Cyrus Vance Jr.‘s campaign to succeed Robert Morgenthau as Manhattan District Attorney is holding its big kickoff fundraiser on March 31st. Tickets range from $50,000 (event chair level), to $500 (mere guest).
The event will be held at an interesting location for an aspiring crime-busting DA: Fresco by Scotto on East 52nd Street is run by the Scotto family, whose patriarch is former longshoremen’s union boss Anthony Scotto Sr. who regularly greets patrons.
Although he is said to have retired from the mob business years ago, Scotto was long listed by the FBI as a Gambino crime family captain. Scotto did a five-year prison stretch after a famous 1979 racketeering trial in which he was convicted of taking payoffs from waterfront companies (Scotto claimed he was only collecting campaign donations). Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who worked undercover in the investigation, called Scotto “a Mafia-chic socialite” in his book, My FBI. In the mid-1990’s, Morgenthau’s office launched an investigation of Scotto’s ties to a major office contracting firm, a probe that resulted in the tax fraud conviction of construction executive Ted Kohl.
Vance spokeswoman Barbara Thompson, who retired two years ago as Morgenthau’s longtime press secretary, said the campaign isn’t concerned. “Let the past be the past,” she said. “This is a well-known establishment that is frequented by all kinds of New Yorkers, including elected officials, news executives and even reporters.”
Among those holding fundraisers at the restaurant, according to Thompson, are DA’s Charles Hynes and Richard Brown. Also: Rudy Giuliani, Ted Kennedy, and John McCain.
And then there’s another frequent Fresco diner, according to regulars: Vance opponent Leslie Crocker Snyder.