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Friday, June 02, 2006
Posted 8:54 PM by

D'Elia indictment raises Pa. slots question again

After 20 years of official suspicion but no charges, alleged mob boss William 'Big Bill' D'Elia was finally indicted in a money laundering scheme. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday.It took 20 years, but the feds finally indicted reputed northeastern Pennsylvania mob boss William "Big Bill" D'Elia this week for allegedly money laundering somebody else's drug profits.

Word of the indictment, which was unsealed Thursday after being filed May 24, came in today's newspapers on the last day the state's Gaming Control Board was to accept public comment on two proposals for standalone slot machine parlors in the Poconos.

One of the slots hopefuls, Dunmore banker, landfill owner and auto parts dealer Louis DeNaples, has alleged ties to D'Elia, 59, the alleged head of the Pittston-based Buffalino crime family.

DeNaples' spokesman Kevin Feeley denied the accusation at an April hearing of the Gaming Board on his proposal for gambling at Mount Airy Lodge, saying, "He has no ties to organized crime."

But in 2001, the IRS filed an affidavit in U.S. District Court outlining contacts and "good will" and protection money DeNaples allegedly paid to D'Elia. Neither man was charged with any wrongdoing.

Why would DeNaples pay D'Elia protection money?

In 1989, Harold Kaufman, a former union official, told the now-defunct Pennsylvania Crime Commission that D'Elia was a mob power broker in the solid-waste landfill industry in upstate Pennsylvania.

DeNaples owns the Keystone Landfill, one of the state's largest, near Scranton. He is also an alleged felon.

In 1978, DeNaples received a suspended sentence. He pleaded no contest to felony fraud after a jury could not reach a verdict on charges he tried to defraud the federal government out of $525,000 in the wake of Tropical Storm Agnes. In 1990, the Crime Commission reported James Osticco, underboss of the Buffalino crime family, bribed the husband of a juror to hold out for acquittal in the trial.

Is the state Gaming Control Board even investigating the alleged long-term ties between Bill D'Elia, the reputed head of the Buffalino crime family, and slots hopeful Louis DeNaples?Between 2000 and 2004, DeNaples and two of his companies allegedly donated more than $1 million to the state's top politicians - including Gov. Ed Rendell, Attorney General Tom Corbett, judges and leading state legislators, the Scranton Times-Tribune has reported. I've only been able to confirm contributions totaling $679,375.

But state records do show that DeNaples gave $115,000 towards Rendell's election in 2002.

Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said Friday he could see no connection between the governor and D'Elia through DeNaples. "Given the six degrees of separation like that, I can associate you with Mr. D'Elia," Ardo said.

Actually, I've already said I've met D'Elia but not DeNaples. It was only for a moment and, I'm sure, entirely forgetable to the former mob driver turned alleged mob kingpin. D'Elia used to hold court in a booth at The Woodlands, a nightclub near Wilkes-Barre which was known in the '90s as being one of the largest purchasers of alcohol in Pennsylvania.

A slots fan, D'Elia was banned from Atlantic City's casinos in 2003 by the New Jersey attorney general's office.

"Given the six degrees of separation like that, I can associate you with Mr. D'Elia."

- Chuck Ardo
Spokesman for
Gov. Ed Rendell
D'Elia and co-defendant Richard Smallacombe both pleaded innocent at their arraignment Wednesday and were released on the condition they have no contact with people named in the indictment.

According to the indictment, D'Elia and Smallacombe laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money from convicted trafficker John Doncses, allegedly by creating bogus companies, loans and consulting agreements that made it appear as if the money was legitimately earned.

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