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Mob Con 2013 Las Vegas Part IIII Frank Calabrese Jr.

Submitted by on Wednesday, 30 October 20132 Comments

Being from the Chicagoland area I was very familiar with the Family Secrets Trial. This was the largest trial of its kind as it named the entire Chicago Outfit (mob) as a criminal enterprise. The reason that it was called the Family Secrets Trial is because of who the Confidential Informant (C.I.) was and who the C.I. was informing on. The C.I. was Frank Calabrese Jr. and he was informing on his father, Frank Calabrese Sr. While I was at Mob Con 2013 in Las Vegas, I was able to meet Frank Calabrese Jr. and this in part is his story.

Frank Calabrese Sr Mugshot Chicago 1990

Frank Calabrese Sr Mugshot Chicago 1990

Frank Calabrese Sr. was born on the West side of Chicago. He dropped out of school very young and sold newspapers as a kid. He came from a poor family and started a life of crime. Eventually he would work his way into loan sharking and illegal gambling. When a debtor could not pay the high interest on a loan, Frank Sr. would take their car, their business, or anything of value for the debt. He took over a repair shop that had arranged to do repair work for Cellozi-Ettelson Chevrolet. At one time they were the largest Chevrolet dealer in the country and If you are from the Chicagoland area in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, you will always remember their commercials, “where you always save more money.” Frank worked for Angelo “the Hook” LaPietra in the 26th or Chinatown crew. Angelo was an Outfit boss and got his nickname because he would take his victims and put them on meat hooks piercing through their ribs. Frank Sr. would also kill in the name of the Outfit. He would become a Made Guy and later a Capo under LaPietra.

Frank Sr.’s brother Nick Calabrese started to help his older brother in his loan sharking business. Nick was not like his brother. He graduated from high school and even served in Vietnam. He was more soft spoken then his brother Frank but always looked up to him. From helping his brother out with the “juice” loans, he quickly graduated to becoming one of the Outfit’s hit men. Nick became a Made Guy like his brother but never made Capo.

Frank Sr. had quite the reputation on the street and people were afraid not to pay Frank’s father. He started to groom Frank Jr. in his teens. In other families across the country, family members are often fast tracked into the mob. The Chicago Outfit was different. The Chicago Outfit did not encourage bringing family members into the mob. It was an unspoken rule. A rule that Frank Sr. would ignore.

Frank Sr. would approach Frank Jr. as a teenager, and tell him that he would need help today. He was bringing in his son slowly into the mob, and Frank Jr. was showing promise. He started moving up the crime ladder, he moved to arson, extortion, and beating up people. Frank Sr. was seeing his son as an opportunity to make money and strengthen his crew. To understand Frank Jr.’s story you have to go back in time.

Nick Calabrese Mugshot Chicago 1990

Nick Calabrese Mugshot Chicago 1990

In September of 1986 the Outfit ordered a hit on John Fecarotta. Frank Calabrese Sr.’s crew was tapped to do the job. Fecarotta was an enforcer that fell out of favor for not kicking up what he should to the Outfit’s leadership. This was going to be Frank Jr.’s initiation to kill. Frank Sr., Frank Jr., and Nick Calabrese practiced the hit in their basement. Nick spoke up and told Frank Sr., that he should be the one to do it. This deprived Frank Jr. from doing his very first hit. Frank Jr. was upset because he really wanted to show his father that he was ready to be a full fledge working member in his father’s crew.

Four years later, after being deprived of being a hitman for the Chicago Outfit, Frank Jr. was married with a daughter. This caused problems between him and his father. Frank Jr. was often late meeting with his father, or he would have some kind of commitment to his family that he would attend to. Frank Sr. would find this all very inexcusable. It got to the degree of his father beating him, or full on assaulting him. Whenever he would earn some money, he would have to give it to his father. This created a lot of stress for Frank Jr. He turned to using cocaine as a way to escape his enforcer father.

It was difficult for Frank to deal with his father. His father demanded that he would be on call 24/7. Should he not be available when needed, his father answered with a barrage of left and rights. Frank Jr. was loyal to this man and this is what he gets in return. He feels that he needs to get away from his father, so he needs to get some money together. Frank Jr. decides that he is going to get the money from his father.

His father had money hidden everywhere. It was in the millions of dollars and Frank Jr. knew where it was all hidden. He was going to take some money from his father. He may have been Frank’s father but he was also a killer. He would often beat and choke his victims to death. Once he thought that they were dead, he would slit their throat to make sure that they stayed dead. Now Frank Jr. was going to take money from this man, his father, and Outfit killer.

Frank Jr. winds up taking over $800,000 dollars. Not what he took originally but over time, with an increasing drug habit, that is what he took. He used some of that money to buy cocaine to sell. This was Tony Accardo’s Chicago Outfit, and under Tony’s rules drug dealers were dealt with in the same way, murdered! That is exactly what is going to happen to Frank Jr. if the word gets out on the street that he is dealing cocaine. Frank Jr.’s client base included cops, lawyers, mayors, and even senators. He was that secretive and trusted by these men.

