Judge Imposes Gag Order at Wedding

Casey Szaflarski under house arrest while awaiting trial on gambling charges.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Casey Szaflarski

    Under a threat of jail time, a man charged with running an illegal gambling business is allowed to attend his daughter's wedding, but only on the condition that he not speak to the groom's father, who is believed to have ties to organized crime.

    U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman imposed the no-conversation order after a federal prosecutor said the groom, Frank Caruso Jr., had been convicted in the highly publicized beating of a 13-year-old boy and his father, Frank Caruso, had ties to the Chicago mob.

    "You are not to have any conversations with Mr. Caruso," Guzman told defendant Casey Szaflarski, who is on house arrest while awaiting trial. "If you do, I'm going to put you in jail immediately."

    The judge ordered a copy of the guest list given to federal prosecutors.

    He also allowed Szaflarski to leave home briefly to attend his other daughter's graduation ceremony but warned that he could have no conversations with anyone there who had ties to the mob.

    Szaflarski, 52, has pleaded not guilty to gambling and tax offenses. He is one of eight men indicted in a federal investigation of organized crime in Chicago's western suburbs.

    The investigation began after a powerful pipe bomb wrecked the offices of a video gaming distribution company in suburban Berwyn in February 2003.

    Prosecutors said it was the mob's way of announcing that it wanted no competitors honing in on its monopoly on video gaming equipment in the area.

    Szaflarski operated a different video gaming company. Prosecutors say the mob earns millions of dollars each year from illegal gambling involving such equipment.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet S. Bhachu told Guzman that testimony in the 2007 Family Secrets trial, the biggest mob trial in Chicago in decades, made it plain that the elder Caruso, who is known by his nicknames "Toots" and "Tootsie-Babe," was tied to the mob.

    The senior Caruso is not accused of any wrongdoing, although he has been described in newspaper accounts, trial testimony and now by a federal prosecutor as tied to the mob.

    Bhachu also noted that the younger Caruso was convicted of a felony in the severe beating of a 13-year-old African-American boy, Leonard Clark, in March 1997.

    The beating attracted national attention as an example of racial strife, and President Bill Clinton mentioned it prominently in one of his weekly radio addresses.

    The younger Caruso was acquitted of attempted murder but convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to eight years in state prison.

    Defense attorney Edward M. Genson, who represented the younger Caruso at his trial, had no comment on Tuesday's court proceeding.

     

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