Thursday, February 07, 2008

Alleged Mob Associate: "We Put the Boots to Him..."

The former right-hand man of reputed mob killer Anthony Calabrese had a simple explanation for jurors Tuesday about how the two men roughed up a suspected snitch.

"We both got to stomping," explained Robert Cooper, testifying against his former friend on the second day of Calabrese's trial.

"We put the boots to him. We both had steel-toed boots," Cooper said.

The victim, Edmund Frank, really was an informant and happened to be wearing a secret recording device for the feds while taking the beating. Jurors might hear a recording of the brutal attack today.

Calabrese is the chief suspect in the last known mob hit in the Chicago area, the 2001 shooting death of top mobster Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, as well as the 1997 attempted murder of a Naperville woman.

Cooper pleaded guilty to helping Calabrese in the 2001 mob hit and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. While Calabrese hasn't been charged with the murder and attempted murder, he's on trial for three armed robberies of suburban businesses, including the 2001 ripoff of a leather jacket store in Morton Grove.

Calabrese faces more than 50 years behind bars if convicted, and investigators hope that long prison sentence can persuade him to reveal who hired him for the mob hit and the attempted murder.

On Tuesday, Cooper told jurors that he and Calabrese took part in the leather goods store robbery.

Cooper began cooperating in 2002, saying he was motivated by threats against his family, not the reduced prison time he eventually received for the murder.

Cooper said he fears Calabrese to this day, even though Cooper is in witness protection while in federal prison.

When asked by Calabrese's attorney whether Calabrese is the only person he's afraid of, Cooper answered, "At the moment, yes, he is."

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

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