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Deputy U.S. Marshal Ambrose guilty on two charges

April 28, 2009

A jury Tuesday convicted a decorated deputy U.S. marshal of leaking secret government information that made its way to the mob in the first known breach of the "holy of holies" -- the federal Witness Security Program.

John Ambrose's disclosure to a friend about a mob witness was "an unforgivable sin," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro said.

Ambrose, 42, leaked the information after guarding a mob informant in 2002 and 2003. He was acquitted of lying to federal agents.

Ambrose wiped away tears after the verdict and embraced his wife. A father of four, he was the second highest-ranking member of a fugitive task force before he was charged in 2006 and put on unpaid leave.

Ambrose plans to appeal, partially based on a secret FBI recording of two mobsters talking. Jurors were shown the video before Judge John Grady said he erred and ordered them not to consider it as evidence.

"It's certainly very difficult to unring a bell," Ambrose's attorney, Frank Lipuma, said.

Ambrose was convicted of leaking information he learned about a mob investigation while guarding Nicholas Calabrese, the highest ranking Chicago mobster-turned-snitch. Calabrese's testimony put 11 mobsters behind bars in the Family Secrets case.

Ambrose said he never meant to harm anyone and had simply boasted to family friend William Guide about his assignment. Guide, a former cop who served prison time, was known to have mob pals, prosecutors said.

"Not intending to hurt anyone is not an excuse," Shapiro said.

Ambrose will remain free on bond until his sentencing.

Juror Matt Anderson, 37, a civil engineer from Frankfort, said deliberations went smoothly. "Everybody had their point of view and everyone was heard," he said.

Contributing: SouthtownStar