The Rob'n Hood of Danbury
John William Tuohy
“A Danbury trash hauler suspected of mob ties right out of ‘The Sopranos. ”
The New York Times
In Danbury, people took two sides on Jimmy Galante. For some, he was an unrelenting Genovese Crime Family mobster or, for others, an unjustly persecuted business executive. Whatever the truth was, it was actually someplace in the middle, there was nothing, absolutely nothing in Galante’s otherwise mundane background to suggest he could fall into a life of crime, least of all organized crime. Although born in a working-class neighborhood in the Bronx in 1953, his childhood was spent in South Salem, New York, a pleasant community an hour outside of Manhattan and only several minutes away from the Connecticut line.
After high school, he served an uneventful stint in the US Air Force and then returned home to New York State where he took a job driving a garbage truck. He married, moved to New Fairfield, and had two children.
In his mid-twenties, with no assets to speak of Galante started Automated Waste Disposal. By 2004, Galante had built Automated Waste into a $100 million firm that handled 80% of garbage hauling in southern and western Connecticut, and Westchester and Putnam counties in New York.
Galante kept an office in Danbury where he is still considered a generous and carrying Philanthropist, in fact, a grateful citizenry named a pediatric suite in the emergency department of Danbury Hospital for his family. His other donations to the area included a new football stadium at New Fairfield High School. (Federal officials say he gave the school district $2 million.)
And that’s where the otherwise docile and admirable image ended, and the unrelenting gangster saga began.
According to the government, for almost two decades, Galante ruled over large parts of the garbage industry in north-central Connecticut thought fear, violence, threats of violence and economic sanctions.
In one instance, Galante and associates burned a competitor’s truck after first binding the driver, the intended message was for the truck owner to stay out of the Connecticut market. They did it again in 2006, when, the FBI claimed, the Galante operation damaged the tires of a competitor’s truck after the owner refused to back down on a contract worth only $50 a month.
In that case, the feds said that Eric Romandi, who was described as “Galante's go-to and a "vital and loyal cog" in Galante's gang, was the thug who harassed the competitor’s truck driver.
Romandi was a ball of contradictions. He was reportedly well-liked in the industry and by the employees. By most accounts, he was a devoted father two his three children, one with special needs, and a loyal husband to his wife, unusual for people in that world. A former US Marine, he served four years in Vietnam as a crew chief for a medivac helicopter, running as many as two to three rescue missions per day, taking wounded soldiers from combat areas.
On the other hand, Romandi previous record included a 39-month prison term for his involvement in a ring that smuggled heroin into the U.S. from Bangkok he worked at an American Airlines terminal at LaGuardia Airport in Queens.
And then there is the Connecticut incident.
On May 28, 1992, at 6 in the morning, Romandi waited in the parking lot of the Berkshire Shopping Center on Newtown Road in Danbury. Wearing a ski mask and green overalls, he pulled a gun on a garbage truck driver, and told him "Don't cause any trouble and you won't get hurt."
Romandi, and an unidentified accomplice, then taped the driver's hands, legs and eyes, they put him in a swamp behind the shopping center, Then doused his truck with gasoline and set it on fire.
When they were finished, Romandi and his partner drove off in one of Galante's cars -- a Ford Thunderbird, -- and had it cleaned. Later, when a worker at an auto shop wrote a receipt for the cleaning that mentioned the smell of gasoline, Galante called him and ordered a rewrite. The FBI later got hold of that report in the original form.
Then there was the business of witness tampering.
Aside from everything else Galante had going on, he spent lavishly on Lisa Henry, a female friend who lived on a horse farm he owns in Southbury. In addition to providing Henry with a no-show job at one of his companies, Galante covered her household expenses (landscaping, pool service, insurance, repairs, window cleaning, tree service, laundry services, utilities and a $24,745 home entertainment system)
Galante also wrote double paychecks for some employees and had them return one of them to him in cash, claiming items he purchased for his girlfriend's horse farm including hay and a wide-screen television as business expenses, and skimming cash from the register at the Danbury garbage transfer station.
