James Galante, the accused architect of a sweeping conspiracy to inflate trash-hauling prices in western Connecticut and New York, is expected to drop his long-standing claim of innocence and plead guilty to federal tax and racketeering charges as early as this morning.
Court officials and others involved in his case said that Galante, 55, is scheduled to appear today before U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven. Prolonged discussion of a plea bargain agreement continued into Monday, although his lawyers and federal prosecutors would not discuss the matter.
Galante, who runs a network of trash companies worth tens of millions of dollars, is accused with 33 others of conspiring to carve up territories, monopolize carting routes and drive up prices paid by customers. He was named in nearly 100 counts of an indictment that accused him of racketeering; conspiracy; tax, mail and wire fraud; extortion; and witness tampering.
Among other things, Galante, former owner of the Danbury Trashers minor league hockey team, is accused of trying to intimidate a competitor in 1992 by scheming to burn a truck belonging to the competitor. Galante has been confined to his home in New Fairfield under strict bail conditions since his indictment in June 2006.
The hefty indictment against Galante contains a long list of sensational allegations. He is accused of using threats of violence to intimidate carters who balked at participating in his price-fixing conspiracy and with paying a quarterly $30,000 "mob tax" to Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, boss of New York's Genovese crime family, to assure that there was muscle to back up the threats.
He was accused of state campaign finance violations after his name surfaced in the scandal a year ago that forced former state Sen. Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, from office. DeLuca was convicted of threatening after he admitted asking Galante to rough up a man that he suspected of abusing his granddaughter. Galante's contributions to the campaigns of DeLuca and other state political figures allegedly violated state law.
In a separate development, three law enforcement officers — a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and two Connecticut state police troopers — were accused of improperly accessing law enforcement data in what federal officials said was an effort by Galante associates to learn if they were being followed by investigators.
But little information has become public of any overt violence.
There is an accusation that someone tried to puncture a truck tire and used a BB gun in an effort to knock out a garbage truck headlight. Galante allegedly offered to rough up the man suspected by DeLuca, but nothing came of the promise.
Participants in the case said that prosecutors have hours of recordings from hidden FBI microphones that captured dozens of hyperbolic conversations among Galante employees who sounded at times as if they were rehearsing an amateur production of the television program "The Sopranos."
Only snippets of those recordings have been played in public.
In the two years since the indictment was returned, federal prosecutors have had substantial success in persuading most of Galante's co-defendants to plead guilty to reduced charges. To date, 29 have accepted prosecution offers, including Ianniello, who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion and was sentenced to two years in prison.
As of Monday, Galante and three others were maintaining their pleas of not guilty. Lawyers and others involved in the case said that if Galante pleads guilty, as expected, the other three are likely to follow.
Contact Edmund H. Mahony at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun