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Fed. Court Rejects Chicago Mobsters' Double Jeopardy Appeals

Last week, the 7th Circuit ruled that five members of the Chicago Outfit could not overturn their 2007 convictions for numerous crimes, including murder and extortion, Courthouse News Service reports.

The group, which is also known as the Chicago Syndicate or Chicago Mob, is probably most famous for its former leader, Al Capone. Frank J. Calabrese Sr. and James Marcello appealed their convictions, arguing that double jeopardy barred them from being indicted for the RICO violations, since they had been indicted for similar crimes in the past. The court did not agree.

According to the decision, Calabrese was the boss of the Calabrese Street Crew, and Marcello belonged to the Melrose Park Crew. Prior to the 2007 indictment, both men had served time in prison for crimes including racketeering and conspiracy. In their appeals, both Calabrese and Marcello argued that the crimes involved in the current indictments and the past indictments overlap, and should, therefore, be barred under the principle of double jeopardy.

The double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment protects individuals from being prosecuted or punished more than once for a single offense. This means that a defendant cannot be tried more than once for the same charges or facts, if the prior trial ended in a legitimate acquittal or conviction. Double jeopardy ensures that people won't be punished over and over again for the same crime.

The court held that double jeopardy does not apply, stating that the early indictments were for the men's work on street crews, while their current indictments were for work the men did for the Chicago Outfit.

"The present indictment and the evidence presented at trial to prove its allegations, concerns conspiracies involving Calabrese and Marcello in their capacity as outfit members, not as street crew members," Judge Richard Posner wrote. "In particular, they conspired to commit murder, and did commit murder, as members of the outfit, not as members of street crews."

Judge Diane Wood wrote a partial dissenting opinion, in which she stated that Frank J. Calabrese Sr. and James Marcello had a viable double jeopardy claim. "[The prior] prosecutions covered the period from 1978 to 1992 for Calabrese and from 1979 to 1990 for Marcello," Wood wrote. "The current prosecution entirely subsumes the span of those conspiracies."

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