Those things would come back to cause him a problem because he was deducting the cost as business expenses which they weren’t and as a result, he would later be indicted tax and conspiracy offenses.
Then the Justice department, compelled….meaning forced….. a former Galante employee to testify in front of the grand jury investigating the trash industry. Galante found out about and sent Romandi to speak with the women “to instruct her how to answer questions." Romandi met with the witness and, basically, told her to lie to the grand jury.
A while later, Romandi saw the woman's father at a Trashers hockey game. "While there, Romandi asked how his daughter was doing," the prosecutors said. Romandi offered some unsolicited legal advice, telling the father that his daughter wasn't obligated to talk to the FBI unless they served her with a subpoena. Romandi then gave the father a written list of questions the grand jury might asking. "Later, when the father showed his daughter the list of questions, she became distraught and destroyed the document,"
Romandi was later sentenced to 37 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release. Not bad considering that he actually faced up to 25 years for the crimes he committed under Galante’s direction. However, Romandi was able to work out a deal with prosecutors that had him plead guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Romandi's attorney.
In 2004, Galante purchased a minor-league-hockey franchise in the United Hockey League, the equivalent of Double A baseball and brought the team to the Danbury Ice Arena, a much needed punch in the arm for the economically depressed town. Galante spent $3 million of his own money, without being asked, to refurbish the 3,000 seat Danbury Ice Arena.
Galante renamed the Trashers, the Danbury Trashers, with its team mascot being Scrappy, a garbage can with the lid raised just enough to reveal two eyes peering from the darkness which was probably a bit more foreboding then intended. Galante appointed his son AJ, although still in high school, as the general manager of team.
When negotiating a player’s contract, Galante, according to the government, paid some of the players (and/or their spouse) through no-show jobs at his various corporations, allowing him to pay more to star players without breaking the leagues pay cap of $275,000 a year per team. This way, according to the Justice Department, the Trashers’ reported budget came in under the mandatory cap for the 2004–05 season although the teams actual payroll was approximately $750,000, or about $450,000 over the cap.
At that same time, in 2005, the FBI’s office in New Haven was taking in complaints that Galante’s near-monopoly on regional garbage collection was killing off competition. That complaint was added to an ongoing investigation into illegal practices in the states trash hauling industry. Galante was already on the Organized Crime tasks Force radar. In fact, in 1999, he was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
In early 2006, the FBI sent in an undercover agent posing as a salesman who quickly befriend Galante’s friends and soon, Galante himself. From conversations that the reported on, the U.S. Attorney’s office, which would later describe Galante as “a manipulating, controlling, hands-on bully”, had enough to get wiretaps and search warrants. The wiretaps caught Galante’s associates talking about a trip to Mount Kisco, New York, where they intended to hire a leg-breaker known as the Carpenter. The tapes also captured Galante telling an associate to deliver a message to a suspected snitch “Long Island says hello,” was the message referring to Genoese boss Matty the Horse Ianniello.
In the summer of 2005, federal agents raided Galante’s offices, and took away over $500,000 in cash and more than 5,000 boxes of documents. Looking through the boxes, agents eventually found evidence of no-show jobs, which resulted in charges against Galante. Further digging found evidence that Galante was making $30,000 in quarterly payments to Genovese crime family Matty “the Horse” Ianniello.
Ianniello, low-key and soft spoken, boring in fact, was a top earner for the Genovese Crime Family. He was mastermind of one of the most lucrative of all the mobs scams, the topless bar scene and pornography shops that once dotted virtually all of Manhattan. Matty the horse either owned the bars and shops outright or took protection money from the owners. In exchange, the stores were protected police raids, union demands or from Matty’s goons simply not busting the place up. In the 1970s, he controlled discos and gay bars in Midtown New York.
At the height of his power, Ianniello either owned or controlled 80 restaurants and bars all of which were dubbed “Manny’s smut cartel” but state and federal agency that tried to close him down. For a fee, Manny offered his bars money lending, money laundering, interior decorating, garbage collection and vending-machine leasing. He also owned the talent agency that provided the city with its stripper. Almost all of his ill gained fortune was funneled through his web of service providers.
