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Mob trial witness recounts bombing theater, restaurant

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In his second day of testimony at the Family Secrets trial, key witness Nicholas Calabrese said he took part in bombings of businesses with his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., and ran "juice" loan operations on his behalf.

Nicholas Calabrese, who is expected to testify about his involvement in more than a dozen mob-related slayings, said he was never told why the Outfit wanted some of the businesses bombed.

He said he was part of a team that placed an explosive against a wall of the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace in the 1980s, before it opened. With him were his brother and Outfit figures John Fecarotta and James DiForti.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Mars asked whether the device went off.

"Yes, it did," Calabrese said. "We talked about how loud it was."

In another incident, Calabrese said he threw a dynamite-packed device in a bag onto the roof of Tom's Steakhouse in Melrose Park in the early 1980s.

"I lit the fuse in the bag," he testified. "I got out of the car and jumped up on a dumpster."

Calabrese said he threw the device near an air conditioning unit on the roof and it exploded.

Again, he said he had no idea why the business was attacked.

Earlier today, Calabrese, who has avoided looking at his brother during his testimony, was asked if he saw Frank Calabrese Sr. in court.

Nicholas Calabrese raised his left hand and pointed toward a defense table. Frank Calabrese Sr. leaned over and spoke to his attorney.

Nicholas Calabrese also described the daily work of collecting on high-interest loans, or "juice" loans, and explained how he tracked payments for the Outfit crew run by his brother.

At the height of the operation, Calabrese estimated his brother had several hundred thousand dollars available to loan out. When Calabrese said that, Frank Calabrese Sr. rocked back in his chair and chuckled.

Nicholas Calabrese said he would sometimes bring a man named Frank Saladino along to collect late loan payments. Saladino was over 6 feet tall and weighed 300 pounds, Calabrese said.

"I told him, You stand behind me and don't say nothing, just look at the guy," Calabrese said. "Give him one of those looks."

He said he would remind the debtor that the loan was not going away and that "next time, I'm not gonna come—he's gonna come."