Received an email from a reader who shared his own personal opinion and experiences with running into Nick Calabrese around his neighborhood in Chicago. Nick is currently in the Federal Witness Protection Program and expected to be a key witness U.S. Attorney in their Operation Family Secrets trial later this summer.
I used to go into a cafe on Cumberland just north or Lawrence several years back called Il Cafe'. I was in there one day with one of my friends and their was this large older man about 6'2 or so with salt and pepper hair and beedy eyes. He was "cut up" as in lean and muscular. I said to my buddy Brian "that guys in the mob." My friend Brian laughed at me and said "that's Nicole's father." I guess Nicole was some girl he knew. Brian said "he was in jail with those kind of guys but he's not in the mob."
Another time I was in Il Cafe' and the gentleman came in again. I was standing at the counter drinking an espresso. The gentleman was talking to the girl about a squirmish that had taken place the night before in which he pulled a gun out to scare off some punks, as the girl had stated. She said "Nick you had a gun I saw it." He said "maybe you thought you saw and gun but you didn't and that's what you should tell the police." She said "but Nick you did have a gun." Nick then left the cafe. I told the girl "you know that guys a mobster." "Don't you understand what he's trying to tell you?" She laughed at me and said I was "crazy" "Nick's not in the mob." I couldn't believe her stupidity.
The last time I saw Nick I was standing again at the counter drinking an espresso and he came in and starting teasing the girl behind the counter. He then looked at me and said "is this your girlfriend?" To which I replied "no." He then asked "do you speak Italian?" To which I answered "no." and he ignored me after that.
I can tell you that this man gave me chills. He didn't dress flashy or stick out. He would always wear Levi's a t-shirt and slip ons with no socks. But when you looked at him you knew he was tough and commanded respect without acting like a tough guy. His eyes were very small and dark you couldn't even see the whites of them.
It was until a year or two after this I seen an article in the Sun Times with an old picture of him and about "operation family secrets."
Either I have good instincts or people are really naive, LOL.