Valet Parking, the Perfect Mob Business?


Updated "Well, he said that he would - that he wanted to kill me, and that he was going to rape (my wife) and slit her throat..."
--Testimony of a Prestige Valet competitor 

The strip club itself is a ripe target for organized crime. Shaking down the premium joints like Scores was a constant for guys like Gambino capo Greg DePalma and Colombo underboss John Sonny Franzese.

"Thee DollHouse" was among Prestige Valet's clients.

In late 2011, 20 suspects, including seven reputed Gambino and Bonanno mobsters, were arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday on charges ranging from racketeering to visa fraud. Reputed Gambino captain Alphonse Trucchio (Ronnie's son) and alleged Bonanno captain Anthony "Perry Como" Frascone were among those snagged in the case.

Joaquin "Jack Falcone" Garcia provided us with a wealth of background on the many ways Mafiosi can leech businesses that fall into the "gray area" of mainstream commerce, meaning they are, or were, perfectly legal -- but not very nice. Shaking down strip clubs is understandable..






But the valet parking business? Why the hell would the mob want to mess with that?

Turns out, a whole host of reasons -- and stealing stuff from cars and sometimes the cars themselves weren't even the key reason, as I learned when researching a story on Johnny Alite.

He was among the guys named in the 2004 indictment of Ronnie "One Arm" Trucchio and his crew. They were charged with running a range of rackets, from New York to Miami.

But a Tampa, Fla.-based valet parking business seemed to be a focal point for the decina.

"They used their reputation and powers of persuasion to win contracts and keep rival valet companies at bay, according to authorities," wrote TampaBay.com. "Organized crime experts say it's a classic example of how the mob infiltrates legitimate businesses."

Valet parking isn't as popular a target as, say, the gambling or garbage hauling industries, but it has many of the characteristics the Mafia likes.

"It's easy to get into valet. It's tied to other Mafia-influenced businesses like restaurants and strip clubs, and it's cash heavy," said mob expert Howard Abadinsky, a criminology professor at St. Johns University. "Traditionally, those are great temptations for the mob."

Why are they "great temptations?"

Alite, capo Trucchio's top man in the crew, lammed it to South America just before the indictments came down. Arrested with Trucchio was Terry Scaglione, the two, along with Alite, were officials of a valet company called Prestige Valet.

Prestige had contracts with St. Joseph's Hospital and other area shops, according to court documents. The company also parked cars at restaurants and nude dance clubs, including Thee DollHouse [spelling is correct].

The mob often targets industries that have ties to industries it already influences, experts say. Traditionally, the mob has had ties to the restaurant and club scene, making valet parking a natural extension.

It takes little money to start a valet parking company. It's also a highly competitive business, in which companies frequently try to outbid one another for contracts.

The Mafia, though, can use its considerable influence and persuasive powers to keep competitors out of the market. After that, they can pressure the restaurants and strip clubs to hire their company.

"The mob has the muscle and reputation to police their turf," Abadinsky said. "They have the ability to restrain competition."

And they can pull it off with little or no violence, experts say. Members of a well-known family like the Gambinos have such an established reputation that everyone knows not to mess with them, said Ron Goldstock, former director of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.

"They step in and say "We're taking over' and no one fights them on it," Goldstock said. "It's a very efficient way of getting into a business."

Valet parking offers other advantages to the Mafia. The business provides legitimate jobs for mob associates, especially those on probation or who have to stay out of trouble for a while. And some crime rings duplicate keys and later steal the cars or break into homes. The indictment does not accuse Alite and Scaglione of such a scheme.

Valet parking also is a cash business, which can help organized crime hide or launder money earned from its criminal activities.





"There's virtually no way of knowing how much money is being brought in," said Scott Deitche, author of Cigar City Mafia , a book about Tampa's mob history.

Valet parking does have drawbacks as a mob business, Abadinsky said. It takes dozens of contracts to make money. And the more business owners a mob crew has to strong-arm, the more risk of someone turning them in.

"I would suspect that it's the type of scheme run by lower level members of the Mafia," he said. "The higher-ups wouldn't want to get their hands directly dirtied by it."

Trucchio, the highest ranking Mafia member among the six defendants in the indictment, did not appear to have a hands-on role with Prestige, according to court documents.


Who was John Alletto?
Scaglione, though, is a relative unknown, aside from being the grandson of Nick Scaglione, a member of the Trafficante crime family in the 1950s and 1960s. Alite, also known as John Alletto, "has a criminal past but is not considered a high level Mafia figure, experts say."

Locally, Alite's name arose in a lawsuit Prestige officials filed in 2001 that accused former employee Michael Malatin of stealing their business plan and clients. In his deposition taken June 20, 2003, Malatin said Alite threatened him during a telephone conservation:

Lawyer: What did you talk about?

Malatin: He did most of the talking, and it was threatening.

L: What did he say?

M: Well, he said that he would - that he wanted to kill me, and that he was going to rape (my wife) and slit her throat.

L: What was that about?

M: I think you may want to ask him that.






Comments

  1. Wow . its not that hard to understand . I will break it up for you . We will look at it weekly . Say weekly you bring in total $900 after paying the employees . Ok here is the trick who says you made $900 ??? On the books you made $400.(that is if its in your name) Magic!! And lets be serious here . Only a fool would steal out of the cars , make keys for later sure but rarely you'll see a guy leave his house keys with a valet. So to simplify it , its pocket change . And yes to get guys out on work release , (which is legal if he is working)but even that is rare . Really its about pocket money . chump change . Believe me its as simple as that . And of course its area and who controls the area . Malatin is a punk , he went to them for something , but he wont let you know that part .

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