Convicted mob boss complains about prison

The lawyer for Chicago mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr. says his client is receiving unfair treatment in jail.
November 17, 2010 4:45:57 PM PST
It's been two years since Chicago mob boss and hitman Frank Calabrese Sr. was put into solitary confinement in a federal prison. Calabrese's lawyer says the treatment is unfair and unjust.

The United States Bureau of Prisons calls them "Special Administrative Measures." Federal authorities will not talk about who is placed under those provisions or why.

By definition the special measures -- or SAMs -- are intended for terrorists to prevent them from threatening national security by communicating plans to the outside. According to his lawyer, at age 73, Outfit boss Frank Calabrese Sr. doesn't qualify.

"He's in more like an old mop room that they keep him in," said Joe Lopez, Calabrese's attorney. "He's in this large room because its the only place they can keep him. It's not really a room, it's more of an old storage room that was converted just to house him as an inmate."

Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese is being held at the Springfield Correctional Center in near isolation at the request of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. The special incarceration is being used on terrorists, including shoe bomber Richard C. Reid who was arrested in 2001 for attempting to blow up a jetliner.

Calabrese got himself in trouble while playing mob boss behind bars in Milan, Mi., resulting in FBI undercover tapes that helped convict him and five Outfit associates during the 2007 Family Secrets trial.

"Based on other conduct that occurred while he was in prison, some of the things you heard at Family Secrets, some of the tapes that were being made by his son, they put him into this special administrative measure," said Lopez.

It didn't help that Calabrese allegedly threatened to kill former Family Secrets prosecutor T. Markus Funk.

"You look at a guy like Frank Senior, who I have a history with, and I'm not going to be on his Christmas card list, and he certainly isn't going to be on mine. But he did things, he was cruel, he went out of his way to brutalize people," said Funk.

In a 2008 court motion, Calabrese's lawyer compared him to Hannibal Lecter, the fictional psychopath in the movie Silence of the Lambs and predicted the Hollywood-style facemask was coming. Even though that hasn't happened, Lopez says just about every other freedom has been revoked.

"I know it's jail, and I understand he's not at the Four Seasons. Still there are other inmates in there who have committed mass murders, who have killed informants, have obstructed justice and they aren't put through the same type of stringent conditions he is in," said Lopez.

The special prisoner designation is good for one year, then prosecutors must petition the U.S. Attorney General if they want it to continue for another 12 months. There is no public record of prisoners who are placed in these harsh conditions so it is unclear whether the federal prosecutor in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, has renewed his Calabrese request. Fitzgerald's spokesman declines to comment.


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