Reputed mobster William D'Elia, the imprisoned head of Scranton's Bufalino crime family, had a personal and business relationship that spanned 30 years with Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Louis DeNaples, D'Elia's attorney said Saturday.
And D'Elia would have told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board about his long-standing ties to DeNaples, but he was never subpoenaed by the board to testify, said attorney James Swetz of Stroudsburg.
''He would have testified and he would have answered any questions truthfully that were posed to him about whether or not he knew Mr. DeNaples, and Bill has known him for 30 years,'' Swetz said.
Thomas Decker, the former gaming board chairman, said in an interview last week the board considered issuing a subpoena to D'Elia but didn't, given what he called the board's ''weak'' subpoena power, which, unlike a grand jury, doesn't allow for immunity.
''Technically, we could have issued a subpoena,'' Decker said. ''But we were told he would come and take the Fifth and he wouldn't testify.''
Decker couldn't identify who told the board that D'Elia wouldn't testify.
''I don't know who told him that. I never did,'' Swetz said. ''With all due respect to Mr. Decker, he may have assumed that Mr. D'Elia wouldn't testify, but he certainly never asked me that. And if he had, the answer may have surprised him.''
Had D'Elia told gaming board investigators of his relationship with DeNaples, as he told a grand jury in 2007, the board would not have issued DeNaples a slots license, Decker said.
''Absolutely not,'' he said.
Swetz declined to offer specifics about D'Elia's relationship with DeNaples, but he said, ''Mr. D'Elia's association with Louis DeNaples is not simply from across the auto parts counter, as Mr. DeNaples has stated. They've known each other for a long time.''
Swetz's comments contradicted grand jury testimony by DeNaples that he only knew D'Elia as ''a guy from the neighborhood'' who shopped at his auto parts store, and adds to growing scrutiny of the gaming board's decision to issue DeNaples a slots license.
DeNaples was charged last month in Dauphin County with four counts of perjury for allegedly lying to the board about his relationship with suspected members of organized crime, including D'Elia. The board has suspended DeNaples' license and appointed a trustee to oversee Mount Airy.
DeNaples has denied the charges and his attorneys filed an appeal last week claiming that D'Elia was a longtime state police informant who formed an ''unholy triumvirate'' with police and prosecutors in order to earn ''favorable treatment.''
''There's absolutely no truth to D'Elia being an informant. He has not and has never been an informant,'' Swetz said. ''You have to consider the source. D'Elia is not the one being prosecuted for perjury.''
DeNaples testified under oath before the gaming board in August and September 2006, and denied any relationship with D'Elia, according to the grand jury report.
But D'Elia, who is in federal custody awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and conspiring to kill a witness, told the grand jury he had close ties to DeNaples as a friend and business associate. He said he frequently met with DeNaples at his private office at DeNaples Auto Parts in Dunmore, Lackawanna County.
D'Elia, of Hughestown, Lackawanna County, also told the grand jury that DeNaples knew Russell Bufalino, who ran the northeast Pennsylvania crime family for four decades until his death in 1994, and that DeNaples was a guest at the 1999 wedding of D'Elia's daughter, along with several reputed mobsters, including ''Skinny'' Joe Merlino, the imprisoned reputed head of Philadelphia's Bruno crime family, and the family's reputed acting boss, Joseph ''Uncle Joe'' Ligambi.
Decker said that had D'Elia told the board about DeNaples' attendance at his daughter's wedding or offered any other evidence of a relationship, the board would not have issued DeNaples a slots license.
But the board never subpoenaed D'Elia, even after gaming investigators unsuccessfully sought to interview him before DeNaples was awarded a slots license in December 2006.
Swetz received the interview request, but referred the investigators, with the board's Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, to federal prosecutors in Harrisburg. Swetz said he never heard back from the investigators or the gaming board, who could have subpoenaed D'Elia to testify.
''Had [D'Elia] been subpoenaed he would have told them about his relationship with Mr. DeNaples,'' Swetz said.
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