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Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family

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Overview

Operation Family Secrets is the chilling true story of how the son of the most violent mobster in Chicago made the unprecedented decision to work with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney?s Office to incriminate his own father and to help bring down the last great American crime syndicate?the one-hundred-year-old Chicago Outfit.

The Calabrese family of Chicago is a close-knit, middle-class, multi-generational Italian-Irish-American clan. They operate family businesses. They work day ...

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Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family

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Overview

Operation Family Secrets is the chilling true story of how the son of the most violent mobster in Chicago made the unprecedented decision to work with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to incriminate his own father and to help bring down the last great American crime syndicate—the one-hundred-year-old Chicago Outfit.

The Calabrese family of Chicago is a close-knit, middle-class, multi-generational Italian-Irish-American clan. They operate family businesses. They work day and night striving for the American Dream. All three sons forge a bond with their controlling father, Frank Sr., and their soft-spoken favorite uncle, Nick. As a boy, the oldest son, Frank Jr., realizes that his father and uncle are also “made” members of another close-knit family: the outfit.
     In Operation Family Secrets Frank Calabrese, Jr., tells the turbulent tale of a family dominated by a violent patriarch who breaks a longstanding unwritten outfit code and “brings the street into his home” by enlisting two of his sons into the outfit’s 26th Street/Chinatown crew. Frank Jr. reveals for the first time the outfit’s “made” ceremony and describes being put to work alongside his father and uncle in loan sharking, gambling, labor racketeering, and extortion, and plotting the slaying of a fellow gangster, while they commit the bombing murder of a trucking executive, the gangland execution of two mobsters whose burial in an Indiana cornfield was reenacted in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster film Casino, and numerous other hits.
     The Calabrese Crew’s colossal earnings and extreme ruthlessness make them both a dreaded criminal gang and the object of an intense FBi inquiry. Eventually Frank Jr., his father, and Uncle Nick are convicted on racketeering violations, and “Junior” and “Senior” are sent to the same federal penitentiary in Michigan. Upon arrival, Frank Jr. makes a life-changing decision: to go straight rather than agree to his father’s plans to resume crew activities after serving his sentence. But he needs to keep his father behind bars in order to regain control of his life and save his family. Frank Jr. makes a secret deal with prosecutors, and for six months—unmonitored and unprotected—he wears a wire as his father recounts decades of hideous crimes. Frank Jr.’s cooperation with the FBi for virtually no monetary gain or special privileges helps create the government’s “operation Family Secrets” campaign against the Chicago outfit. The case reopens eighteen unsolved murders and also implicates twelve La Cosa Nostra soldiers and two outfit bosses. it becomes one of the largest organized crime cases in U.S. history.
     Operation Family Secrets intimately portrays how organized crime rots a family from the inside out while detailing Frank Jr.’s deadly prison-yard mission, the FBi’s landmark investigation, and the U.S. attorney’s office’s daring prosecution of america’s most dangerous criminal organization.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

The inside story of a notable organized-crime prosecution, in which a son turned on his ferocious father.

For decades, organized crime in Chicago—the so-called "Outfit"—remained a feared and mysterious cabal. In 2007, prosecutors scored a huge coup in the "Family Secrets" trial, sentencing several key mobsters to long sentences for racketeering and numerous old murders. Improbably, the process began when imprisoned Outfit member Frank Calabrese Jr. contacted the FBI, wishing to cooperate in order to prevent his also-jailed father's return to his crooked ways: "I feel I have to help you keep this sick man locked up forever." Both Calabreses had pled guilty to federal racketeering charges in 1997, having run a successful "juice loan" business for years. Amazingly, the younger Calabrese recorded conversations with his father in prison, and the surveillance provided the core of the prosecution's case.The book offers a startling narrative of Outfit mayhem—the Calabrese crew was involved in a long string of killings, some notorious, like that of Tony Spilotro (fictionalized in Martin Scorsese'sCasino). Calabrese Jr. particularly regrets the involvement of his uncle, Nick, a quiet Vietnam veteran who became ensnared in his brother's business, ultimately transforming into a hit man (Nick also turned state's witness and testified). The author still seems bewildered by his father's ability to be simultaneously a loving patriarch, a ruthless Outfit boss and a cold-blooded killer. As with most mob memoirs, Calabrese Jr. performs exculpatory gymnastics in order to blur the extent of the narrator's criminal involvement, and the writing is workmanlike, if wry at times. Still, this is an undeniably engaging tale, capturing the nitty-gritty of daily life in the "crews" of the Outfit.

A useful and readable addition to Mob Lit.

From the Publisher
"An undeniably engaging tale, capturing the nitty-gritty of daily life in the 'crews' of the Outfit. A useful and readable addition to Mob Lit." —-Kirkus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307717726
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 392,938
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Calabrese, Jr., lived in his native Chicago for thirty-nine years. Mentored by his father and brought into the Chicago outfit at age eighteen, he now resides in Arizona with his ex-wife and two children.

Keith and Kent Zimmerman have coauthored many New York Times and London Times bestselling books.

Paul Pompian, who has produced more than fifty motion pictures and television productions, was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and came by his interest in the outfit naturally.

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Table of Contents

Cast of Characters vii

1 Family Secrets 1

2 The Patch, and Grand and Ogden 5

3 Who Wouldn't Love a Guy Like That? 17

4 Like Father, Like Son? 24

5 Fast with His Hands 29

6 The Art of Blending In 37

7 Outfit Reign of Terror 46

8 Frankie & Johnny's 56

9 A White Flash and a Burst of Heat 64

10 Keep Thinks in the Family 70

11 Philly Beans 75

12 The Boys Out West 80

13 Killing of the Zhivagos 87

14 Oh No, Not You! 97

15 How Bad Could It Be? 103

16 Scared Cow 109

17 Set Up for a Fall 114

18 Florida 122

19 I Took the Money 126

20 The Thousand-Yard Stare 132

21 Busted 141

22 College with Guns 152

23 The MCC 159

24 A Chance to Step Up 164

25 Two Choices, Neither One Good 169

26 The Moment I Sent It… 176

27 Scarpe Grande 182

28 The Wire 187

29 My Father's Executioner 199

30 Three Secret Lives 208

31 The Changing Streets 216

32 A Royal Pain in the…Back 224

33 Pandora's Box 231

34 Life on the Squad 237

35 The Terrible Towel 243

36 What Happened to My Father? 252

37 The Trial Stage 260

38 Broken Code 267

39 The Road to Justice 284

40 I Keep Thinking This Is a Dream 290

41 The Umbrella Effect 304

Epilogue: Behind the Picture Frame 313

Acknowledgments 321

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An important book

    An unflinchingly honest account of life in the Chicago Outfit. No hollywood mob glamour here. This is the story of a young man trapped in the criminal life, the heartbreaking love he still has for his father, and the reality of mob violence. I had bad dreams for 3 nights. Highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Interesting.

    It was an intersting read, reminded me alot of the Sopranos. I had trouble keeping track of all the names of the friends and family and thought it jumped around a bit. Once he was in prison the story flowed better for me. I liked it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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