Hitman Calabrese gets life in prison

January 28, 2009 6:26:04 PM PST
Convicted loan shark and hit man Frank Calabrese was sentenced to life in prison after Chicago's biggest mob trial in decades.The sentence was handed down in federal court late Wednesday afternoon.

A parade of tears in federal district court on Wednesday afternoon was shed by the family members of mob murder victims whose loved ones were tortured and killed by the outfit 25 or 30 years ago.

Some of the victims' relatives spoke directly to the man responsible for the murders, more than a dozen of them, Frank Calabrese Sr.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Calabrese enjoyed sprinting from news crews after court but not today and never again. Judge James Zagel called life plus 240 years "just" for "unspeakable acts." Those were thirteen outfit killings, most for late payments for mob loans, the fear someone might snitch or they just got in the way.

"It's a final hit," said Joe Lopez, Calabrese attorney.

"He may be sentenced today here in the court room. But his true sentencing will come when he dies," said Peggy Cagnoni, businessman Michael Cagnoni's widow.

"He's getting what he deserves right now. He deserves to be like an animal put in a cage," said Frank Ortiz, Richard Ortiz's brother.

In one moment of high drama, Calabrese's son Kurt basically disowned his father in a heartfelt statement to the court interrupted by his father, who then proceeded to argue with the son about the family's dirty laundry, all in front of a jam-packed courtroom.

Next week the final two defendants will be sentenced.

Sentencing

A lifetime of mob violence and outfit murders is coming home this afternoon squarely on the shoulders of Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese Sr. The sentencing hearing got underway at the Dirksen Federal Building Wednesday afternoon. Calabrese, 71, was forced to listen to emotional, tearful memories of the loved ones killed at the hands of Calabrese, relatives pointing out to Calabrese, the leader of a mob street crew, how he has damaged their lives.

Among those killed is Paul Haggerty, killed in June 1976. ABC7 talked to his widow, Charlene Haggerty, Wednesday.

"He took my youth away. He slaughtered, he slit my husband's throat, tortured him. All to find out it was the wrong person. So I lived with this for 32 years and I finally found out the reason," said Charlene Haggerty, widow of victim Paul Haggerty.

Wednesday afternoon, in court, Calabrese pleaded for a lenient sentence from Judge James Zagel. He told the judge, "I'm not a big shot. You cut my hand and I bleed like everyone else. All I want is justice."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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