Ex-mobster shuns threats, talks to students

March 16, 2011 4:35:38 AM PDT
The FBI reports no new leads in a phone threat that targeted former Chicago mobster Frank Calabrese Jr.

The threat resulted in the cancellation of Calabreses' first scheduled book signing in suburban Oak Brook. But Calabrese managed to make his first public appearance anyway.

Tuesday was supposed to be the big beginning of Frank Calabrese Jr.'s Family Secrets book tour, in hometown Chicago bookstores, plugging his new book about the Chicago Outfit.

But with those bookstore appearances scrubbed after the death threat, Calabrese made his grand entrance Tuesday on a slightly smaller stage at Elmhurst College.

"I did drugs. I lied, I stole, I hurt people," said Calabrese. "I was ready to kill people for my father."

With that resume, Calabrese Jr. spoke to a small group of students and interested onlookers Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm going to talk about my personal experiences; I'm going to talk about the dark side," he told the audience.

That dark side of his family -- and the family secrets of the Chicago Outfit that he is peddling in a book -- brought Calabrese Jr. to the Elmhurst campus.

The last time he was on public display in Chicago it was as a witness at the federal courthouse, when the former mob operative testified against his father, Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese, in 2007, after turning on him to help the FBI.

"I want you to understand that my father's method of killing people was strangling you first and then cutting you from ear to ear, ok?" Calabrese Jr. said Tuesday.

Even though he helped send his father and other top hoodlums to prison for life, the bookstore threat prompted Calabrese Jr. to travel with a stone-faced security guard Tuesday, and a pair of campus cops were also on hand.

"It could be somebody that just wants to do something to me just to prove something," Calabrese Jr. told the I-Team. "I don't believe it's anybody left in organized crime because that's not how we were taught to do things."

Calabrese Jr. says a trail of mob murders prove that if the Outfit wanted him dead they would know how.

"What we would have done was waited for me one night where I've got my guard down and I'm going somewhere not waiting for anything, not where there's a lot of people around, and then we would get him."

Calabrese Jr. says, despite the threat, he doesn't think he is in danger because he avoids mob neighborhoods and has no financial dealings with the Outfit. He lives in Arizona, says he works two jobs, and is just "a normal guy."

Calabrese Jr. told the students that he still loves his father, even though his dad was one of the Outfit's coldest killers.