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Alleged mobster pleads not guilty, gives judge a list of ailments

By Mike Robinson
The Associated Press
Published May 6, 2005, 12:56 PM CDT

Alleged mobster Frank J. Calabrese Sr. pleaded innocent to murder conspiracy charges Friday and provided the judge with a list of medical problems that his attorney claimed could ultimately prevent him from going to trial.

``I've only got 10 percent of my pituitary gland,'' the 69-year-old Calabrese told U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel. Calabrese said he also suffers from arthritis and nose problems.

He said he must take nine separate medications a day.

Calabrese is among 14 alleged mobsters and mob associates indicted on murder conspiracy and other charges in the federal government's long-running Operation Family Secrets investigation.

Calabrese is already serving four years and nine months after being convicted in a federal investigation of loan sharking and other crimes. He is due for release next year.

But federal prosecutors said that they would try to keep him locked up pending the outcome of the murder conspiracy case.

Defense attorney Joseph Lopez told reporters after court that ``like any elderly person in the United States of America, he has health problems.'' He said those problems could be serious enough to prevent Calabrese from facing trial.

Lopez also said Calabrese is in ``a state of disbelief'' over reports that his son and his brother Nick are cooperating with federal prosecutors in the investigation.

``It causes a lot of disharmony in the family unit,'' Lopez said. ``I think the brother and the son have their own agenda and their own ulterior motives in this case.''

Lopez described his client as a religious man and shrugged off the question of whether Calabrese is a ``made guy'' in the mob, saying he wasn't certain what the expression meant.

He also said Calabrese is unlikely to make a deal with federal prosecutors.

``I sincerely doubt that he is the sort of person who would want to make a deal -- he has always been a fighter,'' he said.

Meanwhile, an attorney for alleged mob boss Joseph ``Joey the Clown'' Lombardo, who has been on the lam since the indictment was returned last week, said he has no idea where his client is.

Defense attorney Rick Halprin said the only information he has concerning Lombardo is a letter that the alleged mob boss sent to Zagel last week, saying he would turn himself in if he could be sure to be released on bond and have a trial separate from that of the others charged.

``All I have to say to him is what I am obligated to say and that is, surrender yourself and let's go to trial,'' he told reporters.

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press


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