Mob Trial's Star Witness Gets Short Sentence

Thursday, Jul 30, 2009  |  Updated 1:44 PM CDT
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Family Secrets Verdict

Courtroom Sketch by Verna Sadock

Nick Calabrese, a member of the Chicago Outfit who turned state's evidence will be out of prison in about 6 years -- despite admitting to taking part in more than a dozen murders.

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Family Secrets Verdict

Sept. 10, 2007: A federal jury in Chicago returns guilty verdicts on all counts, including key racketeering and conspiracy charges, against all five defendants in the historic Family Secrets mob case.
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A man who admitted to taking part in 14 mob murders was sentenced Thursday to more than 12 years in prison -- but he'll be out in half that time.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel sentenced Nick Calabrese to 148 months behind bars.  But he has already served about six years of that while he helped federal authorities compile evidence against other members of the Chicago Outfit.

The 66-year-old Calabrese told jurors at the government's landmark Operation Family Secrets trial how Chicago mobsters, including his own brother, murdered victims in cold blood.

"It's just unbelievable.  I mean, I don't know, that's a shame.  It's really a shame.  I have no faith in the justice system. I really don't," said Anthony Ortiz, whose father was killed by the mob.

Calabrese said he became a witness because he would have gone to the execution chamber as a murderer if he hadn't. His testimony was crucial in sending three big-name mob bosses to prison for life and two other mobsters to long sentences.

Nick got off with a much lighter sentence than any of them.

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