Two suburban men both face up to 20 years in prison after they were convicted Wednesday afternoon of an extortion conspiracy with links to a reputed mobster.
Robert McManus, 44, of Cicero, and Frank Orlando, 48, of Schaumburg, arranged shake downs of debtors in New Jersey,Nevada and Wisconsin, a federal jury decided aftera second day of deliberations.
McManus was also convicted of attempted extortion for traveling to New Jersey to put a scare on one debtor.
Neither man showed much emotion as the verdict was announced in U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang’s courtroom, though Orlando’s lawyer, Nishay Sanan, put his hand on Orlando’s shoulder in a show of support.
Key evidence during the week-long trial came from former bodyguard George Brown, a co-defendant who pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the prosecution in return for a reduced sentence. Brown told jurors that along with McManus and a fourth defendant, Vito Iozzo, he’d supplied the muscle for the extortion scheme.
Carol Stream businessman Mark Dziuban had asked Orlando to help him collect business debts, prosecutors said. Orlando in turn contacted Paul Carparelli, who has ties to the Outfit’s Cicero crew and put the scheme together, the feds alleged.
During the trial, the overweight Brown testified that he’d taken one debtor’s Shelby Ford Mustang, and that he’d used violence and the threat of violence to intimidate others on behalf of the extortion crew.
McManus’ and Orlando’s lawyers had argued that the men were simply collecting debts and that violence was not used.
During his closing argument Tuesday, Sanan prompted laughter by telling jurorsthat just because Brown was large and intimidating, it didn’t mean the crew had extorted anyone.
“Being 300 pounds is not a crime,” he said.
But there were only long faces as Orlando and McManus left court Wednesday. Chang said bothmen and Brown and Iozzowillhave to explain next month why they should be allowed to remain free while they await sentencing. Prosecutors made no attempt to have them locked up Wednesday.
Dziuban and Carparelli have yet to stand trial.