"The Clown" Didn't Surprise the FBI

No this is not Javier Bardem; it is "Joey the Clown" Lombardo.

We have always been fascinated by Chicago Outfit member Giuseppe Lombardi -- aka Joseph Patrick “Joey the Clown” Lombardo Sr. (born January 1, 1929), who is serving life in prison.

Gus Russo indicated Lombardo may have been the boss or part of a panel of bosses. However, the nice, neat and likely extensively inaccurate Wikipedia entry notes that from 1999 to 2007, "Joey the Clown" Lombardo was consiglieri. Actually, we have seen that title attached to Lombardo in many other stories.

Let's say he was a "high-ranking" member and be done with it.

The Clown came to mind thanks to a recent Gangland Wire story that offers audio of Lombardo in action, doing what mobsters do: forcing other guys to do their bidding by threatening to murder them.

As to that infamous nickname, it reportedly arose from the outlandish smile he'd plaster on his face whenever police took his mugshot, as well as humorous acts he committed (presumably when he was not killing men in front of their wives and children). According to one source (a friend of the high-ranking mobster's) Lombardo supposedly told Outfit guys to cool down the violence and killings in the early 1990s. Only six murders were attributed to the Outfit from 1990 to 1994 -- "and even that number might be exaggerated."

When Lombardo got out of prison in 1992, right amid the "peaceful" years, he hit upon a way to tell the public that he wasn't the gangster everyone thought he was (and that he indeed was).

He pulled this off by running a classified ad in the Chicago Trib:

 "I am Joe Lombardo, I have been released on parole from federal prison. I never took a secret oath, with guns and daggers, pricked my finger, drew blood or burned paper to join a criminal organization. If anyone hears my name used in connection with any criminal activity, please notify the FBI, local police, and my parole officer, Ron Kumke."

Actually the stuff about his not going through the typical induction ritual is likely accurate. In Chicago guys were made by being taken out to dinner by high-ranking members of the Outfit. (However these high-ranking mobsters not once -- not once pick up a bill.)

Al Capone was a Neapolitan and supposedly he didn't go for all that Sicilian crap like they did and still do in New York.

This is Joey the Clown...

Lombardo certainly made the FBI look like a bunch of clowns when he successfully evaded them in 2005. They came to arrest him but he was gone -- poof! -- on the lam.

Two years earlier agents visited Lombardo in his West Side-based machine shop armed with DNA swabbers and informed the elderly mobster that his life was in danger. Joey may have told a few jokes and did his juggling act for them. Then the Feds walked away without a care in the world. Or a thought in their head. Apparently it had not occurred to the local G-men to maybe slap a surveillance team onto the high-ranking Outfit member. When they are as old and as wealthy as Lombardo, they may choose to flee versus serving the mandatory life sentence. There's even a word for this: lamming it.

So when the Feds went around arresting the guys indicted as part of Operation Family Secrets, they found that Lombardo had split.

In fact, Frank "the German" Schweihs, the most notorious Outfit hitman, also said, "F-- it," and took off.

But it wasn't, like, a big deal....

This is Saddam Hussein....

The local G-men, realizing both Lombardo and Schweihs had split, then came up with the single best excuse we've ever heard for falling asleep at the wheel.

When interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times (the article's headline: 'The Clown' wasn't fooling around) three months later, they didn't hesitate to make it known that while Lombardo and Schweihs, then ages 75 and 76, respectively, were both in the wind, ya know what?

It was no surprise to the FBI. Know why? Because all along the Feds knew these two old guys were going to skip town. The Clown didn't fool anybody. Neither did Schweihs.

The fact that the Feds did not physically stop the two geezer gangsters from fleeing does not mean that it surprised them. Let's get that straight from the beginning:

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, FBI Supervisory Special Agent John Mallul and Michael Maseth, the lead FBI agent in the sweeping federal mob indictment known as Operation Family Secrets, said Lombardo and alleged hit man Frank "the German" Schweihs had fled well before an indictment was unsealed April 25. 

Lombardo, 76, of the Near West Side, and Schweihs, 75, of Dania, Fla., prepared for life on the lam, the agents said. The FBI believes the two are hiding separately. Before they fled, each set up a plan of where to hide, and their cat-and-mouse game has likely succeeded this long because other people are helping them out financially, the agents said. 

Mallul, who heads Chicago's Organized Crime Unit, bristled at reports that Lombardo and Schweihs got away because no one was watching, saying the reputed mobsters knew for more than a year an indictment was coming and made plans accordingly.... 

Not 'a surprise to the FBI' 

"We anticipated a problem with Joey Lombardo and Frank Schweihs [and did nothing about it]. ... This did not come as a surprise to the FBI," Mallul said. It was not a surprise. ...
So what do the G-men do?

They take a page from Lombardo's book.

