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Ghosts of Corruption Present
December 17, 2004: This just in: Bernie Kerik, George Bush's shot down Homeland Security guy, was separated at birth from a litter of other public servants! Kerik was New York City Police Commissioner during the immediate post 9/11 period, but never gave the FBI an OK for an in-depth background check. Hence Kerik lacked clearance for the highest level of intelligence. Shades of Golan Cipel, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey's obscure object of desire and uncleared homeland security guy. And Kerik, like Vice Prez Dick Cheney, has financial ties to a company (Taser International) doing post 9/11 business with the U.S. government. Then there's Zoe Baird, Kimba Woods and Linda Chavez. Like failed U.S. Attorney General nominees Zoe and Kimba, and flopped Labor Secretary nominee Linda, Bernie had nanny issues. (What is it with pols and cheap servants?) Plus, Kerik's close ties to Frank and Peter DiTommaso, New Jersey based contractors with alleged close ties to the Gambino crime family, is reminiscent of rumors that Joseph Santiego, Jim McGreevey's choice for state police director, was tight with Genovese boys in Newark.

Six Degrees of Separation

Contractors Frank and Peter DiTommaso are friendly fellows. Generous too. DiTommaso campaign contributions have flowed to various Republican and Democrats in New York and New Jersey. And the brothers feel for victims of injustice. Back in 2001, each donated $5,000 to then New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli. To help him beat back federal investigations. Ultimately, the vile suspicions of Torricelli corruption were proved false. (Though a Chinese tailor who erroneously thought he bribed Torricelli did do jail time.) The DiTommasos understood the agony of allegations. Since they'd been barred from doing work for New York City, based on mob informants' claims that the brothers had been connected since the 1980's. An allegation the DiTommasos strenuously denied. Before being barred, the DiTommasos had collected $83 million in city and federal contracts for local jobs. Including capping Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill.

When spokesfolk for Robert Torricelli were told the DiTommaso allegations they were shocked. Saying Torricelli didn't even know the brothers. Odd considering the clout of the construction industry in Jersey and the fact that the DiTomasso company, Interstate Industrial Corporation, aka Interstate Companies Corp., isn't some hole in wall concern operating out of a Route 9 strip mall. Interstate is among the top 25 construction companies in Jersey and top 100 in New York State. They rank in the top 50 of world wide construction revenue.

This November, more mentions of Interstate were heard at the Manhattan federal trial of Gambino boss Peter Gotti. Gotti, along with his Igor, allegedly hatched a murder plot against mob turncoat Sammy "The Bull" Graviano. The Staten Island Advance (11/09/04) reported that witness Anthony Rotondo (another informer) testified Frank and Peter DiTommaso were "on record" with the Gambinos: "I guess everything they own, they had to kick back a piece to the Gambinos". Rotondo also said a DiTommaso owned diner on Staten Island was mob controlled and THE place for mobbies to meet. And Rotondo claimed that over the years, the DiTommasos benefitted from their connections via protection and by being able to employ non union labor.

Skipping back to Jersey, in Summer of 2004 that state's Division of Gaming Enforcement tried to keep Interstate Industrial Corporation from doing work for Atlantic City Casinos. Citing alleged mob ties. But New Jersey's Casino Control Commission unanimously voted to grant the required licenses. According to Associated Press (07/04/04) Casino commission board member Michael Fedorko (former acting superintendent of the New Jersey State Police) claimed the DiTommasos didn't "knowingly engage in business transactions with crime figures." The commission agreed and shook their clean New Jersey finger at New York: "The brothers' connections to organized crime were incidental and unavoidable because they worked in the mob-infiltrated New York- area construction industry." As Frank DiTommaso himself puts it: "I am a contractor; I am not a law enforcement agency here."