Frank Calabrese Jr on ABC News Chicago

Frank Calabrese Jr on ABC News Chicago

Four years later, Frank Sr. takes an audit of his stash of cash and finds $800,000 missing. Frank Sr. marched to Frank Jr.’s house. Frank Jr. can see the 10,000 mile stare in his father’s eyes through the window of the door. Nobody stole $800,000 from Frank and lived to see another day. Frank Sr. asks for his money and Frank Jr. denies knowing anything about it. Frank Sr. assaults his son and told him that he wants that money back. He tells his son that everything that is yours is now mine and that includes you. I own you! Frank Sr. orders his son to call him three times a day. After being treated like a slave by his father, Frank Jr. could not take it anymore, and he stops calling his father.

That did not last long. There were other sides to Frank Sr. than just the brutal enforcer and loan shark. Sometimes he could act like a dad and that is what Frank Jr. was trying to connect to all of his life. His father called him and it seemed like he was having a good day. Frank Jr. is going to make the most of it and meets up with his dad. They were walking through a side door of a garage and  his father is right behind him as he unlocks the door, walking into the garage.  At that moment Frank Jr. realizes that he is being set up, his father is going to kill him.

Frank Sr. pushes his son into the garage grabbing him by the throat and pointing a gun in his face. His dad was going to kill him, but Frank Jr. pleads to his father. He tells his dad that he needs help. He has a drug problem and he does not understand why he does the things that he does. He needs help and only his father is able to give him the help that he needs. Frank Sr. pulls back and for whatever reason his son is going to make it out of the garage alive.

Maybe distracted by their dysfunctional relationship, the Calabress’ do not notice that they were being watched by the FBI for the last five years. Frank Sr., Frank Jr., Nick Calabrese, and other members of the crew are all arrested. They are charged with extortion, mail fraud, conspiracy and racketeering. Frank Sr. approached his son and asked him to plea him out so he is out of this. His father will make this even with him for the money that he took. Frank Jr. comes to the realization that his father was never going to be a father. He was always going to be a mobster that hustles business for the Outfit. Outfit business was always going to come before his son or before anything else for that matter.

They all plead guilty to the charges. Frank Jr. starts to serve his time early so he can get away from his father. Before Frank Jr. went to start to serve his time, his father and himself met at the lawyers office to talk. It felt like a father and son type of moment. Frank Sr. thinks that they should make a vow to one another. Frank Jr. agrees, and tell his father that he is never going to do drugs again. Frank Sr. vows to his son that he is going to step back from the Outfit. Frank Jr. was living up to his vow but his father was not. He was still running his crew from prison.

Frank Jr. knows that things are not going to change with his father. That means things are not going to change for him. What was Jr. going to become? Maybe a hitman for the Chicago Outfit? There was no way out without becoming a cold blooded killer for Frank Jr. except for one.

Paul Scharff and Frank Calabrese Jr. at Mob Con 2013 on September 7th. Frank turned Government Witness and brought down the leadership of Chicago Outfit, in the Family Secrets Trial.

Paul Scharff and Frank Calabrese Jr. at Mob Con 2013 on September 7th. Frank turned Government Witness and brought down the leadership of Chicago Outfit, in the Family Secrets Trial.

From prison Frank Jr. types up a letter to a FBI agent that had arrested him. In this letter he told them that he wanted to help them keep his father in prison for the rest of his life. He does not want a reduction in his prison term, or any money in return. The feds take Frank Jr. up on what he knows. He started to wear a wire recording his conversations with his father at the prison.

Frank Jr. had to get his father to talk about all the crimes that he committed. The murders, the extortions, and anything else that he could get his father to own up to on the wire. Frank Jr. approached his dad and said, you told me that the Outfit doesn’t kill innocent people, but you killed an innocent woman. Frank Sr. right away corrected his son and told him that he did not kill that woman, he was sitting in the lookout vehicle. This first omission was conspiracy. From there Frank Sr. would talk about a couple of other murders he had committed and another conspiracy he was involved in.

In June of 2007 was the beginning of the Family Secrets Trial. This would rock the foundations of the Chicago Outfit. After years of collecting evidence there were 14 indictments made against the Chicago Outfit. The five main defendants in the case was Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo, Paul “The Indian” Schiro, and Anthony “Twan” Doyle. Frank Jr.’s uncle, Nick Calabrese turned government witness against his brother and the Outfit.

The murder of John Fecarotta, the murder that Frank Jr. was suppose to do until his Uncle intervened, was botched. Fecarotta was killed, but Nick left a bloody glove behind. The feds were able to lock in Frank Jr.’s story with the DNA on that glove. The feds admitted that they never would have suspected Nick Calabrese as being a hitman, he just seemed to mild mannered to be that ruthless. 18 murders were finally put to rest. This even included the murders of Tony and Michael Spilotro back in 1986. Their murders were portrayed in the Movie CASINO when they were beaten to death and buried in a corn field.

This case hit kind of close to home for me too. James Marcello is/was (I just don’t know for sure) the Chicago Outfit boss. His half brother was named Michael “Mickey” Marcello. He was my father’s vendor for the coin operated devices for both of our bars. He is in my book MURDER IN MCHENRY as Mickey “the Jukebox Guy,” and he gave me a full size video game machine called Ambush for my bedroom as a kid. He was convicted in the Family Secret trial for an illegal video-poker business. This was unrelated to Frank Jr.’s testimony.

Frank Calabrese Jr. has since written a book called Operation Family Secrets, it is a New York Times Best Seller. He lives a normal life with his family, not living in the witness protection program. When I met him, he was very hospitable and very kind. I was happy that he was willing to trade books with me and I enjoyed our conversation. I hope that Frank Jr. always stays safe.

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