Joey Lombardo captured in Elmwood Park
January 14, 2006 (WLS) -- Wanted for more than a dozen mob murders and on the run for nine months, federal agents arrest reputed mob boss Joey "the clown" Lombardo. The feds found their man in an alley in the western suburbs. He was in a car with a known associate.
The 77-year-old had grown a beard and seemed to be caught by surprise. Lombardo is in custody and expected in federal court on Tuesday. His arrest is the final in the F.B.I.'s long-running investigation into Chicago's mob scene.
When he was finally arrested, the F.B.I. says that Joey "the clown" Lombardo did not resist. He was, as they said in a press conference Saturday morning, unresponsive and seemed stunned that he was finally caught.
His FBI wanted poster now reads: "Captured". Until Friday, Joey "the clown" Lombardo was probably the most wanted fugitive in Chicago.
Indicted along with 13 others in April, 2005, the F.B.I. says Lombardo is linked to 18 unsolved gangland murders dating back more than three decades. Nine months ago, he went into hiding to avoid arrest, but Friday night, the 77-year-old reputed mafia boss was caught in the passenger seat of a parked car in an Elmwood Park alley.
"We always believed he was in Chicago. The evidence from this arrest indicated that he had been moving from place to place which we would call the equivalent of spider holes for the mob," said Robert Grant, FBI Special Agent in Charge.
The F.B.I. says they had this particular spider hole in the 2300 block of North 74th Avenue under surveillance for some time.
"It appears he had been in that residence for a couple of weeks. Had with him at the time of the arrest a suitcase with clothes. He has very long hair, down to his shoulders. He has long beard," agent Grant said.
In fact, Lombardo's appearance has changed dramatically from previously released photographs. His lawyer said that his client's health during a future trial is of big concern.
"He does have an extensive heart problem. I can't remember how many surgeries he has had," said Rick Halprin, Lombardo's lawyer.
Some time ago in letters addressed to his lawyer, Lombardo tried from hiding to set the conditions for turning himself in. The judge hearing the case rejected the offer.
Known as the clown for his courtroom antics, the F.B.I. says Lombardo disappeared along with Frankie "the German " Schweiss just before being indicted.
Schweiss was caught last month in Kentucky. Lombardo's lawyer and a woman who knew Lombardo growing up say he's innocent.
"The things that he wrote that were published, I believe he signs off Joey Lombardo, an innocent man. I don't know how much more clear he can make it," Halprin said.
"I was a little girl when I knew him. He was always a good man. I mean, he was always good to the children. I don't believe it. He was just the clown to us," said Sandy Bauman, a former neighbor of Lombardo's.
Lombardo is now being held at Metropolitan Correctional Center. He is expected in court sometime Tuesday.
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