Living out his final years in a supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado, infirmed former Chicago mob consigliere Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo is seeking relief from the court in the form of a new lawyer and the reconsideration of his murder conviction from the 2000s. The 89-year old Lombardo, notoriously colorful and eccentric, recently penned a 43-page hand-written letter to U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo pleading his case, laying out his alibi in the 1974 gangland slaying of mob associate-turned-informant Danny Seifert. Similar previous appeals by the American mob’s clown prince have been unsuccessful.

Lombardo was convicted at the landmark 2007 Family Secrets Trial and sentenced to life in prison. He had served as the Windy City crime family’s consigliere since the 1990s. Seifert’s murder was one of 18 charged in the epic federal racketeering case that brought down 14 Chicago Outfit leaders and affiliates.

Rick Halprin, Lombardo’s trial attorney, committed suicide five years ago. In Lombardo’s letter, he claimed Halprin provided an inadequate defense. Most observers at the trial were impressed with Halprin’s performance and chalked up the main reason for the conviction to Lombardo’s ill-advised decision to take the stand and testify on his own behalf. His “withdraw” defense, claiming he had retired from underworld affairs once he was incarcerated for skimming Las Vegas casinos and bribing a U.S. Senator from Nevada in the 1980s, failed to fly with the jury.

Seifert and Lombardo were friends and partners in a fiberglass manufacturing company backed by mob money. After they were indicted for embezzling funds connected to the business via a Teamsters union pension fund loan, Seifert agreed to testify against Lombardo, but was killed in the weeks prior to being able to take the stand.

At the time of Seifert’s murder, Lombardo was a rising star in Midwest mafia circles, having just been promoted to captain of the Chicago Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew on the city’s near Westside. Lombardo gained a reputation as a tough guy and a true character throughout the 1960s and first part of the 1970s, heading one of the crime family’s most-trusted enforcement units and gaining the favor and respect of several Outfit skippers and bosses.

The Family Secrets jury found Joey the Clown guilty of ordering and taking part in the much-sensationalized Seifert hit. However, he insists he was nowhere near the murder scene and he can prove it with documentation which was barred from being entered into evidence at his trial.

On the morning of September 27, 1974, Seifert, 29, was gunned down at his Bensenville, Illinois plastics factory in front of his wife and young son. A hit team of a half-dozen masked Outfit assassins carried out the job working in teams of two. Minutes after arriving for work that morning the Seifert and his family were converged upon by two assailants inside Seifert’s office. Seifert took off running through the building’s courtyard and was shot-gunned to death by a back-up duo of hit men. The remaining pair of hitters were responsible for driving the getaway and crash cars respectively, and waited in the parking lot.

During his testimony at the Family Secrets trial, Seifert’s widow Emma, told jurors she believed one of the masked men who accosted her inside her husband’s office that fateful morning was Lombardo based on his frame and the distinct way he walked.

The star witness in Family Secrets, one-time mob lieutenant Nicholas (Nicky Slim) Calabrese, recounted for jurors being told by a fellow mafia enforcer allegedly involved in the Seifert murder that Lombardo was indeed one of the two hit men that the Seiferts first encountered. Calabrese admitted to his role in 15 murders.

Another witness, Texas transplant Alva (Rabbit) Rogers, who for a short time in the 1970s served as Lombardo’s driver and point man in the porn industry, testified that Lombardo met him at a golf course the day after Seifert was slain and regaled, “That son-of-a-bitch won’t be testifying against anybody now.” Prosecutors presented to jurors the title application for one of the vehicles used in the hit with a Lombardo fingerprint on it, the lone piece of physical evidence authorities had linking him to any aspect of the crime.

According to Lombardo’s testimony at trial and documentation included in his letter to Judge Castillo this month, the morning Seifert was felled, Joey the Clown had breakfast at an International House of Pancakes, had his wallet stolen out of his car in the parking lot, went to the local police station to fill out a report and finally traveled to the Secretary of State’s office to get a new driver’s license and registration. Neither a copy of the police report nor a time-stamped receipt from the Secretary of State were allowed to be presented in the Family Secrets trial.

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