Ianniello was born in Little Italy in Manhattan, one of eight children of Italian immigrant parents. He worked as a waiter, and then as a longshoreman in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, before joining the Army in 1943. He received a medal for valor in combat in the South Pacific. After the war, he and an uncle became partners in a restaurant. He joined up with Genovese operation in or around the late 1940s. His first pinch came in 1951 for heroin trafficking but the charges were mysteriously dropped before the case went to court. With time he became a major player in the Genovese rackets of construction bid-rigging, labor-union corruption and waste-carting extortion. He was also a hidden owner in Umberto’s Clam House, in Little Italy, and was there the night Joey Gallo murdered. When Genovese boss Vincent Gigante finally went to prison in 1997, Ianniello stepped up to be the acting boss and that was how he came into contact with Jimmy Galante.
The day that Galante’s office was raided was the same day that federal agents raided 60 other garbage industry-related businesses in New York and Connecticut aligned to the hauling business, the raids arising out of an 18-month investigation of the trash business.
Federal agents monitoring wiretaps intercepted at least 100,000 telephone calls between August 2004 and July 2005 that involved a total of 29 individuals and 10 businesses accused of racketeering, extortion, mail and wire fraud, witness-tampering, interfering with search warrants and a variety of tax evasion charges.
In Connecticut, as a result of those raids and a wider investigation, on July 27, 2005, Matty the Horse Ianniello was indicted on racketeering charges in New York involving extortion and loansharking. Agents arresting Ianniello at his home while he was ported watching the film The Godfather Part III.
A year later, on June 10, 2006, Ianniello was indicted in federal court in New Haven on charges of racketeering involving trash hauling in Southwestern Connecticut. Ianniello pleaded guilty to the New York racketeering charges and received an 18-month prison sentence and also pleaded guilty to the Connecticut racketeering charges and was sentenced to two years in federal prison to run concurrent with the 18 month New York sentence. It was one of only two significant prison terms during his life. The first was a nine-year term for racketeering and tax evasion involving Midtown topless bars that he owned, which he served from 1986 to 1995. Ianniello died in his sleep in his bed at home, at age 92.
Galante was later arrested following the indictment that charged him with 72 counts, (The entire indictment included a total of 98 counts) including extortion, witness tampering, and racketeering.
In those charges was one count of taking part in the salary-cap fraud for his hockey team. The indictment went on to describe Galante as the chief source power behind a series of illegal operations who controlled virtually every aspect of the garbage business in western Connecticut and Putnam County and using mob muscle to strong-arm any competitors who might get in his way.
Among those also indicted as a result of the investigation were former Division Manager for Diversified Waste and alleged Bonanno Crime Family enforcer Robert Taggett. New Jersey based federal Drug Enforcement Agent Louis Angioletti, Connecticut State Trooper Paul Galietti of Southbury who were paid to use police computers to track information on Galante and his associates. Galietti was a cousin Richard Galietti.
The feds had a tape recording of Galietti talking to his cousin, Richard Galietti, who at the time was sales manager for Galante-controlled Automated Waste Disposal. During the call, Miller said, Richard Galietti asked his cousin, Trooper Paul Galiette, to run a check on a Connecticut license plate. Minutes later federal agents heard Paul Galietti giving Richard Galietti the name of the person the car was registered to. The car owner was affiliated with a small trash hauling company in Danbury.
After he gave his cousin the information, agents overheard Paul Galietti warning of the risks of other people finding out about the check, Miller said. "Never tell anybody I did that for you, because you'll get me fired," Galietti said "It's a serious thing now, OK?"
Richard Galietti then told his cousin that his brother, a sheriff in Florida, had gotten in trouble for the same reason, Paul Galietti said: "Yeah, no really, the federal government pinches you now. That's a real fucking serious thing."
