Reputed mobster freed from jail because of cancer

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Convicted killer and reputed mobster Charles “Chucky” Russell pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal gun charges. | File photo

Barrel-chested Charles “Chucky” Russell struck an imposing figure when the reputed member of the Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew appeared in federal court just over a year ago on gun charges.

But the fearsome 68-year-old convicted killer is now suffering from terminal prostate cancer and is wasting away, his lawyer told a federal judge last month. On Dec. 12, Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan released Russell on $4,500 bond. His lawyer told the court that he’d live in a condo owned by his girlfriend, Patricia Spilotro.

Sources say she’s a relative of Anthony and Michael Spilotro, the legendary Outfit members whose double murder in 1986 was featured in the film, “Casino.”

Der-Yeghiayan placed Russell on home detention with electronic monitoring.

Russell was under the 24-hour watch of the U.S. Marshals Service at a Chicago-area hospital before he was released on bond. His cancer has spread to his skeletal system and skull. He can barely walk and he lost weight because he can’t eat solid food, his lawyer told the court.

Russell would face at least 15 years in prison if convicted of his federal gun charges, but he “will not live to serve such a sentence,” his lawyer, Clifford Histed, said in a court filing. Histed declined to comment.

Russell, who was convicted of murder in 1973 and criminal sexual assault in 1992, is a registered sex offender. He faces federal gun charges after allegedly buying eight guns from an undercover agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

He’s accused of plotting to rob the home of a 70-year-old lawyer who kept hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a safe. Russell was secretly recorded boasting that he’d carried out 2,000 burglaries over four years.

According to the charges against him, Russell also showed an ATF informant a photo of a blood-spattered car riddled with bullets, then handed an undercover ATF agent an Illinois driver’s license of an African-American man, saying, “No longer with us.”

Authorities confirmed the man in the license was killed in the car in November 2016. The murder remains under investigation.

The Outfit is still reeling from the FBI’s “Family Secrets” case that led to the conviction of some of its most powerful members, including Grand Avenue crew leader Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, in 2007. Later, in 2014, two of Russell’s reputed Outfit associates, Paul Koroluk and Robert Panozzo Sr., were charged with racketeering in Cook County criminal court.

Koroluk was convicted and is to be paroled from state prison in 2023. Panozzo remains in federal custody in Rockford on separate charges of paying an accomplice $1,000 to torch the car and home of a man who owed Panozzo $100,000. Albert “Little Guy” Vena is believed to be running the Grand Avenue crew, according to law enforcement sources.

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