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November 30, 2007

late night old friends

Posted in: Uncategorized

Is this thing on?

Hi. I’m Julia, and I’m new (when I get to it, I blog here). Anyway, as long as I have you all here, I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity to put in a bid for my favorite Giuliani scandal, which I think is being unjustly neglected.

It was doing so well, too. Remember this, from last week, when Mr. Kerik was indicted?

Bernard Kerik did an irresponsible job training police in Iraq, presidential contender John McCain said Friday, adding to criticism of Kerik as Rudy Giuliani’s former police commissioner surrendered to face charges in New York.

McCain cited Kerik’s relationship with his Republican presidential foe as a reason to doubt Giuliani’s judgment.

Giuliani’s longtime associate, business partner and friend surrendered Friday to face federal corruption charges in New York, where he had been police commissioner when Giuliani was mayor. Kerik was also a failed nominee to head the Homeland Security Department, a post Giuliani recommended him for.

McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, pointed to Kerik’s performance in Iraq, along with complaints about how Giuliani treated first-responders after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as reasons why the former mayor’s presidential campaign should deserve greater scrutiny from voters.

McCain campaigned on Friday with Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania and the nation’s first secretary of homeland security under President Bush.

“It was clear the mayor and I had a different view what the department does and the kind of leadership it needed,” Ridge told reporters. “His judgment would’ve been different than mine.”

He said the situation reflected a fundamental misunderstanding by Giuliani of how the U.S. government works.

“We’re not talking about some urban city patronage job,” Ridge told The Associated Press. “That’s not what a Cabinet secretary’s about.”

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign wasn’t the least bit happy about that

Randy Mastro, a former New York deputy mayor, said it was unfair to base an opinion of Giuliani on one incident, citing his record as mayor on crime, jobs and cutting taxes.

“It’s no fair to judge Rudy Giuliani on the basis of this one issue (any more) than it is to judge John McCain in the basis of the Keating scandal,” said Mastro, who worked in Giuliani’s administration. He added: “All the candidates should be judged on the totality of their records, not on any one single issue or incident.

Only it sorta faded out after that, which is when it occured to me that you folks who aren’t from New York might not be enjoying this as much as I am. I feel bad about that, particularly since so many of the people who were involved are prominent in Mr. Giuliani’s campaign.

So, here you go: a brief history of the Kerik unpleasantness.

Bernie Kerik, a high school dropout with a complicated past started out as Giuliani’s bodyguard and driver, which apparently qualified him to become the head of Corrections and then Police Commissioner (Our Beloved Former Mayor is nothing if not a man who appreciates singleminded devotion to Our Beloved Former Mayor).

Unfortunately for all concerned, Mr. Kerik’s devotion to his patron shared space with an equally fierce devotion to his own financial advancement. To that end, he got in contact with a friend, Mr. Ray.

Mr. Kerik earned $150,500 as commissioner but pleaded poverty. He turned to Lawrence V. Ray, a friend of a few years, who had an engaging manner and a big bankroll.

In 1998, Mr. Ray was the best man at Mr. Kerik’s wedding — and paid for much of the event. Weeks later, Mr. Kerik recommended Mr. Ray for a $100,000 job with Interstate Industrial Corporation, a New Jersey-based construction firm with tens of millions of dollars in city contracts.

Two years earlier, the owners, Peter and Frank DiTommaso, had paid more than $1 million to buy a transfer station from Edward Garafola, a mob soldier, and hoped to obtain a city operating license. But city investigators had found that the company employed mob figures and used mob-controlled trucking firms.

The DiTommasos, who adamantly and repeatedly have denied any ties to organized crime, hoped Mr. Ray could help resolve their problem with the Giuliani administration. Soon after being hired, Mr. Ray took Frank DiTommaso to meet with his friend the correction commissioner.

and why would Kerik put up with that?

Well, cynics thought it might have something to do with the fact that, after quite a bit of whining from Mr. Kerik, Mr. Ray paid for his wedding.

for many years, one of Kerik’s main benefactors was Lawrence Ray, the best man at Kerik’s 1998 wedding, according to Ray, other sources and checks shown by Ray to The News.

Ray and another Kerik pal, restaurant owner Carmen Cabell, helped bankroll Kerik’s 1998 wedding reception, contributing nearly $10,000.

Ray also gave Kerik nearly $2,000 to buy a bejeweled Tiffany badge that Kerik coveted when he was Correction commissioner.

And Ray said he gave Kerik $4,300 more to buy high-end Bellini furniture when Kerik allegedly griped that he couldn’t afford to furnish a bedroom for a soon-to-be born daughter.

and who are the DiTommasos? Jersey Gaming Enforcement had some stuff to say about that when they wanted to go to work in Atlantic City

The Attorney General noted that the complaint outlines how Gaming Enforcement presented information at the original Interstate hearing, and has since developed further information, that the DiTommaso brothers had ties to the DeCavalcante and Gambino organized crime families dating back to the 1980s. The complaint also charges that the DiTommasos gave false information to Division investigators in an attempt to mislead them concerning the DiTommasos’ relationship with former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was nominated as the United States Secretary of Homeland Security.

According to the complaint, Joseph Watts, a Gambino associate, and Dominic Borghese, a Gambino solider, met in the 1980s with Frank and Peter DiTommaso and were paid $60,000 for “protection,” including the handling of any union problems that arose at Interstate. The protection money was paid in two $30,000 installments, once in the summer and once at Christmas time.

In another instance outlined in the complaint, Anthony Capo, a cooperating witness for the federal government, had a conversation with another organized crime associate, Anthony Rotondo, in which Rotondo told Capo: “The DiTommasos were ‘with’ the DeCavalcante Family and its boss, John Riggi.” Capo was given employment by Frank DiTommaso at the recommendation of Rotondo, according to the complaint.

In the 1990s, Capo attempted to obtain work as a subcontractor for Interstate, but Capo was told by Watts that Capo could not get work because Interstate had become associated with the Gambino Family of LCN [La Cosa Nostra] through Watts.

In December 2004, a federal jury in New York convicted Peter Gotti and Thomas “Huck” Carbonaro on numerous counts, including Gambino Family racketeering involving corruption within the construction industry in New York. Three “made” members: Rotondo, Michael “Mickey Scars” DiLeonardo, a Gambino capo, and Frank Fappiano, a Gambino soldier, provided testimony for the Federal Government about “longstanding and knowing ties among the DiTommasos, Interstate and organized crime.”

“The Division presented evidence during the Interstate hearing in 2004 that the DiTommasos had a relationship with more than a dozen members and associates of organized crime and multiple organized crime-related businesses,” Director Auriemma said. “These witnesses’ testimony corroborates and substantiates much of the information that was presented by the Division at the hearing in 2004.”

On the other hand, they did give jobs to Mr. Ray and Mr. Kerik’s brother, so he overlooked all that, and he was a great help to them

In July 1999, Mr. Kerik met in a bar with Raymond V. Casey, then the chief city regulator investigating Interstate, and another man, then the Correction Department inspector general, to talk about Interstate, according to court papers filed by New Jersey regulators. At that meeting, Mr. Kerik vouched for Mr. Ray’s integrity, and said he could be helpful to regulators in “alleviating their concerns about Interstate,” the court papers said.

Several months later, Mr. Kerik made his Correction Department office available for Mr. Ray to meet with two New York police investigators, a detective and a sergeant, who were assigned to Mr. Casey’s office and investigating Interstate.

Mr. Casey didn’t approve Interstate for contracts. Mr. Casey (and Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mastro) also said he never told Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mastro, which seems a bit irresponsible of him, since Mr. Casey was a city official, Mr. Mastro was his boss, and Mr. Giuliani was (still is, I imagine) his cousin.

Mr. Mastro (now of the Giuliani campaign) has an Interstate connection of his own

Interstate Industrial Corporation hired former deputy mayor Randy Mastro, who served as Giuliani’s top gun in chasing down mobbed up outfits doing business with the city. But Mastro said he never told his former boss—or anyone else—about what he learned of Kerik’s dealings with the firm, including the former top cop’s recommendation to the company that it hire a close pal named Larry Ray, who was later indicted in a mob stock fraud scam.

“Larry Ray predated my time. That had already occurred; he was gone,” Mastro said. “There was no retrospective review.”

Giuliani has said he knew nothing about Kerik’s connection to Interstate until the recent explosion of news reports in the wake of Kerik’s decision to withdraw as President Bush’s nominee for Homeland Security director—a post he initially won with Giuliani’s enthusiastic backing.

Mastro said he learned about Kerik’s association with Interstate during his “two or three years” with the firm as a kind of inside watchdog, reviewing new deals and hires for any mob taint.

“At some point I was told by people at the company [about Kerik],” he said. “I don’t recall exactly when.”

Asked if he ever discussed the matter with Giuliani, Mastro said: “No. It wasn’t an issue that I ever discussed with anyone.”

which is to say that Matro knew about Kerik’s issues when he endorsed him for Homeland Security Commissioner.

Of course, so did fellow DiTommaso supporter (and Giuliani NY campaign chair) Guy Molinari

Records reveal that Molinari signed up in April as a
$25,000-per-month lobbyist to represent Interstate Industrial Corporation, a company owned by two sons of a longtime friend and accused of doing business with the mob. The client is one of at least seven firms that have retained Molinari over the past year to represent their interests before city officials, filings in the City Clerk’s office show.

Although he has met with only mixed success—the city’s rejection of the allegedly mobbed-up firm was not overturned—records show Molinari has parlayed his connections into a lucrative lobbying practice.

Molinari said customers have sought him out, not the other way around. The reason? “We are good at what we do,” he said. Some clients, like Interstate Industrial Corporation, were already friends.

Interstate is the same firm that former city police commissioner Bernard Kerik advocated for while in office, and Molinari told the Voice that he went to bat for the company because he believed that owners Frank and Peter DiTommaso were “good people. I know them since they were kids.” Molinari, 76, said that he had spent 40 years playing handball and volleyball with the DiTommasos’ father and an uncle at a Mariner’s Harbor athletic club the men jointly founded. “We had loads of fun,” said Molinari. He is so close to the family, he added, that he was named godfather to a third son, David DiTommaso.

“Guy is a lifelong friend,” Interstate president Frank DiTommaso told the Voice. “He knows me and my family intimately. He felt very bad for the way we were treated,” he said.

But the agreement Molinari signed on April 29 to represent the DiTommasos was strictly business. The two-page letter called for the Molinari Group, as the former politician’s firm is called, to provide “general consulting services” over a one-year period in exchange for a monthly $25,000 retainer plus expenses. At the time, Interstate had been rejected by three separate city agencies that cited a series of company transactions with members of the Gambino crime family. The company had appealed those determinations, but they were upheld by Bloomberg administration officials early last year.

The brothers then turned to Molinari.

“They had an interest in trying to be able to get back in good standing with the City of New York in terms of bidding for future work,” he said. “I believe they had a very good record with the city in the past.” To that end, Molinari said, he arranged meetings with Bloomberg aides on Interstate’s behalf.

On July 14, city officials confirm, Molinari, the DiTommaso brothers, and their lawyers met with Department of Investigation commissioner Rose Gill Hearn and two top aides. Randy Mastro, who served as an anti-mob troubleshooter for the Giuliani administration and who was later hired by the DiTommasos to screen employees and subcontractors, also showed up at the meeting to vouch for the company’s current operations. But DOI officials told the DiTommasos that in order to be “rehabilitated” they would have to acknowledge past misdeeds and take on an outside monitor to watchdog all future work.

Molinari said they got the same message at a subsequent meeting with Marla Simpson, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. “Essentially, we were advised after some time that it was not doable,” Molinari said.

What city officials didn’t tell Molinari or his clients, however, was that they had already received a preview of information concerning Interstate from a pair of mob informants who were due to take the stand at the murder conspiracy trial of Gambino boss Peter Gotti. One of those witnesses, Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo, testified in December that he “serviced” the DiTommasos for the Gambino crew, taking payoffs of more than $100,000 to help them avoid using union labor. DiLeonardo said some of the payoffs were laundered through a dirt-hauling firm that he later sold to the DiTommasos for $1.7 million.

Molinari said that after the city’s rejection he ceased representing the company, but that he remained a supporter. “We tried our best,” he said. “I still believe [the DiTommasos] are very responsible people.”

In December, Molinari spoke out in defense of the DiTommasos after it was reported that Kerik had gotten the company to hire his brother and a close pal. But Molinari never mentioned his own paid work on behalf of the company.

A great deal of this came out, you may remember, when neither Mr. Giuliani nor anyone working for him saw fit to mention any of this to Mr. Gonzales, who was vetting Mr. Kerik to be the head of Homeland Security.

Oddly, they’re still not bringing it up.

Where are they now? Well, Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik, Mr. Mastro, and Mr. Molinari you know about.

The DiTommaso brothers go on trial for perjury in a Bronx court next week (they denied paying for Mr. Kerik’s home renovations. He rolled over on them for a misdemeanor plea). They’re currently doing construction on on Yankee Stadium for great and good Giuliani friend Mr. Steinbrenner.

Also this particular scandal doesn’t put you at risk of having a mental image of the current Mrs. Giuliani.

Can’t argue with that.


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