A ticking timebomb years in the making is about to explode.
FLASHBACK: New York Times 05.02.04
James Galante, who owns trash hauling companies in Danbury and Putnam County, N.Y., first tried to get into the hockey business in New Haven, but he eventually realized the city's team couldn't be saved. When Danbury opened its ice arena in 2001, Mr. Galante saw another opportunity. He had watched his son play hockey in high school and noticed that young people from the area were signing up for junior and pee wee leagues. A hockey team, he realized, could take root here.
The team will also be paying for major renovations to the ice arena, expanding the capacity from 750 seats to as many as 2,500. The renovation still needs the city's approval, said Kevin McCormack, regional manager for New Jersey-based Floyd Hall Enterprises, which owns the arena. The arena had also not signed a final contract with the team, Mr. McCormack said.
The arena, which holds two rinks, already logs 400,000 to 500,000 total visits a year for youth leagues, adult leagues and recreational skating, among other events, Mr. McCormack said. None of those activities will be curtailed by the hockey team, he said. He expected the team to boost interest in the arena, rather than drive it away. Danbury residents are already coming to the ice arena asking where they can buy season tickets, Mr. McCormack said.
Increasing the seating was a prerequisite for admission into the league, Mr. Brosal, the U.H.L. president, said. He also said he was not concerned that James Galante had served a federal sentence in connection with filing false corporate tax returns.
FLASHBACK: Hartford Courant, July 21 2005
FBI agents searched an undisclosed number of homes and businesses in western Connecticut and suburban New York late Tuesday as part of an organized crime and political corruption case that centers on the refuse hauling business.
Shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, dozens of agents began sifting through business records at the offices of Automated Waste Disposal Inc. in Danbury. Automated dominates the refuse hauling business in southwestern Connecticut, and its owner was linked in federal court in the middle 1990s to mob efforts to stifle competition in the industry in Westchester County, N.Y.
Automated is owned by James E. Galante, 52, of New Fairfield, who was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and fined $ 100,000 in 1999 for assisting in the preparation of false corporate tax returns.
FBI agents also appeared at the law offices in Danbury of Galante attorney Jack E. Garamella, a law enforcement source said late Tuesday. In addition, agents armed with search warrants were at Galante's home and the homes of several of his senior employees, said a source familiar with the investigation.
The indictment alleged that Milo and the others -- including Mario Gigante, the brother of then Genovese crime family boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante -- were part of a mob cartel that used arson, bribery and violence to dominate the garbage-hauling industry in the suburbs north of New York City.
Galante also owns a professional, minor-league hockey team that he named the Danbury Trashers. It is part of the United Hockey League and plays in the city-owned ice rink in downtown Danbury. Galante bought the team as an 18th birthday present for his son, who is general manager.
Galante and employees of his businesses have been generous contributors to Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. Boughton could not be reached Tuesday night for comment.
Some senior city employees, who asked not be identified because they fear retribution, have said the city of Danbury allowed Galante to spend millions to quickly renovate the ice rink to comply with league standards -- but without timely city inspections for code violations. The arena was too small for league standards and needed to be expanded to a capacity of more than 3,000. The city employees said they felt pressured to quickly approve the renovations.
More goodies from The Hartford Courant dated 07.21.05:
Shortly after Boughton became mayor in 2001, Galante requested and received a permit to increase the numberof tons per day of garbage he could bring into the transfer station from 950 to 1,250. Boughton said he didn't become aware of the application until 2003, but under the terms of the previous contract Galante had the option to apply for expansion to the regional trash authority.
Galante recently has asked for another expansion to 1,900 tons a day. That application is pending, Boughton said.
The city's handling of the expansion of the ice rink has raised questions with Boughton's critics. Galante would not have been able to open the season without expanding the seating capacity at the Danbury Arena to meet United Hockey League regulations.
That was then...this is now.
Danbury garbage executive James Galante turned himself in to the state police Friday morning to face charges of making nearly $40,000 in illegal campaign contributions, as a third political figure acknowledged being the recipient of $8,000 in questionable money.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, said Friday that one of his political action committees received money from Galante in 2003 that was disguised through third-party, or "straw" donors. Sources familiar with the campaign finance case said this week that Boughton got the money in October 2003.
As Danbury's mayor, Boughton has worked closely with Galante, whose network of trash-related businesses is a major presence in the city. In particular, the Boughton administration worked with Galante on issues related to the rehabilitation of a city ice rink where Galante's minor league professional hockey team, the Danbury Trashers, played. Boughton dismissed local critics who said the city bent rules to rush approval of an occupancy permit for the rink. Boughton also said he is not close to Galante socially.