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    PHOENIX (AP) _ A restaurateur who pleaded guilty in seven contract murders was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the killing of a man who reportedly wanted to get out of a crime ring.

    Giuseppe ″Joe″ Calo was sentenced for his part in the slaying of Phoenix rug importer Angelo Desideri, whose body was found by a hunter in the California desert in August 1989.

    A plea agreement before Judge Norman Hall of Maricopa County Superior Court allows him to escape the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation.

    He will be sentenced later for the other killings and could be eligible for parole after 25 years.

    Calo, 37, who owned Michelina’s Italian restaurant in Phoenix, pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to seven murders. He was arrested March 15, 1989, after investigators noted some victims were his associates.

    Court records were sealed, and Calo’s part in the killings couldn’t immediately be determined.

    Calo told investigators Desideri’s refusal to continue in illegal activity angered higher-ups in a criminal network, according to a sentencing report unsealed Friday by the Maricopa County probation office.

    The report said other killings were done for money or to silence associates who knew too much. It indicated Calo dug one victim’s grave.

    Verna Latham, of Maricopa, scribbled a note in her own blood before she died: ″Joe Calo had us killed. His painter friend did it. Get Joe Calo.″

    Calo told investigators before his arrest that his painter, James David Majors, told him he killed Desideri and buried the body in the desert.

    Calo said he became involved only because he feared Majors. Majors has been sentenced to death in California for three drug-related slayings near Sacramento but hasn’t been charged in the Arizona slayings.

    EDT