The lawyer for a former prison chaplain awaiting sentencing for passing notes from convicted Chicago Outfit boss Frank Calabrese Sr. accused federal prosecutors Wednesday of making "inaccurate and highly inflammatory" claims that the priest had also divulged the secret location of the mobster's turncoat brother.
Prosecutors alleged in a sentencing memorandum earlier this week that Eugene Klein had revealed secret information to Calabrese about the location of his brother, Nicholas, who was in the federal witness protection program after his stunning decision to cooperate brought about the landmark Operation Family Secrets probe.
In a court filing Wednesday, however, attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin wrote that Klein never knew where Nicholas Calabrese was being held and never took any steps to find out, even though as an employee of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, he could have done so.
Durkin called the allegations "consistent with the hostile and over-the-top position the government has taken throughout this case." He asked U.S. District Judge John Darrah to strike the references to Nicholas Calabrese from the court record and possibly delay Klein's Thursday sentencing so the judge can hold an evidentiary hearing into the matter.
Klein, a Roman Catholic priest, admitted in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he violated the most restrictive prison security measures possible that had been placed on Calabrese by conspiring with the convicted hit man to recover a supposedly rare 18th-century Stradivarius violin said to be hidden in the mobster's vacation home.
In asking for the maximum of five years in prison, prosecutors alleged for the first time Monday that Klein had also revealed information about the location of Nicholas Calabrese despite knowing that he "was in grave danger" because of his cooperation with law enforcement. But Durkin included in his filing an FBI report that showed Klein had told agents in April 2011 that another inmate had told him he knew where Nicholas Calabrese was located. Klein relayed the message to Frank Calabrese Sr., who "asked Klein to find out all he could about the matter," the FBI report stated.
"Although Klein did not intend to do anything more, he told Calabrese that he would see what he could do," the report said. Klein, however, was never told which prison the inmate thought Nicholas Calabrese was in and he never took any other steps to find out, according to the report. Nicholas Calabrese was behind bars at the time for unrelated mob charges.
Nicholas Calabrese was the first made member of the Chicago Outfit to testify against his cohorts, and his testimony at the Family Secrets trial in 2007 led to life sentences for several Chicago mobsters, including his brother. Although he admitted to killing 14 people for the Outfit, Nicholas Calabrese was given just 12 years in prison because of his unprecedented cooperation.
Frank Calabrese Sr. was first placed under special administrative measures after he was allegedly seen in court mouthing, "You are a (expletive) dead man," at a federal prosecutor.
Thanks to Jason Meisner.
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