Trooper Galiette gave the request to Louis Angioletti who was with the US Drug Enforcement Agency and was placed at the high-security El Paso Intelligence Center in Texas. Richie Galiette’s name did not appear on the search.
Trooper Galiette and DEA agent Angioletti had attended a Lee County, Fla., police academy in 1995 and the two men remained friends after Angioletti went to work for the sheriff's department in Florida, then joined the DEA four years later.
FBI agents learned about the request during in a wiretapped telephone conversation with Galante. In another wiretapped conversation, Trooper Galietti told Galante his "friend in El Paso" had run the suspected informant's name, also with no result. An audit of DEA files indicated Angioletti had run the check. In the end, it wasn’t that serious , not punishment wise anyway.
Galietti walked away with only a $1,000 fine. Galietti lost his job and is barred from working in law enforcement again. Angioletti pled guilty to a single count of improperly accessing a government computer. He was fined $2,500 and forced to resign from the agency. "There is no question that I am absolutely guilty of misguided loyalty to a fellow police academy cadet," Angioletti said "Not a day goes by without my regretting that unwise decision."
Also indicted was former Waterbury Mayor Joseph Santopietro. In 1985, Santopietro became Connecticut’s youngest mayor ever when he was elected at age 26. But in 1992, he was convicted of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from developers trying to cash in on what was then a hot city real estate market. He served just over six years in prison and was released in 1999.
Santopietro meet Galante in prison when Galante was there for tax violations and later hired Santopietro as a consultant to his companies. But he also participated in the Galante take-over of the trash haulers routes by using his influence to dissuade a competing trash hauler from honoring a contract with a new customer who had previously used one of the companies involved in the case.
Santopietro pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to five years-probation for his role in the Galante mess and was fined $30,000 and ordered o spend his first six months of probation confined to his home.
The court some mercy on him due to the condition of his wife, Julie, a divorce lawyer who was badly injured when a client's estranged husband shot her outside the Middletown courthouse two years ago before taking his own life. Her client in the case was killed. Julie suffered debilitating injuries and needed Santopietro help in even the simplest chores. There were also his two small children involved in considering his sentencing. Agents recalled that when they came to arrest Santopietro at his home he became so panicked the agents thought he might be having a heart attack.
James Galante's business partner, albeit silent partner, was Thomas Milo, a 72 year old man from Mamaroneck, N.Y. who largely managed to stay in the background largely because he had been targeted as an associate of the Genovese mob and was barred from holding a Refuse License in New York because Milo had been indicted on similar trash industry racketeering charges in New York in the late 1990s. In that scam, members of the Genovese and Gambino crime family were charged with illegally controlling Westchester County's private garbage carting business through mob-backed threats, extortion and bribery.
Arrested with Milo was Mario "The Shadow" Gigante, 73, brother of Genovese crime family head Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, Salvatore Gigante (Mario’s son) Nicholas Milo, (Tommy Milo’s brother) Frank Celli, Louis Corso and Benny Villani. The arrests brought to an abrupt end the government's 10-year investigation against a total of seven men and 14 companies named in a 61-count indictment handed up in June 1996. The Connecticut indictment against Milo, Galante and others was the second half of that investigation.
Milo acknowledged he paid a mob tax of approximately $120,000 per year to 'Matty the Horse' Ianniello. Milo was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $40,000 in fines. He and his wife have also agreed to forfeit their ownership in Automated Waste Disposal and related companies.
Kitellen Milo, Milo wife, demanded millions of dollars for what she said were losses she suffered after buying into the garbage business at the heart of the conspiracy. She further accused Galante of, among other things, squandering profits on no-show jobs for his "personal criminal cohorts." As she put it. However, virtually everyone in the case, on both sides, believed that Kitellen Milo's ownership interest in Galante's garbage business was simply a front for her husband.
Further, of the reported no show jobs she complained about more than $200,000 of that money went to her relatives including her daughter, her son-in-law and her brother-in-law, Joseph Milo. Joey Milo at least served some purpose for taking the cash. He admitted in court that he was bagman for Galante’s operation who delivered quarterly $30,000 payments from the galante operation down to Matty the Horse Ianniello in New York. Weakening her case even more was the fact that Kitellen had been living separately from her husband long before the feds moved into the case.
