The public could get its first glimpse into how organized crime may be involved in draining money out of a legitimate business at the expense of stockholders in a federal trial opening tomorrow in New York. And the witness list could look more like a marquee at a las Vegas hotel.
Rumored to be prosecution witnesses are Frank Sinatra, Alan King, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. The government case against the Westchester Premier Theatre and 10 individuals connected with the theater's operation alleges stock and bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice.
The government contends that mob money may have been used to finance the theater venture - unbeknownst to other investors.
The government contends that mob money may have been used to finance the threater venture - unbeknownst to other investors.
The government also alleges that theater president Eliot Weisman and nine associates "skimmed off" and "converted" ticket and concessions revenues from the now-bankrupt theater for their personal profit.
According to the indictments filed in June. Weisman and co-defendants Gregory DePalma and Richard Fusco did not disclose "material information" when filing a prospectus for a public offering of stock in the Westchester Premier Theatre in 1973.
It is alleged that the 10 individuals conducted a fraudulent sale of stock in the theater because they withheld information, and "the defendants knew that disclosure of such material information as the identities and backgrounds of some of the financial backers and operators of the theater and the source of the funds furnished by them was reasonably likely to discourage some investors from purchasing theater stock."
The indictment alleges that potential investors were not informed of the involvement in the venture by DePalma and Fusco, who the government says is also known as "Nerves." It is also alleged that 435,000 shares of stock said to be owned by Weisman were really controlled by Depalma and Fusco and their confederates.
Certain loans to the theater were also not disclosed in company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the indictment states. One of those loans were reportedly made by the late Carlo Gambino, who was reputed to head underworld operations in New York City.
The SEC filing shows that several individuals were said to be given extremely favorable stock deals when the original stcok offer was made, including Lawrence, Gorme and King, who agreed to appear at the theater during its first year.
The government charges that receipts of the theater for ticket, T-shirt and concession sales at concerts given by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were falsely understand in income statements filed with the Federal Bankruptcy Court. The real, unreported income was "skimmed off" by the defendants, the government charges.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Nick Akerman, who presented the case to the grand jury, said at the time of indictment that the skimming operation involved "hundreds of thousand of dollars."
Another witness scheduled to attend in James "Jimmy the Weasel" Frattiano, a San Francisco man reputed to have headed mob operations there until last year, when he was arrested in a murder case and turned state's evidence, agreeing to testify in several cases in exchange for his freedom.
The Westchester theater case is expected to raise questions about SEC reporting methods, and further fuel the debate over the need to offer more protection to potential investors.