Mission from God? Prison priest helped mob killer: feds

June 9, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Eugene Klein, a Roman Catholic priest, is charged with allegedly passing information between Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese and his associates to recover a valuable violin hidden in a home Calabrese owned in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

The 62 year old Klein is a U.S. Bureau of Prisons chaplain who worked at the federal Prisons Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri where Calabrese is imprisoned. Klein met Calabrese regularly to provide religious ministry.

In 2008, Calabrese was put in solitary confinement to prevent him from continuing to take part in illegal activities while imprisoned.

According to the indictment, Calabrese passed a handwritten plan to Klein through the food slot of his cell in March. The following month, Klein traveled to a Barrington restaurant from Missouri to meet a Calabrese associate and organize a plan to take the violin from the Wisconsin home to avoid the government seizing the instrument. The government in is the process of selling Calabrese's property to collect $4.4 million in restitution he owes to his victim's families.

Klein, and two other Calabrese associates went to the Wisconsin home to distract the realtor and take the hidden violin. Calabrese told Klein the violin was a Stradivarius worth millions. According to the indictment, the government found paperwork during a search of Calabrese's Oak Brook home that describes the instrument as a 1764 Giuseppe Antonio Artalli violin, not a Stradivarius.

The government states searched the Wisconsin home but did not recover the violin.

Klein faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Statement from the Diocese of Springfield, Missouri:

The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, received notice that the Reverend Eugene M. Klein has recently been indicted on charges in Chicago, Illinois. Rev. Klein briefly served as an Assistant Pastor within the diocese from 2004-2005. Since that time he has served under contract with the Federal Prison System as a chaplain at the Springfield Medical Prison facility. He is a priest of the Diocese of Winona in Minnesota.

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