Ian Pike 4 p.m., March 9
Council to Consider Kessler Settlement
On Tuesday, city council will consider a $200,000 settlement of the unlawful termination and retaliation suit against the City filed by Scott Kessler, who once rode herd on the business improvement districts.
Kessler had cooperated with a police detective and the FBI in a joint exhaustive study of possible corruption by Little Italy powerhouse Marco Li Mandri and his friend, Paul (Joe) Mannino, who in the 1980s was convicted of drug, firearms and racketeering violations and went to prison.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, civic activist Mel Shapiro requested more information on Mannino from the FBI. Shapiro learned that on the FBI report are the initials OC/DI. Former FBI members say that means "organized crime/drug investigation."
Also on the report were "LCN-Genevese." According to former FBI employees, that means La Cosa Nostra, Genovese crime family, one of New York's major crime groups. After prison, Mannino came west, meeting Li Mandri in 2000. The FBI/police study concerned, among other things, corruption by the two at a business improvement district.
Kessler was fired in late 2008 and had good reason to believe it was because of his cooperation in this probe, which would be an embarrassment to Mayor Jerry Sanders. The detailed study was given to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who went to Sanders's office specifically to tell him she would not prosecute the case, according to Sanders's deposition.
The $200,000 settlement seems low to those who have followed the matter. The City spent $450,000 having the Brown Law Group defend the sordid case.