The Chicago Syndicate: Jackie Cerone
Showing posts with label Jackie Cerone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jackie Cerone. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mob Boss Son to Increase Brewery Equity Stake

Friends of ours: Jackie Cerone

Bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing filed its long-awaited reorganization plan yesterday, saying it intends to modernize the 145-year-old Lawrenceville brewery with $7 million from investors and lenders.The son of Jackie Cerone, Jack P. Cerone, will double his ownership of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company based upon the latest reorganization plan

The investment would be used to pay bankruptcy-related expenses and purchase a new boiler and a keg system, which would allow the brewery to expand sales to taverns. Remaining funds would be used for marketing. The plan is based on estimated annual savings of $1 million by revising its labor agreement and terminating a union pension plan.

Pittsburgh Brewing's plan, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Downtown, does not disclose the investors or who would provide financing to the company. The loans would be in addition to a $500,000 line of credit the company has arranged through Craig Newbold, an East Liverpool, Ohio, native whose fortune is based on a software venture he developed and sold.

Some long-suffering creditors will likely object to the 18-page plan, which contests claims filed against Pittsburgh Brewing by several major creditors, most of them government agencies. Unsecured creditors would get 33 cents for every $1 they are owed. They would get less if creditors win claims the brewery is disputing.

Members of the IUE/Communications Workers of America have thus far rejected the wage and other concessions the brewery is seeking, saying they will base their final decision on the merits of the reorganization plan.

President Joseph Piccirilli, who would continue to run the brewery, would increase his ownership of the company to 50 percent under terms of the plan. Jack P. Cerone, the son of a former Chicago mob boss who has an $8 million claim against the company, would double his ownership stake to 40 percent by converting the unpaid loans he provided to the brewery to equity.

Other secured creditors who would be paid in full include the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, which would receive $577,700 owed on a $1.4 million, five-year loan it provided in 1996; a union pension plan that would receive $200,000 in overdue contributions; and the City of Pittsburgh, which would collect $50,800 in unpaid real estate taxes. Mr. Piccirilli would also receive $112,000 in unpaid wages.

Pittsburgh Brewing is contesting a $2.7 million claim by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. The agency's threat to terminate service over unpaid bills triggered the brewery's decision to seek bankruptcy protection Dec. 7.

The brewery also is contesting the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s $1.8 million claim over a terminated pension plan; a $309,500 claim by the Internal Revenue Service; $120,000 of an $814,400 claim for unpaid federal excise taxes filed by the U.S. Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau; $136,100 in claims by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue; and a $38,200 claim for Allegheny County real estate taxes.

Unsecured creditors have filed claims in excess of $18 million, but the brewery estimates legitimate claims at $6 million, a figure the 33-cent-on-the-dollar payout is based on. Robert Sable, attorney for the unsecured creditors, declined comment, saying he wanted to review the plan with his clients.

The brewery provided estimates of its financial results based on the reorganization plan. It projects losses of $1.6 million this year and $347,000 next year before turning profits of $575,000 in 2008 and $1.1 million in 2009.

Thanks to Len Boselovic

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mobster Son's Brewery Stake Challenged by Feds

Friends of ours: Jackie Cerone

The federal agency that took over bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing Co.'s pension plan has challenged the status of the brewery's second-largest investor as the sole creditor with rights to trademark beers Iron City and IC Light.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. wants to alter a March agreement that makes Jack P. Cerone, a Chicago attorney who owns a minority share in the Lawrenceville brewery, the only creditor of Keystone Brewers Holding Co., which owns the trademark rights. A hearing is scheduled for today in Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh.

The pension agency claims it too is a creditor because it assumed $11.8 million pension liabilities from bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing in May. Cerone is owed about $6 million, according to a financial statement filed in April.

The pension insurer also wants the court to eliminate a provision in the March agreement that preserves Cerone's rights even if the brewery is forced into liquidation. Pittsburgh Brewing filed a Chapter 11 bankrutpcy in December and faces an Oct. 15 deadline to file a reorganization plan. The pension insurer declined to comment further, spokesman Gary Pastorius said.