Another 6 degree thing. The chairman at the Casino Control Commission hearing on the DiTomassos should have been-- but wasn't-- Efrain Feliciano. One time deputy manager of Jim McGreevey's election campaign. Back in 2001, Feliciano believed himself in line for the Casino Control Commission slot. But Jimbo reneged and put Feliciano in a development job at the Delaware River Port Authority. Though his salary continued to be paid by the New Jersey State Parole Board, where he'd long served as community outreach person. In 2002, Feliciano received an outreach by phone from Donald Scarinci, a politically prominent attorney from politically prominent-- and legendarily corrupt-- Hudson County in northeast New Jersey.

The firm of Scarinci & Hollenbeck are movers and shakers in Hudson County. Major contributors to countless pols and holders of many public contracts. In 2002, at the time of the Donald Scaranci phone call to Parole Board outreach man Efrain Feliciano, Scarinci & Hollenbeck were representing reputed Genovese mob man Angelo M. Prisco, who was doing time in a New Jersey prison. In November of 2004, news of the phone call surfaced in a whistleblower lawsuit involving the New Jersey State Parole Board. Gannett News Bureau in Jersey ran with the story. Why the interest? Because in August of 2002, Angelo Prisco was paroled sans normal parole procedures and no good reason has ever been given why. The Scarinci phone call is indubitably meaningless, but the question of Prisco's parole continues to nag. However, NJ Attorney General Peter Harvey has been looking into the parole for 2 years. And will no doubt soon lift the curtain shrouding the matter.

The Prisco affair is one among a series of mob related scandals involving the New Jersey state parole board. Which incidentally, is top loaded with Republican appointees. But the Prisco case occurred during Governor Jim McGreevey's watch and is one of the many mob stories that tarnished his administration. The alleged Genovese connections of Joseph Santiago, McGreevey's choice for state police director was one of those stories.

Bringing us back to NYC top cop and alleged mob contractor friend Bernie Kerik. National news media coverage of Kerik has been pretty predictable. Bush worshippers on Fox pooh poohed the issues that disqualified Kerik and said scrutiny of this sort discourages good people from public service. Double standards re Democratic appointees bother the fair and balanced ones not a whit. Some on the other side also miss the point. Paul Begala on Crossfire was gleeful about an embarrassment for Bush but preferred to keep the focus on Kerik's insufficient security clearance due to his missing FBI background check-- rather than Kerik's ties to the DiTommaso brothers. That Kerik might not have made it through an FBI background check due to those ties apparently didn't occur. Overall, the national newsmedia seem reluctant to explore the general topic of the influence of organized crime in political circles. Perhaps because that influence is so bi-partisan. Or it may just be that national news types tend to be out of touch with local realities and things that rub average people the wrong way.

Bernie Kerik, the people's protector, was long time tight with guys a whole lot of other cops in several states deemed mob connected. And Kerik didn't just have an occasional beer with the DiTommasos: he actively tried to advance their interests. In the late 90's he offered to help them regain their New York license. Bernie Kerik's brother was given a job at Interstate and Kerik also recommended his buddy Lawrence Ray for a security job with Interstate. Ray's duties including dealing with mob sensitive regulators in New York and Jersey. In 2000, Lawrence Ray was indicted for alleged involvement in a mob run, pump & dump stock fraud. These are only a few Kerik stories. More surface daily and questions are rippling upward into the former administration of NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. They're also rippling sideways into Jersey, where Kerik lived till the mid-90's with Hackensack attorney Linda George. Who was later indicted for owning a gambling den operated by organized crime.

Whatever. The main topic here is not Kerik but the kind of society in which he moves. Six degrees of separation shouldn't be read as a conspiracy map: separations are as real as connections. Instead, these degrees are a series of snapshots of a bi-partisan political and public contractor class increasingly comfy in cheek by jowl working relations with organized crime. But who, when the poop hits the fan, deny knowledge of the business-- or even the existence-- of their associates and close friends.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

"The peddler now speaks to the countess who's pretending to care for him/Sayin', Name me someone that's not a parasite and I'll go out and say a prayer for him."

Bob Dylan, "Visions Of Johanna," Dwarf Music 1966

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Copyright (c) 2004 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.

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