|Sinatra wasn't smiling at House|
"I am not a second-class citizen – let's make that clear," said the singer angrily in an opening statement made when he was flanked by his lawyer. "How do you repair the damage that has been done to my reputation by a second-class punk?"
Sinatra had been asked to appear to explain why he had invested $55,000 in the Mafia-controlled Berkshire Downs racetrack.
The Crime Committee had threatened to subpoena Sinatra to appear and was also interested in the Rat Pack leader's response to Joseph "The Baron" Barboza's allegations that the singer had business dealings with Raymond Patriarca, whom the Crime Committee had named a "New England organised crime figure."
Sinatra's appearance had been billed as the star attraction of the committee's hearing into the Mafia penetration of horse racing, but first he was said to be in England and his fans feared he would never show up.
But Sinatra didn't disappoint the large audience. He was patently angry and couldn't resist a few cracks at the committee's expense.
When counsel said that Barboza's evidence had come as a complete surprise, Sinatra held up a newspaper clipping and read sarcastically: "'Witness links Sinatra to Mafia figure' – that's charming, isn't it?" He said he had invested $55,000 in the Berkshire Downs racetrack because he liked the idea of "5% of the action."
He had been introduced to the deal, he said, by a Mr Rizzo (president of the Berkshire Downs racetrack) whom he had met in an Atlantic City night club.
Beyond these facts, Sinatra was vague. He could not remember who had introduced him to Mr Rizzo, but he was certain it was not Thomas Lucchese, a reputed boss on one of New York's five Mafia families, whom he said he had met on "two or three occasions".
Mr David Rudin, the singer's lawyer, was not any clearer. "Mr Rizzo is just a very small episode in our very complicated business dealings."
The complications proved too much for the committee and after two hours it adjourned.