Priest pleads not guilty to helping mobster

June 22, 2011

by Tony Arnold and The Associated Press

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(AP/File)
Frank Calabrese, Sr.

A former prison chaplain pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he helped a convicted mobster.

Eugene Klein was released on a $20,000 bond after he appeared in a Chicago federal courtroom. The 62-year-old Catholic priest faces charges he plotted with Frank Calabrese Senior to recover a valuable violin they thought was in Calabrese's former Wisconsin house. Assets in the house were supposed to go toward paying restitution to Calabrese's victims.

Klein gave daily communion to Calabrese at a Missouri prison where Calabrese is serving a life sentence. Calabrese was convicted of killing 13 people.

Federal prosecutors allege Klein passed messages to Calabrese and conspired with others to try to take the violin, which they believed to be worth millions.

Klein's defense attorney says the case is preposterous.