(CN) – Apparent mafia connections are enough to block a man from operating his produce business out of the Bronx’s bustling Hunts Point Terminal Market, a New York appeals court ruled.
Two years ago, New York City’s Business Integrity Commission refused to let R & S Circus Produce register as a wholesaler at the market, which is one of the largest food-distribution centers in the world.
The commission noted in its decision that R & S’s president and co-owner, Silvestro LoVerde, lied about his knowledge of his friend’s organized criminal activities.
R & S applied for a permit to operate at the market in 2007. LoVerde, a native Sicilian, later disclosed to the commission that he had invested $170,000 in a food-import company run by an acting captain of the Gambino crime family, Frank Cali.
LoVerde and Cali both lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, as teenagers, and stayed close as adults, often having dinner together and even taking vacations with each other’s families.
“Throughout the deposition, LoVerde claimed to be unknowledgeable about the organized crime associations of Cali, a longtime friend and business associate,” according to the commission’s report. “As demonstrated below, LoVerde has numerous connections to Cali – both business and personal – and there is ample basis upon which to conclude that LoVerde knew or should have known of Cali’s organized crime ties, and the Commission so finds.”
The 27-page report notes that Cali, a convicted felon, married into to the Inzerillo clan of the Sicilian cosa nostra and has been an associate of the Gambino crime family since the early 1990s. This association runs parallel to the men’s friendship, according to the report. In 2008, Cali pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
LoVerde appealed the commission’s decision, but the justices of the Manhattan-based First Department Appellate Division ruled that the board had appropriate grounds to reject R & S’s application.
“It was not irrational or arbitrary and capricious for respondent to find that LoVerde provided false information in connection with the application when he asserted that he had no knowledge of Cali’s organized crime activity,” the court ruled.