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

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alleged Gambino Soldier Buys Queens Restaurant

A reputed wiseguy is moving into the White House.
Joe Franco, an alleged mobster who was kicked off a city catering contract for financial funny business, is now looking to get back in the game in the White House restaurant in Queens.
Franco bought the old eatery in Whitestone for $900,000 last month and plans to expand it into a massive catering hall, stoking fears of a mobbed-up scene invading the mellow block.
"Joe Franco is a bad actor. That's of concern to a lot of people," said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens).
But Republican Councilman Dan Halloran has defended the plan and Franco.
JOE FRANCO - Needs zoning change.
Needs zoning change.
"Unfortunately, many Italian-Americans in my district get painted with a very broad brush," he said during a closed-door meeting last month with concerned civic groups.
He conceded Franco, a construction and catering entrepreneur, may "know people."
What Halloran didn't say was that Franco, 58, a Flushing native, was fingered as a soldier in the Gambino crime family by the FBI in a 1998 hearing about his brother, Salvatore, a former asphalt workers' union president.
Their late uncle, Giuseppe "Joe" Arcuri, was a mob captain who helped run the family while godfather John Gotti was in jail, testified former agent Bruce Mouw, who led the FBI's Gambino squad.
Franco is "a Gambino soldier for the rest of his life," insisted a law-enforcement source who said Franco is more involved in white-collar high jinks than any thuggery.
Sid Davidoff, Franco's lawyer, said his client is no gangster and has "never been accused of anything, including a parking ticket."
But the reputation of Franco's previous joint, Caffe on the Green in Bayside, isn't so savory.
In 1992, Franco won the Parks Department concession to run the restaurant in a historic Queens mansion on the edge of Clearview Park. Ten years later, a patron was shot there in an apparent mob rubout attempt. In 2003, an alleged wiseguy and his wife were charged with a hate crime after attacking an Asian woman there.
In 2008, an audit by the city comptroller found that Franco cheated the city out of more than $120,000 in proceeds from tips and party deposits.
The city stripped Franco of his contract, but he never paid up the missing funds, said mayoral spokesman Jason Post. But Davidoff said, "There is no money owed, to our knowledge."
Last year, Franco set his sights on the rickety, 60-year-old White House, hoping to more than double its size. He needs a rezoning to build the towering 27-foot venue.
Halloran said he supports the rezoning and applauded Franco for investing in the area and said he has no provable mob ties.
"Assassination by innuendo is not something we should be engaged in," Halloran said.
But a next-door neighbor, Brian Garry, said, "I just don't think [the officials] are representing the community. This is not a commercial area."


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