When it appeared that Galante’s lawyers had arranged for him to return home until his trial began, federal prosecutors played excerpts of eight wiretap conversations for the hearing Judge. The profanity-laced snippets played in court all centered on Galante’s anger with a Danbury-area trash hauler named Joseph LoStocco, who had placed a dumpster at the Marriott Hotel, a location that Galante felt was his, if only because it was in Connecticut.
Galante could be heard telling his operations manager, Ciro Viento, to tell the rival hauler to give up the Marriott contract. Minutes later, Viento called LoStocco, to relay the message. “Joey, I just got a call from the maniac. Do everybody a favor and go up to the hotel and get that dumpster out of there or else you are going to be in a world of hurt.”
As LoStocco starts to argue, Richard Galietti, Galante’s sales manager, took the phone from Viento and threatened LoStocco. "Do not fuck with Jimmy. At the end of the day, I am going to tear your eyes out. I will destroy you if you want to play this game.”
In another recording, Galante and Galietti discussed vandalizing one of LoStocco’s trucks. “LoStocco’s truck just pulled out. I think I should tattoo this thing,” Galietti said.
Galante replied, “Yeah, the headlights sound good to me.”
The next day Galante discussed his growing frustrations about LoStocco with another employee, Ricky Caccavale. “You tell him Mr. Galante said I always done the right thing for you. This is a personal thing with me now. He’s been warned before. What I’m going to have to do is hurt you.”
A few minutes later, Caccavale called LoStocco and said, “Jimmy has a lot deeper pockets than you and you don’t want to start a war with him that you can’t win,” You don’t want to go to war with Jimmy Galante who has brought Allied and Service Management to their knees.” (Allied Carting and Service Management were national competitors that eventually were forced out of the market by Galante.)
Caccavale ended the conversation with LoStocco by saying: “Joe, you’ll never sleep well again.”
Galante also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, tax fraud, and wire fraud. The government seized most of his assets, including 25 trash companies and a string of race cars. Galante later agreed to forfeit thee farm, along with six racing cars, a racing trailer and $448,000 in cash that federal agents seized and to pay $1.6 million in back taxes.
(Galante reached a plea agreement with the federal government in June 2007 in which he would receive $10.7 million from the government sale of his carting companies but had to bring suit to force payment on the remaining $3.1 million)
Galante, in a plea for leniency, introduced several letters he previously had received from politicians, including former Vice Presidential candidate and US Senator Joseph Lieberman, praising Galante’s generosity. In Lieberman’s case, he collected more than $14,000 from Galante and friends in contributions.
Liberman’s letter wasn’t a surprise since Galante had also used a political action committee which laundered money to several politicians who may have used their influence too award contracts to Galante's trash hauling business.
In 2007, Connecticut State Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in connection with Galante because DeLuca had Galante intervene on behalf of the husband of DeLuca's granddaughter, whom DeLuca believed was being abused. DeLuca also accepted large donations from Galante and his associates and allegedly promised to look out for Galante's interests.
Due to the public outrage that followed, DeLuca eventually stepped down as leader of the Senate Republicans and a special senate committee was convened to determine if DeLuca should be officially sanctioned. DeLuca testified in front of the committee and acknowledged that he asked Galante to threaten his grandson-in-law and that he also knowingly had lied to FBI when they questioned him about his relationship with DeLuca. He resigned from office later that year. In an interesting twist on the case, the husband of DeLuca's granddaughter, Mark Colella, said publicly that he never struck DeLuca granddaughter, but as for DeLuca, he said "I'd like to smack his teeth down his throat"
Jimmy Galante spent six years in Allenwood federal penitentiary in central Pennsylvania. He was also forced to forfeit his controlling interest in twenty-five different garbage related businesses. Matty the Horse was released after 18 months dying in August 2012. Galante got out of prison in 2014.