Surviving Relatives of Mob Hits Feel Re-victimized by Mobster Books and Museums
The public's fascination with traditional organized crime didn't end with the Godfather movies, Casino, Goodfellas or the Sopranos on television.
Even after Chicago and New York crime families were decimated by federal prosecutions, there is a renewed public appetite for the mob. But some people aren't biting.
"It's something that never leaves your mind or your heart," said Bob D'Andrea whose father was killed by the mob.
"It destroys you, it destroys the inside of you, it destroys you as a person," said Joey Seifert whose father was also murdered by the mob.
Decades after their loved ones were murdered by the Chicago mob, sons and daughters and wives and parents say they continue to be victimized. Not by a pistol-whipping or the payment of protection money but by a new book by ex-Chicago Outfit thug Frank Calabrese Jr., who is beginning a promotional tour this week in the city where he turned on his own father and helped put him away for life. And they say they are revictimized by two mob museums opening soon in Las Vegas.
"What you see when you go there? You are going to see the mob guys laughing and holding their kids, like trying to humanize them. And they are not, they are monsters," said Seifert.
At age four, Seifert watched a masked mob hitman kill his father. It was Joey "The Clown" Lombardo.
Anthony Ortiz was 12 years old in 1983 when his father was killed in front of the Cicero tavern he owned, gunned down by the ruthless Outfit boss Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr.
"To me, a mobster is just a glorified gangbanger, am I wrong or am I right? They beat people up, they take their money, they threaten them," said Ortiz.
It was the Calabrese crew that committed a 1981 hit on suburban trucking company owner Michael Cagnoni by a remote-controlled bomb on the Tri-state Tollway after Cagnoni refused to be extorted by Outfit bosses.
In her first ever interview, Cagnoni's widow, Margaret, says hoodlum-turned-author Frank Calabrese Jr. should not be turning a profit off victims' grief. "Frank [Jr.] was not an innocent person...To him, to go out and make money on our loses and our sorrow and profiting from victims' families is disgraceful. We suffered enough," Cagnoni told the I-Team.
"I didn't kill anybody. OK, so if they're mad that I'm going to profit off of my story with my dad, I don't know what to do. I feel bad for them. I feel sorry for their losses. I can relate to them," said Frank Calabrese Jr.
"If he is really sorry from what he did and wants to do good and show that he is making amends for his past. Why don't you show that you're sorry by donating, if you are going to write a book donate the profits to a worthy charity," said Cagnoni.
The I-Team asked Calabrese Jr. if he thought about donating his profits to a victims' fund. "I haven't. That's definitely a possibility. I talked to some of the victims' kids, and I'm trying to form a relationship with them because I want to hear their stories too," he responded.
"It would be nice if he did something nice like donate a part of the proceeds to the families, it's not like he wasn't in the business," said D'Andrea.
"His dad and his uncle are the ones who killed my dad. Why should anyone benefit from that?" said Ortiz.
"We all went through something similar, in different ways...Unfortunately all the mob that put us together," said Seifert.
And now, mob victim and mobster have something else in common; Joey Seifert has written his own book and screenplay. "It's more of a survivors' book, a family survival of this is what happened, how it shredded our family and how it brought us back together," said Seifert.
Relatives of several Chicago mobsters are paid consultants to the mob experience opening this month in Las Vegas including such names as Spilotro, Giancana and Aiuppa.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie