Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gambino crime family quietly made millions building high-rise condos across NYC

The Venetian Condos at 431 Avenue P in Midwood, Brooklyn.
The Venetian Condos at 431 Avenue P in Midwood, Brooklyn.
The Emory, located at 27 W. 19 St. in Manhattan.
The Emory, located at 27 W. 19 St. in Manhattan.

The housing boom that swept the nation spawned glittering luxury condo towers across New York City and was a windfall for developers, banks, mortgage brokers - and the mob.
Affluent buyers paid good money for these elite aeries, which offered every luxury from 24-hour doormen to breathtaking skyline views.
While the white-collar world reaped fortunes, the Gambino crime family quietly made millions building high-rise condos from the trendy Flatiron District to hipster Brooklyn to gentrifying Queens, a Daily News probe found.
It wasn't always a good deal for all concerned. Twice, botched excavations resulted in the near-collapse of buildings next door.
And prosecutors say one prominent Brooklyn developer got a lesson in Extortion 101, coughing up $120,000 in a shakedown scheme.
Gambino soldier Vincent Dragonetti and mob associates Thomas Frangiapane and Anthony Scibelli skimmed cash from the exclusive buildings by controlling contractors like Duramax Construction, Hunter-Atlantic, ACE and VMS, the feds allege.
Frangiapane is listed as a principal of Duramax; Scibelli is president of Hunter-Atlantic and VMS, and Dragonetti is listed as Hunter's registered agent. Authorities allege Scibelli and Dragonetti extorted money from ACE.
On a secretly recorded tape, Dragonetti is heard threatening one victim: "I don't know anyone who gets hurt unless they have to get hurt."
Duramax was implicated in last month's historic Mafia takedown by the FBI and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.
One indictment charged Frangiapane, Scibelli and Dragonetti with extorting a Brooklyn condo developer.
The family-owned real estate company Sitt Asset Management unwittingly got entangled with the mob while building The Venetian, a 22-unit luxury condo on Avenue P in Midwood in a classical style "reminiscent of Renaissance-era Italian architecture."
Prosecutors said Frangiapane used Duramax, ACE and a phony lien to extort $120,000 from Sitt in 2007. Sitt feared the lien could jeopardize financing, they alleged.
As housing values began rising in 2005, Duramax got involved in building other high-end condos, including The Emory, a 15-story condo tower in the Flatiron District with 13 full-floor units, a private spa and a 24-hour concierge.
Another was Cassa Hotel and Residences on W. 45th St. in Times Square, with a 40-room hotel and 88 condo apartments.
Duramax left behind a trail of tax liens, unpaid bills and lawsuits. IRS-filed liens against Duramax in 2006 and 2007 alone totaled $627,000.
In 2008, a subcontractor sued Duramax for $195,000 in unpaid bills. Other suits against the firm alleged shoddy work.
During excavation of an eight-story condominium project called Hester Gardens in Chinatown, the adjacent building was damaged. The court entered a judgment against Duramax.
In 2006, Duramax was again sued after a retaining wall partially collapsed on adjacent buildings housing a Korean church and apartments during excavating work in Sunnyside, Queens.
The digging was for a six-story condo called The Phoenix, where two-bedroom apartments go for $463,000.
Duramax denied responsibility for the collapse.
Another mob-controlled firm that's affiliated with Duramax, Hunter-Atlantic, was sued over an excavation job that left a landmarked building in Tribeca in danger of collapse in 2007.
When Hunter-Atlantic began carving out a new foundation for a 20-story condo, the adjacent six-story cast-iron building started leaning. Work stopped and the damaged building was evacuated.
In December, Duramax countersued the Chicago-based developer, claiming it was still owed $300,000. The developer refused to pay, contending the excavation work was "substandard, flawed and riddled with defects."
Dragonetti's lawyers did not return calls. Frangiapane's lawyer said his client never extorted anyone.
Scibelli's lawyer, Gerald Shargel, mocked prosecutors' allegations about organized crime ties.
"They have a very loose definition of associates," Shargel said. "Anthony Scibelli runs a clean business.
"He gets up every morning, does his work and comes home."


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