The Chicago Syndicate: Jewelery Inventory from Frank Calabrese Sr's House

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Jewelery Inventory from Frank Calabrese Sr's House

Maybe it was the striped T-neck that flattered his he-man chest.

Or it could have been the unshaven jowls, a look that would one day define actor Patrick Dempsey of TV's Grey's Anatomy.

Whatever Chicago hoodlum Frank Calabrese Sr. had on Dec. 6, 1990 _ the day the FBI snapped his portrait _ it must have been quite an aphrodisiac.

Maybe the dolled-up 40-somethings who used to populate Giannotti's piano bar back then knew what made Frank such a ladies' man. But common civilians like me didn't have a clue until the U.S. Marshal's Service and the FBI found solid proof in his Oak Brook house.

Solid gold, silver and platinum mostly.

Lots of it.

Forty-four diamond engagement rings.

Unless your name was Donald Trump, who would need that many engagement rings?

Besides, Calabrese himself is in prison until the end of time or his heart gives out, whichever comes first. But when federal agents showed up at the home where his wife still lives to collect items that could pay off his government debt, they found all those engagement rings. And the feds found some other pieces of jewelry that would tickle a few fancies, most of them stored in a hollowed-out basement wall behind a photo collage of Calabrese's kids and grandkids.

According to U.S. Marshal's inventory records, there were hundreds of other items, including wedding and cocktail rings _ each set with expensive gemstones; diamond necklaces and pendants; diamond earrings and specialty women's jewelry featuring anniversary and birthday greetings.

Also found were boxes full of loose stones that appeared to be diamonds, rubies and emeralds. Apparently Mr. Calabrese offered custom jewelry to the ladies as well. Not bad for a fourth-grade dropout who twice went AWOL from the military.

Some of the expensive trinkets inventoried by federal marshals are a mystery however, such as the single earring that was found... unless of course it was intended for the wife of Frankie "One Ear" Fratto as some kind of inside-Outfit joke.

Or maybe that was all Calabrese could grab off the ear of a mob murder victim as the sirens got closer. The mob hitman was found responsible for 13 gangland slayings during Operation Family Secrets. He did however deny them to the end, testifying in court that he "loved" each and every victim. And some of the jewelry found in his stash indicates he was indeed a man of peace and love. Deputy marshals found pendants of "Jesus at the cross," another sporting "Jesus face with stones" along with several cross necklaces and a rosary.

Most attention after the raid was focused on $750,000 in cash, seven guns and some secret tapes that Calabrese recorded of conversations with other wiseguys. The jewelry haul got short shrift. But it may have said more about Frank Calabrese Sr. himself than the rest, although his lawyer maintained that Calabrese knew nothing about any of it.

The feds also recovered a handful of those obligatory Italian horns in gold that were seen hanging from neck chains on the Sopranos. There were some fur coats, three knives, two money clips and just one bracelet. Either Calabrese exhausted his supply of wrist-wear or bracelets weren't real popular with his lady friends.

In an industry where the top leaders all have nicknames, such as the Clown, Wings and No-Nose, Calabrese's moniker always seemed a little soft for such a big shot.

"Frank the Breeze" is how he is known. That hardly befits a reigning Chicago Mob boss who, at the dangerous age of 71, has been in solitary confinement for more than a year because of a vile death threat uttered at a federal prosecutor.

Calabrese is at a federal prison medical center in Springfield, Missouri, and didn't even find out for days that the government took all of his jewels. But now that we know he was really just a misunderstood master of passion; a man who simply enjoyed romancing with the stones, perhaps it is time to decorate him with a more suitable nickname.

Frank "Mcdreamy" Calabrese.

Patrick Dempsey, eat your heart out.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

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