Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chaplain accused of passing mob killer's messages

Rev. Eugene Klein, left, and Frank Calabrese Sr.  

A Roman Catholic priest who ministered to convicted mob hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. in federal prison  allegedly passed secret messages and agreed to try to recover a hidden violin -- supposedly an expensive Stradivarius -- from one of the mobster’s homes, according to court documents.

Eugene Klein met the mobster while working in a federal prison medical center in Springfield, Mo. where Calabrese is serving a life sentence in connection with 13 murders.

Klein is accused of helping Calabrese circumvent conditions that were imposed to prevent him from having contact with others. Klein was allowed to have close and frequent contact with Calabrese because of his position as a priest and the trust that came with it, a federal indictment alleges. Klein had been informed of the restrictions placed on Calabrese.

In March of this year, Calabrese told Klein he had hidden a Stradivarius violin -- which Calabrese claimed was worth millions of dollars -- at his Williams Bay, Wis. home, the indictment alleges.

Calabrese wanted to get the violin out of his Wisconsin home to prevent the government from selling the instrument and using the proceeds toward $4.4. million in restitution ordered by a judge. A search of Calabrese’s residence in west suburban Oak Brook in March 2010 uncovered a certificate for a violin made in 1764 by Giuseppe Antonio Artalli, not Antonius Stradivarius, according to the indictment.

Calabrese slipped notes to Klein through a food slot and passed them along to another person, whose name was not released, according to court documents.

The priest also allegedly passed along specific questions from Calabrese to the unnamed person and then even helped devise a scheme in which he, the unnamed person and someone identified only as Individual A would to go to Wisconsin home, which was up for sale, distract the real estate agent and search for the violin.

Klein traveled to a Barrington restaurant to meet Individual A to work out the plot, which involved them posing as potential buyers, according to the indictment. It was not clear if they ever gained access to the house. The government said it searched, but found no violin.

After he was sentenced, restrictions were placed on the people Calabrese could see. His access to mail was also limited, and his outgoing letters were reviewed.

The indictment did not say what, if anything, Klein received from Calabrese for helping him. Each of the two counts in the indictment carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. 


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