Genovese Boss, Mayor Arrested in Probe of Mob Influence Over Waste Industry

The reputed boss of the Genovese crime family, a former mayor and the owner of a trash-hauling business were arrested Friday in a federal investigation into mob influence over the region's waste industry.

In all, more than a dozen people were arrested and due in federal court Friday morning, said Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office.

Matthew Ianniello, the alleged crime boss whose house on New York's Long Island was raided last summer, was arrested at his home, according to his lawyer, Jay Goldberg.

Businessman James Galante, who also owns a minor league hockey team, was arrested at his Danbury trash hauling company, Automated Waste Disposal, according to his attorney, Hugh Keefe. Some of his employees were also arrested, lawyers said.

"It was fully expected. This particular date was not, but the next issue now is his release. I expect they will seek detention," Keefe said.

The federal Organized Crime Strike Force is investigating a so-called "property rights" scheme in which trash haulers carve out routes for each other and agree not to poach customers. That scheme, investigators say, drives up prices for customers and is enforced by violence.

Ianniello, who was named but not charged in a 1995 New York property rights indictment, is free on bail while awaiting trial on unrelated charges in New York, where prosecutors say that under Ianniello's leadership, the Genovese family infiltrated a bus drivers union. He has pleaded not guilty and denied allegations that he is a mob boss.

Former Waterbury Mayor Joseph Santopietro, also arrested, worked as a consultant for Galante's companies. In an interview a few months ago said he was not a target of the investigation and had not hired a lawyer. In 1992, while he was mayor, Santopietro was arrested during an investigation of bribery and kickbacks. He served more than six years in prison and was released in December 1999.

Galante owns or has ties to at least 25 of about 60 companies under scrutiny in the case.

He has publicly been under scrutiny since the FBI raided his 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.

Galante's 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.