The Chicago Syndicate: Restaurant Impresario Fails to Disclose Connection to Mobster

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Restaurant Impresario Fails to Disclose Connection to Mobster

High-flying restaurant impresario Giuseppe Cipriani repeatedly omitted in his state liquor-license applications the involvement of a convicted Colombo crime-family associate in his hotspots, documents obtained by The Post show.

He also failed to list his father, Arrigo Cipriani, on numerous license applications, omissions that could lead to new criminal charges against the son.

The State Liquor Authority is examining Cipriani's failure to put down ex-con Dennis Pappas as a top executive on applications for any of the family's five famed New York restaurants, as it determines whether to yank Cipriani's licenses to sell booze. Not disclosing a senior manager, particularly one with a criminal past, "would be a very serious violation," said SLA spokesman Bill Crowley.

On the applications, reviewed by The Post, Giuseppe Cipriani, 42, president of Cipriani USA, claims to be the only owner and executive at the firm's opulent eateries and banquet halls.

In papers submitted to the SLA in 2004 for the restaurant at 200 Fifth Ave., for example, Cipriani says he has 100 percent ownership and adds, "Giuseppe Cipriani is the sole officer, director and shareholder."

But the application doesn't square with an April 2003 lease agreement Pappas signed with the restaurant in which Pappas describes himself as "CEO."

Nor does it match testimony Pappas gave in May, when at his sentencing for insurance fraud, he told a judge he had managerial control over the Ciprianis' New York operations between 2000 and 2006, reported only to Giuseppe Cipriani, hired workers, oversaw construction projects and got paid $900,000.

A reputed mob moneyman now doing time for duping insurance companies out of $1.5 million in fake disability claims, Pappas was convicted by the feds of RICO charges in 1998 for his legal work for the Colombos. He was also charged in 2006 with falsifying an application for a cabaret license for the Ciprianis' Rainbow Room by not disclosing his criminal past to the city's Department of Consumer Affairs.

The SLA is already looking to pull the Cipriani licenses after the felony conviction of patriarch Arrigo Cipriani, 75, who admitted in July he and Cipriani USA dodged $10 million in taxes.

Convicted felons are barred from holding liquor licenses unless they get a rare special permission from the court or Probation Department.

On the license applications, Giuseppe Cipriani also fails to mention the involvement of Arrigo, who heads a parent company that controls the family's New York operation.

The new documents could mean further legal trouble for Giuseppe, who also copped to helping the firm evade the taxes.

Thanks to Brad Hamilton and Susan Edelman

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