Monday, July 09, 2007

The Outfit Family, Your Blood Family, and God, in that Order

Friends of ours: Frank Calabrese Sr.,
Friends of mine: Frank Calabrese Jr., Joel Glickman

The eldest son of reputed mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr. testified today that his dad schooled him in the ways of the Outfit, making it understood that the Chicago crime syndicate was meant to be more important to its members than anything—even family and God.

Frank Calabrese Jr.Frank Calabrese Jr., 47, took the stand again today for a little more than an hour, before a break gave prosecutors the opportunity to call witness Joel Glickman, a former mob-connected sports bookmaker who went to jail a week ago rather than testify against Calabrese Sr.

Much of Calabrese's testimony this morning dealt with the minutiae of Outfit life, such as how he spoke in code with his father, how juice loans were calculated and his work with his uncle Nicholas Calabrese in enforcing bans on illegal activity in parts of the Chicago area without Outfit approval.

"We would use brothers, code them as sisters," Calabrese Jr. said.

His father, himself was known as "Frankie Breeze," would give nicknames to people, Calabrese Jr. said.

Sometimes, if they were around someone from whom they wanted to mask the true nature of their conversation, they would change how they referred to someone two or three times, so it would appear to an outsider that they were having conversations about three different people, he said.

Calabrese Jr. is one of the government's two star witnesses in the trial—code named Family Secrets because defendant Frank Calabrese Sr.'s son and brother had done the unthinkable, squealing on a reputed mob brother and blood relative.

The elder Calabrese, 70, and four other men are charged with running the Chicago Outfit for decades as a racketeering conspiracy.

Calabrese Jr. testified today that there were many rules of the Outfit that his father explained over the years—"dos and don'ts, mostly don'ts."

Chief among them was where members' loyalty should lie—to the Outfit above mother, father or other relatives. "He told me . . . your family, the Outfit family, came before your blood family. . . It also came before God," Calabrese Jr. said.

Members of the Outfit were expected to be members for life, and although they could withdraw from active duty, they were expected to respond if any bosses called on them, Calabrese Jr. said.

Members could, however, be frozen out of the Outfit if they engaged in illegal activity without prior approval from an Outfit leader, stole money from an Outfit crew or started taking drugs, he said.

Calabrese Jr. testified about how he, his father and his uncle spent a few hours a week, usually each Saturday, keeping the books for their street tax, juice loan and gambling operations. He was involved in the work from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, he said.

He also demonstrated how he and others kept track of bookmakers, gamblers and others who owed his father's 26th Street crew, using cards and notes with coded names—but real dollar amounts—regarding weekly debts and payments.

Thanks to Liam Ford

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