Thursday, February 02, 2006

Co-Defendants Won't Speak to Reputed Hit Man

Friends of ours: Frank Calabrese Sr., Frank Calabrese Jr., Nick Calabrese, James Marcello, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo

Mob loan shark and reputed hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. has been shunned by his family. His brother, Nick, is testifying against him at trial. So is his son, Frank Jr. And now, even his fellow reputed mobsters behind bars with him aren't eager to chat with him, according to court filings.

Calabrese Sr. is banned from associating in jail with several of the reputed mobsters who are charged with him in a federal case that lays 18 unsolved murders on the Outfit. Calabrese Sr. is charged with taking part in 13 slayings.

Calabrese Sr. wants to talk about the court case and work on a defense with the other men charged, including reputed Chicago mob boss James Marcello. But his fellow mobsters aren't lining up for a chat. None of their lawyers has joined in Calabrese's request, according to the feds. "Put another way," federal prosecutor Mitchell A. Mars writes, "while [Calabrese Sr.] expresses an interest in meeting with his co-defendants, none has expressed an interest in meeting with him."

Calabrese Sr.'s family has provided a mother lode of evidence for the federal government. Calabrese Sr.'s brother, Nick, has confessed to 15 mob hits and is cooperating with the investigators. Calabrese Sr.'s son, Frank Jr., secretly recorded his father while both men were in prison on another case. Calabrese Jr., who is not charged in the current case, made the recordings at risk to his life in an effort to ensure his father never gets out of prison.

On the recordings, Calabrese Sr. allegedly talks of murders that he and other men were involved in. The tapes are expected to be key evidence at trial, which could take place later this year.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, Joseph Lopez, said he can't believe his client's co-defendants wouldn't want to meet with him. There is no bad blood, for instance, between Calabrese Sr. and Marcello, Lopez said. "I don't think anything was ever bad between them," Lopez said.

Rick Halprin, the attorney for reputed mobster Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo, said his client has no need to meet with Calabrese Sr. because Lombardo doesn't know him. A source familiar with both men, however, has said that while the two men didn't socialize in public, they did know each other.

It's not uncommon for prosecutors or jail officials to keep criminal defendants charged in conspiracy cases -- whether mobsters or gang-bangers -- separated from one another at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, officials said.

Prosecutors contend that letting the men meet could allow them to conspire against witnesses. Lopez scoffed at that, saying "that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." "What legitimate reason do they have? I see none," Lopez said.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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