Monday, July 16, 2007

Son Hears How Mob Hit Men Killed His Father

Tony Ortiz sat on the edge of a bench in a federal courtroom in Chicago on Wednesday, eyes intent, as he listened to a secret prison tape recording of a reputed mob hit man, Frank Calabrese Sr.

Calabrese Sr. was allegedly describing how shotgun ammunition obliterated Ortiz's father, Richard, when he was killed in 1983.

"Tore 'em up bad," Calabrese Sr. said on the recording, played during the Family Secrets trial. "Big, big bearings," he said. "So them, them will f - - - - - - tear half your body apart."

Calabrese Sr. was describing the murder to his son Frank Calabrese Jr., whom he was grooming to take over his Outfit crew.

Instead, Calabrese Jr. was on the stand Wednesday, explaining the recordings he secretly made of his father while they were in prison in 1999. Calabrese Jr. wants his father, accused of 13 hits, in prison for good.

"God works in mysterious ways," Tony Ortiz said after the testimony.

Calabrese Sr. "bragged about the bullets tearing up my dad," Ortiz said. "It had to be tearing him up inside to see his son testify against him."

Calabrese Sr. contended Ortiz was killed because he was dealing drugs and doing juice loans without Outfit permission.

Tony Ortiz was only 12 when his father died and said he doesn't know what his father did, besides run a bar in Cicero. Ortiz, now 36 and with four kids of his own, just knows his dad didn't deserve to die, and so brutally.

Also slain was Ortiz's friend Arthur Morawski, who had nothing to do with Outfit life but happened to be with his friend in Ortiz's car.

"The Polish guy that was with him was a nice guy, OK?" Calabrese Sr. said on the tape. "But he happened to be at the wrong place."

Morawski sold Ortiz glasses for the bar Ortiz ran in Cicero on 22nd Street, the His 'N' Mine Lounge.

The two friends had just returned from the racetrack when Calabrese Sr. pulled up beside them with two Outfit killers in the car -- his brother and Outfit hit man Nick Calabrese, and the late reputed mob killer James DiForti.

Calabrese Sr. said the two gunmen froze when they pulled up to kill Ortiz. Calabrese Sr. said they had been stalking Ortiz for nine months.

Calabrese Sr. recalled how he had to nudge the men to leave the car. "OK now, out. Out, out, get out," Calabrese Sr. said on tape with a chuckle. "He was laughing about it," Tony Ortiz said. "That's what kills me the most."

Next to Ortiz in the courtroom was his mother, who wiped away tears, and his uncle, who sat stoically.

Calabrese Sr.'s attorney, Joseph Lopez, will begin cross-examining Frank Calabrese Jr. today. While Lopez hasn't addressed the Cicero killings, he has argued that much of the tape is a father making false boasts.

Calabrese Sr. detailed how the men prepared for the hit, from testing the shotguns to making sure the gunmen emptied their weapons into the victims.

Tony Ortiz said he got a little satisfaction watching Calabrese Sr.'s son testify against him.

"You can tell on the tapes he really loves his son," Ortiz said. "He still has the opportunity to talk to his son, although I doubt that will ever happen," Ortiz said. "I would give anything in the world to go out to the racetrack one more time with my dad."

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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