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

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New Jersey priest begs judge to go easy on Papa Smurf

NJ priest begs judge to go easy on ‘Papa Smurf’ Franco
A New Jersey priest wants a Manhattan federal judge to go easy on mobbed-up garbage-carter Carmine “Papa Smurf” Franco.
With the reputed Genovese wiseguy facing more than two years of prison when he’s sentenced May 15 as ringleader of a multi-family organized crime effort to control New York and North Jersey’s waste-hauling industry, Judge Kevin Castel received a letter from the Rev. Peter Sticco, claiming Franco’s been a regular Mother Teresa since his arrest.
The priest says Our Lady of Grace Church in Fairview and its adjacent 400-student grammar school don’t have paid maintenance staff and that Franco, 78, of nearby Ramsey, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: becoming “a full-time volunteer” who’d do everything from handling church and school security to ensuring the restrooms and altar are spotless.
Sticco also noted that the wiseguy was instrumental in decorating the church last Christmas and helped deliver 300 turkeys and trimmings to the poor at Thanksgiving — and he assured that Franco would continue to do such altruistic work for the church if he stayed out of the pen.
He said that an 80-year-old retired businessman had previously volunteered daily at Our Lady of Grace but had to stop because of poor health — leaving the church in a bind.
“He is greatly missed and we have not been able to find someone like him since,” the priest said. “Carmine is that type of person” who is “eager to work, knowledgeable, and always has a smile on his face.”
Among two dozen other letters Castel received in support of Franco is one from former New Jersey state Sen. Henry McNamara.
The longtime Bergen County pol and power broker said a non-prison sentence of community service is warranted due to Franco’s advanced age and laundry list of health problems, which includes being a cancer survivor who recently had his prostrate surgically removed. He also noted that Franco is the “primary caregiver” for his ill wife, Mary.
“Based upon my personal knowledge of Carmine and his family over the past thirty years, I have had no reason or occasion to experience any untrustworthy side of the individual,” said McNamara, 79, who served as a senator from 1985 to 2008.
He said they first met when McNamara was sales manager for a local Ford dealership and Franco and his “business manager came to purchase a vehicle.”
McNamara also confided that he used to turn to Franco for help while serving in Trenton as chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee. The pol said he used Franco as a “resource” to “assist” in fact-finding before drafting legislation that saved “significant taxpayer dollars” in connection with the solid waste industry.
Franco’s lawyers have also asked, in a separate 37-page filing, that he get a non-prison sentence of probation or community service, citing many ailments that allegedly would make it difficult for him to get proper medical treatment in prison.
Franco faces 27 to 33 months behind bars under his plea deal with the feds, which includes forfeiting $2.5 million to the government. He pleaded guilty last November to charges of racketeering, mail and wire fraud, and interstate transportation of stolen cargo.
He admitted being a key player between 2009 and 2012 in a scheme in which rival Mafia families banded together to circumvent official efforts to clean up the trash business — and used strong-arm tactics to shake down the owners of legitimate companies and secretly assume ownership of their operations.
Franco, who had been barred from the trash business in New Jersey because of past criminal convictions, admitted running his piece of the operation out of Rockland County, NY.



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