CHICAGO | An alleged mob hit man turned emotional on the witness stand Monday, ripping into the son and brother who testified against him and drawing a stern warning that he was flirting with contempt of court.
"My brother was like Alfredo in "The Godfather" -- if he wasn't running things and screwing them up he wasn't happy," convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr. testified at his racketeering conspiracy trial.
Calabrese, 70, was in his second day on the stand at the nine-week trial in which he and four other men are charged with a conspiracy that includes gambling, extortion, loan sharking and 18 long unsolved murders.
Calabrese has freely admitted he associated and did business with members of the Chicago Outfit, as the city's organized crime family calls itself, but insists that he never took the oath of a so-called made guy.
Confronted by his attorney, Joseph Lopez, with taped evidence that he knew about the cut finger and burning of holy pictures that are part of the mob initiation ceremony, Calabrese said he learned of such things from "The Valachi Papers," a book and movie about New York mobster Joe Valachi.
The taped evidence was gathered by his own son, Frank Jr., who testified earlier that after a hellish childhood under a domineering mobster father he has turned his life around and is going straight.
Calabrese Sr. claimed that his son had set him up.
"He could make Jesus look like the devil on the cross," he said.
He said he still loves his son as well as his brother, Nicholas, an admitted mob hit man who took the stand as the government's star witness.
The so-called Family Secrets trial centers on a host of unsolved gangland murders in an around Chicago, including those of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, long known as the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas, and Spilotro's brother, Michael.
Tony Spilotro, 48, was found in June 1986 buried in a cornfield in Newton County alongside his brother. According to a 2005 indictment, the murders occurred in DuPage County, Ill.
Two other unsolved murders include those of William and Charlotte Dauber and Nicholas D'Andrea.
William "Billy" Dauber, 45, a leader of the mob's stolen auto ring the southern suburbs and Northwest Indiana, and his wife, Charlotte, were shot to death on the rural Monee-Manhattan Road in Will County as they were driving from a court hearing in Joliet to their home in Monee.
The body of D'Andrea, a 49-year-old Chicago Heights resident, was found Sept. 13, 1981, in the trunk of his burned-out Mercedes-Benz two miles east of Crete.
Speculation at the time was that D'Andrea was killed in connection with the attempted assassination of south suburban mob boss Alfred Pilotto, who was shot in July 1981 while playing golf with his brother, Henry, then the police chief in Chicago Heights.
Both Pilottos survived.
Calabrese is guaranteed to face considerably more pressure on the witness stand when federal prosecutors get a chance to cross-examine him.
But it's not clear how soon that will be.