Mob money up for auction
BY STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org August 21, 2011 4:12PM
This Tuesday, March 23, 2010 evidence photo provided by the FBI and U.S. Marshalls Service shows a bag of money found at the Oak Brook, Ill. home of reputed mobster Frank Calabrese Sr. Federal officials say seven loaded firearms, jewelry and more than $700,000 cash were discovered in a secret compartment during a search of the suburban home. (AP Photo/FBI, U.S. Marshalls Service)
Updated: November 3, 2011 11:43AM
Pssst, want some dirty mob money?
Well, it’s going to cost you, maybe twice face value, or more.
You can buy it on the Internet.
But it’s all for a good cause.
The federal government is selling a collection of rare $500 and $1,000 bills found in a secret compartment in the basement of the Oak Brook home of Frank Calabrese Sr., a prolific mob killer and a man known to enjoy a rare violin, an antique car and Wisconsin and Florida vacation homes.
Calabrese was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for killing 13 people for the mob and was ordered to pay restitution of more than $4 million to his victims’ families.
Calabrese has not been rushing to pay off the debt, so the federal government has stepped in to help, seizing property and scouring his Oak Brook home last year. Officials found hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and hundreds of pieces of jewelry — items that apparently slipped Calabrese’s mind when he declared poverty in federal court during his mob trial, so taxpayers would pick up his legal bills.
In an online auction held by a Texas firm, the federal government is selling 43 $1,000 bills and 82 $500 bills. The sale ends Tuesday.
Bob Sheehan, owner of Gaston & Sheehan Auctioneers, which is holding the sale, said his auction house had sold such bills before, but not in this quantity.
The bills date from 1934, and “some are like new,” Sheehan said.
He expected the auction of the bills at txauctiononline.com to raise $125,000 to $150,000, which will go to victim restitution, after the auction house takes it fee, which Sheehan declined to specify.
Although the bills are still legal tender, the federal government hasn’t made $500 or $1,000 bills for decades, and they are quite collectible. Some of the $1,000 bills were going for $2,200 each as of Friday.
Although it’s unclear where Calabrese got the bills from, he was known to take things of value from people who were on the hook to him for money.
“Obviously, he’s an avid collector,” said his former attorney, Joseph “The Shark” Lopez.
The items from the Calabrese secret compartment are the first to be auctioned off, but more are expected. The items were found in Calabrese’s basement behind a large family portrait.
In June, a Catholic priest and former prison chaplain was charged with passing messages for Calabrese and helping lead a hunt for a rare violin that Calabrese recalled he had hidden in a vacation home.
The priest, Eugene Klein, has pleaded not guilty.