrecy and exposes the violent underworld of organized crime.”

Role in 'Casino' based on Spilotro
Spilotro, a Chicago mob enforcer, ruled Las Vegas in the 1970s and early 1980s. The badly beaten bodies of Spilotro, 48, and his brother Michael, 41, were found buried in an Indiana field. Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro in the 1995 movie “Casino.”

FBI and IRS agents began arresting the defendants Monday morning in Illinois, Arizona and Florida. The agents found one defendant dead, apparently of natural causes, authorities said.

The racketeering indictment, unsealed Monday, resulted from an investigation that was code-named Operation Family Secrets and was aimed at clearing unsolved mob hits. Among those charged were two retired law enforcement officers.

Killings over 16 years
At the center of the indictment are 18 previously unsolved murders and one attempted murder — all of which took place between 1970 and 1986.

Prosecutors said all of those charged were connected in some way to the Chicago mob, also known as the Chicago Outfit or the Chicago Syndicate.

Eleven were charged with conspiracy, including plotting to commit murder as part of such mob activities as loansharking and bookmaking. Prosecutors said that seven of them actually committed murder or agreed to commit murder.

Lombardo was previously convicted in federal court in Chicago in a major mob investigation of corruption involving the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund.

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