The Chicago Syndicate: Joseph Vollaro
Showing posts with label Joseph Vollaro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph Vollaro. Show all posts

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Was Over $2 Billion in City Contracts Awarded to Alleged Mob Connected Construction Company

An affidavit filed in federal court in Brooklyn suggests that officials with the Schiavone Construction Company, a contracting giant working on some of the largest public works projects in New York City, were involved in variety of schemes involving organized crime in recent years.

The affidavit, filed in 2005 as part of an organized crime investigation that has led to scores of arrests, says that Schiavone executives plotted to evade a requirement that they seek to hire businesses owned by women on a city project by using a front that was actually meant to funnel money to a mob-connected trucking executive.

In the affidavit, a federal agent, citing secretly recorded tapes of Schiavone officials and statements by the trucking executive, details the steps Schiavone officials said they would take to help carry out the scheme.

They included an offer by senior Schiavone executives to hire a secretary and install a telephone line at the front company’s offices just for Schiavone projects. Another Schiavone employee was recorded saying that he would provide signs bearing the front company’s name to mask the ownership of the mob-connected trucks, and heard coaching the trucking executive on how to file job paperwork. Another employee was recorded telling the trucking executive that a woman should answer the phone at the front company’s job-site trailer, and directing how she should greet callers.

Schiavone, which was formed in the 1950s and grew into one of the largest heavy-construction companies in the New York area, has been awarded more than $2 billion in public works projects in recent years, including New York City’s massive Croton water filtration plant in the Bronx, said to be the subject of the fraud scheme. Work on the construction of the Second Avenue subway is another of its projects.

Until the company was sold to a Spanish conglomerate late last year, 50 percent of it was owned by Raymond J. Donovan, the labor secretary in the Reagan administration. He was tried and acquitted in 1987 on state fraud charges that accused him of stealing $7.4 million from a subway contract through a scheme involving a Genovese crime family associate and a minority-owned subcontractor.

The 2005 affidavit quotes Nicholas Calvo, a carting company executive identified by prosecutors as a Genovese crime family associate, telling a union official that Schiavone Construction had ties to the Genovese family.

Mr. Calvo told the union official that he had obtained work for another trucking company at the New York City Water Tunnel No. 3, another massive project where Schiavone holds a city contract, through his influence over Schiavone, according to the affidavit. Mr. Calvo, who was arrested earlier this year in the broader organized crime investigation, pleaded guilty this month to extortion conspiracy charges in United States District Court in Brooklyn.

No charges have been brought against Schiavone Construction or the officials implicated in the scheme detailed in the affidavit, although its head of tunneling operations, Anthony Delvescovo, and a lower-level worker, Michael King, were among 62 people indicted in the broader investigation.

The affidavit, which was originally filed under seal, was disclosed last week by Dominic F. Amorosa, a lawyer for one of the defendants in the broader case, who attached it to another document he filed seeking to have wiretap evidence against his client suppressed.

Schiavone’s general counsel, Mary Libassi, said in a written statement on Monday that some of the affidavit’s allegations against Schiavone were untrue, and that the company was cooperating with the investigation, which is being overseen by the United States attorney in Brooklyn.

“Schiavone has operated and continues to operate within the law,” she said. “In its projects, Schiavone has used appropriately certified minority, women’s and disadvantaged business enterprises.”

Of the 62 people charged in the broader case, just Mr. Delvescovo and Mr. King were indicted on charges related to Schiavone. Fifty-three of the defendants have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to, and nine — including the two men — are expected to go to trial in the coming months.

Mr. Devescovo’s lawyer, Avraham C. Moskowitz, said his client was not recorded once on the hundreds of hours of tapes made by the trucking executive. “And that, in and of itself, should cast doubt on the government’s case,” he said. “There is no evidence that my client got a penny from anybody.”

Mr. King’s lawyer, Marc A. Agnifilo, defended his client and played down his role in the case, saying he operated a jackhammer and had “almost no decision-making authority whatsoever.”

It is unclear from the affidavit whether the scheme was ever carried out. But city records show that T & M Maintenance, the company listed in the affidavit as the front in the supposed scheme, was a subcontractor to Schiavone on the Croton water filtration plant project, doing $1.2 million in work.

The company is listed in city records as a certified Women’s Business Enterprise and a Minority Business Enterprise.

The affidavit said that the mob-connected trucking executive who was part of the scheme, Joseph Vollaro, had met with Schiavone executives about the plan while he was cooperating in the investigation with federal and local authorities.

