Chicago mobster gets 4 months in prison for stealing Social Security money

Michael Marcello, 71, of Wood Dale, who did time for his role in the Family Secrets case, pleaded guilty to felony theft of government funds.

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse

Dirksen Federal Courthouse

Sun-Times file photo

A Chicago mobster who previously spent time behind bars as a result of the landmark Family Secrets case was sentenced at a hearing Monday to 4 months in prison for stealing nearly $23,000 in Social Security funds.

Michael Marcello, 71, of Wood Dale, pleaded guilty in January to felony theft of government funds. Judge Jorge Alonso noted that sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of between 8 and 14 months, but Marcello’s attorney objected and instead suggested 4 to 10 months would be appropriate.

The judge agreed with Marcello’s attorneys, saying that although Marcello’s crimes were “outrageous” they weren’t sophisticated enough to fall under the guidelines.

Prosecutors alleged that in April of 2016 Marcello began providing false wage and tax information to the Social Security administration to artificially inflate his Social Security earnings. He falsely claimed that he worked jobs that he never held and received income that he didn’t earn.

When Marcello applied for benefits in February of 2017, he lied again about his retirement income, prosecutors said. On his claimant form, Marcello stated he worked for bankrupt or defunct companies like Lehman Brothers and ITT Technical Institute to make it harder for the government to track.

Prosecutors also accused Marcello of providing false tax information to the IRS to hide the theft.

Before sentencing, Marcello’s attorney said her client was ashamed and embarrassed about his conduct, adding that he has already paid back everything that he stole. She asked the judge to consider his age and recent medical troubles when considering a sentence.

“I ask this court to show mercy on me as I walk through my life’s final miles,” Marcello told the judge. “I am very truly sorry. I made terrible choices.”

It wasn’t the first time Marcello made his case before a federal court. Marcello, the half-brother of Chicago mob boss James Marcello, was sentenced in March 2008 to 8 ½ years in prison — the first to be sentenced in the Family Secrets case. He once ran a lucrative video poker machine operation in the western suburbs and carried out his half-brother’s orders while James Marcello was in prison, authorities have said. He admitted his role in the mob in a 2007 plea agreement.

Prosecutors on Monday told the judge to consider that despite his previous conviction, Marcello still chose to commit another crime when he was released.

Marcello also took the witness stand in 2009 in the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, who was charged with leaking details about the Family Secrets investigation to the mob.

Marcello also worked for the Chicago Sun-Times as a truck driver from 1986 to 1995.

The judge ordered Marcello to surrender to the bureau of prisons on Jan. 23, 2023.

Contributing: Jon Seidel

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