The Chicago Syndicate: Nick LoCoco
Showing posts with label Nick LoCoco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nick LoCoco. Show all posts

Friday, February 06, 2009

Will Multiple Mob Murders be Solved by Operation Family Secrets - Part Two?

One of my loyal readers, Chicago mob boss James Marcello—captured on grainy federal recordings eating salty corn chips while discussing my column—will be sentenced in the "Family Secrets" case on Thursday.

Marcello, 66, may receive life in prison for his conviction of racketeering conspiracy in connection with previously unsolved Chicago Outfit murders.

The movie "Casino" incorrectly depicted Chicago mob brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield in 1986. But the trial showed that Marcello drove the Spilotros to a Bensenville home, where Michael thought he was going to become a "made member" of the Outfit. Bosses from every crew waited in the rumpus room for the brothers, who were beaten, strangled, their bodies dumped in the corn.

Dr. Pat Spilotro—dentist brother of the slain men—is scheduled to give a statement before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel. Dr. Pat has been secretly working with the FBI for years. He's expected to name other mobsters he believes should also pay for the killings.

Many of the murders involved Nick Calabrese, the hit man turned federal witness, who spilled what he knew on his family and others, giving this case the name "Family Secrets."

So, how do I know Jimmy Marcello reads this column? It came up in trial evidence and federal tape.

In late February 2003, at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., the imprisoned Marcello is sitting with a visitor, his close friend Nick "The Caterer" Vangel, a Greek businessman so nicknamed by wise guys because he once owned The Carlisle banquet hall in Lombard.

That was a day or so after my column of Feb. 21, 2003, about Nick Calabrese entering the witness protection program, prepared to testify about the Spilotro and other hits. Nick Calabrese killed dozens of men, but the prospect of his testimony terrified the Outfit and they were trying to find out more.

"I just saw this last thing in the Trib," Vangel tells Marcello on the FBI surveillance tape about the column.

Marcello responds in Outfit code, with winks and nods. He also does another strange thing: Since they're talking murder, Marcello begins chomping on a bag of tasty snack food: Fritos. That's a Super Bowl commercial if I ever saw one.

As Vangel tells Marcello of Nick Calabrese, of bosses swabbed for DNA, of the murders being investigated and speculates about the grand jury, Marcello makes furtive motions with his eyebrows and hands. But he can't stop gobbling his crunchy fried corn.

Family Secrets cleared many Outfit killings. But others remain unsolved, perhaps waiting for a "Family Secrets II."

One mystery is the disappearance of mob boss Anthony Zizzo in September 2006, as prosecutors prepared their case. Zizzo vanished. His car turned up in the parking lot of a Melrose Park restaurant. He had been scheduled to meet some guys on Rush Street, but never made it. Imagine that.

Another is the 2001 murder of mob boss Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti, gunned down in a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Lyons, the sign out front inviting customers to eat their fill "The Chicago Way."

And the 1998 killing of Michael Cutler, who was scheduled to testify in the case against Frank Caruso Jr., the son of the current reputed Outfit street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso. Junior had been charged with the savage beating of Lenard Clark, a black teenager, in Bridgeport. Cutler saw it all. But before he could testify, Cutler was shot once in the chest in what was called a random West Side robbery.

Random? If you say so.

The unsolved 1999 murder of hit man Ronnie Jarrett, killed outside his Bridgeport home, was believed to have been ordered by mobster Frank Calabrese (brother of Nick Calabrese), who last week was sentenced to life, but was never charged with the Jarrett hit.

One incredibly puzzling death hasn't even been listed as a hit. Outfit bookie and city worker Nick "The Stick" LoCoco—tangled in the City Hall Hired Truck scandal—loved to ride horses. In November 2004, the bookie went for a canter in the woods, fell off his steed and died. On a Sunday, with NFL games under way and money on the line, a bookie goes for a horseback ride? Isn't that odd?

Marcello will have plenty of time to ponder all this and read my column while munching on his Fritos, day after day after day. Betcha Jimmy can't eat just one.

Thanks to John Kass

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sweet Deals, Chicago Style

I wish I had somebody like Bridgeport developers Thomas DiPiazza and Richard Ferro to advise me on real estate matters. Then again, maybe I need the person who advises them.

DiPiazza and Ferro are the guys who paid $50,000 for a heavily polluted, essentially vacant parcel of land along the Chicago River in 1998 -- at almost exactly the same time that somebody at City Hall came to the conclusion the site would make a swell location for a city park.

Immediately thereafter, the city began taking steps to acquire the property, never quite getting the job done until six years later, when it paid the two men $1.2 million to take this same heavily polluted, vacant parcel off their hands.

I don't know about you, but I never do as well with my real estate investments.
The Popcorn Factory Discount Specials
My wife and I always joke that we buy high and sell low, which isn't entirely true, but our timing does tend to be a little off. We'll see an opportunity, but we don't take the chance until the price is out of reach, or we'll sell a house just before the market shoots sky high.

That's why I'm in awe of guys like DiPiazza and Ferro, who could do their own infomercials if they weren't camera shy, as Bridgeport businessmen tend to be.
Insider deal?

DiPiazza is definitely an interesting character. He used to be a city sewer department worker before he got in a jam in the late 1980s for being at the racetrack on city time. He seems to have quite an interest in racehorses. Until just a few years ago, he owned a horse named Medlin Road in partnership with Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, the mob bookie who ran the city's Hired Truck program in the Department of Transportation before he was charged in the federal probe.

As most of you recall, LoCoco never stood trial because he tragically died in December 2004 when, as fate would have it, he fell off a horse in what authorities said was a riding accident.

DiPiazza and Ferro may have known a little bit about the Hired Truck program themselves, as some of the trucking companies in the program rented space from them to park their trucks. But mostly, they have proved their expertise in real estate, becoming prominent players in Bridgeport during Mayor Daley's nearly two decades in office.

Their influence was perhaps not widely known, however, until another developer, Thomas Snitzer, filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that Tim Degnan, Daley's former patronage chief and longtime friend, tried to force Snitzer to take on his pal DiPiazza as a partner -- as the price of doing business in Bridgeport. Instead, Snitzer gave DiPiazza a $1.3 million consulting contract.

It was in that same suit that Snitzer alleged DiPiazza was acting on inside information in 1998 when he and Ferro bought the land at the mouth of Bubbly Creek, which the city later purchased from them. Coincidence?

City officials scoff at the suggestion of insider dealings, noting that the decision to locate a park at the site -- actually an expansion of the new Canal Origins Park on the other side of Bubbly Creek -- grew out of a public planning process for the Chicago River undertaken in late 1997 and published in April 1998.

I don't see the one ruling out the other, and if I had subpoena power, I'd want to call in some people to answer questions.

One of the things to focus on is how the city decided to pay so much for a property for which it originally received an appraisal of $220,000 in 1998.

Even four years later, city planning officials thought they would obtain the land at the relative bargain of $520,000 because of the pollution problems.

As Planning's Kathleen Dickhut wrote in a Dec. 12, 2002, letter to the state Department of Natural Resources (which committed $385,900 to the project):

"Due to the condition of the property, we are optimistic that the owners will be willing to sell the property without the need for condemnation. A private entity purchasing the property will not have the advantage of working with Peoples Gas on the cleanup and therefore not likely be in a position to offer the owners fair market value for their properties."

Instead, the city arranged to force Peoples Gas to clean up the site, then paid DiPiazza and Ferro a higher value of $1.2 million as if the land was already suitable for residential development.

If they do get DiPiazza under oath, I wonder if the feds could ask him a question for me: What does he think about real estate values in the U.P.? Or would that be outside his area of expertise?

Thanks to Mark Brown

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hired Truck probers: Cop, felon traded favors

Friends of ours: Sam "Blackie" Pesoli, Nick LoCoco

A high-ranking Chicago cop and a criminal traded favors all the time, federal prosecutors say.
The cop would ask for a break on construction work on his home.
The criminal would ask for a break on someone's DUI.
The cop would ask for help raising money for a policemen's fund.
The criminal would ask for a background check on a friend's employee.

Such was the routine, prosecutors say, between O'Hare Police Cmdr. Michael Acosta and John Boyle, a convicted felon and city worker, as the FBI secretly listened in on Boyle's cell phone in 2004 as part of the Hired Truck investigation. Boyle has since gone to prison for demanding bribes from trucking and construction companies in the city's Hired Truck Program.

Acosta, 59, is going on trial later this month for allegedly stealing $4,000 from a police fund set up to recognize excellent officers. He is also charged with lying to FBI agents about his relationship to Boyle and the favors he had done for him. Acosta, who retired from the Police Department in January last year, faced losing his job if top police brass knew he was violating a key police rule by associating with a known felon. Boyle had been convicted of stealing millions of dollars in money from the Illinois tollway.

Despite their close relationship, Boyle would gripe when Acosta got pushy, according to a new prosecution filing in the Acosta case. In one secretly recorded conversation, Boyle is talking to Vito Pesoli, at the time an assistant commissioner in the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation and a political operative. It's the first time prosecutors have mentioned Pesoli's name in the Hired Truck case.

Pesoli, 51, retired six months ago and went to work for his friend, trucking magnate Michael Tadin, whose business, Marina Cartage, has received work from Streets and Sanitation. Pesoli is not charged with any wrongdoing. He did not return phone messages Wednesday, including one left with his wife, Terri, who works for Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd).

In the discussion between Boyle and Pesoli, both men complain that Acosta wants an unspecified favor taken care of at the last minute.

"Commander Acosta called me this morning," Boyle says.
"Yeah, well, he's a little late, and I told him," Pesoli replies.
Later in the call, Pesoli says, "I told him, I said, 'This is the day before.' "
Then Boyle says: "I told him the same thing. Vito, we're on the same page."
Boyle continues: "And [Acosta] tells me, 'When guys get locked up for DUI, you call me the same time it happens and get him out.'"

Prosecutors want to play this conversation between Boyle and Pesoli to show at trial the close relationship between Boyle and Acosta. Pesoli also happens to be a nephew of a former Chicago cop with reputed mob ties, Sam "Blackie" Pesoli, who was sentenced in 1993 to nearly a year in prison for lying to a grand jury.

Acosta had a relationship with another city worker charged in the Hired Truck investigation. Nick LoCoco was a mob bookmaker who controlled what hired trucks got business in the city's Department of Transportation. He was charged in the scandal in 2004 but died in a horse-riding accident before going to trial.

When federal agents arrested LoCoco, he had two business cards on him from Acosta. On the back of one card was Acosta's cell phone number, court records show. On the back of the other was a handwritten message: "Please call me if I can help this individual, good friend," signed Commander M.J. Acosta, followed by a pager number.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir and Tim Novak

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mob Ties to Hired Truck Scandal

Friends of ours: James "Jimmy I" Inendino and Nick "The Stick" LoCocco

A trucking company owner from Lockport was sentenced to six months in prison Wednesday for lying to a federal grand jury about his involvement in the city's scandal-ridden Hired Truck Program. U.S. District Judge John Grady said Salvador Alvarez's decision to pay city employee John "Quarters" Boyle a bribe to join the program and later cover it up was a textbook case of "a decent man participating in a very evil enterprise." But probation, suggested by Alvarez's attorney Russell Green, would be too mild a punishment for the crimes, Grady said.

Although Grady was sorry for the toll that imprisonment would take on Alvarez, he said he needed to set an example for the community and deter others who might be tempted to walk down the same path. "The matter of official corruption, bribery and shakedowns is an endemic problem. The Hired Truck Program was a disgrace to the City of Chicago and to everyone who knew about the dishonest way it was conducted," Grady said. "The public needs to know that paying bribes and lying to a grand jury about paying bribes is conduct that will lead to serious punishment."

Alvarez, the owner of Sarch Hauling Ltd., also was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine. Before he was sentenced, Alvarez, 54, tearfully recalled how he immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1969, earned his GED and worked hard to make a living. Alvarez apologized to city residents, the government and his family, who joined him in court on what he said was a very "black" day. "I did something here that was very wrong," Alvarez said in a wavering voice. "It was a terrible mistake. It was a mistake I'll never make again."

Boyle, the politically connected former city employee at the center of the Hired Truck probe, told Alvarez he needed to pay $30,000 up front to get into the program and $2,000 per truck per season and an additional $1,000 per truck as a bonus every Christmas, according to Alvarez's plea deal with prosecutors, which calls for his cooperation in the investigation. Boyle, who also pleaded guilty, took $4,000 in shakedown money from Alvarez for a trip to Acapulco, Mexico.

There was no discussion of Sarch's ties to reputed mobsters during Wednesday's hearing. The company leased garage space for its trucks from mob loan shark James Inendino, who was recommended to Alvarez by Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, a mob bookie and city employee who also was charged in the Hired Truck investigation. LoCoco died in an accident before going to trial. Sarch also bought a truck from Mayor Daley ally John Cannatello, who also has pleaded guilty to paying bribes for Hired Truck business.

Thanks to Rummana Hussain

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Mob Ties Run throughout City Truck Program

When the FBI was trying to bring down the mob's 26th Street crew two decades ago, it was investigating men such as Chicago Alderman Fred Roti, his nephew, trucking magnate Fred Barbara, and Mickey "Gorilla" Gurgone, a city worker and noted safecracker.

Today, many of those men or their families are linked to trucking firms that get a big cut of a $40 million annual City of Chicago program where nothing goes out to bid. Business is done with a handshake, without any contracts.

Nick "The Stick" LoCoco was arrested in 1986 on a gambling charge which was later thrown out. At the time of his arrest, he was a city foreman overseeing truck drivers. He rose to be the city's official point man in the Transportation Department for the Hired Truck Program. Indeed, nearly one out of every 10 trucking firms in the city's Hired Truck Program is either owned by alleged mobsters or Outfit associates or by family members, often women, of reputed mob figures, the Sun-Times found.

Robert Cooley, a former mob attorney who cooperated with federal authorities to destroy the Outfit, has told authorities that organized crime in the 1970s and 1980s controlled what is now called the Hired Truck Program. The late Alderman Roti, a made member of the mob, had influence over the program, Cooley has said.

The trucking companies often operate out of the owners' homes, and several lease a single dump truck to the city along with a driver. The firms are paid typically $40 an hour and up.

Trucking companies wanting work in the program for the city's transportation department had to deal with city employee Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, a reputed juice collector and bookie. Mayor Daley's administration put LoCoco in charge of hiring trucks for the no-bid program from 1994 until July 2002 when LoCoco retired.

When the Sun-Times told Daley's budget director, William Abolt, about its findings about the truck program and the mob, he said he was not at all surprised. Abolt is responsible for the Hired Truck Program. "It's something you find in trucking," he said. "I can't say that I'm shocked that you found connections to organized crime in the trucking industry."

"You need better standards for people coming in. There was far too much informality, far too much discretion, as to not enough things written down, how do people get in, how do they get kicked out, how they get put on probation," Abolt said, vowing reform.

The Daley administration is no stranger to embarrassing brushes with the Outfit. Last year, two members of the Duff family were indicted on charges they set up false minority- and women-owned firms to get $100 million worth of work. Family members have alleged ties to organized crime and are longtime political supporters of the mayor.

In 1995, the Daley administration backtracked on a $5.5 million loan to an allegedly mobbed-up deal for a movie studio project on the West Side.

Here are snapshots of some of the men with links to firms in the Hired Truck Program and the Outfit.

MICHAEL ‘THE GORILLA’ GURGONE: Gurgone drove a truck for Streets and Sanitation while moonlighting as a top-notch safecracker, authorities say. For more than 25 years, Michael "The Gorilla" Gurgone drove a truck for Streets and Sanitation while moonlighting as a top-notch safecracker, authorities say.

Gurgone, 67, of the South Side, has a history of arrests but only one significant conviction for a botched $600,000 heist at Balmoral Race Track in 1983.

Gurgone and another man were sitting outside in a vehicle, keeping a lookout for the cops, while their partners were inside, subduing the security guards. But the heist fell apart when a fresh shift of security guards arrived, and the burglars fled.

The men got busted years later when Duke Basile and Paul "Peanuts" Panczko, two men involved in the case, wound up squealing to federal agents. Gurgone was eventually convicted. Gurgone got seven years for the botched burglary, the first time he was convicted. It was a stiffer-than-normal sentence because the federal judge determined that Gurgone had spent much of his life as a burglar.

Gurgone is the brother-in-law of Carmen Schadt Gurgone, the president of Schadt's Trucking, which is in the Hired Truck Program.

Records show Schadt's was set up with the help of a man named Michael Gurgone who lived in the South Side Mount Greenwood neighborhood. It's the same address as the convicted burglar named Michael Gurgone, who has alleged ties to the mob, according to federal authorities. But Gurgone, the burglar, insisted in an interview he was not the Gurgone who helped create Schadt's. "I don't know nothing about it," the burglar said.

Carmen Schadt said in a written response that her company was created with the help of her nephew, Michael Gurgone, a CPA. He is the burglar's son and namesake.

The city paid Schadt's Inc. $396,562 for the first 10 months of 2003 in the Hired Truck Program, records show.

Schadt's is among many firms the city has designated as both a disadvantaged business and female-owned. The city certified Schadt's as a disadvantaged business because it is owned by a woman and it makes less than $17 million annually. So whenever the city hires trucks from Schadt's, it helps the Daley administration meet its goals to set aside business for disadvantaged and female-owned firms.

Schadt's leases eight trucks from Michael Tadin, whose firms make more money than any other in the Hired Truck Program. Tadin is a longtime political supporter of the mayor and grew up in the same neighborhood. Schadt's pays Tadin 88 percent of what those trucks gross, state records show. Schadt's and Tadin say those trucks are not used in the city Hired Truck Program.

After Michael Gurgone got out of jail for the botched Balmoral burglary, he got a job as a truck driver with Tadin's Marina Cartage, police records show. Gurgone said he still works for Tadin.

Out of Schadt's came another female-owned firm owned by a Gurgone, Rhonda Vasquez-Gurgone. She created her company, STR Enterprises, in August 2001, while she was a dispatcher for Schadt's. The growth of her business has been remarkable.

In 2001, when her business started, she made $3,000 from private business, records show. The next year, STR took in a total of $438,949, including about $117,000 from the Hired Truck Program. STR got into the program that year. Last year, the city paid STR $132,875 during the first 10 months, according to the most recent figures.

JAMES INENDINO: Jimmy Inendino’s JMS Trucking firm was approved for the program seven months after he was convicted of ripping off the Town of Cicero in a kickback scheme. Another Outfit figure, once described as a whiz at stealing stuff off trucks, owns a trucking firm that got into the Hired Truck Program.

James "Jimmy I" Inendino has been linked to planning at least one murder and threatening to kill debtors who are behind in their juice loan payments. But his most recent criminal conviction would seem to make him an unusual candidate for the program.

In March 2002, Inendino was convicted with the reputed Cicero mob boss and the town's crooked police chief in a kickback scheme to rip off the town. Inendino is now serving 6 1/2 years behind bars.

While he was awaiting trial, federal prosecutors tried to revoke his bond when they alleged he bribed a city building inspector, with $1,000 tucked inside a Chicago Sun-Times, for occupancy permits for town homes Inendino was building in Little Italy.

Despite that highly publicized background, Inendino's firm, JMS Trucking, got into the Hired Truck Program in November 2002, after he had been convicted. That's despite city rules that can ban from the program people who have been convicted of bribery or other crimes involving the government. City records show Inendino operated the business out of his Darien home. JMS has taken in about $3,200 from the Hired Truck Program. The city just started using JMS last year, after Inendino was convicted.

Inendino, a convicted loan shark, has a history of threatening to hurt people. When one debtor didn't pay up $250, Inendino, who has been investigated by the FBI and IRS, warned that the man "will never ride a . . . horse the rest of his life."

When another man failed to make his payment, Inendino told a colleague to tell the man "he doesn't owe anything, because when I see him, and I am going to see him, I'm going to break his f------ head."

One of Inendino's friends is Harry Aleman, the infamous hit man who was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison for a murder in which he was originally acquitted because the Outfit bribed the judge in the case, authorities said.

Aleman, Inendino and another partner in crime, Louis Almeida, planned the murder of a fourth associate, Robert William Harder, but the hit didn't go through because they couldn't find him, according to a federal judge's ruling.

Another Inendino friend, Greg Paloian, a convicted bookmaker, also found a sideline in the Hired Truck Program, with his firm Ruff Edge Inc.

Like Inendino, Paloian ran a small trucking company out of his home in Elmwood Park. The money came at a good time for Paloian. He was indicted in January 2001 on bookmaking charges, the same year the city began hiring about five trucks from him. That year, the city paid Paloian about $182,800.

In March 2002, Paloian pleaded guilty in the case and later was sentenced to nearly 3-1/2 years in prison in July in an IRS case. His company was paid nearly $181,500 by the city in 2002. The city stopped using Paloian's trucks after he went to prison.

ROBERT COOLEY AND FRED ROTI: Robert Cooley, a onetime mob attorney, maintains that the late Alderman Fred Roti, a made member of the mob, had influence over the Hired Truck Program. Family members of the late Chicago Ald. Fred Roti have one of the most extensive networks of trucking firms in the program.

Roti was convicted of extortion and racketeering and was called a "made member" of the mob by the FBI. He was also accused of packing the city's Streets and Sanitation Department with mob members and associates. He died in 1999 after serving a four-year prison sentence.

Roti's family members are linked to six companies in the Hired Truck Program, two of them certified as female-owned firms.

One nephew, Frank Roti, has three family members who each have trucking companies in the program. In turn, all three companies lease trucks from a firm owned by Frank Roti, city records show.

One of those three companies, Miffy Trucking, is owned by his daughter, Mary. There are no state or city records showing that Miffy owns any trucks. The firm leases its fleet from FMR Leasing, the firm owned by Mary's father. The city has certified Miffy as both a female-owned business and a disadvantaged business. Miffy, which was created in 1996, is one of the top firms in the Hired Truck Program, making $447,058 for the first 10 months in 2003, city records show.

Together, the Frank Roti family firms were paid about $1.4 million in 2002, trailing only Tadin's companies as the top earners in the program.

Another nephew of the late alderman, businessman Fred Barbara, has a father, wife and mother-in-law with firms in the Hired Truck Program.

Fred Barbara, 56, once owned a huge trucking firm that did business with the city, but he sold it several years ago. His wife, Lisa Humbert, owns Karen's Kartage, a firm she started in 1986 when she was Fred Barbara's secretary at his trucking company. The city paid Karen's Kartage more than $520,000 in 2002.

Fred Barbara says his brother now runs Karen's Kartage, not his wife, and it's no longer certified as a female-owned firm.

Fred Barbara's mother-in-law, Geraldine Humbert, owns a small trucking company that has been in the Hired Truck Program since 1999. She has hired out one truck and driver to the city for $38,720 during the first 10 months of the year.

Fred Barbara's father, Anthony, has one truck in the program.

Fred Barbara owned his trucking company when he was arrested on loansharking charges in 1982 along with Joseph "Shorty'' Lamantia, then a reputed top aide to mob boss Angelo "The Hook'' LaPietra. Also arrested were LaMantia's adopted son, Aldo Piscitelli Jr., and Barbara's cousin, Frank Caruso, another Roti nephew. Caruso's father was the reputed mob boss of Chinatown; his son Frank was convicted in the beating of Lenard Clark, a black teen who was riding his bike through Bridgeport.

Fred Barbara and the others were accused of trying to collect a $20,000 juice loan from an undercover FBI agent posing as a commodities broker. Barbara and his co-defendants were acquitted.

Barbara said those allegations are more than 20 years old and are "old news." "Show me my connection to organized crime. Did I turn the corner? You show me anything in the last 24 years that reflects to that nature," Barbara said.

Carl Galione, an associate of LaPietra's former bodyguard and driver, Ronald Jarrett, owns one company in the Hired Truck Program, while his daughter owns another. Both companies share common addresses on Chicago's Southwest Side and in Downers Grove.

Galione's company, CPS Trucking, started leasing trucks to the city in 2001. The following year, his daughter's company entered the Hired Truck Program.

Galione and Jarrett were indicted on charges of rape and kidnapping in 1980, but a Cook County judge found them not guilty.

Galione, 54, spent six months in a federal prison in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to income tax evasion.

Galione said he was a childhood friend of Jarrett's but that they went their separate ways. When asked if he had any ties to organized crime, Galione laughed and said: "I've got ties to my shoes."

Other companies owned by relatives of organized crime figures also provide trucks to the city:

*Andrich Trucking is owned by Donald Andrich, also known as Donald Andriacchi. He is a nephew of Joseph "Joe the Builder" Andriacchi, who authorities say is a reputed top crime boss. The city has done business with Andrich Trucking for decades.

*Chica Trucking is owned by Patricia Cortez, sister-in-law of Chris Spina, a former city worker once fired for chauffeuring reputed mob boss Joseph "the Clown'' Lombardo on city time. Spina later got his job back. Cortez started hiring out trucks to the city water department in November 2002.

The city paid Greg Paloian about $182,800 for trucks in 2001, the same year he was indicted on bookmaking charges.

Thanks to STEVE WARMBIR AND TIM NOVAK

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