“Certain of the executives have instructed the CI that the CI is to perform the work at the Croton Project under the guises of a company portraying itself as a legitimate women’s business enterprise,” the affidavit said, referring to Mr. Vollaro by the abbreviation for his role as a confidential informant. “In fact, the executives understand that the CI’s company will be doing the work.”

Under a state program, Schiavone was required to make a “good-faith effort” to subcontract at least 17 percent of the work to minority companies and 5 percent to companies owned by women.

The affidavit said that Mr. Vollaro had agreed with the president of T & M, Marina Poetsma, to pay her a fee of 7 percent of the contract payments to use her company’s name. Mr. Vollaro’s company was to keep the remaining 93 percent, according to the affidavit, which did not include the total dollar amount of the payments.

A man who answered the phone at T & M’s offices on Staten Island said that the company and Ms. Poetsma had done nothing wrong. “Whatever she did, it was all legal,” said the man, who would not give his name. “You wouldn’t be awarded a contract otherwise. Don’t believe everything you read,” he added, referring to the affidavit. “The City of New York is not stupid.”

The affidavit was sworn to by Jonathan Mellone, a special agent with the federal Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, which is investigating the case along with the F.B.I., the state Organized Crime Task Force, the city Department of Investigation and federal prosecutors. It also described several other schemes involving Schiavone.

Among them were instances of bribes and kickbacks, and a scheme in which Mr. Vollaro was to pay $40 a truck load — including all the loads from the Schiavone jobs — for unlimited access to a landfill project in New Jersey known as Endcap.

Mr. Vollaro’s criminal record dates to a 1989 drug conviction in New Jersey. He also served a federal prison sentence for loansharking. He began cooperating with investigators in early 2005 when they caught him with a kilogram of cocaine.

The Croton project, at the center of the alleged scheme involving Schiavone and T & M, is a massive, controversial undertaking by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which has been plagued by delays and by costs that have soared to nearly $3 billion from $660 million.

One of the biggest water filtration plants in the world, it is being built in a 10-story hole that Schiavone helped excavate out of bedrock in the Bronx. Once entombed in the man-made cavern below Van Cortlandt Park, it will be able to filter 300 million gallons of water a day.

Thanks to William K. Rashbaum

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mob Turncoat Allowing State to Bring More Drug Charges

He's the rat who keeps on giving. The state is about to make a raft of new drug arrests courtesy of Mafia turncoat Joseph Vollaro, who has already helped hobble the Gambino crime family, the Daily News has learned.

Picking up where the feds left off, the state attorney general's office will soon start collaring about a dozen suspects on narcotics charges, sources said.

"It's going to be big," said a source with knowledge of the case.

Vollaro was a drug dealer before he began making money hand-over-fist in construction rackets with the Gambinos. When state investigators nailed him with a kilo of cocaine, the mob wanna-be eagerly flipped and began secretly recording mobsters and drug customers.

Several suspects have been approached recently by investigators and warned they face felony charges and long jail sentences. Unlike Joey the Rat, they have refused to cooperate and hired defense attorneys.

Those facing arrest are not tied to organized crime although Vollaro tried to entice Gambino associates into drug deals without success, sources said.

"I'm gonna do what I gotta do," Vollaro is heard saying as a preamble on taped recordings he made for law enforcement as he was about to embark on a drug deal.

Vollaro was en route to a drug sale three years ago when state investigators pulled over his car near Amboy Road on Staten Island. His customers watched from a distance as he was handcuffed and hauled away.

"Then he's back on the street a few hours later and he's trying to explain himself," said another source. "He said he had the drugs hidden in a trap (in his car) and they didn't find it. They (Vollaro's criminal associates) were suspicious but they didn't follow up to see if he was a rat because he was making money for them. It came down to greed."

If Vollaro ever makes his singing debut in a courtroom, there's a lot more dirt known about the shady businessman's activities now - including illegal dumping, money laundering and a previous marriage - than last February when prosecutors dropped a 62-defendant indictment on the Gambinos.

Vollaro's pregnant wife, Trish, hasn't entered the witness protection program with her hubby and their dogs, prompting speculation by the couple's acquaintances about her loyalties and trouble in their marriage.

"Lots of times they make it seem like (the wife) is angry at him and then she eventually goes into the program too," said another source.

Trish Vollaro is to be deposed in a civil case next month relating to the beating of 19-year-old Christopher Costantino outside her Docks Restaurant in Staten Island in 2004 that left him brain-damaged and in a wheelchair.

