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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Catholic priest plotted with notorious Chiacgo mobster to recover $26 million dollar violin

Frank Calabrese Sr
It began with Communion. Kneeling in his maximum security prison cell Frank Calabrese Sr, a brutal "made man" in the Chicago mob, bowed his head as a chaplain administered the Sacrament through a slot in his cell door.
The septuagenarian Calabrese, known as "Frankie Breeze," had been convicted for his role in 13 murders, strangling some of the victims with rope and slashing their throats.
But he was not seeking forgiveness. Instead, when Father Eugene Klein was done Calabrese surreptitiously passed him a note hidden in some religious reading materials.
The note contained details on the whereabouts of a rare 250-year-old violin the mobster had hidden before he was jailed. The instrument was purportedly a Stradivarius worth up to $26 million that once belonged to Liberace.
At the prison in Springfield, Missouri no one had suspected the mild-mannered, elderly Klein, a priest for 40 years, of being in cahoots with the mob.
Calabrese, who mouthed "You are a dead man" at the prosecutor in his trial, was in the most extreme form of solitary confinement there. Only his lawyer and Klein were allowed contact.
For two years the priest had delivered cupcakes, chocolate, and copies of the psalms, and heard confession. Calabrese had started passing back messages to deliver to his his associates on the outside.
The note about the violin was passed in March 2011. It contained instructions that the instrument was secreted behind a wall in the loft of a summer home the aging enforcer had owned in Wisconsin.
That home had been seized by authorities and was being sold to raise the $4.4 million Calabrese was ordered to pay to his victims. He was desperate to retrieve the violin before the government.
"Be sure to have a little flashlight with you so you can see," the note instructed the priest. "Make a right when you go into that little pull out door. Go all the way to the wall. That is where the violin is."
violin Stradivarius stolen
According to prosecutors Klein then told prison officials he needed time off to tend to his sick mother. Instead, he went to Chicago to meet associates of the mobster in a restaurant called Zsa Zsa's.
He then posed as a potential buyer in an attempt to gain access to the house. But by then it had already been sold.
The case unraveled because prison guards became concerned at the frequency of the priest's visits to Calabrese's cell. A surveillance video showed him being passed something by the gangster. Klein claimed it was a chocolate bar but later "confessed" and revealed the violin note.
Klein, 66, appeared in court in Chicago wearing his dog collar and gripping a cane and the judge addressed him as "Father."
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and faces a maximum of five years in jail when he is sentenced on June 23.
Calabrese died in prison in 2012 aged 75 and the violin he had been so desperate to recover was never found.
At another of his homes documents were discovered relating to a 1764 violin. A certificate said it bore the emblem with the "Stradivari" but was made by Giuseppe Antonio Artalli. Prosecutors have said they believed the instrument was worth millions.
Thomas Durkin, Klein's lawyer, said the priest suffered a "lapse of judgment" and was a "man who's done good things."
He said it was "anyone's guess" whether the violin ever existed, saying the the search for it was like "looking for a unicorn."



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