Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, a major real estate investor in the Bronx, scooped up four properties owned by or connected to acting boss Vincent Basciano — aka “Vinny Gorgeous” — and a mob captain, Dominick Cicale, who pleaded guilty to murder and testified against his old boss.
Delatorre’s bounty includes a piece of mafia history — a lot on Robinson Ave. where the gang held their induction ceremonies in the mid-2000s.
It also includes a series of complicated transactions for an apartment building that actually resulted in the mob essentially owing the chief’s wife more than $650,000.
Delatorre was the subject of a WNYC story last year revealing that he owns a private security company, did business with local Bronx politicians, and bought the properties of a missing loan shark at a below market price from the man’s grieving daughter while the NYPD was still investigating the disappearance.
John Laffey, a retired deputy chief who now teaches criminal justice at Molloy College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Delatorre is a good guy and a good commander, but it’s time for the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate.
“The number of instances that involve people who have been involved in organized crime would raise an alarm,” Laffey said. “The investigation is to protect the interests of Chief Delatorre, because these transactions might be absolutely innocent. And it also needs to protect the reputation of the New York City Police Department as well as the City of New York.”
City employees are barred from using their positions and insider knowledge for personal gain. And police officers are barred from associating with known criminals. It’s unclear if any of the chief’s deals violate these rules since the NYPD wouldn’t comment on his activities.
The department requires about 130 top officials each year to file financial disclosure forms with the city's Conflicts of Interest Board, which has five people to go through more than 9,000 such forms each year.
WNYC has reported that millions of dollars in outside income flowing through the upper ranks of the department with little oversight inside or out. Asked about the issue in November, Police Commissioner James O'Neill defended the current system.
“I’m not going to talk about any one case or any one person individually, but I will tell you that we have rules that we have to follow,” O’Neill said. "As long as ... there’s no issues there, we're not going to conduct any further investigation, but if something does appear out of the ordinary then we'll follow up on that.”
There have been some high profile examples over the years of NYPD officers getting too close to organized crime.
Among the more infamous was the case of a couple of detectives who killed for the mob in the 1980s and ‘90s.
Delatorre’s lawyer Hayes Young said the chief never interacted with or received money from mobsters, and characterized the purchases as arm’s length transactions between the chief’s wife and a small Bronx-based bank, Ponce De Leon Federal Bank.
Records show Ponce De Leon loaned money to a number of mob-connected properties and construction projects in the Bronx during the early 2000s.
"Vinny Gorgeous," in a 2011 photo.
Delatorre declined multiple interview requests, and while his attorney answered some questions over the phone, he canceled multiple interviews to explain the deals further.
The NYPD declined an interview request and instead provided a statement: “The New York City Conflict-of-Interest Board (COIB) oversees the requirements for disclosure of personal financial interests by certain executive-level members of city agencies, including the NYPD. Any allegations of potential impropriety by members of the NYPD are referred to the Internal Affairs Bureau for review and investigation as deemed appropriate.”
The NYPD said outside employment is not unique to police and the department follows the citywide rules.
THE APARTMENT BUILDING
By March 2011, Ponce De Leon had been trying for years to unwind $650,000 in loans it made in 2003 and 2004 to ADL Construction LLC, which was building an eight-unit apartment building at 869 E. 217th Street.
The “D” in ADL is Dominick Cicale, a Bonanno captain who pleaded guilty to murder and testified against acting boss Vincent Basciano. The "A" in ADL was Basciano's wife, and the “L” was Cicale's girlfriend.
The loans went bad after Basciano and Cicale were arrested in late 2004 and early 2005, and the property was tied up in lawsuits for years. Cicale was alleging from behind bars that the bank tried to fraudulently help take his property after he was arrested.
Caught in this legal tangle, the bank decided to get rid of the defaulted loan. In March 2011, Ponce De Leon sold the ADL Construction debt to an entity incorporated that same month: Chen Wang Realty Corp.
The documents are signed by Delatorre’s wife, a licensed real-estate broker and former Nassau County prosecutor. That means the mob owed more than $650,000 to the wife of one of the highest ranking police officers in the city.
Six months later, in September 2011, Chen Wang took ownership of the property at a foreclosure auction. A little over two years later, she transferred the property to a company she owned with her husband the chief.
Attorney Hayes Young said Delatorre's wife was the sole owner of Chen Wang.
