A Woodhaven man who owns an Astoria nightclub and his Bayside bouncer were arrested last Thursday on charges of bribing police officers with $8,000 cash payments to let the club stay open past the legal 4 a.m. closing time, authorities said.
The two men are accused of passing envelopes to officers marked donation for 114th Pct., hoping the cops would turn their backs to after-hours partying at Astorias La Fragata Café, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The officers involved in this case again proved to law breakers that New York City police officers cannot be bought, said Police Commission Raymond Kelly.
Nighclub owner Omar Coletti, 52, of 89-11 85th St. in Woodhaven and security guard Randolph Pizzolo, 42, of 47-08 204th St. in Bayside were charged with bribery and obstructing governmental administration, the DA said.
They pleaded not guilty at their arraignment in Queens Criminal Court last Thursday and face up to seven years in prison if convicted, said a DA spokeswoman.
Police Officer Joseph Faivus of the 114th Precinct Anti-Crime unit was first approached by Pizzolo Nov. 3 in front of the club at 33-02 36th Ave. in Astoria, according to a complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court. The bouncer offered Faivus cash in exchange for allowing the club to remain open after hours, the complaint said.
Claiming they needed to remain open until 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. for their business to survive, the defendants then allegedly negotiated an arrangement to hand over $1,000 in cash every two weeks to officers in envelopes disguised as donations, the complaint said. But they did not know that Faivus had notified his bosses, who set up a sting operation, Brown said.
On six separate occasions from Nov. 24, 2001 to March 14, 2002, Coletti and Pizzolo handed police officers assigned to the 114th Precinct Anti-Crime unit a total of $8,000 in cash in exchange for permission to keep their club open past the legal 4 a.m. closing hour, according to the complaint. At least two of the payments were made with the understanding that the officers would arrange for summonses issued to the club for after-hour alcohol sales to be dismissed, the complaint said.
The defendants were carefully monitored as they allegedly conferred thousands of dollars in cash on police officers for non-enforcement of closing hour regulations, the DA said. I commend the police officer to whom the initial alleged bribe offer was made for taking immediate police action by informing his superiors.
Another hearing for the two defendants is scheduled for April 5.
Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2002 Community News Group
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