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Chicago Mobster Joey 'The Clown' Lombardo Dies While Serving Life Sentence

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- Infamous Chicago Mafia figure Joey "The Clown" Lombardo died this weekend, according to federal prosecutors.

Lombardo was 90 years old when he died on Saturday in a maximum security prison in Colorado, prosecutors said. He was serving a life sentence after being convicted of murder and racketeering in the Operation Family Secrets trial in 2007.

Lombardo was sentenced in 2009.

Sept. 10, 2007: CBS 2's John Drummond Reports On The Family Secrets Trial Verdicts

Operation Family Secrets also ended up taking down alleged mob boss James Marcello, convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr., convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, and retired Chicago Police officer Anthony Doyle. All but Doyle was accused of taking part in at least one killing.

Lombardo was personally implicated for the murder of businessman and federal witness Daniel Seifert in 1974.

In the 2007 trial, Lombardo took the stand and admitted running what his attorney, Rick Halprin, called "the oldest and most reliable floating crap game on Grand Avenue." But he denied committing murder or being part of mob.

Lombardo was likely the best-known defendant in the case. After the indictment was unsealed, he went on the lam for eight months before finally being cornered by an FBI organized crime squad in an alley outside Chicago.

The prosecution's star witness in the trial was Nicholas Calabrese, an admitted hit man who took the stand against his own brother to spell out the allegations, crime by crime. The jury in the trial heard about 18 unsolved killings, including the beating death and cornfield burial of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the mob's man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the 1995 movie "Casino."

The Family Secrets case was only the second time Lombardo was convicted of a major crime.

As noted in a 2005 Chicago Magazine article, Lombardo began his criminal career as a juice loan collector and jewel thief and went to take over as capo, or crew chief, of a street crew on Grand Avenue.

Lombardo also served a major role in the Outfit's solidifying its control of gambling interests in Las Vegas, Chicago Magazine reported.

Joey Lombardo
Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, seen in 1983 CBS 2 file video. (Credit: CBS 2)

On Dec. 15, 1982, Lombardo was convicted along with Teamsters Union President Roy Williams and insurance executive Allen Dorfman with trying to bribe U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon (D-Nevada) so that Cannon would get a trucking deregulation bill blocked, CBS 2's John Drummond reported at the time. At the time, Lombardo was believed to be the chief of labor union operations for the mob.

Dec. 15, 1982: CBS 2's John Drummond Reports On Teamsters Bribery Convictions

Also convicted in the case were former Chicago Police officer and Teamsters pension fund trustee Thomas O'Malley, and former Teamsters pension fund trustee Andrew Amos Massa. Each defendant faced up to 55 years in prison upon their convictions.

On Jan. 20, 1983, Dorfman was shot and killed in the parking lot of the since-demolished purple Hyatt Hotel in Lincolnwood. Authorities believe Dorfman was the victim of a mob hit to keep him from cooperating with prosecutors in the bribery case.

Jan. 26, 1983: CBS 2's I.J. Hudson Reports On The Aftermath Of The Dorfman Murder In Court

Lombardo was not accused in Dorfman's murder, but he was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison in the Teamsters bribery case. He was released in 1992.

U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. announced Lombardo's death in a single-paragraph court document Sunday. The document read that Lombardo had died, and his motion for reconsideration "and all other pending motions, however styled, may therefore be dismissed or denied as moot."

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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