Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chicago mobster admits 14 killings, cooperates

Nicholas Calabrese, former Chicago mobster and key witness to the upcoming Family Secrets trial, last week acknowledged participation in at least 14 mob murders, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The 64-year-old Calabrese pleaded guilty to the killings in U.S. District Court on May 18. Under a plea deal, county prosecutors will not try him for the murders and he will not face any charges as a result of his Family Secrets trial testimony. He is expected to serve at least 24 years in prison, but the U.S. Attorney's Office could recommend a shorter sentence if Calabrese is especially helpful in the upcoming trial.

At his hearing before Judge James Zagel, Calabrese admitted to participating in a racketeering conspiracy known as the Chicago Outfit, which engaged in murders, loansharking and extortion.

When the Family Secrets trial opens next month, Calabrese is expected to testify against his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr.

Nicholas Calabrese claims to have been present for the 1986 murders of brothers Tony (left) and Michael Spilotro. James "Little Jimmy" Marcello, 64, who the Sun-Times calls Chicago's "top mob boss," has been charged with participation in the Spilotro killings.

Nicholas Calabrese's cooperation with authorities followed that of Frank Calabrese's son, Frank Jr. Nicholas was linked by DNA and other evidence to the murder of John Fecarotta. Investigators believe Fecarotta was eliminated for failing to permanently dispose of the Spilotro corpses. Rather than take the fall for the Fecarotta killing alone, Nicholas Calabrese began supplying information on his underworld associates.

In late April 2005, 14 alleged Chicago Outfit members were indicted for racketeering conspiracy as a result of the Family Secrets investigation. Federal prosecutors linked defendants, including "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank "Gumba" Saladino and Paul "the Indian" Schiro, with 18 murders dating back to 1970.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.