They took out a classified ad of their own:

The FBI's "wanted" notices include this information:


Aliases: Joey the Clown, Lumpy, Joe Cuneo, Joe Padula
Date of birth used: Jan. 1, 1929
Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Weight: 185 pounds
Occupation: Unknown
Scars and marks: Lombardo usually wears glasses
Should be considered armed and dangerous and an escape risk


Aliases: Frank Schweihs, the German
Dates of birth used: Feb. 7, 1930, Feb. 7, 1932
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 180 pounds
Occupation: Retired
Remarks: Wears fishing-type floppy hats
Scars and marks: Slight limp
Should be considered armed and dangerous

In the end, it seems Joey may have had the last laugh.

After he was told he was imprisoned for life, according to an NBC Chicago report:

"Lombardo wasn't surprised by the verdict...."


  1. Great story!!! I always wondered what happened to the relationship between NY and Chicago....i know they were part of the commission set up by Luciano but they don't seem to have anything to do with NY today. They also seem to make their own rules, are they a part of LCN???? are they just an entity to themselves? ? I would assume like Joe pistone said in his book, when the commission was busted in 86 philly, NY, and probably other cities started ruling themselves. What's your opinion???
    Ur friend-

  2. Really. You're insane, do you know that? I mean seriously. You need meds. You hate me and my blog so much you're losing your mind. What is your issue? You've gone to too much trouble to do what you're doing....

  3. Chicago, although maintaining a commission seat, has always marched to the beat of their own drum. Guys like Gussie Alex And Murray Humphreys were as big as they get in the Outfit. Not bad for a Greek and a Welshman. Ed, as always, great story. Would love to hear more about the Outfit.

  4. Yo ed, This is offtopic, but what happened to the Decavalcante story?


  5. Don't be so sure they ever even had an initiation Ceremony. Can't believe everything Nick Calabrese said to the Feds about those kind of trivial details.
    Calabrese said that Al Tocco was made with him in 1983.
    How is that possible when Tocco ALREADY was the Boss of the Chicago Heights Crew a little BEFORE 1983. Think about it.

  6. I'm not playing this game of answering questions by pieces of garbage who pretend to be other people and who are mentally deranged. But here I will say, according to Jerry Capeci Chicago is the only region were Cosa Nostra doesn't have secret induction ceremonies. The process is as I described in the story for the reason I noted in the story.

    I'm debating whether to just delete comments altogether. Clearly even someone of limited intelligence can see that people are doing all they can to find fault with anything I write. They are competitors, haters, the insane, whatever....The best way to respond to your haters is to ignore them. That is henceforth my policy. And if you want to comment you have to use your real email address; it will remain confidential. I'm sorry but I have to take out the trash.... it's long overdue.

    Now, the induction ceremony.... Is that really the point of this story?? The induction process? I am trusting my devoted following, very few of whom ever comment (and that's fine), can see the game that's going on here. I don't make factual errors like that. If I say something it is based on knowledge obtained through books or people I've spoken with. Over and out. (I myself will not be commenting too much henceforth.)

  7. I know who you are.... how many names are you using to comment on here? I should say "we're" using.... DeCav.... mean anything to you?

  8. You'll notice I changed it back because I'm not some heartless monster like some people. Here endeth the lesson.

  9. Jerry Capeci wrote -- and Frank Calabrese Jr. and Frank Cullota told me -- that the induction ceremony in Chicago is as I described (I'm not certain who picks up the check, however. I can ask the Franks....) Please offer a source when you're "correcting" me. The history of the Chicago Outfit, it's relationship to New York, the induction ceremony, the price of tea in China, etc., is that what you think this story is about?

  10. I see a movie on this in the future....

  11. He's the one guy who referenced an induction ceremony in the "basement of a closed restaurant." Some guys are so far behind they think they are in the lead....

  12. How do you explain Al Tocco being supposedly made at the same Ceremony with Nick Calabrese in 1983 when Tocco was ALREADY the Boss of the Chicago Heights Crew for over almost 2 years??
    Chicago NEVER had a finger pricking Ceremony. Calabrese added that part to the story because he was coached by the Feds. He also said Marcello was made with him in 1983 along with Tocco. It was al part of the strategy by the Feds to prove Marcello was a made guy to make their RICO case believable to the Jury.

  13. I don't know what happened to it.....I trusted one of your fellow countreymen (cheers!) who I probably shouldn't have, I am assuming. I tried to get his opinion, confidentially, on some uncorroborated information from the street and I am assuming he betrayed me after I apologized for misreading his comment.....and he blocked me on FB and bashed me.

    That's life -- I got over it....

    Then on top of that, I learned I had a "phony person" on here commenting for months, MONTHS, pretending to be some idiot, asking stupid questions and ridiculously focusing on how the Mafia would/should murder turncoats.

    Who would expend such time and energy on such a ridiculous campaign to dumb down my blog? What could I have done to possibly make someone hate me THAT MUCH?

    I am just gonna do what I do -- and except the fact that you can't be friends with everyone and that I have Haters -- a word I'd never thought I'd ever use. So you tell me what happened to it....Are your initials DW?

  14. Lombardo was the guy after Accardo


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