I-Team

Feds profit off mobster's hidden treasure

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An unusual government auction of some cash once held by a Chicago mob boss is over.

In this Intelligence Report: Dozens of $500 and $1,000 bills owned by Frank Calabrese Sr. have fetched a small fortune.

It is rare to get money from the Outfit without having to pay it back -- plus some sizable interest. That's what they call a juice loan. Federal authorities, though, not only took some mob money found hidden in the walls of a home where boss Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese lived, they have sold it all at auction for a profit.

Three-quarters of a million dollars in cash was found stashed inside a basement wall, behind a Calabrese family montage at the Oak Brook home where Frank "the Breeze" once lived.

The money was seized as part of the famed Operation Family Secrets case, during which Calabrese was convicted of numerous gangland killings and is now serving a life sentence.

Over the past two weeks, an auction site has conducted online bidding for 125 of the bills, rare denominations of $500 and $1,000.

Federal officials say the U.S. Marshals service sold all 82 $500 bills and 43 $1,000 bills for more than face value. That means the government made at least $84,000 from the sale and likely hauled in more than $100,000.

On the open market today, such rare bills often sell for more than the face value, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney said some of Calabrese's currency went for considerably more than the $500 or $1,000 face value denomination.

Authorities now have four days to confirm bids and two weeks to file a court notice of exactly how much was made in gross sales, which minus auction expenses, will be used to reduce Calabrese's hefty court-imposed fines and restitution.

Other Calabrese property seized from his home, including 1,000 pieces of diamond jewelry, is to be auctioned as well.

The feds say they hope to have all the final figures from the cash auction tallied by Labor Day. It is unclear where Frank Calabrese obtained the exotic bills.

Calabrese and the other bosses convicted in Family Secrets still have appeals pending in federal court.

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