FBI digs not just for body, but for mob secrets too

As the FBI sifted through dirt in Bridgeport, I called Jim Wagner, the former chief of the Organized Crime section in the FBI's Chicago office.

Wagner is now the chief investigator for the Illinois Gaming Commission, which has caused intense bouts of agita for the politically connected friends of Chicago's City Hall who've invested in the proposed and stalled Rosemont casino.

"Nick Calabrese as an informant is more than extremely significant," said Wagner, who spent 30 years studying the Chicago Outfit. "The FBI has never had someone at his level, who knows about the action taken on the street and how the decisions were made by the top people.

"I mean, he knows where all the skeletons are buried."

Do you mean that euphemistically?

"Yes," Wagner said with a laugh, "and no."

Calabrese's accounts are being compared to those given to the FBI by past informants, including the late Gerald Scarpeli and Jerry Scalise; and from the imprisoned Mario Rainone, who thought he was about to be extinguished in Rosemont, then ran to the FBI and talked, and abruptly stopped talking.

Not all of us are fascinated with Nick Calabrese. Attorney Joseph Lopez represents Nick's brother, Frank. The brothers are blood enemies.

"Nick is taking the feds on a wild goose chase," Lopez said. "Whatever they're looking for, I don't think they're going to find it."

So, if the FBI doesn't find anything, will defense attorneys begin criticizing Nick?

"Of course," Lopez said. "Nick and Frank are brothers, but Nick's not the prodigal son. Nick is the Fredo of the Family."