CHICAGO –(ENEWSPF)–February 11, 2015. A former federal prison chaplain who ministered to convicted killer Frank Calabrese, Sr., pleaded guilty today to passing messages from Calabrese concerning the recovery of a hidden violin from a residence Calabrese once owned in Williams Bay, Wis., federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendant, Eugene Klein, 66, was charged in June, 2011, and pled guilty today in front of U.S. District Court Judge John W. Darrah to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Judge Darrah set sentencing for June 23, 2015, in Federal Court. Klein faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to court documents, Klein obstructed enforcement of Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”), first imposed on Calabrese in November 2008, to prevent him from further participating in illegal activities while incarcerated by restricting Calabrese’s contacts with others. Calabrese told Klein that he had hidden a valuable Stradivarius violin in his Wisconsin residence. In an effort to prevent the government from seizing the instrument and applying the proceeds toward a $4.4 million restitution judgment that Calabrese owed to his victims, Calabrese formulated a plan and enlisted Klein and two individuals to remove the violin from the Wisconsin residence.
Klein, of Springfield, Mo., a Roman Catholic priest, was employed as a chaplain at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., where Calabrese served a life sentence prior to his death in 2013. As chaplain, Klein was permitted to meet with Calabrese on a regular basis to provide religious ministry, such as the sacrament of Holy Communion. Because of the position of trust he occupied, Klein was able to have close and frequent communication with Calabrese.
Klein knew that prison rules prohibited him from taking letters and messages into and out of the prison. He was also informed of the SAMs and understood they prohibited the passing of any information or messages to or from Calabrese. The SAMs, which have been renewed annually and remained in effect in 2011, restricted Calabrese?s privileges in prison, including his access to the mail, media, telephone and visitors. Under the SAMs, Calabrese was prohibited from having contact with anyone outside the prison, except his attorney and certain immediate family members. Except for communications with his attorney, all oral and written communications with immediate family members, including mail and visits, were subject to review and/or observation to ensure that Calabrese did not pass any messages to anyone that could be used to further criminal activity.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and John F. Oleskowicz, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Chicago Field Office.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet Bhachu and Jennie Levin.