Several witnesses have claimed Joseph Vollaro was involved although it's unclear if he struck the victim, said Costantino's lawyer Evan Goldberg.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gambinos Withstanding Feds Efforts to Eliminate The Family

The feds' knockout of the Gambino crime family looks more like a phantom punch.

Reputed boss John (Jackie Nose) D'Amico and reputed underboss Domenico (The Greaseball) Cefalu took a plea deal Wednesday, admitting to a single extortion count, and could end up spending less than two years in prison.

In the last two weeks - and with a June 7 trial date looming - prosecutors dropped their demand that D'Amico plead guilty to racketeering, which carried a more serious penalty, defense lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio said.

D'Amico and Cefalu admitted extorting a $100,000 payment from businessman-turned rat Joseph Vollaro in exchange for permission to sell his Staten Island cement company. Prosecutors did not object when D'Amico said Vollaro would suffer "economic harm" if he didn't pay up, rather than violence.

Despite great fanfare accompanying last February's indictment of 62 Gambinos, there was no new defection of a high-ranking turncoat, and Vollaro was unable to record conversations with D'Amico, Cefalu or reputed consigliere Joseph (JoJo) Corozzo, a government source acknowledged.

Corozzo is scheduled to plead guilty to a new complaint that drops a drug trafficking charge against him. "Plea [deals] are based on lack of evidence and quality of evidence," Macedonio said.

For aging mobsters like D'Amico, 71; Cefalu, 61, and Corozzo, 66, convictions after trial would have resulted in virtual life sentences. None of the 52 defendants cutting deals faces more than three years in prison.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Sunday, February 10, 2008

After Husband is Arrested, Did Mobster's Wife Reach Out and Touch a Warning to Her Reputed Gambino Capo Father

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Reputed Gambino capo Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo was able to elude the feds' rubout of more than 100 of his associates Thursday - allegedly thanks to a timely, heads-up phone call from his daughter, who had just watched her mobster husband hauled away in cuffs, sources told The Post yesterday.

Vincent "Skinny" Dragonetti was busted as he walked out of his Bellmore, LI, home a few minutes ahead of the early-morning synchronized sweep. That gave his wife, Bernadette, enough time to warn her dad, who lives a few blocks down the same street.

Corozzo was so quick in fleeing that he left behind his wallet, sources said.

Bernadette refused to answer a Post reporter's questions yesterday, slamming the door in his face.

Corozzo remained on the lam as new details emerged about the historic mass arrest - which involved charges of murder, corruption, extortion, drug dealing and loan-sharking from the city to Sicily.

Its central figure, Staten Island truck-company owner Joseph Vollaro, wore a wire for more than two years.

The ex-con provided intricate details of the Gambino crime family's inner workings at meetings and meals with top bosses, sources said.

Vollaro, who had been staring at a life sentence after he was pinched with two kilos of cocaine in 2004, made the deal in exchange for his freedom and entry into the witness-protection program.

His wife has decided not to join him in the program, which he entered last week as the feds were putting the finishing details on Thursday's massive bust, sources said. The couple has no kids.

As valuable as Vollaro was in bringing down one of the city's biggest crime syndicates, the feds apparently didn't know what to expect when he first agreed to help with their large-scale investigation.

Vollaro, who shared a federal prison cell with Corozzo and began doing business with the Gambinos when he got out in 1999, was initially expected to help with a multifaceted national drug investigation. But he cozied up to the "family" so well over the next few years that he was even on the verge of becoming a made man when the hammer fell on the organization, the sources said.

Vollaro's sweetheart deal sickened the rogues gallery of thugs he ratted out.

"Everybody thought he was a nice guy," said Joel Winograd, the lawyer for Leonard "The Conductor" DiMaria, who, among other things, is charged with money laundering, stealing union benefits and gambling. "He's probably in Hawaii on the beach spending his illegally obtained drug-dealing money right now."

The evidence obtained by Vollaro was a key building block for many of the extortion and racketeering cases.

The multiple murder charges - for crimes that date back as far as 30 years - were brought with extensive wiretap evidence gathered by longtime Gambino associate Peter Zuccaro, 52.

Zuccaro was a key member of one of Corozzo's biggest crews run by Ronnie "One Arm" Trucchio. He and several other associates cut a deal with the feds after his conviction in Tampa, Fla., in 2005 on extortion and other charges.

Zuccaro, a trusted member of the late John Gotti's inner circle, provided a treasure trove of damning evidence - including information on the murder of court officer Albert Gelb, which was allegedly committed by hit man Charles Carneglia.

Thanks to Murray Weiss, Stephanie Cohen, Eric Lenkowitz

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