Dana Giacchetto: Cops on His Payroll?
Money manager to the stars Dana Giacchetto will most likely be sentenced today for securities fraud. His appointment with Judge Robert Patterson and U.S. Attorney David Lewis is set for 4 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Manhattan.
Last week, bankruptcy receivers attempted to depose Giacchetto concerning the whereabouts of his clients' missing funds. He refused to cooperate after previously agreeing, way back on August 2, to help investigators. Of course, that was when he pled guilty. A lot has happened since then. (A link to this columnist's recent five-part series on Giacchetto is at right.)
Giacchetto continues to fascinate because of his ability to bilk so many prominent Hollywood players. Among them: Leonardo DiCaprio, Courteney Cox, Cameron Diaz and Michael Ovitz. Christopher Cuomo — son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, and now an ABC News correspondent — was his legal adviser through the spring of 1999.
And now a new mystery to add to the myriad: According to sources, a New York City police detective also "took the Fifth" recently and refused to answer questions about receiving a 2000 Mercedes that Giacchetto leased and registered in the cop's name.
Detective Kevin Kelly, of the 24th precinct in Manhattan, took possession of the Mercedes after Giacchetto wired $12,100 to Manhattan Mercedes on February 2, 2000 for down payment on a lease. Since Giacchetto didn't actually have the money, he stole it from the account of one his clients, B-52s singer Fred Schneider.
Yesterday, I spoke with Detective Kelly, who is currently on leave for medical reasons. He admitted that he was indeed the previously unnamed law enforcement official identified in Securities and Exchange Commission records. He said that he met Dana in 1998 when Giacchetto hosted a blow-out New Year's Eve party at his Soho loft. Kelly said he worked at the time for Elite Investigations, a Manhattan firm that provided security for the party. (This is the same party that launched a bunch of lawsuits against Giacchetto for rowdy partying. DiCaprio is said to have been on the roof, playing on a water tower with his buddies.)
"I did security for Dana," Kelly told me. Subsequently, he stayed in touch with Giacchetto, checking in with him "every four months or so" to see if he needed his services. Finally, Giacchetto asked Kelly to become his driver and security person, the detective said. It didn't matter that Giacchetto, in the winter of 1999, already was paying another New York City cop, whom this column identified previously as "Stan," to provide security and to drive him around, although Stan did not get a Mercedes.
"Dana didn't have a valid driver's license," Kelly explained. "So he had to put the car in my name." The Mercedes, which he described as a charcoal-colored sport version, was also registered in Kelly's name. "The idea was that I'd be driving him and his friends."
Kelly said that never happened. He took possession of the Mercedes — a step up certainly from his own car, an Olds Cutlass Ciera — and brought it home to Long Island. "But Dana never did ask me to drive him anywhere," he told me. When the U.S. Attorney's Office and SEC, which were both investigating Giacchetto at the time, found out what was going on, Kelly said he returned the Mercedes.
"I never would have been involved if I'd known Dana was in trouble," Kelly told me. But Kelly said he did not think that Giacchetto was using him, hoping to have a cop in his pocket. Giacchetto had been under investigation by authorities for almost a month before he called Kelly and set up the Mercedes transfer. "I didn't think that. I wouldn't jeopardize my family or my job in something that was so high-profile. But in hindsight I guess that's what he was doing."
A former Cassandra office worker told me: "Dana said he was trying to make friends with a cop. I guess he did." A month later, in March, Giacchetto also made a $5,000 contribution to something called the Police Scholarship Fund.
Meanwhile, the case against Detective Kelly remains open according to the NYPD, which refuses to make any other comment. And the wire transfer of funds, according to a police source, may wind up involving the FBI. When I asked him if his dealings with Giacchetto had gotten him into trouble with NYPD Internal Affairs, he responded: "Not yet."
More on this column's report from yesterday about a sequel to Hannibal.
Producer Dino DeLaurentiis made Manhunter, a 1986 film directed by Michael Mann based on Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon. Since Hannibal Lecter is a character in the book and movie, Dino owns the rights to him. Lecter, a minor character, was played by Brian Cox in that version. The movie has a following but it was never a big hit.
Now Dino and Sir Anthony Hopkins want to remake Manhunter as Red Dragon, with Hopkins' Lecter playing an expanded role. In Manhunter, Lecter's opponent was a man, played by William Peterson. So stay tuned, as DDL may try and buy Clarice's rights.
Former CNN Correspondent Jill Brooke is a guest on The O'Reilly Factor, tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox News channel. Do yourself a favor and tune in.
Brooke — now editor of the tony Avenue magazine — took all of last year off to write a book. Now it's here and Don't Let Death Ruin Your Life is an absolutely moving, refreshing and informative account of how both the hoi polloi and the very famous manage to live through tragedies and become successful.
I must disclose here that Jill is an old friend and interviewed me for the book. Some of my comments are included in her massively well-researched findings.
The book, published by Dutton, is rich in details and exhaustive interviews with the likes of Rosie O'Donnell, Ted Turner, Bill Cosby and Rupert Murdoch, who tells Brooke that losing his father at 19 motivated him to go "into battle mode" and become an international media mogul. Fascinating stuff. Meantime, Jill is out promoting and publicizing, appearing on Joan Hamburg's radio show, Jim Bohannon's nationally syndicated radio show and in a big splash in Forbes magazine.
Got an e-mail explanation yesterday from Inside.com re: The reissued Marc Rich book by Craig Copetas. They claim to not have seen our previous report on the book. So how did they know about it? Turns out that Constance Sayre, who writes a column for Inside, agented the deal.
Sayre's and partner Lorraine Shanley (they're two nice ladies, I've known them for years), as Market Partners International, do business with the Web site, according to Inside. "They provide a column," writes one Insider. I don't recall Inside disclosing that Market Partners International is also an agent and a book promoter. That would seem to be a dicier issue. Maybe the disclaimer runs on the part of the site you have to pay for.
But Market Partners International lists on its own Web site almost all the major book publishers and retailers as its clients. What does it do for them? Marketing, sales, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic planning. They sound like they should be the subject of Inside's book news reporting, not columnists for the Inside Web site.