The defense attorney for a Catholic priest accused of ferrying messages for imprisoned Chicago mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. blasted U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Wednesday for bringing the case against his client.
“Patrick Fitzgerald is a friend, but this is an unbelievable stretch, even for him,” said Thomas Durkin, the defense attorney for Father Eugene Klein.
“Now that we don’t have a governor to prosecute, we can waste time and money on this,” Durkin said. “Apparently he couldn’t find any rabbis or nuns.”
[Father] Klein, 63, was the chaplain at a high-security prison in Springfield, Mo., which houses such dangerous prisoners as Calabrese Sr., who killed 13 people in mob hits. Klein is accused of passing messages for the mobster and helping friends of Calabrese Sr. go look for a potentially valuable violin that the mobster said he had hidden in his Wisconsin vacation home.
“This is a preposterous case,” Durkin said. Klein pleaded not guilty Wednesday in his first court appearance, and Durkin vowed to fight the charges.
Durkin suggested the charges were an attempt to get the priest to cooperate against Calabrese Sr. When asked if Klein ever had possession of any violin, Durkin scoffed. “No, please,” Durkin said.
Pretty strange defense. Maybe the underlying prosecution of Father Klein is "a stretch," as Mr. Durkin claims; but religious discrimination? I think not.