The Chicago Syndicate: Judge Rules Alleged Mobster, Frank Calabrese, Should Stay Behind Bars

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Judge Rules Alleged Mobster, Frank Calabrese, Should Stay Behind Bars

A federal judge ordered Monday that alleged mobster Frank J. Calabrese Sr. should stay behind bars while he awaits trial on murder conspiracy charges.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said none of the suggested conditions for Calabrese's release "could reasonably ensure against attempts to obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses." Zagel sided with the prosecution, saying there was a "serious risk" Calabrese would attempt to prevent testimony from his brother and other potential witnesses "through intimidation, injury or bribery."

Defense attorney Joseph Lopez has argued that Calabrese is unlikely to flee if released on bond and won't obstruct justice by contacting witnesses. Lopez also has said Calabrese would be avoided by anyone connected with organized crime. Lopez said he does not know whether he will appeal the ruling. The U.S. attorney's office did not immediately returns calls for comment.

Convicted in a federal investigation of loan sharking and other crimes, Calabrese was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison and was due to be released this year before he was indicted on the murder conspiracy charges in April 2005.

Defense attorneys sought Calabrese's release on medical grounds. Calabrese told Zagel last year he suffers from an array of health concerns, including arthritis, nose problems and the loss of 90 percent of his pituitary gland.

During a hearing last week, prosecutors played a series of secretly recorded conversations between Calabrese and his son, Frank Calabrese Jr., that they claim show the elder Calabrese's involvement in several murders.

The government alleges Calabrese was a member of the South Side/26th Street crew and, with others, murdered 13 people in Chicago and surrounding suburbs between August 1970 and September 1986.

According to prosecutors, Calabrese's victims included reputed mob enforcer William Dauber and reputed mob hit man William "Butch" Petrocelli.

He is among 14 alleged mobsters and mob associates indicted in the federal government's Operation Family Secrets, a long-running investigation of at least 18 mob killings. Each of the men faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Calabrese's brother, Nicholas W. Calabrese, also was charged but has been cooperating with prosecutors.

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