"What's black and white and read all over?"

Monday, February 25, 2008
Posted 10:04 PM by

Never assume anything in Slotsylvania

Billy D'EliaHe may be bound by Omerta not to rat on other made guys, but reputed Northeastern Pennsylvania mob boss Billy D'Elia would have gladly sung like a canary about his long-time friendship with now-indicted slots parlor owner Louis DeNaples.

But nobody - certainly not the Slotsylvania Gaming Control Board - ever subpoenaed him, D'Elia's attorney, James Swetz of Stroudsburg, has told The Morning Call of Allentown.

"He would have testified and he would have answered any questions truthfully that were posed to him about whether or not he knew Mr. DeNaples, and Bill has known him for 30 years," Swetz said.

Tad Decker, the out-of-control board's former chairman, said the regulators could have used their weak subpoena power to compel D'Elia's testimony, without the ability to grant immunity, "But we were told he would come and take the Fifth and he wouldn't testify."

He declined to tell the newspaper who told the board that.

Swetz said neither he nor his client did. "With all due respect to Mr. Decker, he may have assumed that Mr. D'Elia wouldn't testify, but he certainly never asked me that. And if he had, the answer may have surprised him."

It's partly because of his alleged relationship with D'Elia that DeNaples, a Dunmore billionaire, has been indicted for perjury for lying to the gaming board. DeNaples told both the board and a Dauphin County grand jury that he only knew D'Elia as "a guy from the neighborhood" who shopped at his auto parts store.

But Swetz said, "Mr. D'Elia's association with Louis DeNaples is not simply from across the auto parts counter, as Mr. DeNaples has stated. They've known each other for a long time."

D'Elia, who is in federal custody awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and conspiring to kill a witness, told the grand jury he had close ties to DeNaples as a friend and business associate. He said he frequently met with DeNaples at his private office at DeNaples Auto Parts in Dunmore and that DeNaples was a guest at the 1999 wedding of D'Elia's daughter.

Had D'Elia told gaming board investigators that, the board would not have issued DeNaples a slots license, Decker said. "Absolutely not."

Private investigators performing a background check on DeNaples for the board did ask to interview D'Elia, but Swetz said he directed them to federal prosecutors in Harrisburg and then never heard from the Gaming Control Board again.

So much for due diligence and the board's current theory that the state police's refusal to share criminal information is to blame for this mess.

In other Slotsylvania news:

  • Mafia book author Charles Brandt, who has read the grand jury presentments against DeNaples, told The Citizens Voice of Wilkes-Barre that Dauphin County prosecutors may have a hard time proving their perjury case. "I found the questions inartfully crafted, and they left lots of wiggle room," Brandt said.

  • DeNaples' spokesman, Philly PR guy Kevin Feeley, was profiled in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Among the other clients he's trying to spin is the city tax board which lost the file on Sen. Vince Fumo's $6 million mansion.

  • Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, the sole candidate to file for the Democratic party's nomination for state Attorney General, has begun to attack Republican incumbent Tom Corbett for accepting at least $35,000 in campaign contributions from DeNaples.

  • The Morning Call has caught on to my idea that state Rep. Harold James (D-Philadelphia) is purposely dragging his feet and refusing to bring any slots reform bills up for a vote in the House Gaming Oversight Committee he chairs.

  • Two of the bills the Oversight Committee has pigeonholed, H.B. 1715 and H.B. 1975, would require $1.5 million to $3.5 million from the state's rake of slots gambling be used to treat gambling addicts. Gaming Board Chairwoman Mary DiGiacomo Colins testified last week that already 200 people across the state have excluded themselves from the state's seven open slots parlors. One of them is likely a woman who gambled away $573,000 at a Harrah's Chester Casino. She is now cited as a statistic in Casino-Free Philadelphia's Operation Hidden Costs, an anti-casino study it plans to unveil Wednesday.


For more about Louis DeNaples and to read my complete take on this long-predicted Slotsylvania snafu, click here.

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