IMAGE: Joey 'The Clown' Lombardo
AP file
Joseph 'Joey the Clown' Lombardo is shown in an undated photo released April 25 by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.
updated 5/4/2005 7:31:46 AM ET 2005-05-04T11:31:46

Fugitive reputed mob boss Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo will surrender if he gets a separate trial on charges that he and other organized crime figures plotted at least 18 unsolved murders, according to a letter made public by his attorney.

The letter was sent to attorney Rick Halprin and addressed to U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

Halprin said the handwritten, four-page note appears to have been signed by his client. He called federal authorities Tuesday morning after an aide in his office opened the letter, which was postmarked in Chicago on Monday.

“I recognize the signature,” Halprin said, adding he didn’t know his client’s whereabouts.

During a court hearing about the letter, Zagel said he could not guarantee the conditions asked for in the letter and issued a warrant for the 76-year-old Lombardo’s arrest.

The letter professed Lombardo’s innocence: “I am no part of a enterprise or racketering (sic). About the 18 murders in the indictment, I want you to know that I was not privy before the murders, during the murders, and after the murders.”

It also included an apology for the bad grammar and spelling.

Request for separate trial is key
An indictment unsealed April 25 charged 14 mobsters and mob associates, 11 of them, including Lombardo, with racketeering conspiracy involving the murders.

The murders include the June 1986 hit on Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the mob’s man in Las Vegas for two decades. He and his brother, Michael, were beaten to death and buried in a cornfield. The Spilotro case became the focus of the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie “Casino,” in which Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro.

Halprin said the letter asked the judge for a $50,000 recognizance bond, but the request for a separate trial is key.

“I would hazard a guess if he could get a separate trial he could live without the bond,” Halprin said of Lombardo. “This is a very passionate letter, he’s very, very serious about what he’s saying in there.”

Lombardo went to prison in 1982 along with Teamsters International president Roy Lee Williams for corruption in the union’s Central States Pension Fund. He and reputed mob enforcer Frank “the German” Schweihs, 75, were the only two people named in the latest indictment who remained at large Tuesday.

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