News & Politics

Boro Prez Wannabe Catches Tainted Cash



Sopranos star Michael Imperioli, right, with Manhattan boro prez candidate Carlos Manzano, center, and supporter Frank Macchiarola

Carlos Manzano, one of nine Democratic contenders for the Manhattan Borough President’s job, landed TV star Michael Imperioli, who plays Tony Soprano’s brooding and troubled mob protégé on HBO’s The Sopranos, to help draw a crowd for his campaign fundraisers. But Manzano also attracted some dubious donors who could tell some real-life tales about the mob—if they ever cared to discuss it.

Among those who have anted up big bucks for Manzano’s bid are a pair of alleged Gambino crime family associates from New Jersey who, according to numerous law enforcement reports, were considered members of a murderous Irish-American gang known as “the Westies.” Campaign finance records show that Francis “Buddy” Leahy and Michael “Mickey” Cahill, along with two other family members, donated a total of $4,850 to Manzano last year.

Leahy and Cahill run a major construction firm in Englewood Cliffs that supplies steel re-bar. They allegedly kicked back a share of their earnings to the late John Gotti, according to testimony by mob turncoats Salvatore “Sammy Bull” Gravano and Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo.

Manzano, whose home base is the venerable McManus Midtown Democratic Association and whose main political patron is former city Board of Elections official Jim McManus, also took in thousands in campaign cash from another alleged mob figure. Former private waste hauling king Angelo Ponte, who served 20 months in prison after being convicted as a kingpin in the mob’s cartel, donated $2,000 to Manzano last year. Ponte’s wife Rosalie gave $3,850, the maximum allowed in the race.

Manzano said he recalled meeting Leahy and Cahill “a couple of times” at his fundraisers. “They are business people as far as I am concerned,” he said. As for Ponte, he said he recalled reading about “his problems” in the newspaper. “Bear in mind most of my contributions are from small donors,” he said. “I believe I am setting a record this year.” Which is why such big givers might stand out. Was he bothered by hauling in mob ducats for his campaign?
“I’ve got to look into it,” said Manzano.

Leahy and Cahill did not return calls. Ponte, who could not be reached, has figured in another important Manhattan campaign: District Attorney Robert Morgenthau convicted him in the carting case; former Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, Morgy’s dogged challenger, doled out his sentence.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2005

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