The agreement between Cerone and a committee of unsecured creditors was approved March 9 without the agency's knowledge, the pension insurer said. Neither Cerone nor his Pittsburgh attorney, Donald Calaiaro, could be reached for comment.

Under the deal, Cerone gets weekly payments of $9,105 on two loans to Pittsburgh Brewing. He purchased the loans in 2003 for $1.5 million. Cerone also agreed to postpone payments of $2,200 a week on an August 2005 loan he made to the brewery. Joseph R. Piccirilli, Pittsburgh Brewing's president, has said he agreed to make the payments to Cerone because of his ownership of the loans.

Cerone acquired his minority stake in the brewery -- 10 percent of the brewery's stock, plus warrants that allow him to buy an additional 10 percent -- when he purchased a loan from Provident Bank of Cincinnati, Piccirilli said.

Cerone's father, the late Jackie Cerone, was "a notorious mobster in the 'Chicago Outfit,'" said Dan Moldea, author of "The Hoffa Wars" and an expert on the Teamsters union. Cerone had links to both labor unions and management, Moldea said.

Cerone's insurance firm, Marble Insurance Agency of Addison, Ill., was barred from doing business with Teamsters Local 727 of Chicago and other Teamster-related clients in 1993 because of his father's alleged ties to organized crime, according to a 2004 report prepared for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Separately, the union representing bottlers and brewers at Pittsburgh Brewing says it may take the company's latest contract offer to its membership for a vote. A decision will be made early next month. "I think we may be done negotiating," said George Sharkey, a business agent for the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 144B, which represents the brewery's bottlers.

Two bargaining sessions last week failed to produce a tentative agreement, and the brewery's demands are similar to those made in July, Sharkey said. Pittsburgh Brewing wanted a 10 percent wage cut, but workers would get wage increases stipulated in the current contract, which took effect in May 2005, Sharkey said.

If the union does not approve the company's offer, Sharkey said he the brewery may renew its efforts to seek permission in Bankruptcy Court to terminate its labor contract. Pittsburgh Brewing asked the court for such permission, but postponed a hearing on the matter last month because negotiations had resumed.

Piccirilli declined to comment yesterday, but has said a cost-cutting labor contract is a key element of a successful reorganization.

Thanks to Joe Napsha

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Heard Off the Street: Talk of Bankrupt Brewer Buying Rolling Rock Doesn't Wash

Friends of ours: John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone

Is April Fools Day being celebrated two months late this year?

Bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing, the company that can't pay its water and sewage bills on time, that can't keep pension promises to its workers, that is eternally in hot water with vendors for not honoring its obligations, is making noises about being interested in Latrobe Brewing Co.'s endangered plant.

On June 1, Pittsburgh Brewing President Joseph Piccirilli put out a statement saying someone from the office of U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, told him the congressman wants to discuss the plant with him.

"The Latrobe Brewery is a beautiful facility. I'm in the beer business and it's practically in my back yard," Mr. Piccirilli said. "We are in the midst of union negotiations and we are working very hard to turn our financial situation around. But if we can schedule something, I'll speak with the congressman."

If you're thinking this is akin to Dracula offering to give someone a transfusion, you're not too far off the mark. Mr. Piccirilli will be hard-pressed to find investors willing to finance his efforts to extract himself from the hole he's made at Pittsburgh Brewing, much less shower him with mad money to work his magic in Latrobe.

To be sure, even well-managed brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, which is purchasing Latrobe's Rolling Rock brands and moving production to Newark, N.J., have problems these days. Anheuser-Busch's decision will put about 200 workers at the Latrobe plant out of work if another buyer for the facility isn't found.

"It's a very tough time to be in the beer industry," said Brent Wilsey of Wilsey Asset Management in San Diego. "It's just not the product that's desired in this generation."

Lawrenceville-based Pittsburgh Brewing had serious issues long before Mr. Piccirilli's stewardship commenced. The company's two previous owners ended up in prison, which explains why Mr. Piccirilli's investment group had to purchase the brewer at a bankruptcy court auction in 1995.

The losing bidder was former Pittsburgh Brewing chief executive Harvey Sanford, a savvy operator credited with reviving sales of the company's I.C. Light.

"Harvey's major disadvantage as a bidder was that he understood the business and wasn't willing to overpay. He may have had a better shot if he didn't understand the business," Cris Hoel, an attorney who advised Mr. Sanford at the auction, said when his client died in 1997.

"Events have demonstrated, and may continue to demonstrate, that both the brewery and a lot of people would have been better off if Harvey had been able to acquire the brewery," Mr. Hoel stated in the Post-Gazette's obituary on Mr. Sanford.

Mr. Hoel was part of a group of investors who hoped to acquire the Latrobe plant and keep brewing Rolling Rock there. Like Mr. Sanford, they were outbid, but not necessarily outsmarted. Like the collar on a good beer, Mr. Hoel's assessment has held up well in the nine years since his client died.

Changing consumer tastes would have challenged Mr. Sanford's management skills. But there's little doubt he would have taken a more disciplined approach than Mr. Piccirilli, the son of a garbage hauling company owner. Major banks would have financed Mr. Sanford's ownership while Mr. Piccirilli is being bankrolled by lawyer Jack Cerone, the son of the former Chicago Mafia underboss John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone.

A recent court filing by one of Pittsburgh Brewing's creditors illustrates Mr. Piccirilli's management practices. MeadWestvaco leased some packaging equipment to the brewery. When the lease expired at the end of February, Pittsburgh Brewing failed to make a required payment of about $64,300. Moreover, it kept the equipment and has not made monthly rent payments of $4,500 since then, MeadWestvaco alleges in a May 23 filing. The situation's the same for other equipment covered by a separate lease, the supplier stated in a motion seeking payment.

Does this sound like someone with sufficient financial wherewithal and the requisite business acumen to be considered a viable steward for the Latrobe Brewery? Should someone who can't make monthly payments of $4,500 -- not to mention Pittsburgh Brewing's more glaring delinquencies -- be trusted with the future of the Latrobe workers whose jobs are on the line?

Then again, perhaps investors would finance a Pittsburgh Brewing acquisition of the Latrobe plant based solely on the $9,000 loan payments Mr. Piccirilli faithfully sends to Mr. Cerone each week.

Cindy Abram, a spokeswoman for Rep. Murtha, said media reports that her boss is brokering a deal between Latrobe and Pittsburgh Brewing are exaggerated. She acknowledged there have been phone discussions with interested parties, including Pittsburgh Brewing, but said they have been "very, very preliminary."

The government officials diligently trying to secure the future of the Latrobe Brewing plant will consider offers only from responsible parties. Gov. Ed Rendell has asked Renaissance Partners, an investment banking and business consulting firm, to assess the situation and make recommendations.

If that process is as sober as it should be, it's hard to imagine the fate of the Latrobe plant being entrusted to someone with the track record Mr. Piccirilli has made for himself at Pittsburgh Brewing.

Thanks to Len Boselovic

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chicago Mob Time Line: January 1, 1985

Friends of ours: Sal DeLaurentis, Chuckie English, Sam Giancana, Joe Ferriola, Fifi Buccieri, Turk Torello, Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo, Fat Tony Salerno, Genovese Crime Family, Dominic Palermo, Tony Spilotro, Rocco Infelise, John "No Nose" DiFronzo, Sam "Wings" Carlisi, Michael Carracci, Jackie Cerone
Friends of mine: Hal Smith, Dom Angelini, Chris Petti


IN THE YEAR 1985: Sal DeLaurentis was strongly suspected of playing a role in the torture murder of a bookmaker named Hal Smith. A few months before federal investigators caught Solly D on tape telling Smith that he would be "trunk music" unless he made a $6,000 a month street tax payment to him.

- Chuckie English, Sam Giancana's top aide, died with vast interests in the Phoenix area, real estate and construction.

- Joe Ferriola, AKA Joe Negall, was now the boss over the Chicago mob. He had been with Fifi Buccieri's crew until Buccieri died, and Turk Torello took over. When he died, Ferriola took over and eventually assumed control of all the gambling in Chicago.

