(CN) – A Catholic priest who ministered to mafioso Frank Calabrese Sr. in prison was indicted for allegedly planning to help defraud restitution efforts by recovering a valuable 250-year-old violin hidden in Calabrese’s former residence.
Eugene Klein, 62, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and attempting to transfer Calabrese’s violin to prevent it from being seized by the government.
Authorities say Klein, a former federal prison chaplain, met with Calabrese regularly at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., where the ex-mob boss is serving a life sentence.
Calabrese, nicknamed “The Breeze,” was held responsible for 13 different murders and was sentenced in January 2009. After winning a $4.4 million restitution judgment for Calabrese’s victims and their families, the government seized more than $1 million worth of goods from Calabrese’s homes in Oak Brook, Ill. and Williams Bay, Wisc.
According to the indictment, Klein obstructed the enforcement of special administrative measures placed on Calabrese that restricted his access to the outside world.
In March, Calabrese allegedly told Klein that he hid a Stradivarius violin worth millions of dollars in the Wisconsin home. Klein allegedly spoke to an unnamed person to ask about the house in Williams Bay and related questions Calabrese had dictated. When Klein met with Calabrese the next day, the mobster passed the priest a handwritten note with additional questions through the food slot of his prison cell, according to the indictment.
In the following month, Klein allegedly met with a person in a Barrington, Ill., restaurant and arranged to meet with the realtor who was selling the Wisconsin home, which had been seized by the government.
Posing as potential buyers, Klein and two unknown people arranged to enter the home to look for the violin, according to the indictment. The parties agreed that one person would distract the realtor while the other two looked for the violin using the directions Calabrese had provided.
The violin, which the government believes was made by Giuseppe Antonio Artalli in 1764, has not been recovered.
Klein faces five-year maximum sentences for each of the two counts with which he was charged, as well as a $250,000 fine. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu is in charge of the prosecution.