By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
He may not be fit to build a highway interchange, but builder Joseph Pontoriero, president of Worth Construction, is a strong contender for title of World's Greatest Shopping Partner.
In interviews with representatives of State Comptroller Alan Hevesi concerning Pontoriero's bid to undertake a $46 million project for the state's Thruway Authority, Pontoriero was asked about a series of gifts he allegedly gave to the former mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut. According to the FBI, ex-mayor Philip Giordano (later convicted in a child-sex scandal) told agents that Pontoriero had given him cash, tripsand two free suits.
What about that? Pontoriero's lawyers understandably balked at letting their client answer, given the ongoing federal bribery probe in Connecticut. But as for those suits: "Mr. Pontoriero did admit to us that he gave suits to Mayor Giordano, saying that when they were out shopping together, Giordano asked him if he could take a suit, and he would pay Pontoriero later. Pontoriero admitted that he was never repaid, and that he thought the value of the suits was about $6,000. These admissions confirm at least one of the allegations against him."
The shopping trip in question took place sometime prior to 2001, which is a long time to wait for even a pal to repay a debt. But immediately after Hevesi's report was released earlier this month, Pontoriero's attorneys blasted back, threatening to sue the comptroller for libel. "Mr. Pontoriero's understanding [was] that Mayor Giordano was supposed to repay him for the suits in question," wrote Steven G. Sanders of Arsenault, Fassett & Mariano.
Hevesi shrugged. "Apparently the former mayor couldn't buy his own suits. He needed a contractor doing business with his city to act as his suit agent."