It was widely assumed that Tony Accardo was still in charge of the organization, just as Paul Ricca had been in charge when Accardo and Giancana were running things.

- Tony Accardo sold his condo on Harlem avenue and moved into affluent Barrington Hills, to live on the estate with his daughter Marie, Mrs. Ernie Kumerow. Mr. Kumerow is a union official.

- Fortune magazine declares that Tony Accardo is the second ranked boss in the country behind Fat Tony Salerno in New York of the Genovese family.

- According to Dominic Palermo's wife, who was an FBI informant, her husband Dominic got the order to kill the Spilotro brothers at a meeting he attended at the Czech Restaurant in Chicago. Palermo said that Joe Ferriola ordered the hit and Rocco Infelise gave it his okay.

Palermo, who worked for the very mobbed up Chicago Laborers local 5, was left behind in the cornfield by the other killers after they took the Spilotro's out. Palermo walked five miles to a phone both and called his wife, told her what happened and had her pick him up.

From that information, the FBI was able to locate the Spilotro bodies. The corpses were not, as the story so often goes, discovered when a farmer plowed them up. Rather, the Chicago office of the FBI probably spread that story to cover its informants.

- The Chicago mob's new boss, John "No Nose" DiFronzo decided to try and skim money out of legalized gambling at the Rincon Indian resort, on a federal reservation in San Diego County, California. It was a last ditch attempt to keep their grip on the Nevada gambling scene but the entire scam was a disaster.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The first time the reservation scam was discussed was in July of 1985, between DiFronzo, Dom Angelini, who, at the time was Chicago's man in Vegas, and underboss, Sam "Wings" Carlisi at a meeting held at Rocky's Restaurant in suburban Melrose Park, Illinois.

The plan was to finance the tribe's venture into gambling, take over the operations, skim money from the casinos as well as use it to launder money from narcotics sales. Dom Angelini placed Chris Petti, the outfit's man in San Diego, in charge of the takeover. Petti was ordered to deal directly with Angelini's brother-in-law, Michael Caracci, a soldier in the DiFronzo crew.

To work the scam, Caracci called Petti at the same San Diego pay phone they had been using for years, which, unknown to them the FBI had tapped years before. They decided that although the Rincon deal looked good, Chicago didn't want to sink any money into it.

But that they would, however, get involved if an outside source wanted to put up the financing to take over the Indian gambling resort. Petti made contact with Peter Carmassi, whom he had been told was a money launderer for a Columbian drug cartel.

Carmassi, who was actually an undercover FBI agent, showed interest in the Rincon casino deal. In several tape recorded and filmed meetings with undercover agent Carmassi, Petti laid out the entire scam to take over the Rincon reservation gambling concession.

On January 9, 1992, the government indicted Petti, DiFronzo, Carlisi and the reservation's lawyer, on 15 counts of criminal conspiracy. DiFronzo and Angelini were convicted and got a 37-month sentence, with fines approaching one million dollars.

- Corbitt joined the Cook County Sheriff's Department, and was assigned to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. However, he was indicted and convicted for racketeering and obstructing justice in 1988.

- Jackie Cerone got nailed on federal charges for skimming $2,000,000 from the Stardust Casino in Vegas and was sent to prison in Texas.

Thanks to Mob Magazine

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pittsburgh Brewing pays $11,000 weekly to Son of Late Chicago Mafiosa

Friends of ours: Jackie "The Lackey" Cerone

Unsecured creditors of Pittsburgh Brewing went to court yesterday to stop the bankrupt Lawrenceville brewer from making $11,000 weekly payments to Jack Cerone, a Chicago attorney who owns a minority interest in the brewer. The unsecured creditors argue the payments are not permitted under bankruptcy law and, in a motion filed in federal bankruptcy court Downtown, asked U.S. Judge M. Bruce McCullough to prohibit them.

Pittsburgh Brewing, which sought bankruptcy protection Dec. 7, recently identified Mr. Cerone as a 20 percent owner and director of the company. Creditors said that makes him an insider and bankruptcy law requires the company to report any payments made to insiders in the year before Pittsburgh Brewing entered bankruptcy.

