CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal prosecutors have indicted a Catholic priest for allegedly acting as a messenger while ministering to convicted Outfit hitman Frank Calabrese Sr.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty reports, Eugene Klein, 62, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, and one count of attempting to transfer Calabrese’s personal property to prevent its seizure by prosecutors, in a two-count indictment returned late Wednesday by a federal grand jury, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors say Klein tried to obstruct enforcement of restrictions placed on Calabrese, to keep him from engaging in illegal activity while in jail by restricting his contact with others.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty reports
Klein also allegedly tried to transfer a Stradivarius violin illegally from the reputed mobster’s Wisconsin residence to prevent the government from seizing it and applying its value toward a $4.4 million restitution judgment that Calabrese owes, prosecutors said.
Because of the position of trust he occupied, Klein was able to have close and frequent communication with Calabrese, the indictment alleges.
According to the indictment, Klein knew that prison rules prohibited him from taking letters and messages into and out of the prison. He also understood that rules prohibited the passing of any information or messages to or from Calabrese.
In March of this year, Calabrese told Klein that he had hidden the Stradivarius violin, which Calabrese claimed was worth millions of dollars, within the Wisconsin residence, the indictment alleges. However, paperwork found in March 2010 during a search of Calabrese’s residence in west suburban Oak Brook included a certificate for a violin made in 1764 by Giuseppe Antonio Artalli, not Antonius Stradivarius, the indictment further alleges.
After Calabrese was held responsible for 13 murders by a jury, sentenced on to life imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution totaling $44 million, law enforcement authorities began efforts to locate and seize Calabrese’s assets to satisfy the judgment he owed to the families of his murder victims, the release said.
In March 2010, agents searched Calabrese’s Oak Brook residence, as well as his home in Williams Bay, Wis.
At the Oak Brook home, agents seized cash, jewelry and other valuables hidden in a secret compartment hidden behind a false panel in the basement. The total value of the seized items was estimated to exceed $1 million, comprising $800,000 in cash and thousands more in diamonds.
Brother Nick Calabrese and sons Kurt and Frank Calabrese Jr. all helped lead federal agents to the secret compartment, sources told CBS 2 last year.
Calabrese, 72, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted last year with several other reputed members of the Chicago Outfit in a racketeering conspiracy that included 18 murders — Calabrese himself was found responsible for 13 mob murders.
Klein will appear for arraignment in U.S. District Court in Chicago.