Rockland County Legislator Frank Sparaco on Tuesday vehemently denied any connection to organized crime and accused the Democratic leadership in Albany of being behind media reports about mob ties among his campaign donors.
"They have attempted to plant in the media the despicable and preposterous idea that somehow I am linked to organized crime," said Sparaco, who is running for the Assembly. "I wish to make the following perfectly clear: I vehemently deny any knowledge that political contributions to my campaign came from companies with alleged ties to organize crime," he said at a news conference outside Rockland Republican Party headquarters off Route 304.
He is running on the Republican, Conservative and Working Families lines to unseat 94th District Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, who is on the Democratic and Independence lines. The election is Tuesday.
The news conference followed Saturday's publication of an article in The Journal News about Sparaco's campaign donations.
An investigation by the newspaper of county, state and federal records showed that at least $11,500 from reputed Colombo crime family members and associates and their businesses went into Sparaco's campaign coffers since 2007, including donations to his county Legislature and Assembly races.
"There's not one contributor who has been proven guilty of one act of organized crime," he said.
He would not identify the Democratic leaders he blamed for the reports or answer questions after his statement. "This type of insidious racial politics" has been seen before in attacks against other politicians, he said, citing Geraldine Ferraro, Rudy Giuliani and Mario Cuomo. "I will not stand for it," Sparaco said. "I will bring an independent voice to Albany, and there are those that are petrified of that."
He said he had no relationship with his biological father, Frank Sparaco Jr., a reputed Colombo member who pleaded guilty to federal murder charges in 1993 and was sentenced to prison for 24 years. The younger Sparaco said his father abandoned his mother when he was 9 months old.
"In this country, unlike others, we do not tell people to live in the shadows and stay on the margins of society because of what family they come from," Sparaco said. "I am standing up today for the millions of children across this country that are a product of a broken home. Are we worth less? I say no."
Rockland County Republican Party Chairman Vincent Reda backed his candidate.
"We stand behind Frank Sparaco and we reject the media story orchestrated by the Albany Democrats, who have increased taxes by $14 billion over the past two years and chased families and small businesses out of the state," Reda said. "We can no longer afford that."
Reda said the Democrats he was referring to were those cited in an Oct. 21 report by the state inspector general. The report found Senate leaders, including Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, and Gov. David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, complicit in steering a contract for video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens to Aqueduct Entertainment Group. In exchange, the report said, lobbyists and AEG officials pumped more than $100,000 into lawmakers' campaign coffers.
Requests for comment from the state Democratic Committee were not returned Tuesday.
"My candidacy is clearly a threat to those that represent the special interests, the status quo in Albany," said Sparaco, who lives in Valley Cottage. "So much so that they have generated these rumors to deter the good people of Rockland County from achieving the reform that they deserve ."
Diane Holland of West Nyack, who attended the event, said she would continue to support Sparaco.
"Frank is a man of integrity," Holland said. "I've known him for many years. ... He would stand behind me and I would stand behind him."
Thanks to Laura Incalcaterra
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