A photograph of Frank Sinatra with alleged members of organized crime and a brown paper bag containing $20,000 have become key elements in a celebrated fraud trial in New York.
The trial involves nine individuals charged with racketeering, stock fraud, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice in the operations of the Westchester Premier Theatre, a dinner theater Westchester County, just outside of New York City.
The defendants are accused of skimming proceeds from concession and ticket revenues of "hundreds of thousands of dollars" and defrauding many of the theater's investors and creditors.
The photograph reportedly shows Frank Sinatra, who performed at the Theater, standing with the late reputed mob leader Carlo Gambino, two of the defendants in this case - Gregory Depalma and Thomas Marson, and Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno, a West Coast mob figure who has begun cooperating with authorities in several investigations, and is an unindited co-conspirator in this case.
The photo was given by Fratianno to the authorities, sources close to the case have told the Washington Post. It is still unclear whether the photo will be entered in evidence, or what role, if any Sinatra has in the scheme. He was paid a reported $800,000 for a week-long series of performances at the theater.
The brown paper bag containing $20,000 was said in testimony to be a payoff to officials Warner Communications in exchange for Warner purchasing 20,000 shares of the theater's stock as $5 a share in 1973.
Attorney Norman Brodsky, an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, testified last week that he gave the bag full of money to Leonard "The Fox" Horwitz, who was a stock broker at the time. Horwitz, according to Brodsky, was to deliver the cash to Jay Emmett, a top officer at Warner who works directly under chairman and chief executive officer Steven Ross.
Later, it was disclosed, Horwitz was hired as a sales and promotion man by Warner for $60,000 a year.
Brodsky, who is expected to remain in the witness chair for the rest of the week, said Horwitz had enticed Warner into buying an earlier 20,000 shares "for a cash payoff of $50,000," Tr add three.
The first 20,000 shares were purchased by Warner for $7.50 a share.
Warner has said has it is investigating the bribe charges internally.
In an 8-K form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Warer states that $150,000 in corporate funds were paid to Horwitz and Bruce Kossman, who was not further identified. The company says the U.S. attorney in New York has asked the firm about those payments.
Jay Emmett has denied taking any cash bribes.