Colombo Family Hitman Turned Informant's Son Runs For Elected Office, Mob Tied Donors
An assembly candidate whose father was a mob hit man has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from car dealerships owned by a reputed Colombo soldier, records show.
Republican Frank Sparaco says he has nothing to do with "the life," yet he makes much of his livelihood from those mob-connected dealerships, where he services candy and soda vending machines through his company, Pop's Vending.
"He has put me in a precarious position," Sparaco said, referring to his father, Frankie "Blue Eyes" Sparaco. "I wasn't a part of that life."
Sparaco also has gotten hundreds more campaign dollars from a company run by Michael Persico, the indicted son of the Colombo family boss.
"I always knew Michael [Persico]. He was the good one. He was the businessman," Sparaco said.
Sparaco's father was a soldier in the Colombo family. He pleaded guilty to several murders, turned informant and is a protected witness, officials said.
Though he insists he's had nothing to do with the mob, members and associates of his father's crime family have had something to do with Sparaco, a Rockland County legislator running against incumbent Democrat Kenneth Zebrowski.
Sparaco has gotten $10,000 in campaign money from Long Island car dealerships owned by reputed gangster John Staluppi, records show.
The FBI has identified Staluppi as a member of the Colombo family. Informer Salvatore Micciotta told the FBI Staluppi switched sides during an internal family war in 1992 after the boss he'd been aligned with was arrested.
The same year, New Jersey casino regulators rejected Staluppi's request to let his company, Dillinger Charter Services, run helicopter flights to Atlantic City due to his mob ties, records show.
Asked about Staluppi, Sparaco said, "I don't know John Staluppi. I never heard of the man."
He acknowledges his company services vending machines at several of Staluppi's dealerships, a job he says he got through "word of mouth" - not his father's "connections."
Sparaco says he asked the dealerships for contributions because he'd heard they made donations. He said he met with a manager for many of the dealerships, but never met Staluppi.
"One guy was manager for about 20 auto dealers. I only got money from like 10," he said.
On July 1, 2009, his Assembly campaign got six checks from Staluppi dealerships totaling $10,000. This "bundling" skirts campaign laws that bar donations of more than $2,000 every two years.
"There was no wrongdoing. These people have given thousands of dollars to candidates," he said.
He got another $1,000 from a Brooklyn limo company owned by Persico, son of jailed 77-year-old mob boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico.
Michael Persico was indicted in March on racketeering charges and prosecutors called him a mob associate. He has pleaded not guilty.
Sparaco says he's known the younger Persico and his partner in Romantique Limousines, John DiLeo, since he was 9.
When Sparaco was running for county office in 2007, he says he reached out to DiLeo and wound up with two donations of $500 each - one from DiLeo and one from Romantique.
Persico is listed as vice president of Romantique in business documents, DiLeo as president. Sparaco said he believed DiLeo - who has not been identified as a member or associate of organized crime - owned Romantique.
Despite all these connections, Sparaco has never been identified as a mob member or associate.
Still, Sparaco's vending business has surfaced in an ongoing FBI investigation of vending machines operating at mob-run auto dealers, sources familiar with the probe told the Daily News.
In March, the FBI said Michael Persico was involved in getting hidden payments from an unidentified vending company (not Sparaco's) that serviced machines at "mob-connected" auto dealers.
The unidentified vendor told the FBI Persico "facilitated" the placement of his vending machines at the dealerships.
An FBI affidavit says "most if not all of these businesses are owned and controlled by members and associates of the Colombo family."
Sources said Staluppi owns some of the dealerships, and that Sparaco's dealings with them are under scrutiny.
Persico's lawyer, Sarita Kedia, declined comment. DiLeo and Staluppi could not be reached.
Sparaco, who says he's selling Pop's Vending, insisted he's never discussed his business or campaign donations with his father.
"I don't think I could even if I wanted to, once they go into the [witness protection] program," he said. "I wasn't talking to him before, so why would I talk to him now?"