WINONA, Minn. (AP) - A Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Winona, Minn., has been placed on administrative leave after he was indicted in Chicago in an alleged scheme to help an imprisoned mobster conceal property from authorities.
Deacon Justin Green of the Winona Diocese says Bishop John Quinn has also suspended the Rev. Eugene Klein from his priestly duties. KAGE-AM in Winona reports it means he can't function as a priest.
Green says the diocese is fully cooperating with the investigation. He also says Quinn expresses deep sorrow over Klein's indictment.
Prosecutors Thursday said Klein ministered to Frank Calabrese at a prison in Springfield, Mo., where he allegedly participated in a scheme to recover a valuable violin from a home Calabrese once owned in Wisconsin. Calabrese is serving life for 13 murders.
Federal prosecutors contend a former prison chaplain plotted with convicted Chicago mobster Frank Calabrese Sr. to recover a violin reportedly hidden in a Wisconsin house.
Sixty-two-year-old Catholic priest Eugene Klein of Springfield, Mo., was indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and attempting to prevent seizure of Calabrese's property. The charges were announced Thursday by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.
Calabrese is serving a life sentence for 13 murders at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo., where Klein is under contract as a chaplain. He owes $4.4 million in restitution to victims' families.
Prosecutors say Klein and two others planned to pose as interested buyers of the Williams Bay, Wis., home. One would distract the realtor while the others searched for the violin, reportedly worth millions.
It was not clear whether Klein had an attorney.
Klein served as an assistant pastor within the diocese from 2004-2005, according to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. He served in Springfield and Licking.
Since then, he has served under contract with the Federal Prison System as a chaplain at the Springfield Medical Prison facility. He is a priest of the Diocese of Winona in Minnesota.
Rev. Eugene M. Klein was ordained on May 24, 1974.
His work history according to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau is below:
- Diocese of Winona, Michigan
- August, 2004 – Associate Pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Springfield, MO
- August, 2005 - Sacramental Minister, St. John the Baptist, Licking
- May, 2006 - U.S. Federal Medical Center, Chaplain