Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob [NOOK Book]

Overview

Even in Chicago, a city steeped in mob history and legend, the Family Secrets case was a true spectacle when it made it to court in 2007. A top mob boss, a reputed consigliere, and other high-profile members of the Chicago Outfit were accused in a total of eighteen gangland killings, revealing organized crime’s ruthless grip on the city throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
            Painting a vivid picture of murder, ...

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Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob

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Overview

Even in Chicago, a city steeped in mob history and legend, the Family Secrets case was a true spectacle when it made it to court in 2007. A top mob boss, a reputed consigliere, and other high-profile members of the Chicago Outfit were accused in a total of eighteen gangland killings, revealing organized crime’s ruthless grip on the city throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
            Painting a vivid picture of murder, courtroom drama, family loyalties and disloyalties, journalist Jeff Coen accurately portrays the Chicago Outfit’s cold-blooded—and sometimes incompetent—killers and their crimes in the case that brought them down. In 1998 Frank Calabrese Jr. volunteered to wear a wire to gather evidence against his father, a vicious loan shark who strangled most of his victims with a rope before slitting their throats to ensure they were dead. Frank Jr. went after his uncle Nick as well, a calculating but sometimes bumbling hit man who would become one of the highest-ranking turncoats in mob history, admitting he helped strangle, stab, shoot, and bomb victims who got in the mob’s way, and turning evidence against his brother Frank.
            The Chicago courtroom took on the look and feel of a movie set as Chicago’s most colorful mobsters and their equally flamboyant attorneys paraded through and performed: James “Jimmy Light” Marcello, the acting head of the Chicago mob; Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, one of Chicago’s most eccentric mobsters; Paul “the Indian” Schiro; and a former Chicago police officer, Anthony “Twan” Doyle, among others.
            Re-creating events from court transcripts, police records, interviews, and notes taken day after day as the story unfolded in court, Coen provides a riveting wide-angle view and one of the best accounts on record of the inner workings of the Chicago syndicate and its control over the city’s streets.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Coen, a Chicago Tribune reporter, dissects one of the most pivotal mob criminal prosecutions, the Family Secrets case, in his revealing, shocking book on self-destructive Cosa Nostra members engaged in a death dance of suspicion and betrayal. Members of the Chicago Syndicate, also known as the Outfit, under the taut leadership of Frank Calabrese Sr., did their share of graft, bribery, extortion, bookmaking and murder, much like in the glory Capone days, but in 1998, Calabresi's son Frank Jr.-who had "had it with his father's abusive ways and broken promises"-decided to become an FBI turncoat and get the goods on his father and the powerful men around him. Giving an unfettered glimpse into the strata of the Chicago criminal organization, Coen tallies the strategies of the clever mob mouthpieces, the extensive wise guy body count, and the Feds' relentless pursuit through the indictment and sentencing. Superbly crafted, this is a tragic, clear-sighted account of how Chicago's mighty mob was brought to heel. Photos, map. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
"He would shoot you in the head over a cold ravioli." When it comes to mob psychos, Chicago Tribune writer Coen writes, there's no place like the Windy City. With players like Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo and Jimmy "Poker" DiForti, it could hardly be otherwise. For decades, writes the author, the Chicago Mafia maintained a unified front, working under "one 'Old Man,' a shadow mayor of sorts" and, unlike its East Coast counterpart, holding strictly to the time-honored code of silence. Fortunately for the law, the Chicago Outfit, as it was known, had its share of human foibles. When things got ugly, torn by drugs and power feuds, some of the syndicate's foot soldiers went freelance. One was Frank Calabrese Jr., son of a powerful loan shark, who provided the FBI with juicy details about such events as the slaying of the brothers Spilotro, young punks doomed by their habitual boasting, among other transgressions. Calabrese acquired these details by secretly recording his father, who was then cooling his heels in the pen, and from the tapes the feds slowly pieced together a decades-long history of the Outfit's maneuverings in Chicago. When they had assembled enough data, they commenced a prosecution, the legal outcome of which was still unknown as Coen's book went to press. One telling point of the government's argument adverted to pop culture: "This is not The Sopranos; this is not The Godfather," said one prosecutor. "This case is about real people and real victims." So it was, and Coen does a creditable job of telling about their star-crossed lives. A telling look inside the twisted world of organized crime, sure to interest those who follow mob mayhem.
From the Publisher
"[A] revealing, shocking book . . . superbly crafted."  —Publishers Weekly

"A telling look inside the twisted world of organized crime, sure to interest those who follow mob mayhem."  —Kirkus Reviews

"[An] authoritative account . . . indispensable to truly knowing how Chicago works."  —Chicago Tribune

"Painting a vivid picture . . . riveting . . . one of the best accounts on record."  —TheChicagoSyndicate.com

"[Coen has produced] a careful account."  —Bloomsbury Review

"(An) episodic telling . . . a useful and lucid history . . . [the book] teems with disturbing local color."  —Gaper's Block

"The book reads like a fast paced crime thriller and, indeed, though it is nonfiction, it makes for fascinating reading."  —The Times

"Coen's narrative is compelling even when covering materials where we already know the trial's outcome and gives the participants—from lawyers to prosecutors to defendents—a rich, full rendering which is no easy feat."  —Chicagoist.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569762462
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 381,448
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Jeff Coen is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, covering federal trials and investigations from the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in downtown Chicago. He was present in the courtroom throughout the Family Secrets trial, and his pieces on the case were featured in a popular series in the Chicago Tribune.

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