War hero turned mobster jailed
A war hero turned Chicago mobster has been warned he is likely to die in jail after being sentenced to 35 years for his crimes.
At his sentencing, 87-year-old Sam Volpendesto pushed himself up from his wheelchair to denounce witnesses who testified against him at his trial for bombing a video poker company, calling them lying "scumbags" and "crumb balls".
"He's never once, not once, ever owned up to any of the things he's done," said federal Judge Ronald Guzman, glaring down from his bench. He concluded by telling the silver-haired, slightly built Volpendesto he was likely to die serving his term.
The sentence was preceded by contrasting portraits of the Chicago-born Volpendesto.
Prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu described him as a grizzled soldier of Chicago's Outfit mob who could be heard laughing on wiretaps about once watching another mobster stuff body parts through a meat grinder.
As a strip club owner in 1990, Volpendesto sought to silence a worker he believed was talking to the FBI, Mr Bhachu said. He allegedly handed a bat to his underlings, who beat the employee nearly unconscious, the prosecutor said.
Defence attorney Beau Brindley sought to turn back the clock to the Second World War, telling the judge how Volpendesto had helped save fellow navy men trapped in a crippled destroyer. Mr Brindley placed a box of medals on a lectern as he spoke, including a Bronze Star he said Volpendesto received.
"This serves as concrete proof that we are looking on ... a literal hero," he said.
Volpendesto faced a mandatory minimum prison term of 35 years, but his attorney still pleaded for Judge Guzman to "let this man go home and die with his family".
Volpendesto was the oldest of five mob members recently convicted for the bombing and other mob activity. Most of the others have yet to be sentenced, including gang boss Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno.