The city's Department of Buildings somehow managed to hire a pair of alleged Mafia associates as building inspectors, who promptly began soliciting bribes from contractors all over town to ignore violations and speed up approvals. The bribe proceeds were then allegedly shared with a pair of legendary city Mafiosi, including one who was convicted as the main heroin connection for legendary Harlem dope dealer Nicky Barnes.
That's the main highlight from today's big mob racketeering indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau that charges Matthew Madonna, 73, the alleged acting boss of the Lucchese crime family, and his cohort, Joseph DiNapoli, 74, with overseeing a wide range of rackets ranging from gambling and firearms trafficking to the innovative buildings department schemes.
All told, 29 individuals are charged in the case including six former building inspectors. Two of the ex-inspectors -- brothers Carmine Francomano Jr. and Frank Francomano - were hired in 2005 and 2007 respectively, just as city building permits were skyrocketing. According to the indictment, the brothers arranged bribes and kickbacks with the help of their dad, Carmine "Snappy" Francomano Sr., who is also charged.
Morgenthau and Police commissioner Ray Kelly, who also appeared at the press conference, declined to speculate how it happened that the men were hired.
The two year probe included 64 telephone wiretaps and a bug in a restaurant on which city police detectives and investigators picked up conversations dealing with the traditional business of organized crime, such as taking sports bets and lending money at extortionate rates.
But the biggest game appeared to be the city's burgeoning construction business. More than 20 buildings in Manhattan and Bronx are cited in the indictment.
The inspectors are charged with collecting $124,000 in bribes from contractors and building owners looking for a break on costly violations. The biggest bribe was an alleged $44,000 paid by contractor Wayne Schumer to Frank Francomano, a former supervisor in the department's Bronx construction division. An unnamed nightclub owner allegedly shelled out $24,000 to expedite his own buildings department permits.
Do You Live in a Building the Mobster Housing Guys "Inspected"?
Elizabeth Dwoskin,Citystate, Crime 1/10/09
Earlier today Tom Robbins wrote about how the mob has infiltrated the city's Department of Buildings. The city arrested 29 people, including six former building inspectors and contractors who did business with the D.O.B.
A father-and-son duo, Frank Francomano and Carmine Francomano, Jr., were building inspectors who allegedly took bribes for granting building permits, expediting inspections, and avoiding building violations; they were also involved in narcotics trafficking, trafficking in prescription painkillers, and in managing an online gambling ring that took approximately $400 million dollars worth of bets since 2007. Papa Frank worked in the DOB's Bronx Construction unit from January 2007 to May 2009, where he oversaw landlords' compliance with the city's building code. He prepared inspection reports, responded to inquiries, and looked into construction and repairs. Carmine was an inspection supervisor in Manhattan, where his job, among other things, was to ensure scaffolding safety.
So we thought we'd give our readers a heads-up of buildings where these men oversaw inspections (or rather, took bribes for turning a blind eye to safety violations):
If you live in one or know someone who does, you'd be wise to check your latest inspection report on the Department of Buildings website and make sure.
In Manhattan: (1) 110 Fulton Street; (2) 11 West 25th Street; (3) 316 West 51st Street; (4) 75 Wall Street; (5) 414 West 14th Street; (6) 80-82 University Place; (7) 565 West 23rd Street; (8) 1 East 35th Street; and (9) 283 Amsterdam Avenue.
In the Bronx: (10) 550 East 170th Street; (11) 3305 3rd Avenue; (12) 731 Southern Boulevard; (13) 6677 Broadway; (14) 341 and 343 East 149th Street; (15) 1-5 Teddy Place, a/k/a 3250 Rawlins Avenue; (16) 2520 Park Avenue; (17) 1975 Sedgwick Avenue; (18) 323 White Plains Road; and (19) 811 Walton Avenue.
If you know anyone who was injured in these buildings, drop us a line.