Saturday, February 17, 2007

Connecticut has long been an Organized Crime Hub

Former mayor among those supporting reputed mobster

STAMFORD, Conn. --Former Stamford Mayor Stanley Esposito is among 64 people who wrote letters to a U.S. District Court judge asking that she be lenient when sentencing reputed Connecticut mafia underboss Anthony Megale.

Megale, who prosecutors say is Gambino crime family's second-in-command, and the top mobster in Connecticut, pleaded guilty last October to racketeering conspiracy charges, and is to be sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton. He faces up to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Esposito said in is letter he was "impressed" by Megale as an "upbeat family man with a sense of humor."

"I believe without a doubt, that Anthony has already come to grips with the impact of his actions." Esposito wrote. "I believe that going forward (for the sake of his family) he will not allow himself to slip again. I sincerely hope that in your wisdom you will be lenient in his sentencing."

Esposito, a two-term Republican who was defeated by current Mayor Dannel Malloy in 1995, wrote his letter on official city letterhead.

He said he first met Megale 15 years ago, which was about the time Esposito was elected mayor.

Tom Cassone, Stamford's director of legal affairs, said the city has no control over a former employee using stationery for personal use, though the practice is not endorsed.

Megale was indicted in 2004 along with more than a dozen other defendants in what prosecutors said was the most significant assault on the state's Italian Mafia in more than a decade.

The indictment described a traditional Mafia organization being run out of Fairfield County, with members shaking down business owners for monthly payoffs in exchange for protection.

In pleading guilty, Megale admitted that between November 2002 and September 2004, he conspired with others to collect monthly extortion payments and to operate several illegal gambling operations. He took about $2,000 in monthly payments from the owner of two Stamford strip clubs, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Megale met regularly with the upper Mafia echelon, including a sit-down at a Manhattan restaurant with one-time family boss Peter Gotti.

The Gambino family, one of the five New York families, has traditionally made Fairfield County its Connecticut turf.

Most of the defendants indicted have entered guilty pleas.

Though Megale was captured on tape in 2002 referring to himself as the "underboss," his attorney says he does not admit to being a member of the Gambino crime family.

Megale has also pleaded guilty to extorting money from a Greenwich, Conn., restaurant between 1998 and March 2005, and acknowledged during that case that he extorted money from a New Jersey trucking company and from the owners of a Westchester County construction company.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://www.stamfordadvocate.com

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