New York City to Lasso Mob's Spreading Tentacles Latest Tactic in Crime Fight: Keep Mob out of Key Businesses

Article excerpt

NEW YORK is starting to change tactics in the fight against "Da Boys."

After decades of going after the mobsters themselves, Big Apple officials are taking the battle to another level by beefing up methods aimed at keeping organized crime out of such key businesses as garbage collection and food distribution.

The city's new direction emphasizes independent audits, city-controlled competition, and structural reforms. If the city is successful at rooting out decades-old corrupt practices, this approach could to become a model for other cities faced with organized-crime problems.

"The problem has been that we have attempted to deal with systemic problems by fighting a war of attrition with the racketeers when what we need is structural reform, eliminating their ability to enter or maintain control of an industry," says Ronald Goldstock, former director of the State's Organized Crime Task Force and now a managing director at Kroll Associates, a private security firm.

On Wednesday, Public Advocate Mark Green and City Councilman Ken Fisher introduced legislation that would set up pilot "competition zones" in the collection of garbage from commercial business. To ensure competition, the law would allow the city's Department of Sanitation (now confined to household collection) to bid against private trash pickup companies -- some of which have Mafia ties.

The city's efforts come at a time when there are weekly revelations about organized-crime influence. Last week, after the City Council held hearings on Cosa Nostra influence at the Fulton Fish Market, a fire destroyed part of the largest wholesale fish market in the country. Fire officials quickly said the fire was set and the fire alarm and sprinkler system had been turned off.

The suspicious nature of the fire, says Mr. Fisher, has accelerated legislation that requires the registration of all the wholesalers who do business at the market and requires background checks and licensing of the men who load and unload the fish.

The council will hold another hearing on April 10. "I am expecting we will have the legislation enacted in final form no later than the middle of May, perhaps earlier," Fisher says. …

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