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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Big Ang's the Drunken Monkey is shut down after state pulls liquor license

Big Ang was the monkey on the Drunken Monkey's back.

The state ordered the West Brighton watering hole shut down because an investigation found that Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, a convicted felon, was the bar's silent owner, the Advance has learned.

Ms. Raiola is one of the stars of VH1's "Mob Wives" reality show, which regularly features the bar.

Because she pleaded guilty in 2003 to a felony in a federal drug distribution case, Ms. Raiola cannot own a bar without some form of special permission from the state. She never applied to be on the license, according to a State Liquor Authority official.

Her cousin, SallyAnn Lombardi, is listed in public records as the liquor license holder.

Nevertheless, Ms. Raiola is listed as a signatory in a bank account affiliated with the bar, and she was given power of attorney over the place, according to information obtained by the Advance about the SLA's investigation.

Over the course of the investigation, Ms. Lombardi admitted she hadn't filed taxes since 2008, that information revealed.

Ms. Lombardi told the SLA in a September interview that she was the bar's sole owner, but got into a car crash in 2009 and allowed Ms. Raiola to operate the bar thereafter, giving her signatory authority and power of attorney, according to the findings of the investigation.

Ms. Lombardi said Ms. Raiola was on the bar's payroll until recently, but didn't cash many of her paychecks, and Ms. Raiola now manages the bar on Tuesdays and Fridays, for no pay, according to the probe's findings.

The bar's website listed Ms. Raiola as a co-owner, Ms. Lombardi told the SLA, to help promote "Mob Wives," according to the findings.

That ownership shuffle is considered "availing," a serious SLA offense, which means a liquor license holder has allowed a third party to use or profit from the license. The offense can often result in a revocation or cancellation of the license.

On Feb. 10, the SLA ordered the Drunken Monkey's liquor license cancelled as of March 6.

In addition to an availing charge, the bar was also hit with a "non bona fide" charge -- because it was serving food only two days a week, not five, as was originally listed on the liquor license -- and an "improper conduct" charge.

The improper conduct charge also pertains to Ms. Raiola's business interest in the bar.

On March 2, an attorney for Ms. Lombardi asked the SLA to reconsider the cancellation. The SLA denied that request.

A revocation terminates a liquor license and bans the licensee from holding another license for two years. A cancellation, which is less serious, terminates the license, but doesn't ban the licensee from immediately applying for another one.

The Drunken Monkey made headlines last June, after one of its patrons died in a brawl outside the 1205 Forest Ave. tavern. The man who threw the fatal punch pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, and was sentenced in December to three to nine years in prison.

The bar has served as the stage of some of the drama on Mob Wives, and has become a tourist attraction for its fans.

One episode in December featured the bar's seventh anniversary party.

Ms. Raiola also starred in a 2012 spinoff series, "Big Ang." In the show's trailer, she says, "I run a bar on Staten Island called the Drunken Monkey."



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