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.
Hartford Courant, October 2007
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.
Isn't it amazing how a little local blog's coverage of the mayor's dishonesty can grab the attention of the ENTIRE mainstream media.
In what will be the a long list of articles on Mr. People over Politics ties to the mob, The Fairfield Weekly delivers what has to be the most damaging story on Mayor Mark's illegal contributions, as well as an analysis of Boughton's
No wonder you can't seem to find a copy of the Weekly on Main Street anymore...
Sources told the Hartford Courant (the Weekly's papa paper) that Galante gave $8,000 to Boughton's People over Politics PAC in eight separate thousand-dollar donations—a grand being the legal limit for an individual—through friends, family and employees in October 2003, with promises of favors or reimbursement. Boughton told the Courant, "I was absolutely unaware that there was anything wrong with any donations."I think this reporter can hear the timebomb tick also...watch as he slices Boughton's twisted logic to shreds.
People over Politics only received a total of eight donations of $1,000 in that reporting period.
Four checks are from the family of Paul Dinardo, Galante's brother-in-law and a longtime employee of his trash business, who got 21 months in prison in September for conspiracy to inflate hauling prices through extortion and threats. He gave $1,000. So did his father Anthony Dinardo, the father-in-law of James Galante and a resident of Putnam County, N.Y., where Automated Waste's operations stretched. The other Dinardos were Paul's brother Robert, a Danbury police officer, and his wife, Jackie, a teacher and guidance counselor in the city's public schools.
If People over Politics got $8,000 from Galante, the trash magnate provided about one-third of the $24,287 the PAC raised in 2003 and half of the $15,750 from "individuals," as opposed to business or organizations. The PAC listed $9,750 as its total contributions from individuals from Oct. 24 to Dec. 31, meaning, without that $8,000, People over Politics would have collected $1,750 from actual people. Of the eight $1,000 donations, six arrived on Oct. 26 and the other two on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.
So no one at People over Politics thought it strange that individuals bolstered their cash stash by $8,000 within eight days, with half of it coming from the heavily Galante-connected Dinardo family in a city like Danbury, where the political and business establishments are small enough that everyone knows everyone? (Boughton certainly knew Galante, who hauled the city's trash and owned its minor-league hockey team.)
Remember how I talked about the mainstream media reading this site...
And as HatCityBLOG pointed out, this was not the first time the same group of people stuffed Boughton's piggybank. Within a five-day period in January 2003, Walkovich, Seri, Paul DiNardo and his wife (Galante's sister) all gave $1,000 to his reelection fund, as did Maria Rullo, of New Fairfield, who pled guilty to tax fraud in July in a case related to United States v. Ianniello, aka Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello of the Genovese family, which has alleged ties to...James Galante.As for Mayor Mark, he's still peddling the same lame excuse that no one is buying.
"We get thousands of checks from thousands of people and we just wouldn't have any way of knowing something like that is happening."
So Mark wants the voters of Danbury to believe that eight 1,000 donations coming within days of each other ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS didn't seem the least bit strange?
Columnist Stan Smith, 10.24.07:
The more I look at Mayor Boughton's re-election finance reports, the more I feel like someone is in a bit of serious trouble once the Galante case gets underway.
...in fact, if the last honest man in Danbury wins re-election, everyone should keep an eye on who becomes the next Council President (read the charter and learn about the city's chain in command).
As reader scan over the finance reports and wonder what the hell is going on, writers, such as Stan Smith of the Hartford Courant, are beginning to question the honesty of Mr. "People over Politics."
James Galante doesn't need me to speak for him.
But I'm having a hard time believing that if indeed the Danbury trash magnate funneled $40,000 in illegal political contributions, as the state contends, the recipient politicians had no idea what Galante was up to.
Sen. Louis DeLuca of Woodbury and Sen. David Cappiello and Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury all say they had no idea - none - that Galante allegedly was funneling his cash their way through employees, friends and relatives.
But bundlers generally aren't exactly shy about letting the political candidate know what they've done for them. The chief bundlers gain clout and access with politicians because they have demonstrated the ability to raise money - the lifeblood of campaigns.
There's actually legal bundling, when people raise money from others; and there's illegal bundling, when contributors are using their own money.
"The whole art of bundling is to make sure you get credit for it," said Andy Sauer, executive director of Common Cause, the community action group. "I am someone who believes that whenever any campaign contributor is trying to gain favor with any elected official, the way they maximize their influence is by bundling."
So, if we're to believe this latest case against Galante, he went to great lengths to contribute to politician campaigns, but never let the public officials know he was hooking them up.
Maybe. But it doesn't pass my smell test.
Nov 1 2007:
One thing people haven't talked about is why hasn't Mayor "People over Politics" coughed up the 8,000 in illegal campaign contributions he received from James Galante yet?
State Senator David Cappiello stepped up to the plate and did the right thing, what about the last honest man?
Sen. Joe Lieberman is the fourth and most prominent elected official to be tied into the scheme that got local trash tycoon James Galante charged with violating state campaign finance laws. A records review by the Hartford Courant indicates that Galante bundled $14,000, bypassing legal limits, to Lieberman's 2004 presidential bid through the friends and family of employees. (Lieberman hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.)
Meanwhile, State Sen. Louis DeLuca is under intense pressure to resign due to FBI recordings of him asking Galante to send someone to threaten his grandson-in-law. And Danbury mayor Mark Boughton continues to attest he could not have known a third of his PAC's 2003 intake came from Galante, who was well-connected in the city.
State Sen. David Cappiello looks most likely to emerge from this mess with half a halo.
"About five years ago, one of [Galante's] employees gave me a bunch of checks," says Cappiello, a Republican representing Danbury. "I thought it was strange and went to the authorities and they said it was clear."
Investigators would eventually determine that the $15,000 Galante associates gave to Cappiello's PAC was not "clear." Cappiello says he then split the money between the Red Cross, YMCA, St. Jude's Medical Center, Ability Beyond Disability and Newman's Own. He's washed his hands of Galante's money, but says, "When I met him, he seemed like a nice guy, genuinely concerned about Danbury and I'm not sure all of that was a front... He did give some $3 million to my district."
Well, if Cappiello can do it, should Boughton follow his lead? Heck, while Mark's at it, he should just confess to the April 2003 donations to his re-election campaign as well and also give those contributions over to charity.
It's only something a honest man would do right?
Remember, just follow the money trail and connect the dots.