Frank Calabrese Sr. was one of the main dudes in the Chicago mob – an outfit that was responsible for a little bit of everything: loansharking, illegal gambling, murder, and we assume rape and pillaging. But if there’s one thing that The Sopranos taught us, it’s that behind every mob boss is a mob boss’ family.
Frank Jr. wondered if other kids had the same talks with their fathers – complete with fears over wiretaps and jailtime. While most fathers told their kids about getting a raise at work, Frank Sr. told his son about how he had to murder people for money.
When Frank Jr. wrote a letter to the FBI – from the prison he shared with his father and uncle – he let them know that he’d do whatever needed to be done to help them in their case against Frank Sr. This included getting him to talk candidly to his son about past hits and murders – which is against mob rules. Frank Jr. wore a microphone, recording enough evidence in the prison yard to keep Frank Sr. in jail forever.
“Cooperating with the FBI meant not only that I would give up my father, but that I would have to implicate my uncle Nick for the murder…” says Frank Jr. in his book Operation Family Secrets. “Giving up my uncle was the hardest part.” Frank Jr. proved that sometimes, it’s not necessarily a bad thing losing your father.
Check out the Sauce for NPR’s summary and excerpt from Frank Jr.’s book.