News & Politics

Mob Schemed City Buildings Department

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Here’s a new money-making angle from the city’s now-
vanished building boom:

The city’s Department of Buildings somehow managed to hire
a pair of alleged Mafia associates as building inspectors,
who promptly began soliciting bribes from contractors all
over town to ignore violations and speed up approvals. The
bribe proceeds were then allegedly shared with a pair of
legendary city Mafiosi, including one who was convicted as
the main heroin connection
for legendary Harlem dope dealer
Nicky Barnes.

That’s the main highlight from today’s big mob racketeering
indictment
by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau
that charges Matthew Madonna, 73, the alleged acting boss
of the Lucchese crime family, and his cohort, Joseph
DiNapoli, 74, with overseeing a wide range of rackets
ranging from gambling and firearms trafficking to the
innovative buildings department schemes.

All told, 29 individuals are charged in the case including
six former building inspectors. Two of the ex-inspectors —
brothers Carmine Francomano Jr. and Frank Francomano – were
hired in 2005 and 2007 respectively, just as city building
permits were skyrocketing. According to the indictment, the
brothers arranged bribes and kickbacks with the help of
their dad, Carmine “Snappy” Francomano Sr., who is also
charged.

Morgenthau and Police commissioner Ray Kelly, who also
appeared at the press conference, declined to speculate how
it happened that the men were hired.

The two year probe included 64 telephone wiretaps and a bug
in a restaurant on which city police detectives and
investigators picked up conversations dealing with the traditional business of organized crime, such as taking sports bets and lending money at extortionate rates.

But the biggest game appeared to be the city’s burgeoning
construction business. More than 20 buildings in Manhattan
and Bronx are cited in the indictment.

The inspectors are charged with collecting $124,000 in
bribes from contractors and building owners looking for a
break on costly violations. The biggest bribe was an
alleged $44,000 paid by contractor Wayne Schumer to Frank
Francomano, a former supervisor in the department’s Bronx
construction division. An unnamed nightclub owner
allegedly shelled out $24,000 to expedite his own buildings
department permits.

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