Threats prompt cancellation for ex-mobster Calabrese

March 15, 2011 4:25:26 AM PDT
A telephone message left at a Chicago-area bookstore "threatening violence" has resulted in the cancellation of well-publicized appearances by mobster-turned federal informant Frank Calabrese, Jr., the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

A spokesperson for Borders book stores headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan told the I-Team that "we can confirm that our Oak Brook store received a voicemail threatening violence should Mr. Calabrese's scheduled book signings take place.

"Given the controversial nature of the content of the book, we viewed this as a legitimate threat" said Mary Davis, Borders public relations."The safety of our employees and our customers is of the utmost importance and that is why we made the decision to cancel Mr. Calabrese's events" Davis said.

Ross Rice, spokesman for the FBI field office in Chicago, confirmed that there had been a threat against the former organized crime figure, whose Outfit-father used to live in Oak Brook and control west suburban rackets.

Calabrese, author of the just-released "Family Secrets-How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family" was to begin a national book tour this week in metro Chicago.

Calabreses' first book signings had been scheduled for tomorrow in Oak Brook and on Wednesday at the Borders bookstore on State St. in downtown Chicago. Representatives of both stores said they had not been told why the book-signing events had been scrubbed.

A sign on the door of the Borders downtown Chicago store states that the Calabrese book signing has been cancelled. A prominent display of books featuring Calabrese's photo has been removed from the store's front window.

The hoodlum who turned on his own father, Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese and became a federal witness during the landmark trial in 2007, will appear as scheduled on a discussion panel Tuesday afternoon according to a spokesperson at west suburban Elmhurst College. Desiree Chen, Elmhurst College public affairs director, said the ex-mobster's representatives contacted college officials on Monday and offered to cancel his appearance because of the threat but the decision was made to go forward.

He is also scheduled to sign books at the Arlington Heights Public Library on Thursday night. A spokesperson for the library says that their event is "nearly sold out" and that they were unaware of any threats that had been made.

Mr. Calabrese Jr.'s schedule lists a luncheon speech at the Union League Club on Friday. "We've heard about cancelations but we plan on going ahead with our plans," said John McCabe, Union League Club General Manager. Calabrese is to appear with book co-authors Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman, and Paul Pompian; and Marcus Funk, lead prosecutor at the trial during which numerous top mob figures were convicted and 18 gangland hits solved.

"We've had a good reaction but not as much as President Bush or (former US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice." McCabe added. "The world can change but as of now we are still committed to this event."

Despite current promises that the shows must go on, a source familiar with the death threats against Calabrese says that all of his Chicago events are in jeopardy of cancellation because of the risk and because Borders executives have already abandoned plans for his appearances.

Last week Mr. Calabrese appeared in an interview on ABC7 News and ABC News Nightline. During the interview, he said that he was not frightened to return to Chicago where his father once controlled street rackets and was a feared hitman. Frank Calabrese Sr. is now serving a life sentence for racketeering murder.

Messages left with a spokesperson for the publisher, Random House and were not immediately returned.