Maltese stands by his mob faux pas

State Senator Serphin Maltese said he had no idea the local baker he chose to honor this month was a reputed member of the Bonanno crime family. Now that the news is out, however, Maltese’s view on the matter hasn’t changed much.
It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, during a fall festival hosted by local bakery Grimaldi’s Home of Bread, that Maltese presented the proclamation. After closing for remodeling, Grimaldi’s hosted the festival to celebrate its grand reopening.
As it turned out, bakery owner Vito Grimaldi, 68, is a convicted mafia soldier involved in illegal gambling who ordered multiple beatings - acts that ultimately earned him two years in prison.
“The proclamation was to three generations of the Grimaldi family that have run the Grimaldi House of Bread,” said Maltese, noting that the honor was not intended specifically for Vito Grimaldi.
Grimaldi’s Home of Bread, located at 2101 Menahan Street in Ridgewood, has served the community since 1909, and has been operated by several generations of Grimaldi family members.
“[Grimaldi’s] is one of the biggest employers in the area,” said Maltese. “They employ over 150 people.”
Vito Grimaldi did not return calls Tuesday, November 27, but said in an earlier published report that he was “proud” of Maltese’s proclamation, and refused to answer “stupid questions.”
Maltese said little could have been done to conduct background checks on Grimaldi, and said that doing so would have been a “waste of time.”
“I’ve been a senator for 19 years, and I issue hundreds of proclamations each year,” he said. “This is the first time anything like this has happened. There’s no real way to check these things.
“I was getting calls from friends and people in the community saying the bakery had been very generous,” the Senator continued. “They constantly give baked goods and cookies to Boy Scout groups, the Kiwanis club, Little League teams.”
Grimaldi’s prison sentence came after former underboss Salvatore Vitale testified that Grimaldi made the Bonanno family over $8,000 per month in “Joker” Poker machines in neighborhood cafes, restaurants and pizza joints.
Another mob associate, Frank Fiordilino, also testified that Grimaldi had given his OK on two beatings, advising his henchmen to “use their hands.”
Despite his mucky past, however, Maltese believes his current role in the Ridgewood community is clean as a whistle.
“As I understand it, he served his prison time, and is now running a very successful business that is very conscious of the debt it owes to the neighborhood,” said Maltese.

More from Around New York