Convicted killer and reputed mobster Charles “Chucky” Russell pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal gun charges.
Russell now faces at least 15 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, though his attorney has said the 68-year-old wouldn’t survive such a sentence. He suffers from terminal prostate cancer, and was released from jail on bond last December.
But Russell once cut an imposing figure as a reputed enforcer connected to the Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew. The Schaumburg resident was convicted of murder in 1973 and criminal sexual assault in 1992, making him a registered sex offender.
View this document on ScribdRussell was hit with the federal gun charges in December 2016 after allegedly buying eight guns from an undercover agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He was accused of plotting to break into the home of a 70-year-old lawyer who kept hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a safe.
“It will be a great Christmas, I’m telling you. You’re going to love this,” the admitted mobster allegedly told an informant. “Nothing gets my juices flowing like putting a gun to someone’s head, taking their stuff and making it mine.”
In secretly recorded conversations, Russell allegedly boasted of carrying out 2,000 burglaries over four years, and he suggested putting a blowtorch to the lawyer’s feet to force him to open the safe.
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Prosecutors have said 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.
According to his lawyer, Russell can barely walk and can’t eat solid food since his cancer spread to his skeletal system and skull. Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan placed Russell on home detention with electronic monitoring last fall.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 17.
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.