Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Dentist Who Drilled the Mob

Friends of ours: Tony Spilotro, Nick Calabrese, Frank Calabrase Sr., James Marcello, Joseph "Joey The Clown" Lombardo, Frank "The German" Schweihs
Friends of mine: Michael Spilotro, Frank Calabrese Jr.

It is the stuff of novels: a dentist on the trail of his brothers' killers who learns to extract more than teeth.

When Patrick Spilotro, 70, takes the stand this week in the federal "Family Secrets" mob trial, the gruesome odyssey of a brother thirsty for justice will unfold with a few shocking surprises.

In an interview last week, Spilotro detailed his obsession with bringing his brothers' killers to justice.

Spilotro told Michael Sneed: "I promised my mother 21 years ago I would find the men who did it; who butchered my brothers and tortured her sons. We talked about it before she died in 1995. You never get over something like that. But I told her I would never give up."

Sneed is told mobster Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, who was hiding in Chicago in hopes of not becoming part of the "Family Secrets" trial, was captured as a result of a visit to Spilotro's office for dental problems. A tooth abscess led the feds to the flamboyant mobster.

The story of how Spilotro, a suburban dentist, helped break the backbone of the old Chicago mob syndicate is the detritus of two decades spent searching for 12 men who beat and strangled his brothers, reputed mobsters Tony and Michael Spilotro. The menburied them in an unmarked grave in an Indiana cornfield in 1986.

It was the flipping of mobster Nick Calabrese and his nephew, Frank Calabrese Jr., that cracked the "Family Secrets" case. And it was Spilotro, who began working with the feds 21 years ago, who helped them do it.

Secretly taping Nick Calabrese while in prison for extortion, Spilotro primed the pump of redemption with the help of his dental patient, Nick's wife, Nora. And it was Spilotro who tracked down Frank "The German" Schweihs, a reputed mob killer, in his Kentucky lair by tracing multiple cell phones used by Schweihs' son, Sneed hears.

Many of these men and their wives and kids and grandparents were patients of Spilotro over a 35-year span.

Spilotro did not know Calabrese was one of his brothers' murderers, and told Sneed that it would have been impossible for him to talk to Calabrese had he known.

Spilotro's intention was to get Calabrese to tell him what happened that night when a mobster named James Marcello, described in 2005 as the boss of the Chicago outfit, allegedly called Michael Spilotro's home and summoned him to the meeting that led to his death. Michael's daughter, Michelle, will reportedly testify that it was Marcello's voice she heard on the phone that night.

It was the flipping of Nick Calabrese that broke the case. But during Spilotro's meeting with the underworld kingpin, Spilotro discovered Calabrese hated his brother, Frank, whom he considered a dangerous psychopath. Spilotro also told the feds Frank Calabrese's son, Frank Jr., hated his father; important information for the feds to build a scenario to subsequently flip them, sources said.

Armed with Spilotro's information, and subsequent DNA evidence linking Calabrese to a mob hit, the feds were able to flip Calabrese -- whose wife, Nora, had urged him to cooperate.

Spilotro never knew of Nick Calabrese's involvement in his brothers' demise.

"They never told him that they did it," a source said. "But there's no honor amongst these men," said Spilotro. "No respect. They are all a different breed. Money and power are their gods, nothing else."

Thanks to Michael Sneed

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