Frail and cancer-stricken, Chicago mobster Charles (Chuckie the Electrician) Russell pled guilty to a single illegal firearm possession charge in federal court this week related to an ATF sting 18 months ago. Russell is a hardened felon, prolific burglar and reputed Outfit hit man. He’s considered a top member of the Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew and is a brother-in-law to crew leader and alleged Chicago mafia street boss Albert (Albie the Falcon) Vena, a man some call the most feared man currently walking the streets of the Windy City.

In December 2016, Russell was arrested by an undercover ATF agent when he showed up at a downtown Chicago deli in the South Loop to purchase a bundle of eight weapons, including a sub machine gun and an AK-47 assault rifle. The agent infiltrated Russell’s inner circle in the months preceding the bust and recorded the convicted murderer and sex offender bragging of killing a local African-American gangbanger, pulling off 2,000 burglaries and his intention of using a blow torch to get a potential future robbery victim to open his safe.

“Nothing gets my juices flowing like putting a gun to someone’s head, taking their stuff and making it mine,” he bragged to the undercover agent at a Wicker Park restaurant and tavern.

Back in January, Russell was granted bond to await trial at his girlfriend’s suburban Chicago home due to medical issues, specifically his battle with late-stage prostate cancer. At a court hearing on Thursday, he admitted to possessing a 38-caliber pistol when he was apprehended. The mandatory minimum sentence for a convicted felon possessing a firearm is 15 years. His sentencing is scheduled for August.

Attorneys for the 68-year old Russell speculate their client won’t live past this summer. Russell’s girlfriend is a niece of slain Chicago mob figure Tony (The Ant) Spilotro, the Outfit’s representative in Las Vegas in the 1970s and first-half of the 1980s until he was murdered for repeated insubordination in June 1986. Spilotro was portrayed by Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci in the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie Casino.

Chuckie Russell

Albie Vena, dubbed by some the Outfit’s New Millennium version of Spilotro for his diminutive appearance and aptitude for violence, is married to another one of Tony the Ant’s nieces. Spilotro spawned from the same Westside mob regime Russell belongs to and  Vena now heads. Vena has been the target of a multi-agency racketeering and murder probe for the last four years.

According to sources, Vena assumed command of the Grand Avenue crew in the mid-to-late 2000s, following his predecessor and former Spilotro captain Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo’s imprisonment from the famed Operation Family Secrets case, which finally solved Spilotro’s murder. Russell was groomed in Outfit affairs by Lombardo and Lombardo’s dreaded right-hand man Francis (Frank the German) Schweihs, a notorious enforcer with dozens of alleged hits under his belt. Schweihs was indicted with Lombardo in the Family Secrets case, but died of cancer in 2008 before he reached trial.

Russell was convicted of a murder in 1973 and served two decades in prison for a gruesome sexual assault – in 1992, he raped a woman and threw her out of a second-story window. He was paroled from his rape case in 2011.


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