Posted Sep 11, 2007 03:26 pm CDT
Yesterday’s guilty verdict in the Operation Family Secrets federal trial in Chicago was an important first step toward resolving 18 unsolved gangland murders stretching back decades. Plus, the case’s aggressive prosecution of organized criminal activity is also significant, according to a local newspaper.
The 18 murders were attributed by testimony to a crime family known as the Outfit. Today the seven-woman, five-man jury—whose names have been kept secret even from lawyers in the case—is scheduled to begin new deliberations about whether four of the five reputed Outfit associates convicted yesterday of racketeering conspiracy are responsible for any of these 18 deaths, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Yesterday’s conviction of James Marcello likely will result in a lengthy prison sentence “for the man believed to be the Outfit’s current head,” the newspaper writes. A fifth defendant, who’s a retired Chicago police officer, also was convicted. Further details of the verdict are discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.
The import of the case goes beyond specific criminal charges:
“Some experts have called the Family Secrets probe the most important case against organized crime in decades, if not in Chicago history,” the Tribune states, noting that the prosecution “demonstrated in great detail how ingrained the Chicago syndicate remains in city life, taking street taxes from legitimate businesses and reaching into the city’s Police Department.”
However, there’s still a lot of work for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office to do, writes John Kass in a Tribune column today about the case’s impact. “I wonder—and I’m sure the Outfit is wondering—where the feds go from here? Do they keep pushing on the old murders? Or do they begin to finally focus on the connection between local politics and the Outfit?”