Without feds, we'd never hear the 'lies'

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Federal prosecutor Mitchell Mars was telling the jury about a litany of 18 Outfit murders -- solved by federal investigators, not locals -- and he put several corpses at the feet of convicted mobster Frank Calabrese Sr.

"He has left a trail of bodies, literally ..." Mars said Tuesday, as Calabrese began shouting, interrupting him."THEM ARE LIES!!" Calabrese shrieked, startling the jury.

It was the real Frank coming out after weeks of suppression in federal court, with that tight little smile of his.

It was Chinatown Frank, the scary Frank with the famous thumbs, and federal marshals inched closer lest Frank pop for good.

Mars didn't flinch, and he continued speaking.

" ... during his career with the Outfit."

Then the jury retired to deliberate on the second phase of the landmark Family Secrets trial -- deciding which Outfit figures committed previously unsolved murders -- and my guess is that the jury is ready to be done with this.

What must bother Calabrese, and his co-defendants Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo, Paul "The Indian" Schiro, and James "Little Shamrock" Marcello, is what Mars told that jury.

"This is not a case of guilt by association. It is guilt by participation in a criminal organization that protected itself and its members by homicide," Mars said.

"They lived to kill. They lived to have money, and they lived to kill."

The "Them are lies" shriek was the dramatic highlight of the day, but here's one thing that isn't a lie:

Since the Chicago Outfit began controlling select politicians at City Hall, and select businesses and select cops and county judges, there have been hundreds of Outfit hits.

And local law enforcement hasn't solved one for more than 40 years. They've only solved a scant few Outfit killings since Paul "The Waiter" Ricca let Al Capone pretend to be boss of Chicago.

I might be wrong. There might be one, or two, solved in the last four decades by local law enforcement, perhaps the real police in blue uniforms, the men and women who don't get promoted because they don't know the secret political passwords.

And if I'm wrong, I'm sure that interim Chicago Police Supt. Dana Starks will invite me to Cafe Bionda for lunch and lecture me on my heresy, as legendary Bionda chef and Reserve nightclub fixture Joe Farina whips us up something tasty.

But according to a Chicago Tribune investigation in 1989, no Outfit murder had been solved in Cook County in 20 years.

That was 18 years ago.

The report focused on the Cook County sheriff's office, and how high-ranking sheriff's officials "sabotaged investigations of brutal, execution-style murders and covered up evidence of possible crimes of other law enforcement officials, and judges."

Back then, sheriff's officers, the Tribune said, systematically concealed evidence, blocked efforts by other law enforcement agencies to interview witnesses, and hid their own relationships with organized crime suspects in murder investigations.

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