It could matter, because the NYPD prohibits officers from associating with known criminals, although, it's unclear if taking over the loan of a convicted murderer would count. The department declined to say if it would violate the patrol guide.
Young said the chief's wife is a sophisticated investor and was behind the deals. But records show the chief is intimately involved in the couple's real estate investments.
In 2015, the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development filed a complaint in Bronx Housing Court over living conditions at 4173 Third Ave., which Delatorre and his wife bought from a missing loan shark's daughter a couple years before.
In a court filing, the original law firm representing her asked to be removed from the case. The reason: an attorney said they were having trouble speaking directly with Delatorre's wife — whose name was on the official documents — and were instead referred to her husband, the chief, to talk about the case.
PIECE OF HISTORY
In addition to the apartment building, Delatorre and his wife own a piece of mob history: 239 Robinson Ave., the property where the mob held induction ceremonies to fill its depleted ranks in the mid-2000s. At those ceremonies, would-be mobsters sit around a table with a gun, knife and candles, and take an oath of allegiance to become made men. Cicale testified in a federal murder trial that the mob used the home, owned by his mother, as the site of such ceremonies.
Records show that before he was arrested, Cicale planned to develop the 239 Robinson Ave. home along with a neighboring parcel. A business associate, Alan Bolton, took ownership of both. But then Cicale was arrested. Bolton defaulted on a $990,000 loan from Ponce De Leon Federal Bank.
The bank took ownership of the properties through foreclosure in 2009. It was also a messy affair. Cicale and Bolton had a falling out and lawsuits were filed. Delatorre's attorney, Hayes Young, represented Bolton in those lawsuits.
A few months later, the bank sold the properties to MEDCM Realty Corp., where Delatorre's wife is the president, for $375,000. She later sold ownership to a limited liability company controlled by her husband. The original home where the ceremonies took place was torn down by late 2009. In its place is a brick, two-family home.
Young said the chief and his wife had no interactions with Cicale or Basciano. The properties were simply an investment opportunity, Young said. Young says he also never met Cicale. He canceled several meetings to answer further questions.
SIX DEGREES OF ‘VINNY GORGEOUS’
Borough commander Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre.
Multiple experts interviewed for this story said mob connections in certain industries are not necessarily a sign of wrongdoing.
“Legitimate businesses are the way to go if you are a successful mobster making a lot of money,” said Jerry Capeci, a veteran journalist who runs Gangland News website and is a top expert on the mob.
“You don't want to have the cash under the bed someplace. You want to have that invested somewhere where you can get legitimate income, pay taxes and be a quote ‘upstanding citizen’ if you can.”
Capeci said the mob still has deep ties to the construction industry even today. That means, dig deep enough into real estate records in certain parts of the city and there are likely to be traces of the mob.
Delatorre’s outside financial interests seem to have mob connections under every rock.
His attorney represented mobster Cicale's business associate in the foreclosure case involving the Robinson Avenue properties.
Delatorre's old business partner, John Collazzi, who bought some properties with the chief a few years ago, operated a local newspaper out of a building at 1111 Calhoun Ave., which was owned by one of Basciano's partners in the construction industry.
That owner, Mario Marciano, was once sued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in an asset forfeiture case during the early 1990s, an offshoot of a massive heroin case dubbed "Blue Thunder."
Marciano is out of the country and was unavailable for comment.
His son, Marco Marciano, said his father won the case and kept his properties. Marco said the partnership with Basciano was short-lived and his father has no involvement with the mob. He said his father got out of the partnership with Basciano — called MSV Development Corp. — after learning of the mob ties.
Basciano spent 11 years in solitary confinement before he was transferred to a Kentucky penitentiary in 2016.
Collazzi, a Democratic district leader, declined comment.
Even the local bank, Ponce De Leon, had mob connections in the Bronx during the early 2000s.
Using public records and data provided by real estate data firm PropertyShark, WNYC reviewed all 400-plus loans the bank made in the Bronx from 2000 through 2005. At least 40 went to projects or properties at least loosely connected to the mob or mob associates. Half of those were actually signed for by people the government at some time prosecuted or sued for an alleged role in organized crime.
Interviewed by WNYC, former assistant bank controller Rene Gonzalez said he never knew about such connections and it's unlikely anyone at the bank knew about them.
Bank president Steven Tsavaris declined to comment. He said the bank is in the midst of a public offering and can't talk because of a blackout period.
Marco Marciano said Throggs Neck is a small community.
“You can make anything seem dirty,” he said.