By MATT APUZZO
Associated Press Writer
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut- A reputed mob boss, a former mayor and the owner of a trash hauling business were among 29 people charged Friday in a federal investigation into the mob's influence over the region's trash hauling industry.The indictment alleges that companies owned by James Galante paid a "mob tax" to Matthew Ianniello, the reputed boss of the Genovese crime family. The payments were part of a scheme in which trash haulers carved out routes and agreed not to steal each other's customers, according to the indictment.
"One of the effects ... has been to stifle competition by preventing small independent companies from competing," the indictment alleges.
Federal authorities were discussing plans Friday to take over operations at Galante's trash hauling businesses, which handles garbage pickup for thousands of customers in about 20 Connecticut towns, according to an attorney for the companies.
Galante and several employees of his companies were arrested by federal agents, lawyers said. Ianniello was arrested at his home on New York's Long Island that was raided last summer, according to his lawyer, Jay Goldberg.
Former Waterbury Mayor Joseph Santopietro was also due in court Friday morning after being charged with racketeering in the indictment. The indictment also names seven companies.
Santopietro worked as a consultant for Galante's companies. In an interview a few months ago, he said he was not a target of the investigation and had not hired a lawyer. In 1992, while mayor, Santopietro was arrested in an investigation of bribery and kickbacks and served more than six years in prison.
More than a dozen defense attorneys milled about a New Haven federal courtroom Friday morning reading the 117-page indictment.
Galante's bond hearing was scheduled first, and prosecutors said they would seek to have him held without bond. He was arrested at his Danbury trash hauling company, Automated Waste Disposal, Inc., according to his attorney, Hugh Keefe.
Prosecutors allege in the indictment that Galante paid Ianniello $200,000 (euro157,048) in 2001, then $30,000 (euro23,557) every three months until 2005.
They say a system carving out territory of trash haulers had been in effect since the mid-1980s. If companies challenged it, their drivers were assaulted, their trucks vandalized and they have been locked out of transfer stations, prosecutors said.
Galante owns or has ties to at least 25 of about 60 companies under scrutiny in the case. His attorneys say he is an honest businessman known for his civic work in Danbury.
He also owns the Danbury Trashers, a minor league hockey team in the United Hockey League that is named as a defendant in the case.
The FBI raided Galante's offices last summer, seizing truckloads of documents from his companies. Agents returned to the office Tuesday, seizing a small amount of cash and business records as the grand jury worked in New Haven. Authorities were moving Friday to seize Galante's fleet of race cars.
Ianniello, known as "Matty the Horse," is awaiting trial on unrelated charges in New York, where prosecutors say that under Ianniello's leadership, the Genovese family infiltrated a bus driver's union. He has pleaded not guilty and denied allegations that he's a mob boss.
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