Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 24, 2013

Mafia talk takes center stage at council meeting

Niagara Gazette — A discussion about a city councilman's interest in a downtown business prompted a heated exchange between one of his council colleagues and his brother-in-law during the public speaking portion of Wednesday's meeting at City Hall.

The debate started when Councilman Sam Fruscione's brother-in-law Dan Vecchies approached the podium inside council chambers to tell Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti how "very disappointed" he was in public comments she made earlier this week concerning a business co-owned by Fruscione that has been selling a variety of items, including T-shirts depicting mob figures, out of a storefront on Old Falls Street in recent weeks. 

The discussion prompted a few follow-up speakers to offer their feelings about mafia figures and images from the city's past, including the spectre of the notorious mob boss Stefano Magaddino whose name came up several times. 

"When you want to glamorize the mob, remember what it's about," said former Mayor Vince Anello, who disagreed with the sale of mob-related items in general, referring to Magaddino as a "criminal" who "preyed on his own people."

"It's not something that Italians should glamorize," Anello added. 

Vecchies used part of his time at the microphone to call out Grandinetti for comments she made about items being sold inside the Falls Street Emporium, a small novelty shop located on Old Falls Street. Little Italy Niagara, a company co-owned by Fruscione and his brother, started leasing space inside the building for use as a storefront since June. 

He also said he took exception to her characterization of his involvement in helping the owner of a new pizzeria that recently opened inside the building next store to the Emporium. Vecchies accused Grandinetti of playing "political games," suggesting her comments about the pizza shop were an attemp by her to discredit Fruscione, one of her opponents in this year's council race. 

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