I-Team Report: The Other Calabrese

March 9, 2011 8:38:53 PM PST
Not Frank Sr., the mob boss and hitman convicted in Operation Family Secrets or his son, Frank Jr., who helped put his father behind bars.

This is the story you haven't heard: Kurt Calabrese.

He was silent through the trial, watching his father go down on racketeering charges based largely on the testimony of his uncle and his brother, Frank Jr.

But in the past week Junior released a book about their family and went on Nightline. So Kurt came to the I-Team to give his side as the other Calabrese.

"He did everything he could to ruin our family. All for greed. Money was God...didn't care about anyone and hurt people," Kurt Calabrese told the I-Team. Watch the entire interview

Kurt says his father hijacked his life and Frank Calabrese Sr. - known as 'Frank the Breeze' - didn't just hurt people, he killed them for the mob -- as many as 20 victims, according to federal authorities.

"I feared my father every time I saw him, I shook," said Kurt Calabrese.

From a young age, Kurt says he and his older brother, Frank Jr., were required by their father to work as hoodlums for his crew and if they resisted, they were beaten and shamed.

"To me, my father was the boogie man. My father was the one who hid underneath the bed and jumped out of closets. I cried myself to sleep as a kid hoping that I wouldn't wake up in the morning...it's still like that for me," said Kurt Calabrese.

In Frank Jr.'s new book that was released Tuesday, he confesses to have been happy with mob life for years. Kurt Calabrese, now 49, says he never was.

"The story that's not in there is how my father treated me and how my father was with me and how my father beat me. I had no choice, I despised my father. My brother welcomed his life. I despised my father and I despised that life," said Kurt Calabrese.

"My father called me sad sack...that was because the look on my face was a look of disgust. And I always had that look on my face because I was disgusted. And I still have it on my face when I even think about it or talk about it," he said.

In 1995, his Outfit father and brother were convicted in a federal racketeering case. Kurt says he pleaded guilty to a tax violation in that case only to lighten his father's sentence.

"He told me, if you don't take this plea I'm going to die in prison," said Kurt Calabrese.

Kurt did two years. When he got out he says his father, still behind bars, sent him a message that he better not think about leaving the mob.

"There were two rats left on my doorstep with nooses around their necks, and there was a letter left that I knew what that meant, because I had seen it done before. My kids had to see that. My kids woke up and had to see that," said Kurt Calabrese.

Kurt says he never even considered ratting on his father.

As it turned out, he didn't have to. His brother, Frank Jr., would end up cooperating with the FBI as he and his father were both housed at the federal penitentiary in Milan, Michigan.

"I drove my father to prison, and he got out of the car and he told me that the reason they're putting me here with your brother is because they're going to expect your brother to try to cooperate against me," said Kurt Calabrese.

In what Kurt calls unusual sloppiness by his father, that is just what happened. With Junior's cooperation, Frank Sr. was caught on tape admitting murder after murder.

Frank Jr. moved to Arizona, away from the Outfit and the memories, away from the person who ended up hurt more than anyone else.

"Kurt definitely. My brother didn't do nothing to him. My brother went to jail for him. My brother shouldn't have even went to jail...and after my brother did it my father still deceived them, so he did things like put a fake bomb on his steps. He did things like sending threatening letters," said Frank Calabrese Jr.

Between jobs - a sometime bartender - he's looking at writing a book or screen play himself and considers this interview with the I-Team the first step toward redemption.

"I need to say, I need to tell, 'cause it's eating me up every day. It's affected my family, it's affected me, it's affected how I live, it's affected how I think. I lived how I lived and I'm not happy about it and I'm trying to make sure that my kids, I couldn't even imagine putting my kids in the situation I was put in," said Kurt Calabrese.

There is a younger Calabrese brother whom Kurt says was never involved in the Outfit. And then there is Uncle Nick Calabrese, the brother of Frank 'The Breeze.' Nick Calabrese is a mob hitman who also turned government witness in the Family Secrets case. Kurt says, even though his Uncle Nick was an accomplished Outfit executioner, he was a good man who killed only because he was ordered to.


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