No such transfers to Mr. Cerone are listed, creditors said. However, the company has disclosed payments to its primary lender -- whom the creditors believe to be Mr. Cerone -- of nearly $145,000 in the three months prior to Dec. 7 and payments of $44,500 in December. Creditors said they believe the payments are continuing.

Mr. Cerone's involvement at the brewery has caused concern in some circles because his late father was a Chicago mob underboss. The elder Mr. Cerone, known as "Jackie the Lackey," was sentenced in 1986 to 281/2 years in prison for skimming $2 million in unreported gambling profits from Las Vegas casinos.

The younger Mr. Cerone's law firm and insurance company lost business with Chicago locals of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as the result of a 1989 federal court decree prohibiting the union from associating with organized crime. Mr. Cerone's attorney, Donald Calaiaro of Pittsburgh, and Robert Lampl, Pittsburgh Brewing's attorney, could not be reached for comment.

In their motion, unsecured creditors said Mr. Cerone purchased Pittsburgh Brewing's bank debt, estimated at $5.6 million, from National City Bank and Provident National Bank for $1.5 million in 2003.

Thanks to Len Boselovic

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pittsburgh Brewing Investor is Son of Chicago Mob Boss

Friends of ours: John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone, Tony Accardo

A Chicago attorney who owns a 20 percent interest in bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing is the son of former Chicago mafia underboss John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone.

Attorney Jack P. Cerone's ownership was disclosed in papers filed by the brewery in federal bankruptcy court. Creditors believe that Mr. Cerone acquired a minority stake in 2003 by helping Pittsburgh Brewing pay off bank lenders. The Lawrenceville-based brewer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, previously disclosed that a bank accepted $500,000 as payment for a $5.1 million loan in 2003, forgiving the remaining balance of $4.6 million.

Court documents indicate Mr. Cerone is a secured lender with a $6 million claim against the company.

They list President Joseph Piccirilli as owning a 44 percent interest in the brewery. Two other investors, Thomas Gephart, of San Diego, and Steven Sands, of New York, are listed as owning less than 5 percent each. The other investor or investors, who own about 30 percent of the brewery, are not named.

Mr. Cerone did not return calls. Pittsburgh Brewing spokesman Jeff Vavro declined comment.Mr. Cerone's involvement has raised concerns among union workers, who said the attorney was the company's top negotiator in contract talks last spring. In Chicago, Mr. Cerone has represented unions in labor negotiations. His involvement also has attracted the interest of attorneys for other creditors. They have asked for copies of documents detailing terms of his loan to the brewery.

The Chicago media dubbed Mr. Cerone's father "The Lackey" because of his close association to his mentor, Anthony "Big Tuna" Accardo, according to former FBI agent William F. Roemer Jr., who wrote a book on the Chicago mob. The elder Mr. Cerone was sentenced in 1986 to 28 1/2 years for skimming $2 million in unreported gambling profits from Las Vegas casinos. He died in 1996 at the age of 82.

The year before, his son's law firm sued the federal government for discrimination. The firm was contesting a 1989 federal court decree prohibiting the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from associating with organized crime.

Mr. Cerone charged that the decree unfairly caused Teamsters union locals in Chicago to stop using his law firm, Erbacci Cerone & Moriarty. Mr. Cerone also said one of the locals stopped dealing with the insurance company he owned, Marble Insurance Agency. A federal judge upheld the Teamsters decision because the younger Mr. Cerone admitted associating with his father.

Pittsburgh Brewing's bankruptcy papers list Erbacci Cerone and Marble Insurance as unsecured creditors. They are owed a total of $43,700.

Creditor attorneys and others familiar with Mr. Cerone said he did not have a criminal record.

Mr. Cerone's stake in Pittsburgh Brewing has not been reported to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. PLCB spokeswoman Molly McGowan said breweries were supposed to report ownership changes involving stakes of 10 percent or more within 15 days. The last time Pittsburgh Brewing provided ownership information to the agency, Mr. Piccirilli and Mr. Gephart were the only owners listed. Each had the same amount of stock, Ms. McGowan said.

Thanks to Len Boselovic

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