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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three busted building inspectors all with apparent ties to Lucchese family had prior raps

Three of the six city building inspectors busted in a recent corruption sweep were hired even though they had rap sheets, a Daily News investigation found.
The issue has become more important in the wake of allegations that corrupt inspectors took cash to overlook violations or speed permits.
All Buildings Department job applicants must disclose any previous arrests and submit to background investigations that include fingerprinting and criminal database searches, spokesman Tony Sclafani said.
At least three inspectors, reputed associates of the Lucchese crime family, were hired and promoted despite arrest records dating from the late 1980s and '90s.
The city either failed to uncover the prior arrests or chose to ignore them. Sclafani refused to say which.
"Red flags should have gone up," said City Councilman James Oddo (R-S.I.), head of of the Task Force on Operations and Improvement of the Buildings Department. "This agency was a cesspool for many decades. There has to be more accountability."
The three were among 29 defendants - including three other former building inspectors, several contractors and developers and a handful of reputed gangsters - arrested Oct. 1.
Authorities said a city Department of Investigation probe uncovered a bribery scheme controlled by two high-ranking Lucchese mobsters, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna.
The most recently hired of the indicted inspectors, Frank Francomano, joined the agency in 2007, despite a 1993 arrest in Yonkers for possession of gambling instruments.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's sweeping 92-page indictment puts Francomano, 45, at the heart of the scheme. He was charged with loansharking, gambling, drug dealing and taking at least $20,000 in payoffs.
Francomano's boss in the Bronx division, Earl Prentice, 44, also was on the take, the indictment said. In 1985 he pleaded guilty in Brooklyn to trespassing, a violation. He was hired the next year by the Buildings Department. Prentice's lawyer did not return calls.
Francomano's building inspector brother, Carmine Jr., 43, and dad, Carmine "Snappy" Francomano Sr., 71, also were indicted.
The indictment says Carmine Jr. used his position as supervising inspector of the Scaffold Safety Unit like "an ATM machine" to take more than $82,000 in bribes.
The younger Francomano had no prior record, but prosecutors said he teamed up to take bribes with another indicted inspector who did, Angel Luis Aviles.
A 1989 arrest for assault and weapons possession in the Bronx did not stop the Buildings Department from hiring Aviles, 56, in 2004 or from promoting him to supervising inspector.
Aviles pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Sclafani said the department is reviewing its hiring practices. He would not discuss specifics, but said "a prior criminal record cannot be the sole basis for denying employment."


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